CAROLINA FOREST — The controversial proposed Conway Medical Center 50-bed hospital in Carolina Forest will make its way back to Horry County Council for its second reading and public hearing June 15.
County officials discussed the hospital at both the Planning and Zoning workshop and commission meetings throughout the last few weeks. Though residents and activists attended the meetings to oppose the hospital, planning commission could not do anything with their input.
Commissioner Chairman Steven Neeves said planning commission had to have the public hearing due to council wanting a development agreement after the rezoning process had already started.
Back in January, planning commission approved the project, but county council deferred the project due significant opposition.
Residents and activists had an opportunity to discuss the new changes to the project in May with CMC leaders and county officials.
"This is up to county council, and I am questioning why they passed in 1996 that we hold the public hearings on it," Neeves said. "So please take this to county council, OK?"
Currently, the property is zoned to allow multi-residential homes and is owned by LandBanks. Interim Planning and Zoning Director David Jordan said that the current owners could build close to 2,500 multi-family homes on the property if the hospital is not approved.
Nearby residents of The Farm, a subdivision on the corner of Carolina Forest Boulevard and River Oaks Drive, raised concerns regarding the hospital, which ranged from traffic, lighting, noise pollution, and fire gates.
Environmental and political activists raised concerns regarding the Lewis Ocean Bay Preserve and a proposed mitigation bank. They are worried the hospital could negatively impact both environmental areas and that the state's Department of Natural Resources would not be able to do their prescribed burns.
DNR does not currently support the project.
Two other medical facilities are looking to build in Carolina Forest: Tidelands Health and McLeod Health.