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'Pearl gates' not so heavenly for adjacent property owners

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

CALABASH—Sandy and John Melahn don’t mind golfers—just the ones who keep driving past their house.

For the past few years, ever since global positioning systems came into vogue, the Calabash couple has felt victimized by lost golfers constantly going down their dead-end road, Carlyle Street, then turning around on their property.

The problem, they say, is GPS systems and some online mapping services are erroneously directing golfers down the street as a thruway to the adjacent Pearl Golf Links.

“They drive us crazy…the golfers coming in this street,” Sandy Melahn, a recently elected Calabash town commissioner, said last week.

In the 19 years they have owned their property, Carlyle Street has never been a thruway, she said.

“We have golfers coming here that swear at us [and] turn around and drive across the middle of our yard,” she said. “We have had such a time, and it was not a problem until GPS’s came out.”

The town of Calabash put up a dead-end sign at the end of the street.

“That’s almost useless,” Sandy Melahn said. “The biggest problem is [golfers] turn around in our driveway. Maybe that’s picky of me, but if you have 30 people a day turning around in your driveway…We feel like we don’t have any privacy.”

When the street was being paved two years ago, they said golfers were even driving around equipment trying to get to the course. Sandy said they finally had to put up a big “no entrance” sign to keep golfers out, which had little effect.

“It really wasn’t a problem [until] GPS,” she said. “If you want to see one or both of us go through the roof, ask about this gate.”

Even though the road ends, drivers continue heading toward the closed gate across the grass.
“I guess they think it’s going to open magically,” Sandy said.

Emergency workers also have mistakenly come down the street.

Residents who live in the Sunset Lakes community on the southeastern side of The Pearl have also complained about emergency workers not knowing how to reach their neighborhood since a thruway was blocked off there about six years ago.

Residents there are also concerned because the blocked-off section previously served as a second exit from their neighborhood. In the event of flooding or other weather emergency that could impact their existing causeway entrance on the other side, they might have no means of escape.

“Let’s put it this way,” said Duane Lewis, president of the Sunset Lakes Homeowners Association. “When [owner] DeCarol Williamson wrote an agreement for the HOA of Sunset Lakes to sign, he absolutely took advantage of any kind of situation that would come up where he would be in any way responsible for anything.”

Williamson “has no obligation to open that gate to accommodate us in any way if he chooses not to,” Lewis said. “We try to provide access in and out as best we can, until such time as we have a flood or we can’t handle it. What happens after that, there are a couple of scenarios I can paint for you.”

 

More signage needed

Calabash Town Clerk Kelley Southward recently wrote a letter to The Pearl manager Michael Borton asking for assistance with the dilemma at Carlyle Street. She said it would be nice if the golf course were willing to initiate having road signs installed that would direct golfers to The Pearl entrance on Old Georgetown Road.

Borton, contacted last week, said overseers of The Pearl have a 20-year plan to develop the site for residential use.

“We have to put in an emergency escape, which we intend to do,” Borton said. “But right now those roads are closed and have been closed for a long time.”

He said that could change when the economy turns around and people start buying lots.

“Right now, there just isn’t an economy,” he said.

As for the mapping dilemma, Borton said emergency agencies know the roads are closed.

“These guys have been well on top of it,” he said. “From my knowledge, they’ve had no issues.”

Borton said they’ve also been trying to work with the county about getting a tourist development sign installed at the Beach Drive and Old Georgetown Road intersection to direct golfers to the golf course entrance.

Borton said it hurts their business as well when golfers get lost trying to get to the course.

“It doesn’t help us to have golfers getting mixed up and taking a longer way when they have set tee times,” he said. “I don’t know what else there is to do other than trying to get a tourist development sign.”

Borton said it’s the only thing he knows of at the moment to help curb the problem until everyone updates their GPS systems.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.