1,400 more homes, fewer businesses proposed for Carolina Forest

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WBTW) – The Horry County Planning and Zoning Department and a Myrtle Beach engineering group believe more homes in Carolina Forest will cut down on traffic and support the growing population of retirees in the area.

The plan involves rezoning more than 400 acres of land off of Carolina Bays Parkway and River Oaks Drive so that 1,400 single-family homes can be built, reducing the available space for businesses and multi-family living units.

DDC Engineers say the land was originally zoned for roughly 500 single-family homes and 700,000 square feet of commercial space. The new plan will cut the space for businesses by more than half, and engineers say that will support less traffic.

“The most significant change is going to be traffic,” predicts Brent Schulz with DDC Engineers. “We’re reducing the traffic enormously on this project and we’re also going to be making improvements to River Oaks Boulevard.”

Horry County Planning Director Janet Carter says DDC Engineers will work with the county to make changes on River Oaks Blvd. DDC has agreed to donate $1,000 for every home and condominium built, and for every $100,000 of commercial building built. The money will pay for the future widening of the well-traveled road.

“It’s a high growth area and eventually the county would like to widen River Oaks Drive. I think everyone sees a need for that. It’s just a matter of identifying the funding,” says Carter.

“We certainly have a lot of retirees in Horry County, and we certainly don’t see that stopping. We’ll probably continue to increase, so there is a tremendous housing market here,” explains Carter.

The planning commission gave a favorable recommendation to the zoning change Thursday night, and the project will now move to Horry County Council for consideration.

Although the project is designed to cut down on traffic through Carolina Forest, residents of the area like Joanne Dogata says adding more homes is not the traffic solution.

“A lot of people will drive their children to school, so if you’re going to work, you have to contend with all that traffic coming in and out of Augusta Plantation Drive,” says Dogata. “I’m just concerned about getting in and out of the development and the roads. It’s going to end up like Carolina Forest Boulevard. It’s going to be massive traffic on River Oaks Drive.”

Dogata says although the businesses may bring more congestion to the area, it is nice to have certain amenities nearby.

“I appreciate the stores coming closer. That would be great because if you need any milk or bread or anything you have to go all the way three miles or more down the road,” she explains.

If Horry County Council approves the plan, DDC Engineers say they plan to start construction by the end of 2017.