Horry County looks to modify law to address ‘problem’ businesses

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW)- Horry County Council will now consider an ordinance that amends the current business license law.

The county’s attorney says since 2003, more than two dozen different businesses have been closed in Horry County as a result of Court enforced nuisance actions prosecuted by the Solicitor’s Office. County leaders say it’s a costly process and state law allows the businesses to re-open just a year later.

“There’s not much that can happen for that. So, we wanted to see if we could address it beforehand, before people actually get a business license. Kind of put these businesses on notice before getting an application and going through a pre-clearance process for this,” Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said.

The proposed ordinance would require businesses that open after January 1, 2017 and will operate after midnight to undergo a per-clearance process.

That process will include completing a detailed application that identifies who all are involved in the business, who will be operating the business, and requires the applicant to identify any criminal, or otherwise unlawful or nuisance history.

The applicant would also have to submit a business safety plan in this process, something already required in the City of Myrtle Beach. That plan would layout specific measures the business will have to ensure lawful operations, safe drinking practices, and provide for the safety and security of employees and patrons and property.

“It does happen, we do get companies that come in that don’t have best intentions umm operating un lawful, having unlawful activity within their establishments and then it becomes very difficult for us to go through the process of shutting them down or revoking their license so this gives us that ability,” Bourcier said.

The only way an existing business would become subject to the regulations imposed by the new ordinance would be if
it becomes a problem business (i.e. by not operating lawfully and properly).

Horry County Council will have first reading of the ordinance at the council’s next meeting. It must pass three readings before it goes into effect.