Myrtle Beach Planning Commission stalls plans for family-friendly district

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach City Planning Commission is holding up the city’s plan to make Ocean Boulevard more family friendly.

The City of Myrtle Beach wants to make Ocean Boulevard more family friendly by restricting what stores there can sell. City Council asked the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission for a recommendation on whether to create a new family-friendly district on the boulevard more than a month ago, but members still can’t come to a decision.

City Attorney Thomas Ellenburg and City Manager John Pedersen came to the commission meeting on Tuesday to appeal to members and ease their concerns. However, the commission says it needs until the end of the summer to make a vote.“I think what happens on the boulevard sets the tone for the rest of the city”, said Pedersen.

Yet, the commission still isn’t sure prohibiting businesses from 6th Ave South to 16th Avenue North from selling sexually-explicit merchandise, weapons or drug paraphernalia will make the area safer. Commission Chairman Bill Pritchard said, “It’s a bit of an unusual way to deal with an issue. I think it’s difficult to define what the issue is and therefore define what solutions may be appropriate.”

 

Ellenburg assured the commission the city is well within its legal right to impose the district. He also explained that even if the city doesn’t create the district, it can still take legal action against stores selling those products. This led some commission members to question why the city isn’t doing that in the first place. “It’s a question of the commission’s from when it was first introduced to us a month ago. Some commission members have said why are we looking at this? Why does this come to us?” said Pritchard.

Pedersen tried to convince the commission that the family friendly district is an important step towards reducing crime, saying “I don’t think it’s the whole wall but I do think it’s a brick. And I think it’s an important brick that will help set the tone.” However, Pritchard says the commission wants to thoroughly review all the facts before making a decision. “It’s  going to take us a while to get through this, I’m sure. It’s too complicated. It impacts too many good business people. We don’t want to put anybody out of business.”

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the matter on June 20th.