Helicopter Solutions, Inc. d/b/a Helicopter Adventures, Respondent,
Richard Hinde and Horry County Zoning Administrator, Defendants, of whom Richard Hinde is the Appellant
Heard October 8, 2014.
Appeal From Horry County. Appellate Case No. 2013-000971. Larry B. Hyman, Jr., Circuit Court Judge.
Kenneth Ray Moss, of Wright, Worley, Pope, Ekster & Moss, PLLC, of North Myrtle Beach, for Appellant.
David B. Miller and Benjamin Albert Baroody, both of Bellamy, Rutenberg, Copeland, Epps, Gravely & Bowers, P.A., of Myrtle Beach, for Respondent.
MCDONALD, J. WILLIAMS and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.
Appellant Richard Hinde appeals the circuit court's ruling that a helicopter sight-seeing tour facility is a permitted use within the Amusement/Commercial (AC) zoning district
pursuant to Article VII, Section 712.1 of the Horry County Zoning Ordinance (County Ordinance). Hinde contends the circuit court erred in failing to recognize and defer to the findings of fact made by the Horry County Board of Zoning Appeals (Zoning Board) and by expanding the range of permitted uses in the Horry County AC zoning district to include a heliport or airport. We affirm.
Respondent Helicopter Solutions, Inc., d/b/a Helicopter Adventures, owns and operates a helicopter sight-seeing tour business in Horry County.
Helicopter Adventures is located between the NASCAR Speed Park and the City of Myrtle Beach Wastewater Treatment facility on approximately 5.47 acres within a 46.17-acre tract off the Highway 17 bypass and 21st Avenue in North Myrtle Beach. Burroughs & Chapin, Inc. owns the land, which is split-zoned Amusement/Commercial (AC) and Limited Industrial (LI). Helicopter Adventures is located within the AC portion of the property, which has been zoned AC since at least 2000, when Burroughs & Chapin entered an agreement with Horry County to develop this and other parcels for amusement and commercial use.
In the summer of 2010, Freddie Rick (Rick), who owns Helicopter Adventures with his wife, Mitzi Rick, began searching for property locations that might be suitable for operating a helicopter sight-seeing business. Rick initially contacted the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach airports to determine whether such a business could be conducted at either site; however, neither airport would allow this type of business.
Hinde, a real estate broker and resident of Plantation Pointe subdivision, purchased his home on March 17, 2011. Helicopter Adventures' landing pads are approximately 1,350 feet from the Plantation Pointe subdivision property line, and the properties are buffered with a large berm covered in fully-grown trees. Hinde testified before the Zoning Board that he knew the property behind his home was zoned AC and that he read the County Ordinance before buying his home. Hinde also testified that, after reading the County Ordinance, he " realized what could potentially be back there" and " interpreted from that Ordinance that it could be a helicopter business."
Although the AC zoning district portion of the County Ordinance allows for a variety of outdoor amusements and includes " sight-seeing depots," helicopter sight-seeing facilities are not specifically referenced in any zoning district provision. Thus, Rick sought county zoning approval as well as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval prior to making any financial commitments towards the proposed business. Rick hired AVN Solutions, LLC to assist him in obtaining FAA approval as well as an engineering firm, the Earthworks Company, to work toward county zoning approval.
On November 18, 2011, Steven Strickland, a professional engineer with Earthworks, emailed Horry County Deputy Planning Director Carol Coleman about locating the helicopter sight-seeing tour facility on the AC portion of the Burroughs & Chapin property. Coleman replied, " [t]he zoning looks good, and the airport will be taken care of with the FAA application." On November 22, 2011, Zoning Administrator Rennie Mincey wrote to Strickland informing him that a helicopter tour facility would be allowed in the AC district pursuant to the County Ordinance. The Horry County Planning & Zoning, Code Enforcement, Engineering, and Stormwater
Departments conducted a series of site plan reviews and revisions; the stormwater permit was issued on February 17, 2012; and a final site plan for construction approval was granted on March 28, 2012. Horry ...