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Residents worry a potential amphitheater near Myrtle Beach would destroy rural way of life

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A conceptual design for the Myrtle Beach Grand Amphitheater that is awaiting approval from Horry County Council. Provided

HORRY COUNTY — A potential new amphitheater hopes to bring artists like Drake, Blake Shelton or Pitbull to Horry County, but neighbors worry the noise and traffic from concerts will destroy their rural way of life.

On Thursday, the Horry County Planning Commission heard arguments for and against a rezoning request that, if approved, would ultimately bring a 74-acre entertainment center and amphitheater next to the interchange of Highway 22 and Highway 905.

The planning commission voted to not give the project its blessing, and sent the Horry County Council a recommendation against approving the plans. County council will decide the plan’s ultimate fate at its January meeting. 

The applicant, Marvin Heyd, a former planning commission member, is seeking to rezone the property from the limited forest agriculture zoning code to the outdoor amusement commercial zoning code that allows for an amphitheater. 

Heyd said the project, currently named the Myrtle Beach Grand Amphitheater, would only host 24 to 26 concerts a year and that sound engineers would design and position the amphitheater toward the road in hopes of lessening the noise into the neighboring community.

The arena could seat up to 21,000 people, making it large enough to be a major destination for musical acts and an attraction for the entire Myrtle Beach area. If approved, Heyd said the hope is to have it up and running in a couple years, and it would be marketed as a premiere entertainment destination in South Carolina. 

A slideshow presented to the commission said the amphitheater could host acts like Arianna Grande, Tim McGraw, A$AP Rocky, Shakira and the Jonas Brothers. 

In addition to concerts, the amphitheater would be able to host school and church events, Heyd said. Ultimately, the amphitheater would be a high-end facility big enough to attract major talent while aiming to be a good neighbor to the existing community. 

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“There is no question, though, that it will impact the community,” Heyd said.

Horry County planning staff ultimately recommended the project for approval, but the decision was based simply off a technical review of the land use plan. The county regulations allow for such an amphitheater to be placed along major highways, and staff has to base its recommendation on those requirements.

Planning director David Schwerd acknowledged, however, that he imagines no one would want a major concert venue in their rural backyard. 

Community members said the project would upend the rural lifestyle they enjoy by creating unnecessary noise and traffic in an area they believe to be unsuited to such a large venue.  

“This a ‘bacco field, not a tobacco field, a ‘bacco field,” said Terri Capps, who lives in the surrounding area. “It’s rural, this is rural.” 

Barry Spivey, speaking as a community member and not in his professional capacity as an assistant administrator for the county, said he is concerned about the noise, the late hours of operation and the traffic gridlock at the intersection. 

Horry County’s regulations would allow any event to last until 11 p.m. Spivey added that when the events are over, the interchange can easily become overwhelmed. 

“It is going to be very problematic when you have 5,000 or 10,000 cars coming from the interchange,” Spivey said. 

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