Conway Planning Commission prepares for city’s rapid growth

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 11:17 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - The City of Conway is vastly changing, not just in population, but by attracting new types of businesses like hotels.

Brian O’Neil has served on the Conway Planning Commission for six years and is in his first year as chairman.

He said much has changed when it comes to development in Conway.

While they’re excited to see the city grow they don’t want to lose the small-town feel so many residents, tourists and local business owners have come to love.

“How are we going to tie in the old with the new,” said O’Neil.

According to the U.S. Census, Conway’s population grew from 17,000 in 2010 to just under 25,000 by 2020.

As more projects are proposed, the community has added more input.

Recently the planning commission added time to their meets for public comments allowing those impacted by these projects to share their concerns.

“We’ve got a lot more people we have to listen to,” said O’Neil.

Last spring, Conway City Council unanimously voted in favor of adding new incentives to attract hotels to the downtown area and throughout the city.

O’Neil says part of making these new larger-scale projects fit within this smaller city is making sure the right rules and regulations are in place that benefit the new developers while also not hindering long-time residents and business owners.

“We have to take care of the public first,” said O’Neil.

Another topic discussed was the city’s physical growth and resilience plans.

With home prices skyrocketing east of the waterway, buyers are able to find more affordable homes in Conway while still remaining close to the beach, increasing the need for more homes and apartments.

“We’re dealing with these giant developments, so it’s night and day from where we were just five years ago,” said O’Neil.

O’Neal says his goal is to improve roads and make sure the right infrastructure is in place before approving plans for large-scale projects and developments.

It’s worth noting, the items approved and denied at the planning commission do not mean the developments moving forward or the project is rejected, they simply offer recommendations.

Conway City Council can either officially approve or deny future plans or developments.