010418 Land use: Restaurant roof plan seen as threat to design code
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A rendering shows the proposed façade of the restaurant.

Land use: Restaurant roof plan seen as threat to design code

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A request to rebuild the McDonald’s restaurant in Pawleys Island with a flat roof rather than a pitched one threatens to undermine the county’s architectural guidelines for commercial buildings on the Waccamaw Neck, according to Georgetown County planning staff. The restaurant says it is too expensive to meet the requirement for a pitched roof.

“We normally try to keep our staff reports kind of neutral,” said Boyd Johnson, the county planning director. “We were pretty aggressive in our report. It’s one we consider a very big deal.”

The restaurant was built in 1999, before Georgetown County adopted a set of design standards for commercial buildings in the Highway 17 corridor on Waccamaw Neck. The owner, Archland Property I of Columbus, Ohio, plans a $700,000 renovation of the restaurant. Since that is more than half the value of the existing building, it triggers compliance with the design standards. Those include a roof with at least a 6/12 pitch.

Archland has requested a variance, the first that will be heard by the county since it disbanded its Architectural Review Board in 2014 following approval of the roof design for the Publix at Pawleys Island Plaza. Instead of having a pitched roof over 50 percent of the building, it was allowed to scale that back to 30 percent.

County Council abolished the board and let the Board of Zoning Appeals hear variance requests.

The appeals board granted the restaurant a variance to parking requirements last year. That will allow more space for a second drive-through window.

If McDonald’s is allowed to rebuild with a flat roof, it will make it hard to enforce the design code elsewhere, Johnson said. “We don’t see a need for it. The only justification for it is money,” he said, adding that isn’t a criteria for approving a variance under state law. “If they do that, then every little store that comes in is going to want one.”

The county is now working with architects for Lidl, a grocery store planned on Highway 17 at Petigru Drive. The company doesn’t object to the pitched roof requirement, Johnson said, although its initial plan “was their modern look with a flat roof.”

Sonic and KFC both worked with the county to comply, he added.

The appeals board was due to hear the request tonight, but the hearing was cancelled due to the winter storm.

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