Myrtle Beach Planning Commission debates city’s “family friendly” zoning

MYRTLE BEACH, SC ( WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Planning Commission says it needs more time to decide whether it wants to recommend the city’s plan to create a “family friendly” zone on Ocean Boulevard. The Commission says it needs two more weeks to make a decision.

City Council decided to send the Ocean Boulevard Entertainment Overlay District proposal to the Planning Commission for further review, after meeting last week. The proposed ordinance would prevent businesses from 6th Avenue North to 16th Avenue South from selling verbally or sexually explicit merchandise, as well as any sort of weapons or drug paraphernalia.

“Banning the sale of water guns and plastic swords, I don’t see what impact that will have on crime in Myrtle Beach,” said Gay Dolphin Gift Cove owner Buzz Plyler to commission members on Tuesday. Many on the commission also questioned the relationship between crime and commerce on the boulevard. “You don’t want to single out specific businesses or stores that may not be contributing to a problem,” said Planning Director Carol Coleman.

She says regulating what businesses in one area sell could just move the problem to a different part of town. “If we have it from 16th avenue North to 6th avenue South, what happens on one more block down south or one more block north.”

Several commission members also questioned why city council is targeting that area of the boulevard when crime is an issue throughout Myrtle Beach. “We want to make sure that we’re not singling out a specific area and painting it with a wide brush when we need to look at the whole city,” said Coleman. Planning Commission Chair Bill Pritchard says even if this zoning takes into effect, that alone won’t make the boulevard safer. “Zoning can play a part but it’s not going to be the total resolution.”

The Commission wants to review crime statistics on Ocean Boulevard and hear from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Police Department before making a recommendation.