Major homebuilder buys land in Horry County for new homes


A photo showing an aerial view of land purchased by Meritage Homes, hoping to build new single-family homes.

Meritage Homes, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, has purchased two large parcels of land in Horry County where it plans to build hundreds of homes.

On the first lot, near the intersection of SC 31 and SC 22, Meritage plans to build 731 single-family homes in a “planned community.” The houses will measure between 1,200 and 2,900 square feet.

The company said in a press release that the subdivision will provide “a resort-style pool, cabana, playground, pickleball courts and dock” that provides access to the intercoastal waterway.

This is the “Waterside” project.

On the second plot, along SC 9 in Longs, Meritage plans to build 353 single-family homes ranging in size from 1,400 to 2,400 square feet. The company plans to build “a swimming pool, cabana, playground, walking paths, community garden and ponds” in the housing estate.

It will be called the Cypress Ridge Subdivision.

Despite its grand plans, Meritage declined to answer specific questions about the developments from The Sun News.

The company declined to provide information on the precise location of the land, whether the company will seek to rezone the land and whether the land includes any wetlands.

“Meritage is too early in the Waterside and Cypress Ridge development process to fully answer these questions,” company spokesperson Bailey Doyle said in an email. “The announcement (of the plans) was only about buying the land and their intention to build these communities.”

As Horry County has grown – adding nearly 82,000 residents in the last decade alone – these questions have become crucial.

In recent months and years, wetland and zoning issues have sparked protests from residents and killed plans for major projects.

Last year, for example, developers killed plans for a major 700-acre housing development in Burgess after residents organized to complain about increased traffic and potential damage to a historic cemetery.

New housing projects in the Carolina Forest also face frequent protests from residents.

Plans for homes along Gardner Lacy Road and at The Wizard golf course have both been shelved over the past year.

And earlier this year, North Myrtle Beach residents living near the SC 31 and SC 22 interchange raised concerns about the clear-cutting of trees in the area, which makes neighborhoods prone to noise from highways.

County records indicate that much of the land near the SC 31 and SC 22 interchange is zoned as commercial forestry farming, allowing two single-family homes or three townhouses per acre.

Developers frequently seek to rezone these parcels of land for subdivisions since other zoning categories allow for greater density per acre.

The county also recently closed a CFA zoning loophole. This change could force developers to engage in the process of rezoning housing projects.

Since it’s unclear where the company purchased land along SC 9, it’s unclear exactly what land the land might currently be zoned.

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J. Dale Shoemaker covers Horry County government with a focus on government transparency, data, and how county government serves residents. A 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he previously covered Pittsburgh city government for nonprofit media outlet PublicSource and worked on the Data & Investigations team at in New Jersey. The recipient of several local and statewide awards, both the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone State Chapter, recognized him in 2019 for his investigation of a problematic technology entrepreneur from the Pittsburgh Police, a series that runs the Pittsburgh City Council. to enact a new law on the transparency of city contracts. You can share tips with Dale at [email protected]