Horry County planners OK rezoning for proposed Grand Strand Humane Society facility
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Horry County planners OK rezoning for proposed Grand Strand Humane Society facility

May 25, 2023

by: Meghan Miller

Posted: Jun 2, 2023 / 12:24 PM EDT

Updated: Jun 2, 2023 / 05:17 PM EDT

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) — Horry County planning commissioners pushed through a rezoning request Thursday for the proposed site of a new Grand Strand Humane Society facility.

That approval came despite criticism and concern from people who live in the area.

"I’m not against animals, I love animals," Alayna DeFalco said during public comment. "I think it's a great plan. It's a bad location."

The human society is looking to build a 38,000-square-foot facility along River Oaks Drive. The undeveloped piece of land sits between the Waterway Palms and Carolina Waterway Plantation communities. The new facility would include dog and cat kennels, an outdoor area and veterinary clinic.

The group is currently splitting operations between a temporary location at the US-501 Tanger Outlets and its facility on Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach. Extensive building damage and a pest infestation forced the humane society to search for a new, permanent location.

Those who live near the proposed site along River Oaks raised noise, traffic, property value depreciation and smell concerns.

"If you have a fence and you have a dog next door to you and they don't pick up – one dog – it affects your quality of life right there. Your neighbor doesn't feel like they can go outside. The smell," said a man who lives nearby, moments after handing commissioners a petition against the project. "But if my neighbor has a problem with quality of life and he or she have to sell their house and they get less than what they should be getting for it because of noise, because of smell, because there's no way that anybody can say that they’re gonna be able to control all of that. It's just impossible."

A representative for the humane society's project on Thursday reiterated to county commissioners the organization's understanding of public concerns — ranging from noise to traffic.

He said the facility will be soundproof and have individual dog kennels. He pointed to a tree and land buffer between the proposed facility and nearby homes as an additional noise barrier. The representative also explained that a small staff of 12 employees and an average of 25 visitors per day should be seen as a positive alternative to the traffic a subdivision could bring to the area.

One woman who spoke in favor of the project and area called it a "beautiful plot of land deserving of animals in need."

"The reality is, the humane society probably already knows that there's going to be resistance by several people in the community," Veronica Knight told commissioners during public comment. "They don't want to be bad neighbors. They’re going to do everything I think they can do to soundproof and make sure we keep the integrity of the neighborhood."

Another woman speaking in support of the facility said she thinks it could add value to the area.

"I think the biggest concern is.. is it really going to have a sound barrier? Is it going to really provide the sound that they’ve mentioned, as well as the walls? I’ve seen it successfully done, but it requires the whole entire community to come together to make that work," she said.

In addition to Thursday's approval from the planning commission, the request must ultimately pass three votes by Horry County Council.

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