April 23, 2017

 

Mr. James Wood, Director of Planning and Development

City of North Myrtle Beach

1018 Second Avenue South

North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

 

Dear Mr. Wood:

As you may be aware, the Tidewater Plantation Community Association previously developed a position paper on future development, safety, and traffic issues on Little River Neck Road. It is recognized that State and/or County funding for improvements (widening) of Little River Neck Road has a projected 30-50 year timetable. The City’s interim focus in assuring the safety of residents along Little River Neck Road should include the prudent control of growth and traffic along the Little River Neck Road cul-de-sac.

For these reasons, amplified below, the Tidewater Plantation Community Association hereby petitions the City of North Myrtle   Beach and Horry County Government to consider interim measures to enhance the safety of residents along Little River Neck Road.

Specifically, in addition to an acknowledged need for low density future development, we are requesting that the City of North Myrtle Beach give special consideration to our safety by enacting an overlay zone along Little River Neck Road that would require left and right turn lanes into and acceleration lanes in both directions from all future community developments along Little River Neck Road.

By copy of this letter to Councilman Harold Worley, we are requesting the same requirements be enacted by the Horry County Government perhaps as a modification to Appendix B- Zoning, section 527. This County ordinance already specifies unique landscaping requirements for Little River Neck Road.

Turn and acceleration lanes would facilitate community access without disrupting through traffic, provide additional lanes which could help to avoid and/or alleviate traffic back-up at accident sites, and alleviate the chance of accidents due to slowed traffic accessing developments.

Recently, the Tidewater Plantation Community Association hosted a meeting with other residents along Little River Neck Road.   The purpose of the meeting was information sharing regarding the timetable and funding constraints for Little River Neck Road improvements. All participants were in agreement that the safety of residents, the control of growth, and the accommodation of increased traffic along Little River Neck Road were of tantamount importance.

Some of the primary points of the Tidewater position paper are as follows:

LITTLE RIVER NECK ROAD IMPROVEMENTS:

  • The fact that Little River Neck Road is a large cul-de-sac constrains land uses that are desirable in other locations in the City.
  • The January 2009, Northeast Transportation Plan recommended widening Little River Neck Road to a two lane divided roadway with bicycle and pedestrian amenities by 2015 at a cost of $7,650,000 and widening to a 4 lane divided highway to the boundaries of Tidewater by 2023 . Although initially considered during RIDE II and III, the widening did not make the final recommendations.
  • The Little River Neck Road widening project is in the Grand Strand Transportation Plan as a Tier 2 priority A for $5 million to widen it to three lanes with a multipurpose path and construction of a roundabout north of Hill Street. As a Tier 2 project, its construction can occur only if the project is a Federal Highway Administration Priority, or fundable from some future RIDE tax.
  • Currently, there are 29 projects requiring $500 million in funding ahead of the widening of Little River Neck Road. The likelihood of it occurring with these funding sources in time to accommodate present and future growth is extremely low.
  • The City Long Range Transportation Plan notes that adequate right-of-way exists for widening to a 3-lane section with multi-purpose path but not for a 5-lane section.
  • Not counting the 1074 acres owned by the Coastal Education Foundation, there are currently 2,493 acres of raw land in the Little River Neck.   With about an estimated 30% (from the Comprehensive Plan) of the property in wet lands, a zoning of R2 (8 units per acre) would create the potential of an additional 13,961 residencies versus 6,885 with a R1 zoning (4 units per acre). An R2 designation would put the equivalent of twice the entire current permanent population of North Myrtle Beach on a cul-de-sac.
  • Due to the absence of a reasonable timeframe for the widening of Little River Neck Road, the density of future developments must be kept low. The largest development on the Neck, Tidewater Plantation, was approved by the City in 1988 for a density of only 2 units per acre. The second largest, Charleston Landing, has an approved density of approximately 3.6 units per acre. A smaller development, Waters Edge, was also approved for 3.6 units per acre. The River Wynde project (property now owned by the City of North Myrtle Beach) was annexed with an R-1 Zoning (4 units per acre).   Esperanza with a density of 6.0 units per acre was approved in 2007.
  • Because of the one-way in one-way out nature of the Little River Neck Road cul-de-sac, the Little River Neck community is vulnerable to many natural hazards.
  • The North Myrtle Beach City Council has consistently focused on developing alternate evacuation routes for residents of Barefoot Resort. The City paved Watertower   Road and plans to extend Champion Boulevard to Barefoot.  Unfortunately, residents of Little River Neck Road do not have the option of alternate evacuation routes and must, therefore, rely on the City to hold the Little River Neck to low density development to reduce our risks and those of future population.
  • The overall assessment of Little River Neck Road traffic and safety must consider the fact that Little River Neck Road is not built to the standards for a secondary road. It has only 9 foot lanes versus SC standard 12 foot lanes and it has no road shoulders.
  • Federal Highway Administration studies show a 50% increase in accidents on 9 foot widths compared to the standard 12 foot lanes and a reduction in free-flow speed by 6.4 mph with no shoulders.
  • Drivers along Little River Neck Road have observed that trucks, vehicles pulling trailers, and other large vehicles like the fire trucks stationed on Little River Neck Road affect safety and operations by off-tracking into adjacent lanes or veering off the road.  Drivers on Little River Neck Road tend to shift even closer to the centerline as they become less comfortable in narrow lanes without a shoulder. This affects the safety of other drivers, as well as non-motorized users such as the many bicyclists who share the substandard lanes.
  • The fact that Little River Neck Road is a cul-de-sac, when an accident occurs there are no detours possible and traffic comes to a halt. Residents have been blocked in traffic for hours.
  • As accidents frequently occur due to traffic slowdowns at community entrances, turn lanes into future communities would be extremely beneficial.

GROWTH:

EVACUATION:

SAFETY:

It is with these concerns in mind that the Tidewater Plantation Community Association has undertaken circulation among residents of Little River Neck Road of a petition to the City of North Myrtle   Beach and Horry County Government to consider interim measures to enhance the safety of residents along Little River Neck Road.   Signed petitions will be forwarded to the City and County as they are submitted to the Tidewater Plantation Community Association.

To reiterate, in addition to an acknowledged need for low density future development, we are requesting that the City of North Myrtle Beach give special consideration to our safety by enacting an overlay zone along Little River Neck Road that would require left and right turn lanes into and acceleration lanes in both directions from all future community developments along Little River Neck Road. We are requesting the same requirements be enacted by the Horry County Government.

While this is only an interim stopgap measure, it is at least a first step in addressing growth and traffic control on a narrow road that is clearly inadequate to support the current and potential future growth along Little River Neck Road.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

Very truly yours,

Catherine Weis, President

Tidewater Plantation Community Association

CC:

Michael Mahaney, City Manager, City of North   Myrtle Beach

Robert Cavanaugh, Councilman, City of North   Myrtle Beach

Fred Coyne, Councilman, City of North   Myrtle Beach

Harold Worley, Councilman, Horry County Council

Janet Carter, Director Planning and Zoning, Horry County Government