A workshop on rezoning in North Myrtle Beach turned into a proxy fight for local nature lovers on Wednesday afternoon as residents tried to find an avenue to maintain an undeveloped area known as Ingram Dunes.
The 9.3 acre plot at the corner of Hillside Drive and 10th Avenue South is currently under contract with a buyer, and developers hope to place 32 single-family homes on the land. But as builders asked for more density to allow all those homes, locals who spend time in Ingram Dunes pleaded for a way to conserve the land from development.
“We all just want it saved as a legacy for North Myrtle Beach, as a preserve,” resident Martha Byers told The Sun News.
“It’s our only green space,” Barbara Wood added.
A handful of residents asked council directly to consider saving the land. City officials, however, said they were only able to consider zoning on the private property.
“There’s nothing that we as a city can do. It’s not that we’re letting them do anything; they’re just following the law as written,” Mayor Marilyn Hatley said.
Jane Vernon, a resident who lives adjacent to the property, suggested applying to the S.C. Conservation Bank for a grant to buy the land. But Hatley said the funds would not cover the whole cost and the city did not have the money to cover the rest.
An agent on the deal, Scott Jackson, said that the buyer and seller both intended to see the sale through to the end.
A plan presented to the city by developer representative Sean Hoelscher showed that 1.8 acres of green space would be preserved in a private, internal park. However, City Attorney Chris Noury said there was no way for the city to enforce any specific plan for builders other than basic restrictions in the zoning code.
Damien Triouleyre, who runs IngramDunes.org, said the spot is a special space for locals and wildlife alike — multiple foxes and a great horned owl live there, he said.
The land is privately owned by the Ingram family but they have not enforced trespassing rules, and many in North Myrtle Beach already treated it as a public park or preserve.
“It’s the last large chunk of wild land left in North Myrtle Beach, and it’s been beloved by residents for the last 70 years,” Triouleyre said.
Triouleyre and others who have a connection with Ingram Dunes began organizing when the development entered the pipeline of city approvals, roughly in October, he said. Several residents attended when North Myrtle Beach’s Planning Commission considered the rezoning.
The commission did approve the zoning change in a 5 to 2 vote on Nov. 15, but it also recommended that the city explore turning the land into a conservancy.
City Council will not consider the matter again until its meeting on Feb. 6. In the meantime, conservationists said they would attempt to negotiate with the buyer and seller.
“If we had known about it sooner maybe something could have been done,” Wood said. “I played there as a kid and it’s just — it’s criminal to destroy this.”