Sustainable Growth in the Pawleys Island Area

Sustainable growth in the Pawleys Island Area was the very interesting topic at a community forum I attended last night. It was the 3rd forum held by GeorgetownRise, an initiative headed up by John Sands and Pamela Martin, that has conducted 2 other Waccamaw Neck Land Use Planning community forums to address sustainable growth on the Waccamaw Neck.

There were about 100 Pawleys Island residents in attendance, most of whom were retired. I was one of two Pawleys Island real estate agents in attendance. It is my hope that as this initiative continues, more realtors, commercial and residential, will get involved, as well as other business people and residents of the community.

What interests me so much is the opportunity that exists to develop and redevelop areas west of HWY 17 into a walkable urban setting similar to other downtown areas like Market Commons, downtown Georgetown, Charleston and the like. Not only will it be attractive to people moving here, but my hope is that more jobs will be created, and we can better attract more of our young people to the possibilities of returning to Pawleys Island after college.

Below is a great report written by David Gundling, the President of the Pawleys Island Litchfield Business Association (PILBA) and some photographs of some of the slides used in the presentation. If you have any questions about the initiative, or if you would like to JOIN PILBA, to stay better informed, call me at 843-455-4523.

“The Waccamaw Neck has experienced 600% growth since 1970 and it is anticipated that the population will rise by another 10,000 by 2030.  The purpose of the forums is to preserve what we cherish in the Waccamaw Neck by channeling growth, development and redevelopment in a direction that will better enhance our community and preserve our environment, history and natural habitat. 

In a forum held on October 12, Dover-Kohl cofounder and principal, Victor Dover, gave a 90-minute interactive presentation that spoke to the community’s priority topics (established at the previous two community meetings).  These topics included sustainable development, traffic & mobility, equity, and the public planning process. Over 75 people attended the presentation and participated in the hand-on design workshop that followed.  As a result of public feedback received from a combination of exit surveys, keypad polling, one-word cards, and a hands-on design session, the following concerns and issues were raised:


  • Build a walkable and bikable mixed-use community
  • Complete streets that reduce traffic and increase

accessibility and safety

  • Alternate transportation modes: bus shelters,


  • Address traffic volumes & speed11 Comments

Environment &Green Space

  • Protecting natural habitats and resources
  • Maintenance of green space; no clear cutting!
  • Address flooding and stormwater
  • Sustainable development

Community Character

  • Preserve historic character of the Neck
  • Murrells Inlet bypass – make it a special place
  • We need a town center and main street
  • Redevelop big shopping centers – Bi-Lo!

Diversity and Equity

  • Increase diversity of housing types
  • Maintain diversity, history, and culture
  • Planning for everybody


  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Maintain highways and underground utilities


  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Maintain highways and underground utilities

 At the forum last night GeorgetownRise  generated an illustration showing the potential for implementation of some of these ideas and suggested what visual impact they might have.  The illustration focused on a “Downtown Pawleys” concept.  The selection criteria for a “Downtown Pawleys” model was that it would be centrally located, that it was proximate to a grocery store, that it was proximate to several restaurants, and that it was large enough to accommodate growth.  The site selected for the illustration was Tiller Road which is generally between Habanero’s Restaurant and Sonic.  The illustration showed mixed use, shares parking, complete streets, enhanced landscaping, walking streets, minimal setbacks, and residential units above retail businesses and restaurants.  It is reminiscent of areas such as Market Commons however with a character more suggestive of Pawleys Island and the South Carolina lowcounty. 

None of what was presented was formal land use planning, let alone regulation writing—it was a visualization to further the community dialogue. Any formal results would be generated through the revision of the Comprehensive Plan that the County is embarking on next year and revisions in the zoning code, or implementation of other regulatory options such as Form-based Codes which defines design by the end result desired by the community though public input.  It was pointed out that our current zoning ordinances do not necessarily mesh with our comprehensive plan which makes it very difficult to implement.   

There will certainly be future public meetings associated with that process and continued participation will be vital to achieving a valuable result.  PILBA will continue to be involved as an organization but your individual involvement is extremely important as well.  PILBA invites you to get involved with this process.  You can login to or visit Georgetownrise on Facebook for more information.”

 PILBA Board

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