At the November 2014 Membership Meeting, the issue of large weddings and the problems they cause was brought up. Members brought photo boards showing chairs being set up in the dunes, arbors installed on the beach, lit candles tucked amid the sea oats, and described wild parties with over 150 people in attendance, large outdoor dance floors, DJs with thumping bass playing late into the night, intoxicated guests urinating in the yard, trash, illegal and unsafe parking, drunk driving… you get the idea. The situation described plays out persistently at a “mega-house” on the west end, but could happen anywhere else on the island.
After discussion, the membership voted unanimously for the HBPOA to write a letter to the Town urging them to address the situation and ensure that it doesn’t spread to other residential neighborhoods. Holden Beach is a quiet, non-commercial, family beach and marketing houses as wedding reception venues does not fit that concept. Here is the letter that was sent to the Town: HBPOA Letter Regarding Wedding Venue
At the December 2014 Board of Commissioners’ (BOC) Meeting: Residents spoke about the numerous problems caused by wedding receptions being conducted at a 16 bedroom home and a 12 bedroom home on the west end. Tom Myers, HBPOA President, presented the letter requesting that the Town take action to prevent the wedding venue business from continuing, and to prohibit future similar businesses from operating in areas that are zoned for residential use. The issue was referred by consent of the Commissioners to the Planning & Zoning Board (P&Z) to investigate and present their results at the February meeting.
At the February BOC meeting, the P&Z Board reported that while the houses in question meet the zoning code, P&Z recognizes that this is a problem. The Commissioners referred the issue back to P&Z for further study.
At the March BOC meeting, P&Z reported their findings. They reviewed the issue of size limitations and issues with mega-houses. They found that all nearby beaches have already imposed size and/or other restrictions on these homes.
P&Z recommended four possibilities to alleviate the issues:
1) limit square footage,
2) limit number of bedrooms,
3) differentiate between typical rental homes and mega-houses, and
4) establish an event permit process.
Commissioner Harrington proposed a moratorium on houses greater than 5000 square feet or 8 bedrooms to allow the issue to be studied. His motion failed 3-2 with Harrington and Young voting yes; Kyser, Miller and Martin voting no. A motion to strengthen the noise ordinance also failed.
At the April BOC meeting, HBPOA Vice President John Fletcher read a letter for out of town member Burton Hall regarding the Town’s decision not to limit or regulate mega-houses or their use. You can read Burton’s letter here.
The POA for the far western end of the island, Holden Beach West II POA, voted to change their covenants to restrict events. The 16 bedroom “mega-house” falls under this POA’s control. The area immediately behind the gate, Holden Beach West I POA, which includes a 12 bedroom home often used as an event venue, is working to tighten their restrictions on events. However, the majority of Holden Beach is not covered by a POA and still has no protection from the parking, safety issues, noise and other impacts of large events.
At the Memorial Day ’15 meeting, the membership voted to bring up the issue again to the BOC via a letter. At the March BOC meeting, several commissioners stated that they couldn’t vote on a moratorium without proper notice so the letter asks them to take that into consideration. You can read the letter here: Letter re Moratorium and Noise Ordinance 06-21-15
At the September 2015 Board of Commissioners’ Meeting, the issue was raised again and sent to Planning and Zoning to review. The P&Z Board reviewed it and sent the issue back with comments. The issue was sent back to P&Z in August of 2016 and has been reporting regularly as they continue to study the issue. A final report is expected in December or January 2017.
After extensive research including discussions about “large house” issues with planning departments up and down the coast, the Planning and Zoning Board presented their final report to the Commissioners at the January 2017 meeting. No action was taken.