By Ruben Lowman
The Longs community, one of the fastest-growing areas of Grand Strand and Horry County, may be about to grow a lot more.
Three new property developments in the Longs area were approved by the county planning commission on Thursday, May 5, and will now come before council for final approval. In three separate proposals, almost 200 new residences were given the green light to be built along the rapidly-expanding Highway 9 and Highway 90 corridor, along with an industrial development.
Although the meeting did not include the large group of residents usually seen in municipal meetings throughout the local area that pertain to new developments, there were legitimate complaints made by concerned residents who live locally.
The first proposal, for 72 single-family homes, was made by Development Resource Group (DRG). The developer’s plans would see nearly 40 acres that was previously farms converted into a new subdivision on Chestnut Road, which would sit roughly a mile off of Highway 90.
Local resident Sue Chestnut-Wilson brought forward several issues with the proposed plans. She said her family has a century-old cemetery on the road that would sit next to the entrance of the proposed subdivision and worries that it would be damaged.
“It’s historical and we don’t want it messed up,” Chestnut-Wilson said.
She also brought up the issue of increased congestion on Highway 90, which she said was already awful. The problem with traffic on major highways in the expanding areas of North Myrtle Beach, Longs, Wampee and Loris has become a common theme during municipal meetings over the past couple of years as development has surged.
A representative from DRG said they would work with Chestnut-Wilson in the future concerning the development’s proximity to the cemetery and her farmland, with their current proposal keeping a 50-foot buffer between the two.
Moving further into Longs and the Wampee communities, another development that would sit on 22 acres received approval. The commercial development, proposed by Venture Engineering, would see an industrial area brought to the Highway 90 and Highway 22 interchange.
The developer did not outline what the industrial development would entail, but it is currently zoned to permit a wide range of businesses, including scrap metal plants.
A few residents who live close to the interchange shared their issues with the commission, including any sounds, lights or smells that would emanate from a proposed industrial plant. One resident presented a petition with 99 signatures collected from homeowners who live close by. She said over half of the residents in the area are seniors and that they hoped they wouldn’t have to face the decision of moving away from where they would ideally continue to live.
As the Grand Strand has essentially become one long 60-mile commercial and residential strip, land that was once rural and farmland has become prime real estate for developers. With not much habitable land still remaining close to the shore, development has shifted westward in the county, with the Little River, Longs and Loris areas seeing the most increase. The area has seen a near 50 percent rise in residences over the last decade, which was the most in the entire county.
Former pasture land and tobacco farms are now residential subdivisions, which continue to dot the once-rural highways of the communities at a feverish pace. The growth has seen thousands of new homes built in recent years, with even more proposed, along with some necessary improvements to emergency services. Residents have expressed that more infrastructure work is needed before further development is approved.
Another residential development was also approved, located on 41 acres of vacant land, that sits on the former Black Bear Golf Course on Highway 9. As with several other former golf courses in the local area, it is being eyed by developers for subdivisions. Venture Engineering has proposed to build 91 single-family residences on Kayla Circle and next to the Myrtle Lakes North subdivision.
Similar to Highway 90, a portion of Highway 9 lying between Longs and Loris has seen an increasing number of developments in recent years. The former golf course is one of them, with more subdivisions in the works.
All three developments received approval by the planning commission and will now come before Horry County Council at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 17.