County Tries To Revive Airport Expansion, As Board Bickers
After a surprising defeat by a volunteer city review board last
Thursday, Horry County, SC Council members are trying to revive
plans to expand the Myrtle Beach International Airport's seven-gate
As ANN reported, the
Community Appearance Board rejected the new $229 million terminal,
expanding the existing seven gates to 14, after four months of
intense workshops... that focused mainly on the building's physical
Board members said a new terminal, planned for the west side of
the runway, would have been too close to a residential development
on the former Air Force Base next to the airport.
Over the next 10 years, thousands of new residents are expected
to inhabit the area and a new terminal would create too many
problems with noise, floodlights and traffic, board members
The county needs the Community Appearance Board's approval for
building permits for the county-owned airport, which resides inside
Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland announced she will
ask the Myrtle Beach City Council to consider several options to
get the project moving again.
But the options she plans to present would require City Council
members to reach a consensus, which may be difficult, according to
The Sun News, as the city is likely to be skeptical of anything the
county brings to the table.
The board's decision deepened the chasm between county and city
officials who had been arguing for years over the future of the
airport before finally reaching an agreement in 2004.
Gilland is one of the airport's most ardent supporters and has
been trying to figure out a way to salvage the project - and the
$18 million already spent on designs. But it's suspected she'll
possibly face a cool, even hostile, reception at the May 8 City
"I'm not going to bend over backwards to give her what she
wants," City Councilman Mike Chestnut said. "She was a stupid idiot
to go out there and spend $18 million unless [she] knew that [she]
had a plan that was going to go through. It's stupid. Now I just
feel bad that she's coming back and blaming us for it. It wasn't
our fault that the plan failed."
That love goes both ways.
Friday, Gilland and other terminal supporters said city council
members let the volunteer board "make monkeys out of them" by
"stealing" their authority. Some council members laughed it off,
but others failed to see the humor.
"I thought about calling Al Sharpton down here," said Chestnut,
who is black and said Gilland's comment smacked of racial
implications. "It just irks me that she would have the nerve to say
something like that, and then want me to come over and bend down
and kiss your feet because you spent $18 million of taxpayers'
Any appeals of the board's decision would go to circuit court
according to state law and would be too costly and time-consuming,
County Attorney John Weaver said.
Instead, Gilland proposes, among other things, for the airport
terminal to secede from the city. This entails simply asking the
city to transfer the land to the county to eliminate the city
But, according to city spokesman Mark Kruea, that would
"complicate various financial agreements for Myrtle Beach."
Other Gilland suggestions are for the city council to remove
airports from the domain of the appearance board, change the code
and amend the 2004 development agreement and just take the
appearance board out of the whole process, or simply sell or give
the airport to the city.
Mayor John Rhodes said he would not consider removing the
appearance board from the process, saying he does not want to
undermine them. But, he "might" consider taking over the
Councilman Wayne Gray said he would favor the city taking over
the airport provided a regional transportation authority was
created and involved representatives from surrounding towns and