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South Causeway: Partner says plan for tract will cut density

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The developers of a commercial tract on Highway 17 at the South Causeway to Pawleys Island are still working on the details, but a principal in the project said the overall density of the development will be less than what Georgetown County has already approved.

The county Planning Commission has received a request for approval of the first phase of the project, which includes a 57,000-square-foot building. That’s just under the county’s building size limit for commercial buildings in “planned developments” in the Highway 17 corridor.

But opponents of last year’s proposal to rezoning the Pawleys Island Plaza development to allow a 119,500-square-foot building say they want the county to adopt a 45,000-square-foot limit.

Pawleys Island Town Council, which opposed the plaza project, may hold a special meeting to discuss the South Causeway plan. Even though the sites are outside the town limits, the council has said in the past development there will impact the island.

“My personal opinion, based on past resolutions the town has adopted, is the Town Council continues to believe 45,000 feet should be the limit,” Mayor Bill Otis said.

The South Causeway site was once proposed for a 168,000-square-foot Lowe’s home improvement store. It was not approved by County Council. The Pawleys Island Plaza plan was approved last month with the largest building containing 60,000 square feet.

The 18 acres at the South Causeway were approved for 214,000 square feet of commercial space, with each phase required to get county approval.

“A lot of the square footage that was originally approved, that won’t be developed,” said Ron Swinson of Columbia, a principal in the project. “I want to believe this will be well received.”

Tom Stickler, president of the Waccamaw Neck Council of Property Owners Associations, told members this week the project “has the potential of adding to traffic on Highway 17.” He is also a member of Don’t Box the Neck, which opposed the plaza project. The group has not met to discuss the South Causeway project, but individual members are concerned, Otis said.

Swinson said his group has a contract to purchase the site from First South Bank, which acquired it last year through foreclosure. He was waiting this week for details on the businesses that will go into the phase, which also includes buildings of 14,000 and 6,000 square feet.

“We want to be a good neighbor,” Swinson said.

Otis and SueAnn Crawford, who chairs Don’t Box the Neck, say the tenant isn’t the issue. And County Council Member Bob Anderson, who supports a 45,000-square-foot limit, reminded the property owners council this week that grocery stores are the tenants of the largest existing commercial buildings along Highway 17 and none of them take up more than 30,000 square feet.

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