By Ruben Lowman
North Myrtle Beach City Council met for a workshop on Monday, March 28, in order to assess how to move forward with proposed plans revolving around properties that mostly used to make up the former Waterway Hills Golf Course near the Arcadian Shores area.
The Parkway Group Planned Development District (PDD) plans specifically discussed pertains to multiple properties in the vicinity of the old golf course and what is now Water Tower Road. The workshop was held to go over some of the finer details that the two developers have for their properties located near the roundabout as part of the Parkway Group PDD.
A big aspect of the appeal the area has to both residential and commercial developers is its prime location, lying near several major highways and the long-proposed I-73 project. Highways 22 and 31 are close by, and new neighborhoods are sprouting up along the corridor at a rapid pace. Grande Dunes North, a 998-home development that makes up a large portion of the PDD, was approved last year, with the Bell’s Lake subdivision and Watertower Estates in construction now.
Proposed plans for The Preserve PDD came up before council, a major development project that is taking place directly on the old Waterway Hills Golf Course, which closed its doors in 2015. The plans proposed to council lay out that it would consist of several different parcels of land that would each have distinct communities within them.
The Preserve Cottages would add 300 residences, The Preserve Duplexes 108 units and The Preserve Single-Family would consist of 172 homes. In total, The Preserve plans lay out nearly 600 new residences on the former golf course.
Hatley said she liked the fact that the developers of the property were thinking about sustainability with their plans, but she personally wanted them to lower the density of the project and provide residents with more open space.
Councilmember Nikki Fontana, who represents the Windy Hill section where the proposed plans would take place, agreed with Hatley that she was concerned about the size of the multi-families.
“They’re just huge to me,” said Fontana.
Councilmember Fred Coyne agreed that he felt some of the footprint on the project was a little overwhelming on the site plan.
City manager Mike Mahaney interjected to remind council and Mayor Hatley that there should be some discussion about the development lying near the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000 mile pedestrian and bike path that lines the East Coast of the United States.
“Mayor, you probably need to have some discussion on the East Coast Greenway and the trailhead,” said Mahaney.
Mahaney said there was a nice creek on the property, on some 13 acres of space. He said that council should at least discuss having a trailhead, an easement or maybe a five-acre park.
“With housing units there needs to be a discussion about a park,” Mahaney said.
City planner Jim Wood explained that the original intent for the PDD was to have a trail and then decide the exact location later. Wood said originally the city’s standpoint was the 13-acre park space didn’t have a lot of utility. But now that much of the zoning is transitioning from commercial to residential, he said maybe the city should recalibrate what they’re doing with the plans.
Fontana said that they should think about lowering density, along with providing more open space in the parks and trails of the neighborhood.
“Those are the two things,” Mayor Hatley said.
A representative from the developer said they would possibly look to build a boardwalk on the 13 acres of park space. In addition, The Preserve is being built on properties containing over 17 acres of wetlands.
“Before we move into any final plans, we need to come to a solution about the park,” said Hatley.
The development would wrap around Water Tower Road, which used to be a dirt road until recent years. That changed drastically in 2009 when a wildfire in the area burned nearly 20,000 acres and affected close to 100 homes within Barefoot Resort.
The city decided to pave the seven miles that runs from Highway 90 to the former course in order to make it passable for first responders and emergency personnel to react to life-threatening situations.
Hatley expressed that the road will eventually be a major intersection for North Myrtle Beach, saying it would one day be a “major bypass to our city.”
Water Tower Road lies on the corridor between the burgeoning Barefoot communities and the growing developments that formerly made up Waterway Hills. The golf course was annexed into the city in 2008 by the owners of six parcels of land, which became the Parkway Group PDD.
Hatley explained that the developers needed to design and present another set of plans to council in order for the project to move forward and, ultimately, be approved.
“I don’t need more rooftops, I need quality developments,” Hatley said
Mahaney set a target date of April 13 at 1:30 p.m. for councilmembers, city employees and any interested residents to head over to the property and check out the plans. Mahaney said they would look to get a Coast RTA bus to shuttle everyone there and back.
“I look forward to seeing the drawings,” Hatley said.
Council will meet next Monday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at NMB City Hall.