MINUTES OF THE REGULAR SCHEDULED MEETING
OF THE EMERALD ISLE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2001 – 7:00 P.M. – TOWN HALL Mayor Barbara Harris called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.
Present for the meeting were Mayor Barbara Harris; Commissioner Emily Farmer; Commissioner Patricia McElraft; Commissioner Jay Murphy; Commissioner Emory Trainham; Commissioner John Wootten; Interim Town Manager Mitsy Overman; Town Attorney Derek Taylor; Town Clerk Carolyn Custy; Planning Board Chairman Ceil Saunders; Police Chief Mark Wilson; Fire Chief William Walker; Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation; Building Inspections Department Head Carol Angus; and Public Works Director Robert Conrad.
4. ADOPTION OF AGENDA.
Mayor Harris said she had been asked to add three things to the agenda. Number 19 will be the Eastern Carolina Joint Land Use Study; Number 20 will be the bids for the bathhouse for the Western Park; and after comments, they will go into closed session.
Commissioner Farmer moved and Commissioner Murphy seconded the adoption of the agenda and the Board vote was unanimous for adoption. Motion carried.
5. CONSENT AGENDA.
Commissioner Murphy moved and Commissioner Farmer seconded the approval of the Consent Agenda, which included Minutes of the Regular Meeting of March 13, 2001. The Board voted unanimously to approve. Motion carried.
6. MR. SAM STELL, FRIENDS OF WESTERN CARTERET PUBLIC LIBRARY
Mr. Sam Stell said the Board had information they had been sent concerning the library and did not want to go into a lot of discussion. He said he had been involved with it for a long time; and back in 1991, they had discussed a reading room in the Recreation building. They managed to build a small library with the Board’s cooperation, and he knows the Board wants them out. He said the County Board of Commissioners requested that the Friends of the Library go to the municipalities in the area to ask for contributions, and he is here tonight as a friend of the library and not as a commissioner. He thinks they are on their way, but they are at the point that they are ready to proceed with this. They have in the County Commission budget $52,000 to spend now for planning purposes to get with an architect to begin to draw plans. It has changed in that they are working with Carteret Community College. They are asking each of the towns in the area to make a contribution, and it is very important that this take place. He asked the Board to commit $50,000—$25,000 this year, $25,000 next year. They are asking Cape Carteret to contribute $25,000, Cedar Point $15,000, Pelletier $5,000, Bogue $5,000. This could be committed over a 2-year period. The total operation will cost about $1.2 million, so the County will put in the rest. The Friends of the Library have at this point $200,000 and are committed to raise $50,000 more. The community college has offered to give a 50-year lease on the property. It is an opportunity that cannot be turned down.
Mayor Harris said the Town had given $1,000 four years ago, $5,000 last year, and in the budget this year is $5,000. She asked if he was asking for $15,000 more to this $5,000 for total of $25,000. Mr. Stellreplied that he is asking $25,000 for this year. They are asking for a total of $50,000 over a two-year period.
Commissioner McElraft said she would like to vote this evening. Commissioner Trainham agreed and said to put this off would be a mistake and they should go ahead and approve it tonight. Mr. Derek Taylor, Town Attorney, recommended that the Board get the budget straightened out, go to the planning sessions for the amount of money they will be going to get, pass the budget with this as a line item and take care of it in the budget sessions. They do not have to vote on it tonight. They could give a Resolution of Support. Mayor Harris said they had already done that. She told Mr. Spell they would put it under consideration in the budget.
7. MS. ANNE ERIKSON, ANIMAL COMMITTEE REPORT
Ms. Erikson gave the report for the Animal Committee. A copy of the report is attached at the end of these minutes. She thanked the Board for allowing the committee to be formed. She also thanked the committee, who worked very hard and provided invaluable personal and professional advice. They contacted a lot of veterinarians and did a lot of research from coastal towns from Virginia Beach to Daytona Beach.
The committee found that there is an ordinance in existence in Emerald Isle but said it is not being enforced. They recommended some changes be made to the existing ordinance and that the ordinance be enforced. They recommended a fine rather than a warning for first offenses. The committee also recommended licensing all dogs and cats, limiting animals on the beach between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM from Friday before Easter until October 1, hiring an animal control officer to enforce the existing and proposed ordinances, and that the Town not renew the contract with Hadnot Kennels and apply the savings to the salary of an animal control person.
On the initial survey sent to town residents, many said they do not walk the beach as often as they would like to because of dogs running without a leash. We should not be subject to diseased animal waste.
Ms. Erikson said that between June 2000 and January 2001, the police had 125 calls. From January until the end of March this year, there were 26 more. Last week, an article appeared in the Raleigh and Pittsburgh papers stating that 4.7 million Americans yearly (with children accounting for more than 60% of those) will be seriously bitten by a dog. More children are seriously injured by a dog bite than are taken ill by measles, mumps and whooping cough combined.
A group on the island, Friends of Feral Felines, is doing marvelous things but cannot continue to do it alone. They feed and trap feral cats and take them to be inoculated, spayed and neutered, but they cannot keep up with the numbers of cats.
There was some discussion with Police Chief Wilson about an animal control officer. They would have to train someone, buy a truck, buy a cage, and he thought that would take a lot of money. Mayor Harrisasked if anyone on the police force had the training, and Chief Wilson replied there was no one. He said there are no civil citations in Emerald Isle, that when they write a citation, it goes to District Court and costs $115. He argued with Ms. Erikson about enforcement of the ordinance and the lack of police response to complaints.
Commissioner McElraft asked about the license for tourists if they bring their dog and said that would be hard to enforce. Ms. Erikson replied that is why they need an animal warden. Commissioner McElraftasked if the committee had talked with any of the communities that had the pooper scooper bags at the end of each of the public walkways that encourages people to take a bag. She said they need to do a lot more public information on that. Ms. Erikson responded that they need public information, but people will not take the bag for pooper scooping. The bag would be taken but not for the right purpose. Commissioner McElraftsaid she had seen other communities that have that, and they use it but it is an education process. Ms. Erikson replied that if it were enforced, maybe it would work.
Commissioner Wootten said there would be too many people lining up at the police station to get a license for a dog after they get the key from Emerald Isle Realty. Ms. Erikson said it could be done through the realtors. She does not think there are that many tourists who bring dogs. Commissioner Wootten said he did not think tourists are the problem. Mayor Harris said there are very few rental homes that allow pets.
Commissioner Trainham commented about a dog that had been roaming around in his neighborhood. He said that one of the police officers had discussed the situation with the family, and Commissioner Trainham had not seen the dog since. He supported the police department’s efforts. People have the tendency of letting the dogs out at 11 at night, and they go wherever they want to without anyone to check them out.
Mayor Harris said it depends on the owner. You can speak to some owners and they will abide by the rules; the problem is those who will not. She thanked Ms. Erikson for the report and said they would hear from the public in the public comments later on. Commissioner Farmer said they had been having public comments with each agenda item. Mayor Harris said she thought they would save it tonight under all public comments at the end. Commissioner Trainham said he preferred that they do it with each of the items. Mayor Harris asked if anyone wished to speak on dog problems.
8. MR. DICK ECKHARDT, SOLID WASTE COMMITTEE REPORT.
Mayor Harris said the committee gave a report last month, and the Board sent it back to the committee on the 90-gallon containers.
Commissioner McElraft said Mr. Eckhardt had mentioned to her on the phone that he had found someone who could make a container/holder that is 3-sided for the 90-gallon cans and asked if he had pictures. Mr. Eckhardt passed out pictures of that and said it is just one of the solutions and he did not have the price on it.
Mayor Harris said the picture showed two 90-gallon containers in a three-sided enclosure with the fourth side open. Anyone could pull the can out and put it back.
Commissioner Wootten said they had met with Mr. Eckhardt in a workshop recently and had a long discussion about how to proceed. What Mr. Eckhardt is presenting is a summary of the discussion. Mr. Eckhardt explained that before he reconvened the committee, he wanted to make sure he understood the reservations and actions the Board is interested in. It was not clear what they wanted to do. He polled 6 of the major property managers, and they all shook their heads and said the Town had to give them something to lean on. One of the property managers is interested in rolling out and back the containers on their own. Mr. Eckhardt asked what is the direction of the Board because it seems to him that they can take some actions now regarding capacity and containment of containers if they are left at the curb.
Commissioner Wootten said they had discussed concentrating the efforts on Ocean Drive or the Ocean Drive equivalent. Mr. Eckhardt said the two previous items are aimed at Ocean Drive property—one 90-gallon can for every 6 people a residence sleeps and keeping the cans in tow if they are left at the curb. There are basic things that can be done this year that would give the property managers the direction to get started on the containment problem.
Commissioner Wootten said the question in his mind is if they have a roll-in, roll-out service provided either through the real estate agencies or a town employee, there may not be a need for the racks on the street. If the decision is that the roll-in, roll-out assistance is not a viable way to go, then they concentrate on the racks. Mr. Eckhardt said one property manager said they would try to do it, another one said they did not have the time or money to do that because they had too many.
Mayor Harris said the committee had twice gone back. She said it sounded like Commissioner Wootten was asking him almost to write an ordinance. The Board needs to decide if they want 90-gallon containers, if they want it in a wooden container. They need to decide.
Commissioner McElraft suggested that they give a choice of the 90-gallon or regular trash cans. At curbside, they have to be contained in a three-sided container rack (for the 90-gallon). That will keep them from rolling or flying over. That will prevent people who have nice racks already from having to replace those with 90-gallon cans. In that requirement also they need to require of the real estate companies and the owners of the properties that they make sure that for 6 people there are at least 3 of the other kind of trash cans so that if you have a duplex that sleeps 10 to 12, you would have 6 for each side of the duplex. There have to be nice racks for those and make sure they are in good shape. That way they can try to get that going this season and see how it works. If they still have a problem, they could start fining the people.
Commissioner Murphy agreed with that. He does not see the roll-in, roll-out deal working.
Mr. Eckhardt said he thought they were compromising by saying that people could keep their 30-gallon cans in racks. They do not have to roll-in and roll-out unless they want to do that. When it is left at the curb, it has to be contained, whether it be recycle or garbage. They are looking mainly at containment on Ocean Drive, not only of the garbage but of the racks. The rack systems will take some time because they have to come up with a standardized design and give people some time to do that. He suggested this summer to give everybody an idea of what they are looking at as far as trying to come up with enough containment, and then this winter put the rack system in as far as an ordinance is concerned.
Commissioner Trainham thanked Mr. Eckhardt. He appreciated that they are allowing people who do not need a 90-gallon container to use what they have. The only time they ever need more space is when they have kids come in, and that does not happen that often. The racks for the 90-gallon containers will be very helpful even off of the waterfront. His neighbors have 3 of the 90-gallons, and sometimes when the wind comes up after they have been emptied, they are all over the place.
Commissioner Farmer asked Mr. Taylor if this is a simple change they can make in the language of the ordinance so that they are requiring one can per 6. Mr. Taylor said he had no idea but he said he could look into it.
Commissioner Wootten mentioned the 1 can per 6 people and said it might be difficult to manage how many people are inside a house. He suggested a number of cans per bedroom. Mr. Eckhardt said one recommendation was 30 gallons for every bedroom. He said the committee recommended no changes to the recycling.
Mayor Harris asked if they needed the attorney to go ahead and draw up something concerning overflowing trash and violations.
Commissioner Farmer moved that the town attorney draw up an ordinance for trash containment to include 30 gallons of containment per bedroom. Commissioner Murphy seconded the motion.
Mayor Harris asked if they wanted a violation fee if it is all over the ground. Commissioner Farmer replied that they do this summer as a trial period. Commissioner McElraft asked Mrs. Angus, since people are getting ready for summer and will start looking at their racks, if they could leave a picture for her to show them how something could be built to contain the 90-gallons so they could go ahead. Mrs. Angus said if they are going to do it, they will have to start it now because now when the inspectors go up to do it, all they are doing is making sure there is a can there. It does not matter where it is. She mentioned one other issue: when she gives a building permit, it might be for 4 bedrooms and a TV room, a library, a study, a den, and you know there are sleeping facilities in every one of them because they cannot get septic tank approval for 7 and 8 bedrooms.
Mayor Harris said they have all the information, they will turn it over to the attorney, and thanked Mr. Eckhardt. Mr. Eckhardt said the committee would be glad to help with the ordinances or give feedback on the ordinances.
Commissioner Farmer asked Mr. Eckhardt if they had discussed fines. Mr. Eckhardt said they had talked about using a litter law as far as fines are concerned. Commissioner McElraft commented that if they get the containers contained they would probably solve the problem without having to fine anyone.
Mr. Taylor asked if the Board wanted fines to be criminal or civil. Commissioner McElraft replied that they had decided not to do fines right now. Mayor Harris said if he is going to do this, they need to put some teeth in it.
Mrs. Liz Dowling, resident of 404 Cape Emerald Court, said the committee had spent a lot of time and a lot of thought had gone into it, but asked if the Waste Management truck could have a notebook and if some place on Ocean Drive has everything overflowing and totally over capacity, they could make a note of it and turn it in to the management company. That is how it could be limited. They have to target the people who are doing this. Ms. Overman said they already do that; they send a letter to those people telling them they need more cans. Mayor Harris said it has not worked. Mrs. Dowling said it should be addressed immediately that week.
Mr. Ken Lynch who resides at 207 Red Snapper said to think very carefully about the 30-gallons per bedroom. He has a 3-bedroom house and he has two 30-gallon containers. They hardly ever use more than one a week for two of them. He knows some people who have, under the threat of having to use the 90-gallon container, discarded their old trash containers on the street that hold two 30-gallon containers and have gotten the 90-gallon roll-out and destroyed the others. Will a person with a 4-bedroom house have to get two 90-gallon containers with two people living in the house?
Mayor Harris said she thought he had misunderstood. If they want to choose 30-gallon, that is fine as long as the garbage is in a container. If they want a roll-out, they may have the roll-out. Commissioner Wootten said they were targeting Ocean Drive or Ocean Drive equivalent where there are mostly rental units, not residents.
Mr. Lynch asked how they would distinguish between the two unless the ordinance is written that way. Commissioner McElraft said if the trash is not overflowing, nobody would report them. Mr. Lynch also said somebody next door to him has three or four or whatever they are supposed to have, and he does not have them, they will not be feeling right about his not having them. Commissioner Wootten said if they did not live on Ocean Drive or Ocean Drive equivalent, they are not involved.
Commissioner Murphy said they were trying to target the rental properties that have the containment problem. Commissioner McElraft said if they have an ordinance, he does not want to break the ordinance. If they went back to a 30-gallon for every two people who sleep there, would that work?
Mr. Lynch replied that would not work either. Commissioner McElraft said if he breaks the ordinance, they would not come after him.
Mr. Bernie Whalley, resident of 5306 Ocean Drive, commended the committee for addressing the issue because it has certainly been due for a long time. At the duplexes in front of him, he has counted as many as 16 automobiles at one time that stayed all week long, and that dumped a lot of folks out there and a lot of trash on Ocean Drive. One of the things he has not heard addressed is on Mondays, Waste Industries comes by and empties all the trash cans, but it is Thursday before recycle gets picked up. The people who come in on Sunday put recycling stuff in and have it picked up Thursday. They put more in and then they leave. Those recycle cans are packed full. The next people coming in on Sunday cannot use them because there is no room left. All their debris from Monday to Wednesday creates one of the overflow problems.
Mrs. Ceil Saunders, resident of 5136 Bogue Sound Drive, said the condos always turn on Sunday, and the houses turn on Saturday. A lot of the debris is coming from the cleaning crews. When they clean up, they throw it into the trash bins. It should go back to the rental firms.
Mrs. Anita Fedderson, resident of 6819 Ocean Drive, said she had owned rental properties in Emerald Isle since 1988, and they have had the same problem since 1988. She does not have the answers but does have a lot of questions. The first question is, why do they think the wooden trash can racks that they are attempting to put the cans in look good? Mayor Harris replied that the purpose is to keep it from falling over and rolling down the street. Mrs. Fedderson said most of them do not look that good. The men come and empty the trash, they throw the 90-gallon container face down wherever it lands. Will they put it back in the rack? Commissioner McElraft replied that they put the 30-gallons back in, and they will put the 90-gallons back in. That is why they are trying to make it 3-sided so that is easy for them to roll it back in there. Mrs. Fedderson said she had driven up and down the island trying to find Commissioner McElraft’s containers because she had said they looked nice. Commissioner McElraft replied that she had looked at them over the weekend, and they are not as nice as she thought they were.
Commissioner Trainham said they need to insist that people who do have trash containers fix them so that they look good. He invited her to see his. Mrs. Fedderson said she had not seen any attractive ones on Ocean Drive. Why can’t the people who are picking up the trash come up to the house, get the container, roll it down, empty it, bring it back up to the house? The response was “Money.” Mrs. Fedderson said she is willing to pay double rather than have those cans sit out at the street. Mayor Harris said it has been looked into, and it was declined. Years back they tried to do it, and this Board has tackled it, and it is just too expensive.
Mrs. Fedderson said the biggest problem with the renters is that they clean up on Saturday morning when they are leaving, and if that trash can is filled, it sits there until Monday or Tuesday. You’ll still have full trash cans sitting out on the street. Commissioner McElraft said hopefully they will have more trash cans so they will have lids on them.
Mayor Harris said it has been looked at. Different angles have been talked about, and she wished Mrs. Fedderson could have come to some of the meetings that have transpired. Mrs. Fedderson said as an oceanfront owner, she would like to offer to pay to have someone come up to her houses and pick up the trash and put the cans back so no one has to look at it. Commissioner McElraft said she could probably make that arrangement with the real estate company.
9. PROPOSAL FROM NC COAST, ISLAND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Mayor Harris said it had been discussed, and the Board has had workshops concerning dropping the Emerald Tidings and combining our news with the Island Review. Jennifer Starr is the editor of the Island Review magazine and has brought a proposal.
Commissioner McElraft asked how much it was costing to do the newsletter? Ms. Overman replied $15,000.
Commissioner Farmer said she had two concerns. One was that the price seems pretty steep per page per month. Her other concern is that they might not have enough to say to come out monthly.
Mayor Harris said the one extra page is what will be there. They can go ahead with more pages, but they start off with one inserted page. The rest of the magazine will be just like it has been.
Commissioner Farmer said theoretically the logo would be on the top. She is concerned whether they want to be filling one page a month.
Commissioner McElraft asked if the estimate is for one page. Mayor Harris replied it was a one-page insert. Ms. Starr replied that as requested, it would be a page in the magazine. They did do a proposal for a separate insert, but . . . . It is a per-page rate, so they could have as many pages as they want. Commissioner McElraft verified that the total $8,000 includes only one page per month.
Commissioner Murphy asked if this would be a yearly, 12-month contract. Ms. Starr replied that it is based on their annual page rate.
Commissioner Wootten said the Island Review does not get mailed to local people currently. Most of the cost is identified with mailing the magazine and the insert to local residents.
Commissioner McElraft said she did not disagree with the prices. She wondered whether they needed to do it every month, could they not do it every other month.
Commissioner Wootten recommended they try it, and if they do not like it, they could go back and pick up Emerald Tidings.
Commissioner Murphy asked if they would be held to the contract if they are not happy with it. He does not want to have to do it for 12 months if that is not what the people of Emerald Isle want. Commissioner Wootten said he did not see a 12-month contract. Mayor Harris said it was a whole lot cheaper than Emerald Tidings. Commissioner McElraft said it would be a change, and asked if they could do it for 12 months with a 30-day out on either side. Ms. Starr said they could have a cancellation policy. She advised them that they would be getting the information out on a monthly basis for $7,000 less per year than they are now only doing it on a quarterly basis, plus they will be getting it mailed to all the out-of-towners not at their expense.
Commissioner Wootten moved that the Board accept the proposal as outlined with a caveat of a 30-day kick-out if either side becomes disenchanted with the product or each other. Commissioner McElraft seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried
10. PAXON HOLZ/REED DRIVE COMMERCIAL PARK
Mayor Harris commented that the Planning Board has sent this project to the Town Board and they have recommended that the Town Board determine whether a waiver is to be granted to allow a 40 foot right-of-way be used for Reed Drive Extension. Also, the original 3-lot subdivision as originally requested was expanded to the entire parcel at the request of the Town Board, which includes the 7.94 acres (including Reed Drive).
Attorney Richard Stanley came forward and said, “We are here for a favorable review of the preliminary plat for the McLean Trust property at the intersection of Coast Guard Road and Highway 58. I believe it was approved by the Planning Board on March 28th. It started out this time again as a 3-lot subdivision using the existing Reed Drive Extension that has never been opened but through discussions of the Planning Board, they did not want to see a 5-block subdivision so they approved it on March 28th. I want to remind you again, that this a recorded registered plat in the Register of Deeds, Map Book 8, Page 32. The map shows Coast Guard Road and that Reed Drive extends out to the end of the block. This is the road that has not been opened and it in the middle of this property. Right now it is a dedicated public road that has never been opened. That was the reason why the 3-lot subdivision would have used that road (60’ right-of-way) when talking about lots on the North side of the dedicated unopened road.
Mr. Stanley continued that the Planning Board has been provided septic tank suitability letters for the first 3-lots and he had the letters for the remaining ones. He stated the reason they were asking for reasonable favorability tonight but not what he would call final preliminary approval is because there is an additional step that must take place in order to reduce the road from a 60-foot right-of-way to a 40-foot private road. He pointed out that a lot of thought had been put into this by the Planning Board. He also pointed out that Reed Drive with 40-feet would be a two-lane private road, but when you come out to Coast Guard Road from the 3-lots it would be a right turn only. You could not turn back left. What has happened with this road is that it is coming down and turning and coming along the Southern perimeter of the property to Coast Guard Road at Pebble Beach Condominiums. There is a right turn only on Reed Drive as you go East. You would have to go down Coast Guard Road. You cannot go across that intersection nor turn left. The extension of the Road comes out near Pebble Beach and you could turn either left or right.
In order to get to that step, substituting a 40-foot right-of-way for a 60-foot right-of-way, it will be necessary for the Town Board to withdraw that road as a public right-of-way. There is a procedure in the General Statutes that Mr. Taylor, Town Attorney, will cover with the Board. It is necessary to adopt a Resolution of Intent to abandon and call for a Public Hearing. The Public Hearing must be advertised in the paper and is posted on the property. The Public Hearing will be held and at the conclusion of that you will allow withdrawal of the road as a public right-of-way and at that point by granting preliminary subdivision approval it will then become a private road subject to the maintenance and responsibility of the W.B. McLean Trust with the appropriate safeguards on the terms.
One other thing would need to be done. John McLean has met with Dr. Phil Almeida and Art Daniel (who is an engineer) who have discussed storm water management and Mr. Stanley had a letter from Mr. McLean. He continued that since this went from a 3-lot to a 5-lot subdivision on March 28th and since it is contingent upon the Boards’ approval of a street withdrawal which cannot take place until the next Board meeting, Mr. McLean has not come forward yet with the storm water management plan but the letter will explain that he has talked with Dr. Almeida and Mr. Daniel about running it into non-jurisdictional wetlands that would not swale out.
Mr. Stanley again reiterated that they were asking for a favorable review but not final preliminary plat review because if the street is not withdrawn, they will have to go back to the drawing board and use the 60-foot right-of-way.
Commissioner Wootten commented that the configuration of the roadway as presented now, for favorable consideration, is a loop road as the turning point out but it is in accordance or very close accordance with what was learned with the traffic studies that the Town paid for. That was to get the exit traffic from this property down as far away from Route 58 as possible and across from the Pebble Beach entryway. To that degree, this road configuration is designed to satisfy the traffic pattern configuration, not the volume configuration.
Commissioner McElraft asked Mrs. Holz if from the Pebble Beach entry coming out would you be able to turn left or right? Mrs. Holz answered “Yes at Pebble Beach”. Mrs. Holz said there would be a 2-lane road in on Reed Drive and out onto Coast Guard Road turning left or right. Commissioner Murphy clarified that where the extension starts that is a right turn only and that this is also a 2-way. Mrs. Holz confirmed this for Commissioner Murphy.
Mrs. Holz said, “These changes to the configuration were mandated by the Planning Board requesting the advice of the traffic study and the original subdivision has been changed since it was first presented in June, about seven times.” They have been very patient and they appreciate all of the well-meaning guidance that they have received.
Mayor Harris said, “You are asking for the abandonment of Reed Drive 60-feet in width?” Mrs. Holz confirmed this with “That is correct and that has been brought about by the Planning Board’s request that we reduce it, to reduce the amount of encroachment as the street is presently plated and dedicated. We could go in and build a 60-foot blind street, dead in, in and out and that is that. But because the Planning Board after their discussion and study of the traffic study asked us to reduce the road, we have done so. They also asked us to bring it out and loop it around to come out at Pebble Beach. We have done that. In order to reduce it to 40-feet, it must be changed from public to private because we are not allowed to have a public 40-foot wide street so we have to ask for this. If you had rather it to be “anything goes” in and out of Reed Drive, I will be glad to do that. That is what I asked for 6 months ago. You do not want that, I am told. The Planning Board does not want that. The traffic studies do not want it. We have acceded to your every request and your every bit of guidance and we will continue to do so but in order to proceed, we must ask that the street be abandoned so it can be reopened as a private street for that subdivision.”
Commissioner Farmer questioned, “On this plat it shows that some of the road runs along Quail Ridge Townhomes. My understanding, and I may be wrong is that there is a 15 foot buffer between residential and commercial?” She gave Ordinance page 1186 for the Town Attorney to glance at, Section 19-107 (3) and (7). She continued that the plat shows a vegetation line, 94 feet deep along highway 58. She asked if that was State property? Mrs. Holz answered “Yes it is”. Commissioner Farmer asked if this subdivision would be sitting 5 feet back from Highway 58 right-of-way. There will be no buffer on this property between Highway 58 right-of-way and this property? Mrs. Holz said there exists presently 98 feet of vegetation - - Commissioner Farmer interjected “which the State can pave whenever it chooses”.
Commissioner Farmer said there has been a lot of discussion, for everyone sitting in the audience, about the State wanting to widen Highway 58 and in fact the Emerald Isle Land Use Plan supports that.
Mrs. Holz addressed this issue. She said, “Highway 24 is undergoing an expansion and Cape Carteret has become very familiar with that. Through the Town of Cape Carteret, through most of the Town, there is 100-feet of State right-of-way and there is presently 5 lanes of traffic within that 100 feet. In front of the little shopping area where the former Town Hall was located, there is 120 feet of right-of-way. At the stoplight there are presently 8 lanes. From the Bridge to Fran’s Gift Shop there is a 200 foot wide right-of-way. The pavement is located in the eastern most section of that 200 feet so that you presently have 98 feet vegetated of State right-of-way between the trust property line and the pavement. It might interest you to know, and this may be a little premature, but the Gateway Committee walked that right-of-way today and although the surveyors flagged that entire property line, in some cases it was with great difficulty even though the flags were sometimes sticking up 10 feet in the air, that we could even see the property line. The consensus of the Gateway Committee from their report was that there is sufficient right-of-way, that there need not be additional buffer other than in the right-of-way in this Gateway area.”
Commissioner Murphy said, “If the State is not kind to us and they take 40 feet to put two more lanes in we still have an additional 54 feet for buffer. Fifty-four feet of vegetative buffer on the State right-of-way is in my opinion a sufficient amount.
Commissioner Wootten, Trainham and Commissioner McElraft had no comments.
Commissioner Farmer said the only other comment she has is several of the studies were concerned about doing that from traffic turning lane at Coast Guard Road, getting tied up at the Reed Drive, the entrance to this parcel. She understands what Mrs. Holz is saying, that the Planning Board has said this is what they prefer, but she is not happy to see the entrance to this property so close to the intersection of Highway 58 and Coast Guard Road. She thought this was what the traffic studies were trying to get away from.
Mrs. Holz replied that the public will go wherever it is easiest to get in and out but this what the Planning Board asked for. I have proposed several different things. That is why we are here to receive a favorable response.”
Attorney Taylor said the issue related to the vegetative buffer is under the Zoning aspects of the Ordinances that would certainly come into play when the building on the lots are started. How to review the vegetative buffer issue at that time would come into play when a permit is to be issued in Inspections Department.
Commissioner Farmer wanted to know that in terms of putting in a road, there is no buffer? Attorney Taylor said the buffer between the residential and commercial property provides just that. Whether it be along the roadway, inside the roadway, etc., he does not know how that would be interpreted. Mrs. Carol Angus of the Inspections Department said she has never had a road go down a property line before.
Attorney Taylor said, “It also contains an opaque screen fence, 6 feet in height, constructed in a manner that is compatible with the design of the project shall be provided.” This is a possibility that the property could go right long the line. There are a lot of options so when it comes time to apply for a Building Permit within the Zoning Ordinance. He does not know exactly how constructive it would end up being when it comes to actually putting something on those lots, how you would deal with those buffer things at that point in time.
Commissioner Farmer said she wants to go on record as being opposed to having the entrance of the parcel at Reed Drive Extension. Mrs. Holz replied that they could have just an In and Out 60 feet. They have jumped through every single hoop in the world. Now that we have put the road where we were told to, when we make it private we will have to keep it up instead of the Town. She stated she did not know what more they could do. She asked that clarification on the buffers be provided to her before she comes in for an application to build that road.
Mr. Jerry Huml, resident at Pebble Beach, wondered after hearing about the loop road facing the entrance to Pebble Beach, how that will impact on a complex that has 228 units, approximately 500–600 parking spaces, and in the summer is jam packed full of cars. Have they considered safety in that region, is there thinking of a light at that area? He sees a huge problem there and asks the town to consider that in their planning.
Commissioner McElraft asked if they needed to take the road abandonment to public hearing or make this contingent upon that. Mr. Taylor replied that they had a couple of choices: they could approve the plat conditional upon the Board’s making a determination to withdraw that road after public hearing at the next meeting; they could preliminarily approve it but hold final approval of the preliminary plat until after such time that the road has been withdrawn. It does not make a difference to the developer because unless that road is withdrawn after public hearing, they cannot do what they have submitted anyway because it would have to be a private road at 40 feet.
Attorney Taylor explained that the Board has a couple of choices. 1) The plat can be approved conditioned upon the Board making a determination to withdraw that road after Public Hearing at the next meeting. 2) The Board could preliminary approve this thing but hold final approval of the preliminary plat, essentially hold off on making a final decision on the preliminary plat until after such time that the road has been withdrawn. Mr. Taylor does not think is makes probably a “hill of beans” one way or the other to the developer because unless that road is withdrawn after Public Hearing, they cannot do what they have submitted to the Board anyway.
Commissioner Wootten made a motion for approval of the preliminary plat submission contingent upon the successful withdrawal of Reed Drive Extension as a public road at a future meeting. Commissioner McElraft seconded the motion. The vote was 3 in favor (McElraft, Murphy, Wootten), 2 opposed (Farmer, Trainham). Motion carried.
Mr. Taylor said he would put forth to the Board at this point for their consideration to go ahead and pass the resolution of intent to withdraw the road and to schedule a public hearing at the next town regular meeting on May 8, 2001. If they would like to put that resolution into play, he suggested that someone make a motion to that effect, read the resolution, and vote on it tonight.
Commissioner McElraft moved, Commissioner Wootten seconded and the Board voted with a vote of 3 in favor (Wootten, McElraft and Murphy) and 2 opposed (Trainham and Farmer) to pass the Resolution 04-10-01-01 Resolution of Intent. Commissioner McElraft read the Resolution at this point and a copy has been attached to the end of these minutes. Motion carried.
11. RECOMMENDATION FROM PLANNING BOARD REFERENCE 90-DAY MORATORIUM.
Mayor Harris said this is to be placed on any filling of a pond or a wetland.
Commissioner Wootten said this is being requested because there are changes to the Stormwater Ordinance being developed by the Planning Board now. He had not followed that process as closely as he could have, but he thought it started out as a attempt to strengthen the residential stormwater aspects of the ordinance. At the last Planning Board meeting he attended, there was some conversation about filling wetlands and other square footage considerations put in there. And they have a workshop coming up on the subject. He suggested they defer the moratorium until he has a chance to sit down at the workshop and see what the Planning Board is proposing. It is prudent judgment to get the whole package and understand it before he buys the moratorium. He suggested shelving this until they have the workshop.
Mr. Taylor said this is a moratorium dealing with use of property which would probably fall under chapter 19. They need to call for a public hearing and make a determination of the moratorium after the public hearing. The best they could do tonight is call for a public hearing at the next Town meeting with proper advertising for such purposes.
Commissioner McElraft said they had discussed the possibility of stopping the filling of wetlands several months ago and decided not to do that because it was going above CAMA’s regulations, and the fear was that they were doing things that were taking private property things away from people. Until CAMA got stronger, they as a town did not need to put the town in legal jeopardy. She asked to hear input from the Planning Board at the Stormwater workshop, but she did not think they should do a moratorium on it until they had further information as to why the Planning Board wanted to do this. She suggested tabling it until after the workshop.
Commissioner Murphy agreed to table it.
Commissioner Farmer said CAMA did not have much to do with wetlands; it is the Army Corps of Engineers and DWQ. The Army Corps of Engineers plays a very limited role as essentially a permitting agency for filling wetlands, and one of the reasons we have so much flooding in the Town of Emerald Isle is because they are permitting agencies. They permit the destruction and filling of wetlands. The Town is facing a $4.6 million flooding solution and is divided on using the beach as a stormwater dumping ground complete with “No swimming” signs. This should be a no-brainer. Many of our remaining lots are in fact wetland lots, and we will absolutely feel the impact of the poor development of them. She does not want to hold up anybody’s plans any longer than necessary, but this was a unanimous decision on the part of the Planning Board, and the Board does have a responsibility to consider the best interests of the Town. She suggested setting a date for a public hearing to consider this. She thinks if the Planning Board feels this is important, it is important. They are concerned about people going in and filling wetlands while they know they are still under the old stormwater ordinance, and they want to make sure that does not happen through a moratorium. She wanted to call a special session for a public hearing.
Commissioner Farmer made a motion to send this to the May 8, 2001, Board Meeting for a public hearing for purposes of determining whether or not there should be a moratorium on the filling of all wetlands. Commissioner Trainham seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
Commissioner Wootten said they needed to get the draft changes that the Planning Board is proposing. He asked Mr. Taylor to take a hard look at the legal question being posed by the subject of jurisdiction, filling wetlands, property use, etc.
12. RECOMMENDATION FROM PLANNING BOARD REFERENCE WAIVER/JERRY COOK
Mayor Harris said the Planning Board had requested the Town Board consider a waiver to Jerry Cook because the Policy and Procedures of the Planning Board require that the final plat be submitted within one year of the preliminary plat, and that year passed.
Mrs. Angus said in the Policy and Procedures for the Planning Board, it is required that you submit a final plan within one year after the preliminary plan has been approved. In this particular case, the first year expired in July. When Mr. Cook brought the final plat forward, she had to tell him that he did not have it in sufficient time. She was under the impression at that period of time that this piece of property was being looked at as part of the stormwater drainage solution, and since she was not privy to that, she did not know that it may have been pulled out of that contention. Since that had been the case at the time, she thought the Board might give him the waiver to bring it forward, and that is why she produced the preliminary plat to the Planning Board members so that they would see what had been presented before.
Commissioner Wootten asked Mr. Cook why he had not submitted the final plat within the year’s time. Mr. Cook showed the property being talked about. Part of the property is on the south side of Coast Guard Road and the majority is on the north side of Coast Guard Road. It has some wetlands, and when he started working on developing the property and came before the Board for preliminary site approval, the Town was also trying to solve some stormwater problems it had. Pete Allen called him one day and asked him if he would work with the town in helping solve the problem, and he said he would be happy to provide a win-win situation if it were possible. He had talked with Mr. Allen several times, and the indication was that they could probably work something out. About that time, the Moffatt & Nichol study was started and grants to the state. He was told if possible not to do anything—go away, do not sell any property, do not develop anything, until they got farther down the road. So he went away and was away until about a month ago when he came back and made the comment that he had preliminary site plan approval. He was told that it only lasted for a year. He replied that he was told to leave, to go away and not do anymore until they could solve the problems. He had no idea that there was a one-year limitation. The issue came up about a month ago that perhaps by sending the drawings back through the Planning Board and having them come to the Board, that the Board could grant him an extension since he was asked to stay away from it.
Commissioner Farmer said on June 1, 1999, the Town of Emerald Isle applied to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to purchase three properties for stormwater disposal—one of those properties was Mr. Cook’s, for West End Subdivision, Block 51. That application to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund was turned down. On July 13, 1999, the Board of Commissioners granted preliminary plat approval for West End. On December 1, 1999, the Town re-submitted a scaled-down application to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. With that application, Mr. Cook’s property was no longer under consideration. On July 13, 2000, the preliminary plat approval for West End expired, a full seven months after the property had been dropped from consideration for purchase by the Town. There has been some discussion since December 1999 and now between Mr. Cook and the town about increasing the amount of storm water from the Island Circle area which was all part of the development. West End’s wetlands have been receiving storm water from Island Circle since a 1992 agreement, and she appreciates Mr. Cook’s willingness to work with the town, but the additional storm water would not have been impacting Mr. Cook’s development plans.
Mr. Cook said Commissioner Farmer was wrong. It would impact what he was doing, and what he was doing was trying to work out a win/win situation with the town.
Commissioner Farmer said when the preliminary plat went to public hearing in 1999, she and a number of other residents spoke up. They were concerned about the impacts to the wetlands his subdivision would have. Seven of the 23 lots proposed required filling for access. Add to that filling the impervious areas associated with 23 houses, and there is a real potential that they will be creating yet another area of town with flooding problems. When the flooding starts, it will not be the developer who is responsible. It will fall to the taxpayers to pay to clean it up. Mr. Cook had 7 months in which to submit his final plat for approval. The ordinance says that since he did not, the approval is no longer valid. He needs to re-submit his plans for Planning Board and Town approval. She cannot support the waiver.
Commissioner Trainham said he would look for Mr. Cook to re-submit his plans.
Commissioner Wootten asked if there have been any changes in stormwater ordinances since the preliminary approval that would change the approval process. Mrs. Angus replied “no.” Commissioner Wootten said they were talking about a situation where the previous Board did approve the preliminary plat following the rules that are still in existence now, and there is some strong evidence that he was working with the town to solve the stormwater problem and did in fact allow his property to be a major holding pond during some of the major floods and hurricanes. He would support the granting of the waiver since there is no change.
Commissioner Farmer said there has been a significant change in the stormwater ordinance. It is actually being enforced. She does not know what sort of stormwater plans were turned over to the town for Mr. Cook, but there have been sections of that stormwater ordinance that had not been enforced at all by previous boards of commissioners.
Commissioner Wootten asked if she meant that the previous board made a mistake in approving the plan. Commissioner Farmer replied that she felt at the time that they had, and the other people who commented at the time felt that way, too. Commissioner Wootten said they were a governing body going through a normal process of government. Commissioner Farmer turned the question on Commissioner Wootten by suggesting that if there have not been that many changes, it is not that big a deal to go back through the preliminary process. Commissioner Wootten said it is a major expense.
Commissioner McElraft asked the Planning Board if it had received final platting. Stormwater would be addressed in final platting. She agreed that they have dumped storm water on Mr. Cook, they have used his property free of charge to take care of stormwater problems, and the least they could do is grant him the extension. She is in favor of doing that; and when they get to the final plat, he has to comply with all the stormwater ordinances.
Commissioner Farmer said most of the storm water being dumped on his property came from his subdivision on Island Circle. That was part of the agreement.
Commissioner McElraft moved that the Board grant Mr. Jerry Cook an extension of one year from the time they stopped for the preliminary plat of the West End Subdivision, Block 51, as the Planning Board requested. Commissioner Wootten seconded the motion. Vote was 3 in favor (McElraft, Murphy, Wootten), 2 opposed (Farmer, Trainham). Motion carried.
13. GOVERNOR’S HIGHWAY SAFETY GRANT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2001/2002.
Mayor Harris said she had received this a couple of weeks ago in the mail and had called the commissioners about it. She had asked Pete Allen about it, and he said they did not have to be involved with any money matching. She took it up later with Ms. Overman, who came back and said she had checked on it and they do have to match funds.
Commissioner Farmer asked about the purpose of the money. What would they be using it for? Police Chief Wilson replied for speed limit flashers and signs. They put the flasher on Crew Drive that day. Commissioner Farmer said she had slowed down. Her concern is that the budget is going to be very tight this year. She does not like to turn away half free money, but she is concerned about the expenses they have facing them.
Commissioner McElraft asked if there were expenses they were going to spend anyway that would have amounted to the $27,000 of their share. Chief Wilson replied that there are some items he had put in that they would be able to take out. Commissioner McElraft asked if he had any estimate of how much that would be. Ms. Overman replied, “About $5,000.” Commissioner McElraft asked if they could go back and pay for things they have already purchased.
Commissioner Murphy asked if the speed limit flasher was paid for. Ms. Overman said it had been. It was $8,000, and that is from the grant they are under right now, that will expire June 1. They got a grant to pay for that already. This is new money as of July 1, which goes for video cameras, equipment, cars, traffic safety officers, stuff like that.
Commissioner McElraft asked if they could get less than the $50,000. Mayor Harris said they need to match $28,750.
Commissioner Murphy asked if they could get from Chief Wilson a list of items that they could use this money to purchase and see if those items are necessary items for the town, and if they are going to spend the money anyway, go ahead. Chief Wilson said he had been considering taking some blue lights out of the budget and let the money from the Highway Safety Program pay for them, if they will. They’re pretty lenient on what they buy for the police department but they want them to designate it for traffic officers and whatever they need for the car or radar, video cameras, blue lights.
Mayor Harris said there is a date this has to be turned in. Chief Wilson said it is something that has to be done soon.
Commissioner Wootten suggested that if this does not have to be done before the end of the month, the chief come up with a list as Commissioner Murphy requested of how he is going to spend the $58,000. They would then address it in the budget workshop and then do a consensus on whether to sign the resolution or not. He does not think this has to come into a town meeting. Mayor Harris said it had to be voted on. Mr. Taylor said it is an appropriation of cash, which requires them to do it in a public meeting. If they do it in a workshop and publish that this is going to be an item they will cover during a special meeting, they want to be able to publish that they are going to spend the money. They would have to do a publication notice on what the meeting is about specifically naming that this item would be a part of it. They cannot just do it in a workshop.
Mayor Harris said the state will tell Chief Wilson what he can and cannot spend it on in the first place. Chief Wilson said the money that the state will spend on radar is money the town will not have to pay in the budget. They have to have radars because the ones they have after four or five years run out. The state will pay 50% of the radars they will buy next year.
Commissioner Wootten moved that the Board approve the Governor’s Highway Safety Program grant in the amount of $28,750. Commissioner Murphy seconded the motion. Vote was 4 in favor (Wootten, McElraft, Murphy, Trainham) and 1 opposed9 Farmer). Motion carried.
14. DOG WARDEN CONTRACT RENEWAL/HADNOT CREEK KENNELS.
Mayor Harris said this costs the town $175 per month. The Animal Committee suggested not funding it.
Commissioner Farmer said their contract runs from July 1 to June 30 and asked if they could talk about it in the budget workshop. She is uncomfortable just rubber stamping it as it has been done before because of the comments of the Animal Committee. Commissioner Murphy and Commissioner Wootten agreed.
Commissioner Wootten moved to table the topic until after the budget workshop. Commissioner Farmer seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
15. PROCLAMATION/MUNICIPAL CLERK’S WEEK.
Mayor Harris said this would be April 29 through May 5.
Commissioner Wootten moved that they approve the proclamation of Municipal Clerks Week. Commissioner Farmer seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
Mayor Harris said Mrs. Custy is fantastic, she is the Town Clerk, they all love her. She does a lot of hard work behind the scenes and very few people know how important she is.
16. ORDER AUTHORIZING ADVERTISING OF TAX LIENS.
Mayor Harris said North Carolina Statutes 105-369 requires the Board to authorize the Tax Collector to advertise all unpaid taxes.
Commissioner Murphy moved that the Board approve the attached order as written. Commissioner Farmer seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
17. COMMISSIONER McELRAFT/BEACH RENOURISHMENT UPDATE.
Mayor Harris said there had been quite a few meetings on this. They had asked Mr. Huml to give them an update and then Commissioner McElraft would follow with her report.
Mr. Jerry Huml said the committee had met twice, on February 20 and March 26. The next scheduled meeting is April 12 at 10:00 AM in Town Hall. The topic of beach renourishment encompasses a great deal of information. Many of the members of the committee are concurrently serving on the Bogue Banks Beach Preservation Association as well as the Carteret County Beach Preservation Task Force. Additionally, with Emerald Isle Realty being one of the larger occupancy tax collectors in the county, Julia Wax has recently been a member of the county focus group to help draft the occupancy tax resolution. He thanked the Board for their support in passing a favorable resolution for an increase in the occupancy tax for Carteret County.
Occupancy tax will play a very key role in helping Emerald Isle to fund both short-term emergency beach renourishment as well as long-term Army Corps of Engineers shore protection projects. A great deal of information has been shared, and they have had interested citizens in each of their meetings.
At the committee’s request, Commissioner Wootten contacted the coastal engineering firm (CSE) and CAMA to do a cost proposal for approximately the first 3 miles of eastern Emerald Isle, which is the most endangered area due to severe erosion on the oceanfront. The cost estimate that came back was considerably higher than expected—$10 million. They are seeking a second cost estimate from another coastal engineer, Erica Olsen, but they do not have the report back yet on this proposal. He thanked Commissioner Wootten and Mitsy Overman for their diligence and help in putting together numbers and tax valuations in the affected areas.
Commissioner McElraft has been instrumental in pursuing Section 11-35, which is a turtle habitat restoration project. This would not be as extensive a project and would require less yards of sand. The US Army Corps of Engineers estimates a 2- to 3-year time line to apply for and receive funding for a project of this nature. This would be a cost-share program with federal, state, and local governments. Occupancy tax could be a part of the funding of this project as well. Recently newspaper articles have indicated that President Bush would look more favorably on this type of environmentally related beach renourishment.
An extremely important factor for Emerald Isle and all of Bogue Banks is the results of the Section 111 Army Corps of Engineers study. They are optimistic that, just as in the Wilmington harbor dredging, the Army Corps of Engineers study of February 2000 may show similar findings for Beaufort Harbor. The bottom line of that study found that dredging of the inlet and the harbor in Wilmington caused the erosion of the beach, and the Corps of Engineers will fix the problem. The release date for the Section 111 study may come as early as the end of this month. The Army Corps of Engineers and the County will call for a meeting once the information is ready for public comment. It is in our best interest to pay close attention to the findings of the study. If the Corps admits their culpability in starving Bogue Banks by preventing us from receiving the millions plus cubic yards of sand that they artificially removed over the last several decades, they will become part of the solution for Emerald Isle. If the results are delayed past the end of April, they would request that the Emerald Isle Board try to ascertain the reason for the delay and to do all in their power to expedite the public disclosure of the findings of the Section 111 for Bogue Banks. We must not allow them to say that the inlet area of influence stops at Pine Knoll Shores. Studies have proven an inlet area of influence of over 26 miles, which is the case of Cape Canaveral.
As part of the scope of the committee’s actions, the Board requested that they determine and explain the necessary role of the town in any beach renourishment project, to include, but not be limited to, approval of debt, cost for town-owned beach property, the need for property easements, and an additional objective was to assist the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners in determining the feasibility of a property-owner funded beach renourishment effort at the east end of Emerald Isle. In both meetings, the discussions quickly brought out the fact that the beach renourishment for Emerald Isle is a town-wide project similar to the stormwater management project, which is also a town-wide problem. The third major need of the town is to correct the rapidly severely eroding point. The committee requests that the Board of Commissioners not try to separate these three major infrastructure needs but consider them as problems that are all Emerald Isle needs to shoulder them together.
It is the committee’s understanding that the Board of Commissioners will shortly begin the difficult and arduous process of budget review for the town. With the new property revaluation, we are blessed with a sizable $1.3 billion ad valorem tax base to be part of this funding mechanism for these three important needs. First is beach nourishment for all of Emerald Isle, although the east will ultimately need more cubic yards of sand than the central and west strand. After the hurricanes in 1996, 1998, and 1999, steps and boardwalks were lost from the 9000 block east. Second is to solve the Emerald Isle stormwater problems in the most economically and environmentally sensitive way possible. Third is to relocate Bogue Inlet Channel at the point so it no longer contributes to rapid erosion at that end of the island. The committee knows the Board of Commissioners has the unique opportunity to protect this same wonderful tax base that has been the strength and beauty of our coastal town. Taxes used to be triple what they are today as recently as the 1980s. As the tax base grew, our taxes dropped from over 60 cents to less than 20 cents per $100. If we allow properties to disappear at the point or on the oceanfront, or property is lost because of the stormwater problems, then the tax rate is going to go up. The committee respectfully submits that once the Board has a true understanding of the cost of these projects that a modest tax increase combined with the millions of dollars we will be receiving ????? [tape change]. A referendum in November could be our earliest opportunity to decide on that issue.
Most important of all, Emerald Isle is a town we love because it has always been about neighbors helping neighbors. We will work hard to keep Emerald Isle a family beach. As part of the committee’s work, they plan to survey their neighbors in the near future. We all need to protect our resources.
Commissioner McElraft thanked Mr. Huml for giving the committee report. On the long-term situation, they are about 6 to 7 years away from possible funding through a federal 50-year plan. They are looking for $700,000 at the federal level to continue the feasibility study, so that has not been written into the budget yet, so there will be a lot of lobbying to try to get that part to continue on the same path they are going with the timeline with the federal plan. The county share will be paid with occupancy tax. They are now in the process of trying to increase the occupancy tax and get an agreement on a 3% increase, which would make it 6%. They pretty much heard everybody loud and clear in the county bond referendum that they wanted tourists to pay for a lot of the beach nourishment, and this is a great way to get the tourists to do that. Two percent of that occupancy tax will go to fund the long-term plan, and then 3% of the 6% will go into advertising, so we will get more advertising than we had before with the TDB. One percent will be given to 3 towns—Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach, and Emerald Isle—for short-term nourishment projects, so if the 6% occupancy tax does pass, we will be getting part of that in 2002. If they decide on a 5% only increase, and there is contention right now between the collectors, Emerald Isle will ask Rep. Smith to tack on 1% for Emerald Isle and earmark it for us. We do hopefully have some short-term nourishment money coming through occupancy tax either way.
Section 11-35 Turtle Sanctuary Restoration is actually called Environmental Restoration project. They really have not gotten that involved in it. Commissioner McElraft took it upon herself to ask Mr. Allen to write to the Corps of Engineers asking if it was feasible for Emerald Isle to get a Turtle Sanctuary Restoration project going. All they are doing now is information seeking. This would be a 75% federal, 25% local share with a cap of $5 million, all the federal government will spend on restoring turtle sanctuary. It is a great way to get 1st to 30th Streets and some of the other areas where the turtle nests have been washed away restored. Oak Island did this. It is not a complete nourishment project. It will not have the millions of cubic yards of sand that a nourishment project would, but it would hold us over in certain areas and would be a cost-effective way to hit some of the areas that are really endangering the turtle population.
Commissioner McElraft continued that the 111 study should be out any day. It has been completed, it has gone to Vicksburg, Mississippi for review and is back now. The Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out what they are going to do. She thinks they will be culpable but to say they are culpable all the way to Emerald Isle may be a stretch for them even though the inlet area of influence has been proven to be 26 miles. It is going to take Emerald Isle pushing the upper limit with litigation to prove that we are also being affected. Whichever way it goes, there will be sand put back into the system, which will help us. It is not a natural process that our beaches are eroding. She has heard so many people say that they will continue to erode. It is a process that sand is being taken out of our system at Beaufort Inlet and the port needs to get rid of the sand, and we need it. She is hoping that the 111 will give us some sand, at least put it back into the system. We are eroding much quicker than what a natural process would be.
The committee had been limited to 1st to 30th Street. They realize that the $10 million was going to be way too much for them to handle because there are a lot of elderly people who own property in that area and it was way too much money for them to fund by themselves. The committee would like to take all taxpayers and see what they would be willing to pay, and then it would have to go to bond referendum as it did with the county. That is what the committee is asking for. She asked that the survey include all of Emerald Isle.
Mayor Harris asked if Commissioner McElraft was asking if the Board would be willing to mail out another survey to see the interest. Commissioner McElraft said, “Correct, like they did in Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach.”
Commissioner Trainham moved that the committee be asked to do a survey to determine the wishes of the citizens. Commissioner Wootten seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
Mr. Charles Stuber, resident of 1106 Timber Trail and member of the committee, said he lives in Raleigh but is here about one third of the time. Because of the beach nourishment problems, he is here about every Saturday for meetings. They have been talking about the whole town problem which includes not only all of the beach but the stormwater problem and the point, and he asked that when they do the survey, they include all of it in the bond referendum. Some of the residents are not immediately affected, but you never know whether a year or two from now they will have a problem, too. In Raleigh, if someone has a problem on the other side of town, he helps pay for it, and the same thing should be true here. If some of us have a major problem now, the whole town should be involved. None of us like to pay taxes, but his feeling is we had better take care of the problems now because if they deteriorate more, we will be paying more taxes and have a messy looking beach, too, to try to get back in shape. He hopes the survey will be positive. He and his wife did a survey a couple of years ago and got a very positive response from about 95% of the oceanfront owners. If they put the survey together properly with the right figures and facts, he thinks they will get a positive response. He hopes the Board will support it.
Mrs. Paxon Holz, 6715 Ocean Drive, is another one of the absentee, non-voting property owners, and she is so proud of Pine Knoll Shores. She wants the Board to take a more positive attitude, wants to see some dynamic leadership, and wants to see the Board get behind renourishment and make it possible for Emerald Isle. We cannot wait for the rest of the world to take care of us. She will pay whatever she has to pay. She cannot vote. She is telling the Board now to do it and charge the oceanfront property owners more than anybody else because they will be benefiting more than anybody else. They already pay more taxes than anybody else, but that is America. We have to have sand. The last time we had a big storm, the ocean was within 20 feet of her septic tank. To her, this is a business. It is not a luxury place where she comes over and romps on the beach. She rents it every single day she can get warm bodies in there, and every year since she has owned it, she has taken money out of her pocket to pay the expenses. The rental income does not cover the expenses—the mortgage, the taxes, the insurance, the commissions on the rentals, the maintenance. That is life, it is a business. She hopes to have it paid off someday, hopefully before the septic tank falls in the ocean and is condemned. Once the septic tank is condemned, the mortgage continues but you get no federal flood insurance because the house is still standing. She implored the Board to take hold and do something for us. We will pay whatever we have to pay. What is the alternative? She still owes $180,000. You need to take hold and be leaders and get us some sand. Mayor Harris said she thought they had. Mrs. Holz said with their Internet skills, they have more ability than she had to secure a copy of the US Army Corps of Engineers study that was performed that shows that the 13 miles east of Bogue Inlet has a history of accurancy and should be considered among the first areas of the state for development. Guess who was Assistant Secretary of the Army when that was produced? Kenneth C. Royal, father of the late Senator Kenneth C. Royal Jr, grandfather of the present Kenneth Royal III.
Mr. Charles Vincent, resident of 7209 Ocean Drive, said there had been a lot of talk about taxes and spending and budgets. We live in a wonderful place and enjoy the services, but if we are going to do that, we have to pay taxes. That is part of it. Our taxes are lower than almost everyone else’s anywhere, and certainly much lower than many. The reason is because we have a high ad valorem base. We are in danger of losing much of that base, that base that is on the ocean front. To keep our taxes low, we need to protect our ad valorem base. From New York to Texas, virtually every community with oceanfront has seen the virtue of protecting their tax base, their industry, their income. Are they more far-sighted than we? If so, we can find out what they did, use their plan, and find out how they got federal help. He implored the Board to leave no stone unturned in their effort to find a solution to the eroding tax base. He is convinced the problem is caused by the deep dredging in Beaufort Inlet, but to get the Corps of Engineers or whoever is responsible to make the repairs is not going to be an easy task. It will take a lot of effort and it will involve spending some money to protect our tax base. It will involve an effort on the Board’s part, also, to educate the electorate to the need to protect this tax base. He has heard people before the last bond issue say, “But what if we renourish the beach and it washes away?” First of all, that will not happen. If you look at either end of our island, it has been renourished and they suffered through 5 hurricanes with no damage. In fact, the west end is in better shape than it was when it was renourished 10 years ago. If we properly engineered it and something happened to it, FEMA would come in and repair it for us. Another thing nobody had mentioned that is realistic is most of the oceanfront owners, who pay a large share of our taxes, do not live here. There is an investment. But still they pay a large portion of our taxes. If their investment washes away, they will probably collect their insurance, write off the loss on the income tax, and move to a community that has foresight enough to protect the beaches, leaving us to make up the difference in the lost taxes. In short, it takes short-term spending occasionally to save many times that amount in the long run. We must do it—it is only common sense. Let our visitors pay for beach nourishment and maintenance. Rep Ronnie Smith is trying to put in a bill, but he has not yet. He has been foot dragging, and we need as individuals, as citizens, and as commissioners, to give him a call to say we need this in so that the visitors and people who use our beach can help us restore it and keep our tax base where it is so we can get a dog warden.
18. BENCHMARK GRANT APPLICATION.
Mayor Harris said Michael Harvey of Benchmark prepared a grant application for revision to the existing zoning and subdivision ordinances. The total grant is for $27,000. The Town’s portion is $9,000. She asked if the Board wished for Benchmark to submit the application on behalf of the Town.
Commissioner Wootten asked Commissioner Farmer if she was satisfied with this because she had been paying a lot more attention to it. Commissioner Farmer said she is very satisfied with it, in part because it is so fluid. She thinks they need Mrs. Angus’s input to narrow it down more, but she does not think it is necessary for getting the proposal. It is very loosely worded.
Commissioner McElraft asked if the other person (Dale Holland) was still putting in an application. Mrs. Angus said she was going to ask about that because she did not know where she fell in the scheme of things for discussion. If this is approved tonight, does that mean that Dale Holland need not go any further with his application? Mayor Harris asked what Dale Holland was doing that Mike was not doing. Mrs. Angusreplied that he was only asked to do the unified codification, she did not know about the other stuff. Benchmark has incorporated his into theirs, and Dale has not. Commissioner Farmer said they would be competing with each other. Based on what Mrs. Angus said, Dale Holland doing the unified codification makes a lot more sense. She is not convinced that that is as big a priority right now. She would cry if that gets the grant and this one does not.
Commissioner Farmer said this in no way binds the Board to Benchmark. They are providing for free, the service of writing this proposal, but we are not obligated to then go with them or anyone.
Commissioner McElraft asked if the deadline was April 20, when would they have time to look at Dale’s. Mrs. Angus thought his would be here today or tomorrow. Commissioner McElraft asked if they need to look at it or can they submit both of them.
Commissioner Wootten moved that the Board approve the Benchmark grant application. Commissioner Trainham seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.
19. EASTERN CAROLINA JOINT LAND USE STUDY.
Mayor Harris said back in October, Mr. Lee came to the Board and went over everything very thoroughly and said the resolution would be forthcoming. The Town agreed to pledge the maximum of $543 in cash and $526 in-kind service to fulfill the local match required by the Eastern Carolina Land Use Study.
Commissioner Farmer passed out maps from the draft AICUZ. She is not a member of the JLUS committee, but she has gone to most of their meetings and has some concerns. The purpose of the JLUS (Joint Land Use Study between the Marine Corps and Carteret County and some other counties) is to prevent inappropriate land uses around military installations, in this case Bogue Field. It is too late. Emerald Isle’s land uses are set. The Harrier circuit training flight path takes it over Emerald Isle. This flight path has recently been designated by the military an accident potential zone. The Department of Navy’s guidelines state that for safety reasons, an accident potential zone density should be limited to 1 to 2 single-family houses per acre and prohibits such uses as condominiums and gathering places like shopping centers, day cares, hotels, churches, and gas stations, even Town Hall. All of these land uses are already here in Emerald Isle in the accident potential zone. It is too late. She appreciates that this is a very controversial subject. She appreciates that anyone who questions the military is automatically branded unpatriotic. She is not. But we are no longer talking about a substantial number of people being inconvenienced by noise. We are talking about an accident potential zone in our town. This was news to her because the current Air Installation’s Compatible Use Zone document, which is the military’s planning document, omitted the accident potential zone map for Bogue Field. The new map now shows these zones as well as an expanded flight path. It is too late. Our residents are living and shopping in a crash zone, and this Board has a responsibility, legal and ethical, that while it supports the Marine Corps, it asks the tough questions as to whether the risks to Emerald Isle have been assessed. The JLUS will take 24 months. Safety is now. These questions have to be asked and answered.
Commissioner Trainham added to what Commissioner Farmer said. As many know, he has been in continuing education and is an educator. The mayor and he have a responsibility as members of the JLUS Policy Committee to be participants in the Land Use Study that is going on. They go to the meetings. At the first meeting they had, he raised the question of the consultant how come they are supposed to be involved in this when they are already developed out. How are they going to be able to participate? They were talking about putting some money up, and at the same time, what will the value be. Since that time, he had learned that some of the value is in the cooperation they might give to other locations. He still says there is a basic problem on the island that must be addressed, and he is hopeful that they can address this through the JLUS Policy Committee. If they do not do it, they are wasting not only our time but our money, and we are taking all kinds of chances in the meantime. He knows the answer comes back that we have never had a civilian be lost in an accident—yet. And he hopes we do not ever have that. We are still living on borrowed time and are living on the edge, and it frightens him every time the airplane goes over his house. At the same time, he is concerned about the fact that they continue to serve in this policy committee, and so it will be his responsibility to bring back to the citizens any kind of information that is necessary. His hope right now is that the Board can be a little more educated for what the real crux are, and to be open-minded and try to learn from those who have made some complete studies in this area. He is hopeful that his colleagues will share with him in the responsibility for learning all they can about this problem of safety.
Commissioner McElraft moved that the Board adopt the resolution with our pledge of $543 in cash and $526 in like kind of services to fulfill the obligation to JLUS. Commissioner Murphy seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
20. BIDS FOR BATH HOUSE.
Mayor Harris said they received the bids for the original access for the bath house. The Board had before them all the names.
Commissioner Farmer said she was sorry there was not a low bidder from Emerald Isle. It would have been nice to have hired one of our own.
Commissioner Farmer moved that the Board accept the low bid of Thomas Simpson Construction Company in the amount of $61,400 for the Western Regional Access Bath House construction contingent upon a performance bond equal to 5 percent of the total and providing proof of liability and workmen’s compensation insurance. The department head will be allowed to move to the second lowest bidder if those conditions cannot be met and the second bidder can meet those conditions. Commissioner Murphy seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion. Motion carried.
Ms. Alesia Sanderson commented that along with the application that will be submitted for the state through CAMA, construction and improvements require pre-application and then if they approve the pre-application, they will be asked for a final application. She would like to proceed with phase 3, interim improvements to the Western Regional Access beyond what they are doing right now. CAMA, for the first time this year, is making funds available for rebuilding excessively damaged walkways that they funded in the past. Windjammer Walkway is in extreme need of that. She would like to submit those two preliminary applications. The Town’s part of the Western Access will probably be between $6,000 and $6,500 because that is a 75-25% match. The full application will come before the Board if we are invited to submit a final application. She wanted their blessing with the pre-application.
21. COMMENTS FROM DEPARTMENT HEADS.
Parks and Recreation Director Alesia Sanderson had no comment.
Fire Chief Walker said there were calls on Saturday evening. There were two calls back to back, a structure fire in Emerald Plantation and a cardiac arrest in the 5200 block, so they had emergency vehicles going everywhere.
Police Chief Wilson had no comment.
Planning Board Chairman Ceil Saunders had no comment.
Public Works Bob Conrad had no comment.
Inspections Department Carol Angus said they added another $1.5 million to the tax records for this past month.
22. COMMENTS FROM TOWN CLERK, TOWN ATTORNEY, INTERMIM MANAGER, BOARD MEMBERS.
Town Clerk Carolyn Custy had no comment.
Commissioner Murphy asked Chief Wilson and Chief Walker about the four-wheeler guys that patrol the beach in the summer. Would they be able to give citations to people who do not have dogs on a leash? Chief Wilson said if they want a civil penalty, they can. Chief Walker said a lot of problems they have on the beach is that they do not know who owns the dogs. Several beach patrol people have been bitten by dogs.
Town Attorney Derek Taylor had no comment.
Commissioner Farmer mentioned the civil citations and hoped that the Board would consider at a workshop how they could implement an education program. She thinks they should be pursuing a pooper scooper law. She thinks they need that, and if they need more traps at Town Hall, maybe they can get some more.
Commissioner Trainham had no comment.
Commissioner Wootten commented about the selection of the next Town Manager. They have a lot of applications (76) in. The date for closure of the ad is April 13. He suggested they start action on the resumes as early as April 16. He asked if they could pick a time to have a meeting to narrow down the applications to whatever the appropriate number for final review and interview. They can decide that in the meeting.
The meeting to discuss selection of the Town Manager will be held on April 23 after the budget workshop.
Interim Town Manager Mitsy Overman said it would be nice if they did a spreadsheet with the applicants alphabetized and the priorities across the top. Then they can tally at the bottom. Commissioner Farmer said she would be back in town on April 20 and would get it then.
Mayor Harris wished everyone a safe and happy Easter, good fishing, good weather. Both churches will have a sunrise service at 6:30 A.M
Commissioner Murphy moved, Commissioner Wootten seconded and the Board voted unanimously to go into Closed Session to discuss litigation at 10:35 P.M.
Commissioner Murphy moved, Commissioner Wootten seconded and the Board voted unanimously to return to regular session 11:00 P.M.
Commissioner Murphy moved for adjournment. Commissioner Farmer seconded the motion. Vote was unanimous in favor of adjournment.
Meeting was adjourned at 11:15 P.M.