Georgetown County Revises Residential Density With New Future Land Use Maps

Georgetown County Revises Residential Density With New Future Land Use Maps

Georgetown County's Comprehensive Plan Overhaul Sparks Debate

In an effort to update its comprehensive plan, Georgetown County has introduced new future land use maps that potentially reshape the residential landscape of the Waccamaw Neck area. The overhaul, backed by consultants from Boudreaux, received a mixed reception when the Planning Commission voted 4-3 in favor of the update. Despite this approval, opposition from local residents, particularly those involved with the citizens group Keep It Green, has been vocal. The crux of their complaint centers around residential density concerns, with many arguing that the proposed changes do not do enough to tame high-density developments.

High-Density Worries

According to Keep It Green, the proposed future land use maps could lead to the construction of over 5,000 new homes in the Waccamaw Neck area. This projection has many residents worried about the potential strain on community resources, increased traffic, and altered neighborhood characters. One of the most significant changes proposed is the reclassification of areas near Highway 17 and Waverly Road in Pawleys Island. Under the current 'general residential' zoning, developments could house up to 16 units per acre. However, the new plan suggests changing these areas to 'village centers,' which would effectively reduce the density to a range of four to eight units per acre.

Aims of the Revised Plan

The overarching goal of the comprehensive plan update is to curb rampant high-density development by reducing 'general residential' zoning categories. This reorganization is intended to preserve the unique character of the Waccamaw Neck area while accommodating controlled growth. Notably, consultant Ryan Bland emphasized that a thorough comparison between current zoning maps and the proposed updates is essential for accurately understanding the impacts of any changes. Bland contends that this method provides a clearer picture of how communities will evolve under the new guidelines.

Conflicting Perspectives

Conflicting Perspectives

However, this stance is not universally accepted. Critics from Keep It Green argue that the county's approach falls short of effectively reducing density, mainly because the existing zoning rules have not yet been aligned with the updated comprehensive plan. For the residents and activists within this group, the most pressing issue is the apparent disparity between current and proposed development capabilities, which they believe have not been sufficiently addressed.

Balancing Development and Preservation

As the county moves forward with plans to revise its zoning code within the year, the debates pertaining to development density and community character preservation are unlikely to quiet down. For many Waccamaw Neck residents, the character of their neighborhoods and their quality of life are hanging in the balance. High-density developments have the potential to drastically change the fabric of these communities, introducing new challenges related to infrastructure, public services, and environmental sustainability.

Residents Voice Their Concerns

Local voices have continued to speak out about the possible repercussions of the proposed density changes. Some residents argue that increased residential density will lead to environmental degradation, particularly in areas as historically rich and ecologically sensitive as the Waccamaw Neck. Others worry about the impact on local schools, public safety, and emergency services, which may face increasing pressures as the population grows. Traffic congestion is another significant concern, especially during peak seasons when the area already experiences a surge of tourists and seasonal residents.

The Role of Community Input

The Role of Community Input

The ongoing discussions have also shed light on the importance of community input in shaping local governance. Engagements like public hearings, community meetings, and feedback sessions are crucial platforms for residents to express their concerns and contribute suggestions. As the county endeavors to balance development and preservation, this input becomes an invaluable component of the decision-making process.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, the success of the comprehensive plan update and the new future land use maps will depend on finding a delicate balance between accommodating growth and preserving the distinctive character of neighborhoods. It’s a balancing act that requires careful planning, transparent communication, and ongoing cooperation between county officials, developers, and residents. With the promise of more public discussions and zoning code revisions on the horizon, Georgetown County stands at a critical juncture. The decisions made now will likely shape the Waccamaw Neck and its communities for generations to come.


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