Conway set for largest housing plan in city’s history as opposition mounts

Conway’s entire downtown could fit inside the boundaries of a massive housing plan set for the city’s rapidly growing north end — a proposal stark enough that council members said they need more time to evaluate it before a vote.

At question are parcels totaling 1,765 acres at the corner of U.S. Highway 701 South and Pitch Landing Road.

The council voted unanimously Sept. 18 to defer initial approval for the proposed subdivision known as Warden Station. A date for when the item might come back before the council was not immediately provided.

“’It’s not, are we going to do this or are we not going to do this,’ it’s ‘do we want this done right, or do we want it to be a burden,’” council member William Goldfinch said. “At this point, there’s a lot of unpacking to do but we need to take our time and we need to get this right and we need to understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Horry County land records show the real estate is worth almost $9.7 million on the open market. Pending final city approval, plans call for more than 3,000 homes to be built in the area over the next 25 years.

“I’m really concerned about the roads and the housing developments that are coming into our area,” resident Barbara Goodman said. “There’s just an overwhelming amount of people coming into our area. The roads and bridges cannot handle all the traffic this is going to bring.”

Goodman belongs to a Facebook group, Conway People for Responsible Growth, formed shortly after plans for the subdivision were announced earlier this year. To date, more than 800 people have joined, worried about flooding impacts, school overcrowding, heavier traffic and an added strain on local police, among other issues.

Several parcels of the property have ties to well-known business leaders, including Waccamaw Land & Timber owner Keith Hinson and Southern Asphalt founder Donald Godwin.

The largest piece — a 1,697-acre property known as the Warden Station tract — carries an asking price of $20 million, according to a Seacoast Realty listing.

The venture would have a significant impact on public safety and utility services.

Conway’s police department would need to hire four new officers, a detective and a supervisor to create a patrol sector.

A traffic study included as part of the development plan shows annual daily trips of 7,800 on Pitch Landing Road and 16,600 on S.C. Highway 701 — figures expected to nearly double by 2050.

Developers have agreed to several concessions to offset impacts from the new growth, including:

  • Creation of an internal road network and future improvements based on building permits

  • Still undefined sanitation and public safety enhancement fees

  • An 8-foot multi-purpose path

  • Installation of at least one new sewer pump station

  • Storm water delivery and retention systems

  • Fees representing the estimated cost to upgrade five intersections

  • Installation of at least four pickleball courts and recreation fields

  • Offering of 500 acres to the city for open space and preservation

Authorities also said in city documents that “major upgrades” to U.S. Highway 701, including signalized intersections, road widening and improved turning lanes, need to be completed ahead of build out.

Last December, Bucksport Water Systems wrote in an email to city staff that a new treatment facility might need to be constructed to accommodate future growth.

Over the last year, the city has approved annexations of Buck’s Township Storage and a Dollar General along U.S. Highway 701, with a pending request by The Gun Store likely to happen in the spring.