Horry County rejects huge housing, retail plan in Carolina Forest. Will Conway take it?

Jason Lee/jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County leaders have blocked a plan to put more than 1,100 homes and a sprawling retail complex into the heart of Carolina Forest, siding with residents who for months said the project would have clogged roads and jammed more students into already overcrowded classrooms.

“It’s clear we’re pretty far behind on some critical infrastructure in the county, and it’s also pretty clear that people who I represent don’t want it,” council member Dennis DiSabato said Nov. 14. “So I have to side with constituents even though I think it’s a good idea.”

The council rejected the planned development with a unanimous vote at the Nov. 14 meeting.

At issue was whether to convert 175 acres for commercial and retail use — anchored by 1,154 homes.

Although the residential and commercial components had to be decided separately, they were designed to complement one another.

Planning documents for a proposal called Chatham Crossing show a request to flip 34 acres along Postal Way — which feeds onto U.S. Highway 501 — from light industrial into a more versatile retail zoning to include multi-family residential, townhomes, gas stations, self-storage, restaurants/bars, retail, grocery stores and gyms.

Medical offices and repair services also would be permitted.

As part of the deal, project managers would make $1.7 million in infrastructure and road upgrades to support the additional population, including adding a third lane to Postal Way and building two roundabouts within the subdivision.

That’s on top of nearly $14 million of privately funded upgrades to Postal Way, including lane widenings, better pedestrian access and more interconnectivity.

DiSabato said extracting those concessions could have set precedence for future developments by requiring builders to finance a share of public safety costs.

G3 Engineering and Thomas & Hutton — whose firms are spearheading the project — are likely to seek annexation into Conway for the Postal Way concept, DiSabato said Nov. 14.

Neither company representatives nor Conway officials could immediately be reached for comment.

“I would encourage our counterparts on the city council in Conway to really take a close look ... I think it would be catastrophic for the area if there is no infrastructure in place and they approve this,” DiSabato said.

Norm Fay, a Carolina Forest resident who’s leading a group exploring the possibility of incorporation, called the denial a “big victory.”

“It was totally unexpected. Everybody told us we were up against an impossible task. But it sounds like Dennis and the rest of the council listened to all the complaints,” he said. “There were no positives coming out of this.”