HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — With the prospect of hundreds of new neighbors quickly becoming reality, Island Green residents in the Burgess area of Horry County are trying to make their calls for change heard.
Even they fear it may be too late.
First approved in 1981, Island Green is a unique collection of communities in the rapidly growing county. Two dozen different HOA's, representing 1,200 homes, share the same guarded entrance and exit. Regulations requiring multiple accesses weren't written until well after houses began being occupied.
400 houses are slated for this next round, which replaces a shuttered golf course.
"We just want a chance," protest organizer Dawne Dunton said. "We want them to hear another option."
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Dunton and a small group of people spent much of the day handing out flyers to neighbors and rallying support at the community's entrance -- land that is owned by the developer himself. She said a land trust was interested in acquiring unused property.
Her efforts had been given new wind by the discovery of a rare Limpkin breeding pair occupying a section of the course.
However, the engineer and developer have all the permits they need and construction is underway, Limpkin or no.
Steven Powell, owner of Venture Engineering and the engineer on the project, said the HOA's dug their own hole. He said they tried to get community members to share the cost of road improvements, which were estimated to amount to $4 per month per household, in exchange for a seat at the table. The HOA's balked.
"They had a chance to have a voice in this," Powell said. "They lost that chance."
The road will still be upgraded, costing the developer $750,000.
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County Councilman Gary Loftus, who swung by the protest, was no stranger to impacts from decisions made decades ago. He couldn't promise the residents any relief from the county's side, simply because the development already had all the documents it needed.
"If we can get them to have a master HOA and things of that nature, then maybe we can start doing some things," he said.
Dunton and her fellow protesters appeared pleased with the day's effort, having connected with many residents who weren't aware of their group.
She said, more than anything else, her goal was to be heard. In that respect, her group succeeded.
Whether anything changes is to be decided.