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Pawleys Plaza: Approval of meeting minutes leaves no doubts

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

There’s not usually a public body agenda item more mundane than approval of the minutes of the past meeting.

And though the unanimous approval of the September minutes of the Georgetown County Planning Commission last week appeared routine, it put to rest one of the talking points being developed by Sunbelt Ventures to sway Georgetown County Council’s decision about a big-box store coming to the site of Pawleys Island Plaza.

Sunbelt took exception to the commission’s recommendation to approve its development plan without a 119,500-square-foot store. The county limits commercial buildings in an “overlay zone” along Highway 17 to 60,000 square feet in a “planned development,” but Sunbelt claimed its store was outside the zone. County planning staff recommended approval for the same reason.

Opponents argued at a hearing last month that the restriction applies to developments visible from the highway.

A memo from Sunbelt drafted after the vote says the Planning Commission’s decision was not what commission member Marvin Neal intended when he made his motion.

“Neal attempted to make a second motion to approve the project exactly as recommended in the staff report with the only condition being the addition of a bike path and buffer in front,” according to the Sunbelt memo.

That would have allowed the big-box store. Opponents argued that the development has to comply with size limits

“In our opinion, the chairman [Brian Henry] then maneuvered to change Mr. Neal’s motion. A follow-up discussion with Mr. Neal shows that the motion passed was not the motion he intended to make. There is still a great deal of confusion about the recommendation of the Planning Commission to County Council, as evidenced by the way the results were reported in different media outlets. In any event, the Planning Commission vote is not binding on County Council.”

Neal had nothing to say after reading the developer’s memo prior to last week’s Planning Commission meeting. Henry said the matter was closed.

Commission member Glenda Shoulette said the chairman always restates members’ motions to assure accuracy.

Neal offered no corrections to the commission’s minutes before voting for their approval, signifying that he agreed with the motion recorded.

Dusty Wiederhold, a partner in Sunbelt, has said he was confused by the motion that the commission adopted. However, Sunbelt asked County Council to defer a vote on the recommendation until November.

Wiederhold wasn’t available for comment this week, but has said Sunbelt is at work to revise its plan. Any new proposal would come before County Council at its meeting on Dec. 11.

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