Letter: Canal Dredging Scandal In Horry County

GOVERNMENT TRYING TO STRONG-ARM PROPERTY OWNERS Dear Editor: Here’s a good one for you.  In fact I don’t know how this one has stayed off the radar screen for so long.  North Myrtle Beach, S.C. is currently proposing to tax more than 700 property owners along some canals in Cherry…


Dear Editor: Here’s a good one for you.  In fact I don’t know how this one has stayed off the radar screen for so long.  North Myrtle Beach, S.C. is currently proposing to tax more than 700 property owners along some canals in Cherry Grove, S.C. in the amount of $24,000 each over ten years to pay to have this canal dredged.

They’ve been working on this project for ten years (see the attached letter to a property owner).

They claim the canals are public property, so how can they legally stick the property owners for the bill?  They said that the work will raise property values by 40 percent so the owners should pay.  What kind of twisted logic is that?   Oh, that’s right, this is Horry County, never mind.

In my mind, it should actually reduce the property value since any prospective buyer will be afraid he or she is going to get the shaft for more outrageous taxes in the future.  If the property really will become so valuable, then let North Myrtle Beach agree to buy the property owners out for the increased value minus the tax bill.

Yet one more example of how South Carolina works, these canals were dredged by a developer in the fifties – but the Supreme Court ruled they were public property (so the taxpayer pays the bill).  I know this is a novel concept in the Palmetto State, but maybe the individual property owners could have just gotten together and paid to have their own individual canals dredged if THEY wanted to?  And they could have chosen the cheapest contractor THEY wanted!  And the Legislature exempted the government from needing any state permits.  Federal permitting has already been approved.

Or, if the canals really are public property, then let the federal government pay to dredge them.  See if the Feds agree with that South Carolina logic!

North Myrtle Beach says the dredging should cost $13 million.  Would be interesting to get an independent estimate from a contractor.

Here are “the documents” related to the project.

Here is a news article with more links.

Now, North Myrtle Beach is trying to form a special tax district specifically for this project (the next public hearing will be on February 21).

Some owners have already put their property up for sale.  Let’s see how fast that property sells with a $24,000 future tax bill!

Please don’t use my name if you use this.

Any Town, S.C.



Anon: You know how FITS rolls … we appreciate the information our sources provide and religiously protect their anonymity.  Thanks for putting this on our radar!  And please keep us in the loop on this proposal as it moves forward. 

Wanna sound off? Send your letter to the editor HERE …


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% Percentage February 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Horry County Government officials are engaging within criminal conduct? Hopefully, the FBI is monitoring all of their communications with their … errr … money hungry greedy ‘friends.’

Yosemmitte Sam Jr. February 13, 2015 at 2:13 pm

….communications being monitored…looking for envelopes…no stamps…looking for public officials trading favors for Burger King coupons…beware those controlling voting machines with cell phones…agent junior samples is manning mi office…*br 549*…code word *operation fake boobs*

shifty henry February 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

“code word *operation fake boobs* — did you mean to post this on the Ginsburg article?

Can We? February 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm

If its public property can I tie up to your dock? If you don’t want to pay to maintain the canal in your backyard can the rest of the taxpayers charge you a yearly fee for clogging up “our” canal with your dock? If they are public property can the taxpayers who don’t live on the canals vote to allow nature to take over and allow the canals to fill in?

Rocky February 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Better yet, let’s just fill in the canal. I think that’s what the person is asking asking us to do. Yeah. Let’s just backfill the canal and then he’ll have a nice lawn.

Steve February 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

and how many of these people wanting the government to pay the bill are Republicans and Tea Party members?

Manray9 February 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm

If the photo is accurate, these look like rather “high end” properties. The owners are probably all rock-ribbed Republicans and very “conservative.” Just ask ’em. They’ll tell you.

Beartrkkr February 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

Shouldn’t all of the good yellow-handled knife carrying citizens in O’ree County pay to keep my waterfront property waterfront?

For more info see: (language warning)

euwe max February 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

wholly horrid horry harridans.

Rocky February 13, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Maybe with a little luck and some global warming a nice big hurricane will dump some Strand in your canal and the whole issue will be topped off.

Diogenes February 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Since the “canals” are landlocked and don’t lead anywhere, wouldn’t “ponds” be a better description?

Bible Thumper February 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm

I’m not sure but I believe they have access to either the ocean or the intercoastal waterway.

Buz Martin February 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Sounds outrageous, on paper, of course. And I have friends who own property on a couple of those canals, so I can relate to their pain. But since they get to enjoy them and the rest of the taxpayers don’t, why should everyone else get stuck with the bill?

unclewillie1 February 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Sort of like roads. You build ’em and then you got to maintain ’em. Did they think that they would not fill up or they would not have to maintain them. Is it possible that they could all just vote to do NOTHING and have a nice diverse mud flat habitat in their backyard?

GreenvilleGirl February 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Who owns the canal? Is it considered a common area for owners? I know the area, but I haven’t been there in years. There should be something recorded at the RMC’s office which would define the rights and obligations of the homeowners. Example. I can own a house on a lake, but I don’t own the lake. I can have a dock, but I have to pay for a dock permit and the dock has to meet specific dimensions, materials, etc.

It appears that Horry County is trying to strong arm the area. If I owned property there, I’d get the owners together and hire an attorney. It would cost less than $24,000 per household to protect their interests.

Its Time February 13, 2015 at 2:18 pm

by his own admission…the canals were built by a private developer..who then bamboozled a judge to take them off his hands and make the public pay for their upkeep…

So no liability or expense for the rich developer or the people who bought the properties….just years of taxpayer subsidized water access…

Native Ink February 14, 2015 at 12:41 pm

The state supreme court ruled that canal BOTTOMS are public property. The more I think about it, the more horrible that decision sounds. Basically the public is on the hook for dredging the canal because we “own” the bottom of the canal. The banks of the canal of course are privately owned.

What a stinking example of taxpayers being forced to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich. I’m surprised the justices didn’t tell the little people to enjoy the bottom of the canal.

Its Time February 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm

What a crime…to think that they would ask the people who benefit from having waterfront property to pay for the ability to keep it waterfront…along with their subsidized flood insurance and general assembly provided tax breaks for renting them out…

oh….the outrage indeed…

Don't Dredge On Me February 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Why can’t the county just leave it alone and let the adjacent owners pay for it if they want to? Otherwise, this seems no different than keeping up a public park, and I’ve never heard of the govt charging the folks around a public park for the upkeep, especially since the govt already benefits indirectly from higher taxes to the extent the public space is a desirable neighbor. Prediction: county stupidly forges ahead and the owners go to court and end up with a free dredging. Hurray!

? February 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm

is there a law that says the county is required to dredge it?

hack February 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

They will just assess the properties on the canal as being worth $24,000 more. Can kicked, government economics 101.

nitrat February 13, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Wasn’t there a case with canals and dredging and Yancey McGill a few years ago?
In Georgetown county, maybe?

Manray9 February 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Is this another case of some “fat cat” waterfront property owners who are trying to socialize the costs of upgrades/upkeep on their properties — just as long as the property values and potential profits remain privatized?

Fast2Tax-Slow2Pay February 13, 2015 at 6:40 pm

“… it should actually reduce the property value since any prospective buyer will be afraid he or she is going to get the shaft for more outrageous taxes in the future. …”

Property tax assessments will for up, real value and price will go down.

Bible Thumper February 13, 2015 at 9:23 pm

If there is a special tax district, only those citizens within the district should decide. But there is a problem. Many of the properties are second homes and the owners are not citizens of the community. They will be taxed without representation.

Tired February 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

Actually many “second home” owners on the coast declare the coastal home as their primary residence for tax purposes and to insure that they can vote to keep property taxes down. Several candidates for legislative appointments have been caught on this, when it has been found that their legal residence isn’t where they live most of the time, and therefore isn’t in the district that they wish to represent on a board or commission. I’m told that many also vote in their actual primary place of residence, if it is out of state. There is no central interestate database that SC participates in to prevent that. I don’t know why there hasn’t been more outcry about this actual demonstrable form of voter fraud.

Bible Thumper February 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

I wonder if the issues should be separated as for tax laws. Homestead exemption and legal residence….
Certainly, they should only vote or represent voters where they primarily reside.

Native Ink February 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm

The letter says the city will invest $1.6 million of its own money before it taxes property owners. What a rip-off for taxpayers? Why should they pay for your backyard canals at all? Also, the politicians exempted this project from any DHEC oversight. The Supreme Court ruled that canal BOTTOMS are public property. Great and more great. The public owns the muddy bottom of the canal while the banks of the canal are obviously privately owned. (Nowhere to land your boat on the canal you own). And the dredging has no oversight from DHEC. The anger in your letter is directed in the wrong direction. The taxpayers are getting screwed, not the property owners.

Soft Sigh from Hell February 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

“My dock is located on public canal property. Thus the taxpayers should have to pay to paint and maintain it. It’s only fair. But stay off of it: it’s MY dock.”

TontoBubbaGoldstein February 13, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Autocorrect f**ked TBG again.
Was trying to log onto the Drudge Report.

Beartrkkr February 14, 2015 at 12:45 am

Maybe they should just let the canal continue to silt in so you have a nice weedy mosquito breeding ground. Maybe on high tide you just might be able to float a kayak for an hour or so. Enjoy.

Centrist View February 14, 2015 at 10:46 am

Look like a good candidate for crowdfunding.

Centrist View February 14, 2015 at 10:59 am

“Let’s see how fast that property sells with a $24,000 future tax bill!”

Judge for yourself.

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Philip Branton February 14, 2015 at 12:50 pm

This is a classic example of how citizens do not understand how to shove some taxes back down the throats of some local politicians…!!!

If these property owners are going to be shafted into paying 24K in taxes a piece then at least put up some huge WIND Turbines in the public easements of this canal to generate tax revenue to PAY for the dredging after Santee Cooper chokes on doing what they should be doing across our state….!!!!

Just look how Wil Folks failed to suggest a solution to this problem…..!

Tired February 15, 2015 at 9:38 am

This specific situation was covered in the news several years ago. The pressure to work on the canal comes from canal owners who want the canal dredged for their personal use and to maintain their very high property values. There is no public interest in the situation, other than that some of the owners are sufficiently well connected politically to get the government to partially subsidize their personal property maintenace. It is a safe bet that they also complain about property taxes. Apparently the local government has caved in to the point of agreeing to cover part of the cost if owners cover the rest. They shouldn’t have. Like those who build to close to the shoreline, these property owners have a sense of entitlement to what are essentially massive welfare payments (far exceeding anything received by families in poverty) and need to develop some personal responsibility.

John Katsanos February 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Great Expose

Conservationist Mom February 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Simply another reason not to mess with Mother Nature ESPECIALLY on or near the coastal environment. The canals were made by a developer in the 1950’s. Imagine a developer asking to do that now. It would not be allowed.


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