Emerald Tidings

April 2015

  1. Town Working with NC Leaders and County Officials to Prevent Harm from Proposed Sales Tax Bill
  2. Town Continues Defense Against Legal Claims by Oceanfront Property Owner
  3. New Welcome Center Under Construction
  4. Eastern Ocean Regional Access Improvements Nearly Complete
  5. Emerald Isle Woods Park Entrance Road Paved
  6. Weekend / Holiday Parking Fees Begin Saturday, April 18
  7. Taxpayer Parking Permits Available Now!
  8. Beach Equipment Exception Stickers Available Now for Oceanfront Property Owners
  9. New Lottery Procedure for Summer Day Camp Registration
  10. Extremely High Yard Debris Volumes
  11. New Town Planner Begins Work on April 20
  12. Crystal Coast Lighthouse Challenge Bike Rides - May 2, 2015
  13. Did You Know?

Town Working with NC Leaders and County Officials to Prevent Harm from Proposed Sales Tax Bill

As reported in March by the Town, proposed Senate Bill 369 (Sales Tax Fairness Act) was filed in late March by Senator Harry Brown (R-Onslow).  S369, in its introduced form, would result in the loss of $800,000 or more of annual sales tax revenues for Emerald Isle (the equivalent of approximately 3 - 4 cents on the Town's tax rate), simply to redistribute sales tax revenues to other NC counties and cities.  Carteret County could also experience a loss of up to $4 million from this proposed change.  To view the Town's previous release on this critical issue, please visit  

http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/CommunityNotice/CommunityNotice%20-%20StateTaxIssue.htm . 

Town officials have been working closely with County officials and others to prevent harm from S369.  S369 relies solely on population-based distributions of sales tax revenue, and these formulae always shortchange second home and tourism communities like Emerald Isle because these additional residents and visitors are not included in official population estimates used by the State.  Fortunately, Senator Brown has been receptive to the Town's and the County's concerns, and has pledged to work with us to identify an appropriate solution. Our General Assembly members, Representative Pat McElraft and Senator Norman Sanderson, are also working hard on our behalf.  Governor Pat McCrory has also come out with strong opposition to this bill, and it is believed he would likely veto this bill if it is approved by the General Assembly in its introduced form.  

The Town continues to monitor this issue closely, and is working hard to affect a positive outcome for Emerald Isle.
 

Town Continues Defense Against Legal Claims by Oceanfront Property Owner

The Town continues to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by oceanfront property owners Gregory and Diane Nies.  Among other claims, the Nies contend that the Town has "taken" their oceanfront property on the public trust (flat) beach area and created a road on the beach by requiring (in a 2010 ordinance) that a 20 ft. area of the beach remain free of obstructions.  The Nies also contend that the Town's historical practice of permitting beach driving (on the public trust beach area only) during the offseason has caused them harm for which they are entitled compensation.  

It is important to note that the 2010 ordinance did not create a road, but rather simply required that 20 ft. area of the public trust beach to be free of obstructions.  That requirement applies equally along the entire 12 miles of beach in Emerald Isle.  The reason for this requirement was solely to provide an open pathway for emergency vehicles to rescue those in need on the beach strand, including the Nies and their guests.  At times, the beach is very crowded, and it can be difficult for emergency vehicles to maneuver quickly and safely. 

Additionally, the area included in the 2010 ordinance has absolutely nothing to do with beach driving, as beach driving has been occurring in Emerald Isle since before the Town was founded in 1957.  The Town feels strongly that the public should have the right to access the beach, and recognizes that people of all ages and abilities have different needs for beach access.  Some are young and/or healthy and walk, while others are older and/or handicapped, and need a vehicle to be able to enjoy this beautiful natural environment.  The Town wants everyone to be able to enjoy the beach experience, as allowed by NC law for decades. 

The Town has great respect for private property rights, and does not seek to harm the Nies or any other oceanfront property owner in any way.  The Town works diligently to improve the community and enhance property values for our property owners, and to suggest that the Town seeks otherwise is nonsensical.  The  practical use of the beach strand in Emerald Isle today is the same as it was before the Nies purchased their property, since the Nies purchased their property, and since the 2010 ordinance was adopted.  The 2010 ordinance in question was and remains solely rooted in a desire to promote the fastest, safest emergency response to those in need on the beach strand. 

The Town prevailed in Superior Court in August 2014, when Judge Jack Jenkins awarded the Town summary judgment.  The Nies then filed an appeal in September 2014.  The NC Court of Appeals is expected to hear the case later in 2015.  


 

New Welcome Center Under Construction

Construction continues on the new Welcome Center on NC 58 at the site of the former Merchants Park.  Despite challenging weather conditions, the Town's contractor is making good progress and we remain hopeful for an early or mid-summer opening date.  The new Welcome Center is expected to experience much greater visitation due to its location on the island, and also due to its proximity to the "downtown" Emerald Isle area and the NC 58 bike path.  


 


 

Eastern Ocean Regional Access Improvements Nearly Complete

The Town's contractor is nearing completion of significant storm water, parking lot, bathhouse, and walkway improvements at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, and the facility is expected to reopen by Saturday, April 18.  

The new improvements are associated with a future new ocean fishing pier, and are funded by State grant funds.  The Town continues to work toward its long-term goal of a new concrete ocean fishing pier at this location in the future. 

Emerald Isle Woods Park Entrance Road Paved

The Town's contractor recently paved the entrance road in Emerald Isle Woods Park in order to create a smoother surface for bicycles to reach the park's amenities, and also to provide a better park road surface for visitors arriving by car.  

The new 0.3 miles of pavement were funded 100% by the Town's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee's fundraising efforts, and this project was the Committee's top priority. The improved road now serves as a "spur" off the Coast Guard Road bicycle path, and we hope this will increase visitation to this beautiful 43-acre nature park.

Weekend / Holiday Parking Fees Begin Saturday, April 18

The Town will begin charging a $10 per vehicle per day parking fee at the Western Ocean Regional Access (near The Islander Suites) and the Eastern Ocean Regional Access (near mile marker 15 on NC 58) beginning Saturday, April 18.  This fee will remain in effect each weekend day and holiday through September 13.  

100% of the parking fee proceeds support Town expenses associated with these two flagship beach access facilities, including property maintenance, utilities, custodial staff, enhanced Police presence, and lifeguard services.  The Town is pleased to host thousands of visitors annually to these two facilities.  


 

Taxpayer Parking Permits Available Now!

Due to the significant Town investment to acquire the land and construct the two regional beach access facilities, Town property taxpayers are eligible for 2 free annual parking permits for the Eastern Ocean Regional Access and Western Ocean Regional Access.  The parking permits will be granted only for vehicles registered in the name of the taxpayer, and are not transferable. 

Town taxpayers must display the appropriate permit sticker on their windshield in order to avoid the parking fee.  The permit sticker can not be obtained at the regional beach access facilities, and must be obtained prior to visiting the regional beach access facilities. To obtain your free parking permit, please visit (7509 Emerald Drive) or call (252-354-3424) the Town Administration Building during normal business hours.

Please note that you will need to bring your vehicle registration(s) with you when applying for your permit.  To access a copy of the application, please visit 

http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/pdfs/parking%20permit%20application.pdf . 

Beach Equipment Exception Stickers Available Now for Oceanfront Property Owners

Town ordinances prohibit unattended beach equipment from being left on the public trust beach area overnight between 8 pm and 8 am.  

Due to NC property ownership laws, oceanfront property owners between the Ocean Drive "Dog-Leg" ramp (3000 block) and The Pointe are eligible for up to 2 special exception stickers to enable them to leave equipment out overnight if desired. The stickers are for oceanfront owners only and will not be issued to guests.  Oceanfront property owners should contact Town Administration Building staff at 252-354-3424 for details.  To access a copy of the application, please visit 

http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/pdfs/beachequipmentexceptionapplication.pdf  . 

The Town has previously issued special exception stickers to many oceanfront property owners, and previously issued stickers will be honored by Town staff enforcing this ordinance during summer 2015.

New Lottery Procedure for Summer Day Camp Registration

The Town's Summer Day Camp program remains very popular, with parents often arriving very early on registration day or camping out the night before registration.  In an effort to make the registration process more convenient, the Parks and Recreation Department is implementing a new lottery procedure for the open slots in the Town's 2015 program.

Registration forms must be submitted between April 27 and May 4.  Registration forms are due by 12 noon on Monday, May 4, and Parks and Recreation Department staff will conduct the lottery on Tuesday, May 5.  If you are interested in the 2015 Summer Day Camp, please contact the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department at 252-354-6350 before April 27.

Extremely High Yard Debris Volumes

Thank you for your patience!


The Town's yard debris collection program remains very popular, and with the nicer weather the Town is currently experiencing extremely high volumes.  Town staff make a continuous pass through the entire Town, visiting all Town streets, and work from east to west.  The Town's goal is to complete one entire pass within one week, and then start again on the east side of Emerald Isle, however, collection volumes during this time of year are such that it will likely take two weeks to complete each pass.  Please understand that Town staff are working as hard as possible to collect all debris in a timely manner, and we often have the collection truck running 7 days per week and into the evening hours in an effort to keep up with demand.  

During calendar year 2014, Town staff collected yard debris from nearly 18,000 collection points.  This equates to an average of 49 stops every single day of the year, and factors in slower days during the winter months.  Nearly half (nearly 9,000) of the Town's annual debris collection points occur during the months of April, May, June, and July, and this results in a significant strain on Town resources at this time of year.  Town staff are currently considering new strategies to address this high demand, and may recommend additional resources for the Board of Commissioners to consider in the FY 15-16 budget.  
 

Thank you for your patience!

New Town Planner Begins Work on April 20

The Town is pleased to announce the appointment of Josh Edmondson as the new Town Planner.  Josh will begin work with the Town on April 20, and his office will be located in the Town Administration Building (7509 Emerald Drive).  Josh previously served in a similar role for the Town of Tarboro. 

The Town will continue to contract with Carteret County for NC building code inspections, and the Town Planner will administer and enforce all Town development ordinances. The Town Planner will continue to be the first stop for any new permit applications, and he will coordinate appropriately with County inspections personnel.  

We look forward to having Josh on board with the Town!

Crystal Coast Lighthouse Challenge Bike Rides - May 2, 2015

Get your bike ready, and join us for the inaugural Crystal Coast Lighthouse Challenge bike rides on Saturday, May 2!  

The inaugural Crystal Coast Lighthouse Challenge includes three rides to challenge bikers of all levels. The premier ride of the day is an 85 mile roundtrip ride down Bogue Banks, through Morehead City, Beaufort and Down East Carteret County to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse (at least as close as you can get on a bicycle).  For those seeking less challenging bike outings, there are out and back rides to the Civil War site at Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach (41 miles) and to the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores (25 miles).


All three rides will begin at 8 AM at the Emerald Isle Community Center!  To learn more and to register, please visit

http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/CommunityNotice/CommunityNotice%20-%202015BiketheBanks.htm . 

Proceeds benefit bicycle and pedestrian projects in Emerald Isle!

Did You Know?

Emerald Isle has more housing units (more than 6,700) than any other municipality in Carteret County (Morehead City is next with approximately 5,600 housing units).  

Emerald Isle represents approximately 14% of the total housing units in Carteret County, but it's official population of more than 3,700 (which does not recognize second home owners and visitors) represents only approximately 5.5% of the total official population in Carteret County.  
 

 

Posted by Admin Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:00:00 AM

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