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Pawleys Island: North end parking gets a closer look

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The fate of 53 parking spaces along Atlantic Avenue on the north end of Pawleys Island will be reviewed by town planners to make sure they comply with local restrictions, but a proposal from the Planning Commission that would have eliminated all roadside parking was scuttled by the town’s attorney.

The commission began looking at parking and traffic safety last year after commission member Walter McElveen told Town Council roadside parking on Atlantic Avenue made the street unsafe for pedestrians.

Last month, the commission suggested that sight line rules for intersections and driveways that are contained in the town’s development ordinance be applied to vehicles. The combination of cross streets and driveways on Atlantic Avenue would have made parking impossible despite an 80-foot-wide right-of-way.

Town Attorney David DuRant said the development ordinance doesn’t apply to the state-owned right-of-way. It only restricts private property. The town has other rules that apply to parking, which mirror state law, he said.

“It seems to me you could put up No Parking signs,” DuRant told Town Council at a meeting this week.

“We have so many signs already,” said Council Member Mike Adams. “If we have to, that is a consideration.”

Howard Ward, who chairs the Planning Commission and who came to Town Council looking for advice, was asked how he thought the town should proceed.

“At best, our recommendation is going to upset somebody,” he said.

The town has to balance the interests of residents, rental properties and day visitors, Ward said. He proposed commission members and the police look at each potential parking space along Atlantic Avenue to see if it complies with the parking laws: at least 15 feet away from a fire hydrant, 20 feet from an intersection and 30 feet from a stop sign.

“I’d like this committee moving,” Ward told the council. “You would finalize the changes.”

Council members agreed.

Police Chief Guy Osborne said there is room for 53 vehicles, based on his observations during peak times last season when all available parking spots on the island were full. “They’re legally parked, according to our ordinance,” he said.

Beachgoers are creative in finding parking, and in some cases have cleared brush growing in the right-of-way to make space, Osborne said.


The 80-foot right-of-way was created to get federal funds to pave Atlantic Avenue in the 1940s, Ward said. The pavement isn’t centered in the right-of-way and property owners have encroached in it, he said, “but that’s true all over Pawleys Island.”

He said the committee also needs to look at those encroachments.

Council Member Glennie Tarbox said he counted dozens of houses where the driveway is as wide as the lot. He wondered if the town could reduce those widths. DuRant said the state has authority over encroachments.

“If the town takes the driveway, some may not be able to park under their own house,” Adams said.

“It’s a can of worms,” Tarbox said.

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