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      Horry County halts operation of temporary batch plant

      Benton Ready Mix of Conway received a written warning from Horry County officials for operating a temporary concrete batch plant without a permit in the Berkshire community off River Oaks Drive.

      The batch plant is on the property where a new elementary school is being built off Augusta Plantation Drive.

      Batch plants are banned by the county in construction areas, but members passed first reading of an ordinance that allows temporary batch plants during a meeting on Aug. 16.

      Until it's passed, Benton Ready Mix is in violation.

      The division manager of Ready Mixed Concrete Company is against the ordinance and thinks it should be tabled. "If we pass this ordinance with temporary batch plants, we're basically allowing anybody from anywhere to come into this county," Robert Steele said. "We've got a noise ordinance now that restricts hours of operation and we're unable to enforce it. We have plants and operators open everyday prior to 7 a.m. in the road hauling concrete. If we can't enforce it, how will we enforce a temporary permit," Steele added.

      Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said the owner of Benton Ready Mix, Keith Benton, agreed upon the following during a meeting last week. Benton agreed to suspend all operation of the temporary batch plant until third reading of the ordinance passed. Any concrete that would be needed on the school site prior to third reading would be batched at a permanent batch plant and trucked into the site. Benton agreed to submit an application for a temporary plant at its current location in accordance with the ordinance currently being considered and staff would review the application. The goal would be to have a complete application at the time third reading was passed.

      Steele believes there's no need for a temporary batch plant in Horry County. "With the way construction is falling off there's no major road work going on in the county. There's plenty of adequate suppliers throughout the county that can supply the work that's going on," he said.

      Third reading of the ordinance is scheduled for September 20th.