BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. — Based on the results from the latest census, the Grand Strand Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which covers Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area, was mandated to extend their boundaries to include major roadways from the state line through the town of Shallotte.
Now, they are looking to expand their reach as far north as Southport. The towns between Shallotte and the state line are growing and becoming more urbanized so they did not have choice in the decision. However, places such as Holden Beach, St. James, Oak Island, and Southport still have an option.
"We wouldn't want to leapfrog communities, in other words if there was some agreement, it would have to be a continuous situation," said director of the Grand Strand MPO Mark Hoeweler.
On Tuesday, Grand Strand officials met with coastal community leaders to discuss the proposal. While all of the details are not ironed out, they ensured they would not dictate how and where our tax payer dollars are spent.
"Any kind of decision making regarding North Carolina improvements would rely solely on the North Carolina Advisory Board," said Hoeweler.
However some leaders are not quite ready to give them the green light for improvements.
"The problem I have is we are allowing someone in another area , another jurisdiction who may have a different philosophical bent on what is happening in our area have some degree of influence," said Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke.
Many local officials questioned why it would not make more sense for this part of Brunswick County to be a part of the Wilmington MPO.
"I think we are certainly more than willing to look at it, we've been in conversation with communities to the north and really hadn't looked that much to the south until this issue with Myrtle Beach came up," said chair of the Wilmington Transportation Advisory Committee Laura Padgett.
The communities in question have three options:
• Join the Grand Strand
• See what the Wilmington MPO can offer
• Stay where they are
While North Carolina municipalities would like time to consider the proposal, Grand Strand officials said they need to have their boundaries established by the end of August.