- FY 2006-2007 - The Year in Review
Emerald Tidings, composed monthly by Town Manager Frank Rush, is the official newsletter of the Town of Emerald Isle.
'MAKING EMERALD ISLE AN EVEN BETTER PLACE THAN IT ALREADY IS" FY 2006-2007 - The Year in Review
The Town of Emerald Isle continued its efforts to maintain and enhance the excellent quality of life in Emerald Isle during FY 2006-2007. The Town completed several major projects and initiatives during the year, and continued to make progress on other key goals that we hope to achieve during the coming years.
The Mayor, Board of Commissioners, Planning Board members, advisory committees, Town Manager, Town staff, and many concerned citizens remain committed to the continued success of Emerald Isle. We are proud of our collective accomplishments - for you - during the past year, and look forward to another prosperous and productive year in FY 2007-2008!
Highlights of the past fiscal year (July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007) included the following:
Town Organization Remains Committed to Excellent Public Service During FY 2006-2007
The various Town departments continued to provide the high quality, responsive, and courteous daily services that our residents, property owners, and visitors deserve in Emerald Isle over the past year. These daily services that are sometimes taken for granted include emergency response, fire inspections, police patrol, garbage collection, park maintenance, recreation programs, public-area landscaping, street maintenance, building inspections, beach access maintenance, general administration and many others.
Town staff are committed to serving you in the best way possible, and continually strive to "make Emerald Isle an even better place than it already is"! Although there is always room for improvement, the Town is fortunate to maintain a quality staff of committed people.
Town's Deal for Bogue Inlet Pier Was On, Then Off; Town Continues Strong Commitment to Insure Perpetual Existence of a Public Pier in Emerald Isle
A new ownership group entered into a contract to purchase Bogue Inlet Pier (and surrounding properties) from the Stanley Family in April 2006, and the Town worked closely with the new group on a plan to preserve the Pier for perpetual public use. The Town struck a deal with the new group in September 2006 that would have conveyed the Pier to the Town and resulted in other significant improvements to the Pier. However, the sale contract between the new group and the Stanley Family was terminated in late October 2006, and the termination of the sale contract resulted in the termination of the Town's separate agreement with the new group. The Bogue Inlet Pier (and surrounding properties) did not sell, and the Pier remains open for business and remains a valuable community asset.
Although this deal did not come to fruition, the Town continues to invest significant effort into achieving its goal of insuring the perpetual existence of a public ocean fishing pier in Emerald Isle. The experiences and the lessons learned by the Town were invaluable, and have enabled the Town to position itself well for the next pier opportunity. A key result of this effort is the solidification of a partnership with the NC Aquariums to achieve this goal. The Town and the NC Aquariums continue to work closely on this issue, and are pursuing all viable options to establish the State of North Carolina's "CentralCoast" ocean fishing pier. We remain optimistic that this partnership will eventually result in the achievement of this goal in the near future!
New Village East and Village West Zoning Districts Created
The Town's 2004 Land Use Plan, which was the product of significant community involvement, anticipates future re-development of the Bogue Inlet Drive and Islander Drive areas. The Land Use Plan calls for the creation of new, mixed-use developments in these areas with both residential and commercial uses in the same district and in the same building, with an emphasis on public spaces.
Town staff, the Planning Board, and Board of Commissioners have been hard at work since 2004 to implement the Land Use Plan. In order to implement the goals in the Land Use Plan, the Town created the new Village East zoning district in October 2006. The new zoning district includes specifically-designed regulations for new development in the Bogue Inlet Drive area that promote the vision outlined in the Land Use Plan. The new Village East zoning district allows both residential and commercial uses, allows 6 - 10 residential units per acre, retains the existing 40 ft. and 50 ft. building height limits, and emphasizes public spaces, pedestrian facilities, and beach access.
The Town created the new Village West zoning district for the Islander Drive area in March 2007, and this new district has development regulations very similar to those enacted for Village East. The only difference in the Village West zoning district is a greater emphasis on transient lodging and entertainment activities. Village West allows the same residential density and employs the same height limits as Village East.
The Town is pleased to have these new zoning districts in place before re-development occurs, and looks forward to the future re-development of these areas as the market evolves.
Town Renourishes Beach To Replace Sand Lost During Hurricane Ophelia
The Town completed its FEMA Ophelia beach renourishment project in February 2007, and restored the ocean beaches to their pre-Hurricane Ophelia condition. The Town was fortunate to receive approximately $6.8 million of aid from FEMA and the NC Division of Emergency Management to complete this project. A total of approximately 600,000 cubic yards of sand were placed on the beach between 6th Street and Connie Street, and between Lee Street and Conch Court.
The Town, in conjunction with the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, has had a comprehensive beach monitoring and maintenance plan in place for the past several years. Annual beach profile surveys are completed at the start of each hurricane season, and survey crews are called on to the beach immediately after a storm impacts the Town. The reliance on this plan has enabled the Town to maximize Federal and State funding to restore our beaches after hurricane-induced erosion.
Police Station Renovation / Expansion Underway
The Emerald Isle Police Department has operated in cramped conditions and an outdated building for the past several years, and the renovation and expansion of the Police Station was the Board of Commissioners' top priority heading into FY 2006-2007. The Town devised a plan to allow the Police Department to expand into the Town's administrative office area and also renovate the existing Police Station. The end product will result in a modern 5,000 sq. ft. Police Station that will meet the Police Department's and the community's needs for many years to come.
Design work for the renovated / expanded Police Station was completed in March 2006, and the Town awarded a construction contract to BJ & Associates, Morehead City, NC in May 2006. The project is currently 65% complete, and is expected to be finished by the end of October 2007. The total overall cost of the project is approximately $300,000, including design, construction, and furnishings. Town administrative staff are temporarily located in the Town Meeting Room, and will move into a new administrative building in late 2008.
New EMS Station Design Completed; Construction Scheduled for FY 2007-2008
The Town is fortunate to have the dedicated services of Emerald Isle EMS, Inc., a separate non-profit organization comprised primarily of volunteer emergency medics. EI EMS, Inc. has operated for many years from a converted beach house on Cedar Street, and the Town and EI EMS, Inc. have been working over the past few years to construct a high quality facility to match the high quality care provided by EI EMS, Inc.
EDA-Morehead, a Morehead City, NC design firm, was chosen to design the new station, and design work was overseen by a special joint committee representing the Town and EI EMS, Inc. Design work was completed in July 2007, and construction is expected to begin in fall 2008. The new station will be located on Town-owned land at the corner of NC 58 and Live Oak Street, adjacent to Fire Station 1.
The Town's FY 2007-2008 budget includes a total of $800,000 for construction and furnishings. These funds are derived from EI EMS, Inc. reserves, Town funds, and anticipated sales proceeds from the existing EMS station / converted beach house. Construction is expected to be complete by summer / fall 2008.
Permitting, Design Contract Awarded for Next Phase of Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project
The completion of the next phase of the Coast Guard Road Storm Water Project is a top priority for the Board of Commissioners, and a comprehensive permitting and design contract was awarded to Moffat & Nichol, a Raleigh, NC design firm, in April 2007. Moffat & Nichol is tasked with securing permits for all planned pumps along the Coast Guard Road corridor and any required site modifications at the Emerald Isle Woods receiving site.
Upon receipt of the permits, the Town intends to install two pumps in Spinnakers Reach and convey pumped storm water to Emerald Isle Woods. The Town has a highly ambitious goal to complete construction of this project by summer 2008, but will be working hard to achieve the goal nonetheless. Future phases of the project include the construction of new pumps at Island Circle and in Lands End.
The Point Continues to Accrete Sand; Town Continues to Monitor Oceanfront Area
The Point area continued to improve over the past year, and the reformed spit at the western tip of Emerald Isle is now in excess of 1000 feet long! Areas where the old main channel was as much as 25 feet deep just two years ago are now high ground approximately 5 feet above sea level. The new main channel in the center of the Bogue Inlet complex continues to maintain consistent depths for navigation, and has remained in a stable location approximately 3,500 feet west of The Point.
The Town continues to monitor an approximately 800 linear ft. reach of ocean beach directly east of The Point. This area has experienced significant dune recession over the past year, however, surveys conducted in June 2007 suggest this erosion is beginning to reverse itself. The Town will continue to monitor this situation in FY 2007-2008 and be prepared to respond appropriately. With the exception of this limited oceanfront erosion, the overall Bogue Inlet channel relocation project has exceeded the Town's expectations.
Coast Guard Road Traffic Improvement Project Completed
The intersection of Coast Guard Road and NC 58 has long experienced traffic congestion during peak visitation periods during the summer, and the Town has been working diligently to improve the situation. The Town completed a comprehensive reconstruction of Coast Guard Road at this intersection in March 2007. The project consisted of the construction of additional turning lanes, longer turn lanes to enable the stacking of more cars, a straightening of the curve, and the construction of the initial segment of a future dedicated bicycle path along Coast Guard Road. The new road segment also includes aesthetic improvements, including a new retaining wall and landscaped traffic islands.
Despite some early confusion about the new lane configurations, the project has been generally well-received. The project has not eliminated the traffic congestion at this location, but has improved it to some degree. NCDOT also adjusted the signal timing at this intersection in mid-summer 2007, and the new timing should also help to reduce congestion in the future.
Islander Drive Sidewalk Completed In Time for Summer Season
The Board of Commissioners continued its strong commitment to bicycle and pedestrian facilities by authorizing the early construction of a new sidewalk along Islander Drive in March 2007. The new sidewalk segment, originally planned for FY 2007-2008, was expedited in order to be ready for the 2007 summer season. The new sidewalk was completed in May 2007. The new segment links NC 58 and the bicycle path to the Western Ocean Regional Access, and has greatly enhanced pedestrian safety along Islander Drive.
Completion of Sidewalk "Stubs" Result in New Pedestrian Signals
The Town also completed the construction of new sidewalk "stubs" at the Town's four signalized intersections to connect the bicycle path on the south side of NC 58 with the sidewalks on the north side of NC 58. The completion of these sidewalk "stubs" in March 2007 qualified the Town for new pedestrian traffic signals, and these new pedestrian signals were installed by NCDOT in May 2007. The new signals enhance the safety of pedestrians trying to cross the often busy NC 58 highway. The Town greatly appreciates NCDOT's assistance with the new signals.
The Town also completed the construction of a new sidewalk segment linking Lee Avenue to the Town Hall complex in Mach 2007. This new segment provides a safe pedestrian route from the ArchersCreek area to the NC 58 commercial area.
Ophelia-Damaged Soundside Piers Replaced and Repaired
In addition to plentiful ocean beach access, the Town is fortunate to have several soundside access points. Several of these accesses were damaged during Hurricane Ophelia in September 2005, and the Town received approximately $150,000 from FEMA and the NC Division of Emergency Management to repair and replace these important amenities. Replacement piers and / or repairs were completed at Cedar Street Pier in summer 2006, and at the Bluewater Drive and Cape Emerald Piers in May 2007. Improved accesses at Lee Avenue, Ridge Road, and Piney Street were also repaired in May 2007.
New Solid Waste Service Implemented; New Contractor Performing Well
After a competitive bid process in 2006, the Town awarded a new 5-year solid waste contract to Simmons & Simmons Management, Inc. in July 2006. The contract is worth approximately $700,000 per year, and Simmons & Simmons began providing service to the Town in January 2007. Simmons & Simmons' collection team is led by long-time Emerald Isle solid waste collector Terry Thompson, and we are fortunate to have his experience and commitment to Emerald Isle.
The new contract includes several service enhancements for Town residents, property owners, and visitors. The trash collection schedule was altered to collect trash generated by all properties on the south side of NC 58 and Coast Guard Road on Mondays each week to enable the collection of vacation rental trash as quickly after the weekend as possible. The schedule now calls for collection from all properties on the north side of NC 58 and Coast Guard Road (where more permanent homes and non-rental units are located) on Tuesdays. The contract includes a second collection each week for the entire year, adding additional convenience for our property owners and insuring that vacation rental trash is removed in a timely manner. The second collection day of the week is on Thursdays for the south side, and Fridays for the north side.
The Town maintained its commitment to recycling, and now collects recyclables from all areas of Town on Wednesdays each week. Another feature of the new contract is a provision that requires Simmons & Simmons to roll-back all emptied trash containers to a location at least 30 feet from the street right-of-way.
The Town has been very pleased with Simmons & Simmons' service to date, and was fortunate to experience a relatively smooth transition.
Carteret County Completes Revaluation; Emerald Isle Remains Most Valuable Area in Carteret County
The Carteret County Tax Office completed its 2007 property revaluation, which represented the first increase in tax values since 2001. As expected, the total taxable value in Emerald Isle increased significantly. After adjustments made during the appeals process, the Town's total value increased from nearly $1.5 billion in 2006 to more than $4.25 billion in 2007, an increase of more than 180%! Emerald Isle's total taxable value is approximately equal to the total value of the City of Greenville, and Emerald Isle is easily the most valuable town in CarteretCounty. In fact, Emerald Isle has a larger taxable value than MoreheadCity, Beaufort, and Newport combined!
Under the old values, Emerald Isle represented approximately 18% of the overall CarteretCounty tax base. Under the new values, Emerald Isle represents approximately 22% of the overall CarteretCounty tax base. The result is that, overall, a larger portion of the County tax burden has been shifted to Emerald Isle. Although the Carteret County Board of Commissioners established a new tax rate that is only minimally higher than "revenue-neutral", the result is the most property owners in Emerald Isle will see an increase in their Carteret County tax bill this year, and some will be significant.
FY 07-08 Budget Adopted; New Tax Rate 1-Cent Higher Than "Revenue-Neutral"
Town staff and the Board of Commissioners worked very hard to craft a fiscally responsible Town budget this past year in an effort to establish a Town tax rate as close to "revenue-neutral" as possible. The Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2007-2008 budget in June 2007, and established a 6.7 cent General Fund tax rate. The new rate is a reduction from the 15.5 cent rate in FY 2006-2007, but is a 1-cent increase over the "revenue-neutral" rate of 5.7 cents. The rate increase equates to an increase of $58 in the average taxpayer's annual property tax bill. Although the new rate is an increase, the Town is pleased that the FY 2006-2007 rate is still lower than the tax rate in place 5 years ago!
The Board of Commissioners established the two beach nourishment special district tax rates exactly at "revenue-neutral", with the Primary Benefit (oceanfront) district rate set at 16.2 cents (down from 48 cents in FY 2006-2007) and the Secondary Benefit (non-oceanfront) district rate set at 1.1 cent (down from 3 cents). The FY 2007-2008 budget includes funding for several important projects that are designed to maintain and enhance the excellent quality of life we all enjoy in Emerald Isle.
2007 is Town's 50th Birthday; Celebration Events Throughout the Year!
Town staff and a volunteer committee worked extremely hard throughout the year to organize various events to celebrate the Town's 50th Birthday in 2007. Emerald Isle was incorporated on July 1, 1957, and has changed a lot over the last 50 years. Some things have not changed and will never change, including the beautiful natural environment that we are all fortunate to enjoy and the high quality people that make up the community of Emerald Isle!
Monthly events were held all during 2007, and much effort has gone into the grand celebration scheduled for September 22, 2007! A full day of great music, food, drink, kids' activities, a car show, and fireworks are on tap for the grand celebration! Please plan to join us that day in front of EmeraldPlantationShopping Center! Don't forget to purchase your official 50th Birthday memorabilia at the booth on September 22 or at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/50th.htm.
Other Notable Accomplishments / Items of Note from FY 06-07
- A design contract was awarded to Burnette Architecture, Morehead City, NC for the design of the new Town Administrative Building. Design work began in May 2007 and is ongoing. The new building will be located directly behind the existing Town Hall / Police Station building, and will consist of approximately 4,000 sq. ft. Construction will begin in late 2007.
- Town staff remain heavily involved in efforts to encourage the NC Coastal Resources Commission to amend the static vegetation line rule that results in most eastern Emerald Isle oceanfront properties deemed non-conforming perpetuity. A rule change is anticipated sometime in FY 2007-2008.
- Town staff continue to monitor and assess the impacts of proposed new State storm water regulations. The Town is committed to proper management of storm water and the maintenance of our outstanding water quality in Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Town boasts one of the most stringent local storm water ordinances in coastal NC, and has also completed numerous projects designed to protect water quality from storm water runoff.
- The Town completed necessary storm water pipe repairs in CapeEmerald. The storm water pipe serves the public subdivisions along Coast Guard Road but traverses through the private subdivision of CapeEmerald.
- Town staff completed the construction of several small-area drainage improvements in various locations with localized storm water issues around town.
- Town staff continued work on the new, comprehensive Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). The new UDO is intended to consolidate all development regulations in a more user-friendly document. The Planning Board and Board of Commissioners will consider the new UDO in fall 2007.
- Town staff completed the mass rezoning of hundreds of parcels from the Residential Motel Hotel zoning district to Residential-2, the Town's lowest density residential district.
- Several new low-density residential subdivisions were approved during the fiscal year, and these new subdivisions will result in additional quality development in Emerald Isle. New subdivisions include Sea Oats, Sunset Landing, BellCoveVillage, Bell Cove Estates, and Shell Cove North. Collectively, they add more than 100 new residential lots to Emerald Isle.
- With valuable assistance from County Commissioner Pete Allen, NCDOT provided more than $13,000 worth of new plantings that were installed in the NC 58 right of way by Town staff.
- New decorative lights were installed on the NC 58 bicycle path to improve safety.
- A grant application was submitted to request more than $100,000 for the construction of a new soundside pier, restrooms, and picnic gazebo at the planned McLeanPark adjacent to Chapel By The Sea. The Town is optimistic about the grant, and should learn its fate in fall 2007. If awarded, the improvements will be constructed in 2008.
- A project to construct new handicapped access ramps and observation decks at the two regional beach accesses was sent back to the drawing board after encountering several obstacles. Re-design is in progress, and the new ramps are expected to be constructed in 2008.
- A new Police records management software system has been purchased to improve data collection and data sharing with other law enforcement agencies.
- The Town maintains an excellent overall financial position, with adequate reserves to meet cash-flow needs, respond to emergencies, meet bond obligations, and generate significant interest earnings.
- Town departments now accept credit card payments! We are pleased to offer this service to make it easier for our customers to conduct business with the Town.
- The Town enjoyed its best-ever Holiday Parade in November 2006, and yet another outstanding St. Patrick's Festival in March 2007.
- Pete Allen was appointed to the Carteret County Board of Commissioners and Tom Hoover was appointed to replace him on the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners in December 2006.
All of us at the Town of Emerald Isle are proud of the Town's accomplishments over the past year, and we look forward to an even more productive year ahead! You can stay in touch with what's happening in Emerald Isle by reading Emerald Tidings in the Island Review, signing up for our email newsletter at our website, or by visiting www.emeraldisle-nc.org for all the latest information about the Town's activities. Have a great next year!