Brunswick County leaders question move to Myrtle Beach planning group


BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Myrtle Beach is getting ready to expand into North Carolina… sort of. The city’s Metropolitan Planning Organization is moving its boundary north into Brunswick County.

Some leaders fear that could mean the county’s transportation needs will not be a priority.

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Myrtle Beach’s MPO is moving at least into Shallotte. The big question is, how far into the county will they go?

“I believe as a North Carolinian we have our own identity, and that being said, I like to be able to have individuals to make those decisions living here versus living in another state,” Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke said.

The Grand Strand’s MPO, which prioritizes regional transportation needs, has options to stretch as far as Southport. The move would give federal dollars for part of Brunswick County to the Myrtle Beach MPO for transportation planning. It would handle projects from sidewalks to interstates in southwestern Brunswick County.

“I think people feel that they are being forced into a situation that is out of their control,” Waccamaw Regional Council of Government Planning Director Mark Hoeweler said. “We certainly don’t want to give that impression. We’re bound by what the federal law is and what the census results are.’

The Grand Strand MPO will now meet individually with Brunswick County leaders to see if their town wants to be a part of the transition. They say they will not leap frog a town if somewhere further north wants to be part of the move.

Many Brunswick County leaders say they don’t want anything to do with the MPO. Others are undecided.

“My constituents and my mayors are very confused, and I think information and answering there questions is the best thing to do,” Rep. Frank Iler (R-17th District) said.

The Wilmington MPO is also considering a move south into Brunswick County.

Leaders say a decision on the Grand Strand extension must be made by August 31.