The Mission of Georgetown County Government is to promote health, safety, knowledge, and welfare of citizens. Number 1 on the list is: Specifically, to protect our unique environment by managing our open spaces, rivers, beaches. Ecological areas and natural resources in a manner consistent with the community’s values and priorities.
I honestly haven’t seen a lot of this happening in the last few years, but I do have reason to hope. On Thursday the 21st the Georgetown County Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny a resolution to amend the Future Land Use Plan and allow a zone change that would open the door for a 182-unit apartment complex on Pettigru Rd. This is the second unanimous vote to deny this plan and keep it from moving forward that they have made.
Decisions like this are critical to this area. When Georgetown County set out to designate zoning districts for the first time in the 70’s there was no way officials could have foreseen how those decisions would play out. Zone changes, special exceptions and changes in priorities over the years have made this county and its districts what they are today. There was a time when every time I came here there was a new business, a new fast-food establishment, a new restaurant, a new bank, a new grocery store, drug store, medical building, car wash or gas station. I can still remember seeing the first Suck, Bang, Blow go up and wondering what the heck was happening here. Nothing, not even SBB has awakened me more than what has happened in the last two years. The amount of new development appearing on the horizon every day now is astounding.
What we see today is the result of decisions made by our county administrators, planning staff, the planning commission and our county council members of years ago. Decisions made in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2015 and who knows when are having a major impact on how we live today. What happens today will impact our tomorrows.
So, you might wonder, is anyone even paying attention to all this? The good news is, yes. New studies have been conducted and more are on the way. The bad news is, the conclusions are sobering. The Georgetown County Hazard Mitigation Plan and Governor McMasters study on flood waters point to the need to do something and do it now.
The County just announced a storm water study to the tune of $750,000. This is a lot of money for a County of this size but this is just a drop in the bucket compared to what it will cost to fix what we created. The money for these projects and the funds to maintain them comes from the pockets of the taxpayers. That is why when we speak, our officials should listen.
All of which brings me to the main purpose of all of this. That is to publicly thank the members of our Planning Commission. Chairwoman Elizabeth Krauss, for abstaining. Councilman Johnny Weaver for his recusal and members Freddie Hill, Zannie Graham, Zach Grate, Robert Davis and Sandra Bundy for making this a better place for all of us. Thank you for donating many hours of your time to hear and respond to our asks. Yes, that’s right, DONATING time. These are unpaid appointees who have been asked to vote on some of the most controversial plans, the ones that have drawn so much opposition that they are withdrawn and never even get to a County Council vote.
I only hope that the County Council will honor the mission statement of the county they have been elected to serve and decide to act “in a manner consistent with the community’s values and priorities” on all matters going forward. The community has spoken. Your turn.