Trees are tagged: What's next for Ingram Dunes?

Trees are tagged. What's next? (WPDE)

For more than a year, the battle over what will happen to the Ingram Dunes in North Myrtle Beach has made headlines.

In the past few months, things started to get real. Plans for a 31-home subdivision were approved and there was an outcry from the community.

The Ingram Dunes are located between 9th and 10th Avenue South and Hillside Drive in North Myrtle Beach.

Related: Future of Ingram Dunes remains big question mark

DDC Engineering, who is representing the owner, says they have received all the permits needed to start clearing trees within the rights-of-way of the project. The trees are now marked. However, the understanding is there is a grace period while the City of North Myrtle Beach is in negotiations to purchase the land, spokesperson Patrick Dowling said.

“The property owner wants $4 million. You could say at this point we’re a distance apart from one another, but we are talking with one another and we hope to be able to come together on a price," he said.

The city had the nine acre property appraised. ABC15 News has requested a copy of the appraisal through the Freedom of Information Act.

The breakdown for how the property would be purchased if an agreement can be met would be as follows, according to Dowling:

  • Half of the purchase price would come from the state funded South Carolina Conservation Bank
  • Up to $500,000 would come from the City of North Myrtle Beach
  • The remainder would be up to the money raised by the public

More than $20,000 has already been raised through donations.

Before the land can be fully developed, a land disturbance permit will need to be issued through DHEC. In June, there will be a DHEC public hearing at city hall.

It's confusing to see the fight against the development of the Ingram Dunes, Sean Hoelsher, the landscape architect on the project, said.

“To be honest it's quite puzzling. I certainly wouldn’t tell my neighbor what to do with their piece of property. I think these people have been actively trespassing on the site for a good number of years and it really comes down to, you don’t own a piece of property until you really own it," he said.

And to own the property, you'll need to pay, Hoelsher said.

“There are lots that are that close to the beach that are selling for approximately 120 to 150 thousand dollars depending on the site. So you take 31 single family finished lots and you do the math on that. It has a development potential, it has value. It’s not something that should be avoided or not discussed in the process," he said.

Related: Grassroots group says it won't stop fighting to save Ingram Dunes

For the group fighting the development, they say they will not give up.

On Saturday, the North Myrtle Beach Historic Preservation Society will be hosting a gala to save the Ingram Dunes. One of the women behind the gala and preserving the dunes, Brittany Callahan, said trying to save the dunes has become a full time job.

"I've spoken to a lot of the local officials here and one of the biggest problems is that there is a big price gap between what the city can pay and what the asking price on the property is and I was told to fundraise and here I am," she said.

Tickets for the gala are $50. The food, drinks and silent auction items have all been donated, which Callahan chalks up to the support from the community.

“The more people I talk to about this, the more I realize there is connection between residents and visitors and this property. They’ve been using it for 70 years now and so there is a feeling that it belongs in the city and the people want to see it saved so I’m working for those people," she said.

All donations made to the City of North Myrtle Beach to save the Ingram Dunes will be returned if the city is unable to purchase the land.

All of the money raised from ticket sales and the silent auction at Saturday night's gala will go towards the purchase of the dunes. If the city is unable to purchase the land, that money will be used to create an Ingram Dunes exhibit at the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum.

To purchase tickets or to find out how you can donate, click here or call the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum.

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