Horry County, Myrtle Beach leaders partner against bad businesses

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Horry County and City of Myrtle Beach leaders are teaming up to make sure a good night out doesn’t turn violent, and are ready to penalize businesses that are deemed a problem.

Horry County and Myrtle Beach governments each passed ordinances to make it easier to revoke or deny someone a business license. Leaders on both sides say it was necessary for them to come together to develop a game plan for how to make communities safer by ensuring businesses aren’t allowing, or inciting, violence.

“This is not an issue that’s just the City of Myrtle Beach, just the city of North Myrtle Beach, it is an area-wide issue,” explains Myrtle Beach City Councilman Wayne Gray.

Numerous shootings at night clubs and bars, like the one at Pure Ultra Club on Nov. 5 that injured five, left Horry County and Myrtle Beach city leaders with one question.

“How do we work together to make sure that we’re providing the best benefit to all of our citizens?” asks Gray.

The solution, or at least the first step in the right direction, appears to be in the form of a new ordinance from each government.

The City of Myrtle Beach passed laws that require safety plans from all businesses, mandate businesses in some parts of the city to close early and allow the city to revoke a license from problem businesses.

The safety plans from each business must detail how managers and staff will react if a violent act occurs, or if a situation like a large crowd in the parking lot or escalating verbal arguments, were to take place at the business.

The safety plan will also include information about the individual business owners and affirmation that the late night establishment will not allow any criminal activity or sexual activity that violates the county’s adult entertainment establishment regulations.

“We don’t want to just move the problem from one part of Myrtle Beach to another, or just move it just outside the city limits, but yet we’re still dealing with the plague and the challenge and the damage to the brand that that may create,” says Gray.

Horry County Council passed a similar ordinance in its meeting Tuesday night. The county’s regulations require new bars or night clubs to go through a similar application process, including developing a thorough safety plan, which would allow the county to pull a business owner’s license if they have problems on a repeated basis.

“This particular ordinance is one that we patterned after the City of Myrtle Beach,” reports Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

Gray and Lazarus say in order to cut violence throughout the area, city and county leaders will have to work together to pass similar legislation, and Tuesday’s ordinance was the start of that process.

“We will certainly be working hand-in-hand with the City of Myrtle Beach because we all need to work together to coordinate where activity may be and issues that we may be having to be able to help each other out,” Lazarus adds.

Gray says while his main focus is the City of Myrtle Beach, protecting the citizens, guests, business owners, and residents throughout the county will take a county-wide partnership.

Horry County Council Member Johnny Vaught says the ordinance passed Tuesday by Horry County leaders is for anyone opening up a new business in the county. Existing businesses will not have to submit a safety plan unless they have repeated problems.