Planning Commission meets on Pawleys Island Plaza

More than 1,300 people came to the Georgetown County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night for a public hearing on a potential big box store. It took five hours, more than 90 speakers, and presentations from the developer and county staff before the commission reached a recommendation.

Their decision was to recommend the improvement developments for Pawleys Island Plaza, but only if the stores fit the size requirements of 45,000 to 60,000 square feet. That's much smaller than the proposed 119,000 square feet. The Georgetown County Council will still have three votes on the plan.

Groups such as Don't Box the Neck and the Coastal Conservation League are fighting the proposed store that would go where Pawleys Island Plaza is now.

"We're the ones who pay our taxes, and if you don't want it, you should listen to us," Sharon Huber, part of the group said.

Sunbelt Properties, a Charleston based developer, wants to change the plaza which is currently operating at 30 percent occupancy.

While it is certain the store is a national retailer, and some rumors have circulated it may be a WalMart, the name of the store hasn't been released.

The store would be the anchor tenant with other stores surrounding it. In past interviews with NewsChannel 15, some small business owners with storefronts in the current plaza think the re-vamp would be beneficial to their business.

County law limits commercial buildings to 45,000 square feet along U.S. Highway 17, but current plans are for the store to be set far enough back from the highway to avoid those limits. The store would still need county approval for changes and additions to the property.

In 2005, Pawleys Island residents and business owners successfully fought off a Lowe's Home Improvement store that had been planned for the town.

County council will hold a first reading on Oct. 9. A discussion with public hearing and second vote would take place on Oct. 23, with a final vote on Nov. 13.