Carolina Forest residents renew talks of becoming a city

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HORRY COUNTY (WMBF) – Carolina Forest is seriously considering becoming its own city.

Area residents previously had this discussion in 2008 and again in 2011. The topic is being brought up again now that the community has grown over the past few years.

However, that doesn’t mean it can happen overnight.

“The first step is the citizens will have to get a petition signed from 15 percent of the qualified voters,” said state Sen. Greg Hembree.

According to Hembree, the process would take anywhere from a few days to a few months. After a petition is signed, an application will need to be filled out. It will then be passed along to the joint committee on municipal incorporation.

That committee then decides if the area meets the criteria.

“They have to meet population qualifications and service qualifications,” Hembree said. “If you’re a city, you have to do more than you’re doing now. There has to be a reason to become a city.”

If the criteria is met, a public vote must be held. The citizens of the area must then decide to be an independent city, or stay in the county. Both scenarios have pros and cons.

“You are putting yourself under the control of whatever laws that city passes,” Hembree said. “You may be imposing additional financial burdens. But there are many benefits. You can improve law enforcement services, you can have your own police department. You can improve garbage service, water service. One of the main things is planning and zoning. You can have local control of what is going to happen next door to you.”

Leaders of the Carolina Forest Civic Association are waiting to hear more community members before they decide if they should plan to become their own city.

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