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Pawleys Plaza: Council member says Publix likely tenant for development
By Jason Lesley
A Georgetown County Council member expects the anchor store at a revamped Pawleys Plaza to be a Publix grocery.
Bob Anderson told members of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Women’s Club this week that the occupant of a new building approved for up to 60,000 square feet at the plaza will “probably be a Publix.”
Anderson cautioned that a refurbished plaza is still not a done deal.
His comment confirmed what some county staff said they were told earlier this year, but which they were not authorized to talk about.
A spokeswoman for Publix said there was no store on the schedule, but she had heard “rumors” about a store in the Myrtle Beach market. She said the company doesn’t comment on rumors.
Anderson said he was not satisfied with a roof design variance for the anchor store that was approved by members of the Waccamaw Neck Architectural Review Board this month. Waccamaw Neck building standards call for pitched roofs over at least 50 percent of new construction or remodeled buildings increasing in value by 50 percent or more. Sunbelt Ventures was granted a variance that allowed a pitched roof over 30 percent of the anchor store with other buildings’ roofs in the project making up the deficit.
“We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” Anderson said. He compared the plaza’s design to a Hollywood set with timbers holding up a facade designed to give the appearance of a pitched roof.
Anderson said County Council acted quickly after the ARB’s decision, dismissing its members and starting a process to dissolve the board itself before developers of Pawleys Market with a Lowe’s Foods as anchor could ask for a similar roof variance. Anderson said meeting the pitched roof standards cost the developer at the South Causeway about $500,000 more in construction costs.
He said he wouldn’t blame Pawleys Market developer Ron Swinson and his partners for seeking what they called “a level playing field.”
The variance granted for Pawleys Plaza will stand unless it’s challenged in court. Anderson said he would wait and see if anyone comes forward to file suit.
Pawleys Island Mayor Bill Otis told members of County Council on Tuesday it’s up to them to file suit to reverse the roof decision. “I have talked to a lot of interested parties,” Otis said during the council’s public comment period, “and I have not heard of anybody who is going to challenge the board’s decision. Everybody seems to feel that is the county’s obligation.”
Otis said the town of Pawleys Island is defending the county’s groin permit at the south end parking lot and cannot commit to the time or cost of another legal action. The citizens group Don’t Box The Neck has disbanded, he said, believing the county would follow through with the developer.
“The members of the appeals board were evidently not trained in its narrow authority and responsibility under state and county law, as evidenced by the comments made by board members during the hearing and the motion that was finally passed,” Otis told council members. He said ARB members assumed the council’s authority with its decision.
Otis said an appeal by the developer at the South Causeway would open the floodgate for future appeals of all the architectural requirements of the overlay zone.
Neither Anderson nor Council Member Jerry Oakley said they sensed a willingness by the council to appeal the variance in Circuit Court.