- FY 15-16 The Year in Review - Continually Improving This Special Place!
- Messer Re-Elected, Finch and Dooley Elected
- Town Prevails at NC Court of Appeals for Important Beach Case; On to NC Supreme Court
- Sales Tax Revenues Remain Intact
- Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground Provides Enjoyment for Many
- New Welcome Center Open for Business
- Town, Vacation Rental Companies Implement New Programs in Wake of Deck Collapse
- "Downtown" Improvements Added
- Second Yard Debris Collection Truck Added to Meet Increased Demand
- Blue Star Memorial Unveiled
- Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan Process Underway
- Board Opposes Offshore Testing and Drilling
- Town Maintains Solid Financial Position, Ends FY 15-16 with Surplus No Property Tax Rate or Fee Increases in FY 16-17 Adopted Budget
- Town Unveils New Website
- The "Emerald Isle App" Added to Town's Public Information Platforms
- Planning Continues for Future Nourishment
- The Point Remains Stable
- Town Granted Permit for Routine Navigation Dredging in Bogue Inlet, Will Be Helpful in Future
- Town Leads Effort to Secure Bogue Inlet Dredging Funds
- Village West Zoning District Fully Implemented
- Transportation Impact Building Completed
- Islander Suites Renovations Approved
- Former Mike's Place Renovated, Trading Post Restaurant Opens
- Former Rusty Pelican Inn Demolished
- NC 58 Corridor Study, NCDOT Recommend Roundabouts
- Special Events Continue to Grow
- Police Department Continues Popular Programs
- New Rescue Tubes Funded by Community Donations
- Lifeguard Program Expanded, Improved
- Fire Department Secures Significant Grant Funds
- Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station Moves Forward
- Other Notable Items:
- Stay Informed!
- Town Employees Strive to Provide Highest Quality Services
Town of Emerald Isle
FY 15-16 The Year in Review
Continually Improving This Special Place!
The entire Town of Emerald Isle organization continued to work hard during FY 2015 - 2016 to keep Emerald Isle the great place that it is, and to continually improve it and make it even better in the future for our residents, property owners, businesses, and visitors!
The Town strives to provide quality services to sustain a high quality of life and to maintain a small-town, family beach atmosphere in Emerald Isle. Our services and community improvements are designed to make Emerald Isle an even better place for our residents to enjoy their lives, and are also strategically implemented to maintain and enhance Emerald Isle's desirability as a tourism destination, retirement location, and investment option. Our challenge is to accomplish all of this in the most cost-effective manner, and we continue to place a high priority on the maintenance of the lowest possible tax rates and strategic grant funding opportunities. We also strive to be a friendly, respectful and inclusive community - Nice Matters! The Town's leadership thoughtfully considers the input of all who live here, recreate here, make their livelihoods here, and invest here. Emerald Isle is a special place to so many people, and it takes everyone's input and contributions to achieve the Town's goals!
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 productive year in FY 2016 - 2017!
Highlights of the past fiscal year (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016) included the following:
Messer Re-Elected, Finch and Dooley Elected
Mayor Pro-Tem Floyd Messer, Jr. was re-elected in November 2015 to a new four-year term. Mayor Pro-Tem Messer is now the longest-serving elected official in the history of the Town of Emerald Isle, having served on the Board of Commissioners since his first election in 2001. Commissioners Tom Hoover and John Wootten did not seek re-election in 2015, and were replaced by newly elected Commissioners Steve Finch and Candace Dooley. These three, along with Mayor Eddie Barber and Commissioners Maripat Wright and Jim Normile, serve as the Town's elected leadership group that is ultimately responsible for establishing the vision for our Town, determining Town policy, and providing overall guidance to the Town Manager and Town staff.
Town Prevails at NC Court of Appeals for Important Beach Case; On to NC Supreme Court
The Town of Emerald Isle devoted significant resources throughout the past fiscal year to continue its defense in the case of Nies v. Emerald Isle. Ultimately, the Nies claim they control the flat, dry sand beach between the base of the dunes and the water, that they alone can determine who uses that area and for what purpose, and/or are entitled to compensation for public use. The Town claims that the public trust doctrine, custom and tradition, and NCGS 77-20 have always enabled the public, including the Town, to use the flat, day sand beach in North Carolina, as has been common practice in North Carolina since "time immemorial".
The case has potentially significant ramifications for the public's use of the flat, dry sand beach everywhere in North Carolina. The Nies first filed legal action against the Town in December 2011. The Town prevailed in Carteret County Superior Court in August 2014, and also prevailed at the NC Court of Appeals in November 2015. The NC Court of Appeals ruling ( view it at http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/nies ) is now the definitive law on this issue in North Carolina, and makes it crystal clear that the public has always had the right to use the flat, dry sand beach in North Carolina. The Nies have appealed this ruling to the NC Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in December 2016. A decision is expected from the State's highest court sometime in early 2017. The Nies recently sold their oceanfront home in the Spinnakers Reach neighborhood, however, the case is still expected to be considered by the NC Supreme Court.
Sales Tax Revenues Remain Intact
After considering potential changes to the State's sales tax distribution formula during summer / fall 2015, the NC General Assembly ultimately approved legislation that did not reduce Emerald Isle's sales tax revenues. Town officials worked closely with our local legislators and other municipal officials throughout 2015 to promote solutions that would not harm Emerald Isle and others in Carteret County, and we were pleased with the end result.
Sales tax is ultimately distributed to the Town via a series of complex formulas that only partially recognize the significant economic contributions of our large population of second homeowners and visitors. The Town receives approximately $1.7 million annually in sales tax revenues, and previous proposals considered by the NC General Assembly had the potential to reduce Emerald Isle's sales tax revenues by $200,000 - $1 million annually. To put this in perspective, one cent on the Town's property tax rate generates approximately $270,000 annually.
Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground Provides Enjoyment for Many
Thanks to the hard work and generosity of many in our community, the new Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground became a reality in May 2016. The new, all-inclusive playground is located at a beautiful soundfront location adjacent to the Emerald Isle Public Boating Access Area, and includes quality, new playground equipment suitable for children of all ages and abilities.
The new playground was funded primarily by cash donations, a $225,000 grant from Trillium Health Resources, and significant in-kind services from several local contractors. The Town provided the land for the new playground, and coordinated the development of the project with a volunteer committee. The Town is thankful for the efforts of a volunteer committee that promoted and realized the vision for the new playground, and we know that the late Senator Preston would be proud!
New Welcome Center Open for Business
The new Crystal Coast Welcome Center opened on NC 58 in the "downtown" area of Emerald Isle in August 2015, and provides a convenient, attractive, and helpful facility for our visitors to learn more about the many recreational, shopping, and dining opportunities in our entire area. The new Welcome Center replaces a modular unit previously located on the mainland, and was the result of a partnership between the Town and the Carteret County Tourism Development Authority. The new facility is ultimately funded by room occupancy tax revenues, and also includes public restrooms, nicely landscaped grounds, and public cornhole courts.
Town, Vacation Rental Companies Implement New Programs in Wake of Deck Collapse
In the wake of a significant deck collapse in July 2015, the Town worked closely with Emerald Isle vacation rental agencies and others to implement new programs to promote deck safety in Emerald Isle. The Town investigated and resolved numerous inquiries about deficient decks over the past year, processed hundreds of deck repair / replacement permits, produced educational information and sponsored special deck safety seminars for area contractors and the public, and assisted the EI vacation rental agencies in the establishment of a new deck inspection program. The new deck inspection program, which is managed by the 7 vacation rental agencies, requires each vacation rental unit to have decks inspected by a licensed contractor or engineer annually to identify and correct deficiencies sooner rather than later.
"Downtown" Improvements Added
The Town continues its emphasis on community aesthetics, as we continue working hard to create the most attractive environment for our residents and visitors. During the past fiscal year, the Town added new decorative street lights in the "downtown" area to enhance safety and aesthetics and promote more activity during dark hours, planted numerous new crape myrtle trees along the NC 58 corridor, and added new public "wayfinding" signs that include directional information for our visitors and the new Emerald Isle logo. These improvements complement the attractive landscaping along the NC 58 corridor and previous bike path, sidewalk, and other public improvements -- as we continue our long-term efforts to create a more identifiable and vibrant business district in Emerald Isle.
Second Yard Debris Collection Truck Added to Meet Increased Demand
The Town continues to experience increasing demand for yard debris collection services, with the total volume more than double what it was three years ago, and the number of collection points more than triple what it was three years ago. In order to keep up with increasing demand, the Town added a second yard debris collection truck and crew in August 2015, and now collects yard debris continuously throughout the Town all throughout the year.
Blue Star Memorial Unveiled
Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Emerald Isle Garden Club, a new Blue Star Memorial Highway marker was unveiled along NC 58 near the Welcome Center on Veterans Day 2015. The new marker honors the service of all United States military service members, and is a constant reminder of their sacrifices and our appreciation for their service.
Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan Process Underway
The Town has been working hard to update its Comprehensive Plan / Land Use Plan throughout the past year, and this process will ultimately result in a new 2017 plan to be adopted by the Board of Commissioners early next year. A special, appointed Steering Committee comprised of residents, business owners, and second homeowners has been meeting throughout 2016, has solicited significant public input, and is thoughtfully considering the future vision for Emerald Isle.
The committee is aided by Town staff and our consultant, and will ultimately present its recommendations to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners for final approval. The new 2017 plan will replace the Town's 2004 plan, which has been used diligently by Town officials over the past 13 years to guide development and public infrastructure decisions, and will hopefully be a useful tool for Town officials for the next 10 - 15 years.
Board Opposes Offshore Testing and Drilling
The Board of Commissioners formally expressed its opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling in October 2015, after having previously expressed opposition to seismic testing earlier in the year. The Board's position reflects a belief that the risks of offshore testing and drilling to Emerald Isle outweigh the potential benefits to North Carolina and our nation. At the time, the Federal government was considering offshore energy lease agreements between 2017-2022, however, the area off the North Carolina coast was subsequently eliminated from consideration in that plan, and will likely not be considered again until the development of the 2022-2027 plan.
Town Maintains Solid Financial Position, Ends FY 15-16 with Surplus - No Property Tax Rate or Fee Increases in FY 16-17 Adopted Budget
The Town continues to maintain a solid financial position, and continues to operate with a fiscally conservative approach that is respectful of our property taxpayers. The Town ended FY 15-16 with a total General Fund surplus of more than $130,000, and maintains a total General Fund balance in excess of $2.2 million, which is nearly the highest in the Town's history. The Town also ended FY 16-17 with more than $1.8 million in reserve for future beach nourishment efforts (that will be supplemented with reserved room occupancy tax revenues held by Carteret County).
The Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 16-17 budget in June 2016, and the budget did not include any tax or fee increases. The Town's General Fund tax rate remained at 15.5 cents (14 cents for general activities and 1.5 cents for beach nourishment), and the rate for general activities continues to be the second lowest of the 21 oceanfront municipalities in North Carolina.
Town Unveils New Website
The Town strives to keep our residents, property owners, visitors, and businesses informed about all Town issues, programs, and projects, and the Town's website ( http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ ) is our primary and most comprehensive tool. The website is also an important component of the Town's overall marketing strategy, and the quality of the website helps to convey a message about the quality of our community and our Town government. With these ideas in mind, the Town unveiled a redesigned, more attractive, and more user-friendly website in October 2015. The new website includes a wealth of information about Town government, our local businesses, and visitor information, and is also "smartphone compatible".
The "Emerald Isle App" Added to Town's Public Information Platforms
With increased reliance on smartphones, and the continued demand for quicker and easier tools, the Town unveiled the new "Emerald Isle App" in May 2016. The new app, available at Google Play and the App Store (search for "Emerald Isle NC"), includes a complete listing of all accommodations, dining, shopping, and recreational opportunities in Emerald Isle, information about beach and sound access, special events, and Town government information. Download the new Emerald Isle App today!
Planning Continues for Future Nourishment
The Town, in conjunction with the Carteret County Beach Commission / Shore Protection Office, continues to monitor the condition of the entire beach strand in Emerald Isle, along all 12 miles of beach and from the top of the dunes out to a significant depth underwater. Thanks to prior successful nourishment projects, the beach remains in good condition, with most areas experiencing a seaward migration of the frontal dunes toward the ocean.
The Town continues planning for future beach nourishment activities, and Carteret County is expected to receive a long-term permit for future beach nourishment activities in Emerald Isle within the next year. Both the Town and the County have been reserving funds for future beach nourishment activities for the past several years, and continue to seek reliable State funding for future nourishment. The Town is positioned well for future beach nourishment, with an overall goal to complete these projects as infrequently as possible, but to always be ready to nourish the beach when needed, where needed, and as needed in the future.
The Point Remains Stable
The Town also continues to closely monitor the condition of The Point. It has now been more than 11 years since the Town relocated the main ebb channel in Bogue Inlet away from homes on Bogue Court and Inlet Court. Prior to 2005, the channel threatened the entire neighborhood at The Point, and the Town relocated the main channel approximately 3,300 feet west, while also using the dredged sand for oceanfront beach nourishment.
The sand spit at The Point remains stable, and continues to be a prime spot for sunbathers, walkers, and fishermen. The main ebb channel is now approximately 1,300 feet west of Emerald Isle, and the Town is in early planning stages for another relocation of the main channel. The Town expects to move the main channel back to the center of the inlet complex sometime in the next five years, again in conjunction with oceanfront nourishment.
Town Granted Permit for Routine Navigation Dredging in Bogue Inlet, Will Be Helpful in Future
In response to the absence of new Federal funding for navigation dredging in Bogue Inlet (and other NC inlets) and a fear that the US Army Corps of Engineers will eventually cease dredging in these inlets, the State recently led an effort to secure new inlet navigation dredging permits that would allow Emerald Isle and other adjacent local governments to conduct routine navigation dredging activities in these inlets in the future. The new permit was issued to the Town, and will ultimately allow the Town to contract with private dredging companies in the future, ideally with placement of dredge spoils (clean sand) on the beach at The Point in the future. In the near-term, the US Army Corps of Engineers is expected to continue performing this work, however, the new permit will ensure dredging activities can proceed with minimal disruption if / when the US Army Corps of Engineers ceases these activities, and, hopefully with more flexibility and greater cost-effectiveness in the future.
Town Leads Effort to Secure Bogue Inlet Dredging Funds
Because there have been no new (non-emergency) appropriations by the US Congress in more than a decade, the Town again led an effort during FY 15-16 to secure State and local funding for navigation dredging in Bogue Inlet. The new partnership between the State, Onslow local governments, and Carteret local governments yielded approximately $260,000 for future navigation dredging in Bogue Inlet. These funds are expected to be sufficient to cover dredging activities during FY 16-17 only. This is the 4th time in the past decade such a partnership has been assembled to keep Bogue Inlet safe for commercial and recreational navigation interests.
Village West Zoning District Fully Implemented
The Town continues to work toward quality redevelopment of the Islander Drive area of Emerald Isle, and has implemented a flexible, lucrative zoning district for this area that is known as Village West. The Village West zoning district allows mixed-uses (residential and commercial) in the same area, on the same parcel, or in the same building, is intended to promote a more "village" feel, and is specifically aimed at promoting quality redevelopment of this older area. A comprehensive rezoning of this area was completed in December 2015, with cooperation from affected property owners. If you are interested, or know of others interested in pursuing a development project in this area, please contact Town staff, and we will be happy to assist.
Transportation Impact Building Completed
The first new building constructed in the Village West zoning district is the new Transportation Impact corporate headquarters, located between NC 58 and Crew Drive near Islander Drive. The new building was completed in July 2016, and includes corporate offices on the first two floors, a new restaurant on the third floor, and a rooftop lounge with beautiful views of the ocean and sound. The building was originally designed to also include residential units, however, the continued success of the company resulted in a need for additional office space. The new building is a quality addition to the Emerald Isle community, and we are pleased that Transportation Impact has made Emerald Isle its home base for the long-term.
Islander Suites Renovations Approved
The Islander Suites received approval for a renovation and expansion of its office and meeting space in February 2016, and is currently constructing significant improvements to the interior and exterior this winter. Improved and enlarged meeting space will be included on the ground floor, and additional condo-tel units will be added on the second floor. The exterior appearance will match the main condo-tel unit building that was renovated in recent years, and will be a nice improvement to this area. The Islander Suites is also located in the new Village West zoning district.
Former Mike's Place Renovated, Trading Post Restaurant Opens
The former Mike's Place restaurant, an Emerald Isle staple for many years, was sold in 2015 and then underwent a significant renovation to reopen as The Trading Post in June 2016. The new restaurant includes an attractive coastal exterior with a beautiful interior and landscaped patio and lawn in the rear. The new restaurant represents another nice improvement in the "downtown" Emerald Isle area (and the food is great too!).
Former Rusty Pelican Inn Demolished
Due to old age and deterioration, the former Rusty Pelican Inn, located in the "downtown" area across from the Post Office, was demolished by the owner in January 2016. The Town is hopeful that a new owner will emerge for the now-vacant site, and proceed with the quality redevelopment of the site. The property is zoned Village East, which includes the same flexibility as the new Village West zoning district.
NC 58 Corridor Study, NCDOT Recommend Roundabouts
The DownEast RPO, a regional transportation planning organization, in conjunction with area local governments and NCDOT, completed the NC 58 Corridor Study during FY 15-16. The study identified improvements along the entire NC 58 corridor (from Cedar Point / Cape Carteret to Atlantic Beach / Morehead City) aimed at improving traffic flow throughout the year. As a result of the study, NCDOT has recommended the construction of new traffic roundabouts at the 4 signalized intersections in Emerald Isle (Coast Guard Road, Emerald Plantation, Mangrove Drive, and Bogue Inlet Drive) to replace the existing traffic signals.
The Town has expressed preliminary support for the new roundabouts, and is awaiting further analysis by NCDOT. The Town has formally requested that NCDOT include funding for traffic improvements along NC 58 in the new Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and such improvements may ultimately include roundabouts, additional or longer turn lanes, new traffic signals, and/or other enhancements, to be determined jointly by NCDOT and the Town after further analysis. Any improvements, regardless of the ultimate form, are likely at least a few years away, if not longer.
Special Events Continue to Grow
The Town continues to work to improve our established special events, and also add new events aimed at creating a greater sense of community and attracting new and repeat visitors to Emerald Isle during the spring and fall seasons.
The Town's signature annual event, the St. Patrick's Festival, celebrated its 25th anniversary in March 2016, and continues to be a great kickoff to the warm weather season in Emerald Isle. The 3rd annual Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5k races continue to be very popular, and the April 2016 races raised more than $60,000 for future bike and pedestrian improvements and cystic fibrosis efforts. The 2nd annual Bike the Banks / Crystal Coast Lighthouse Challenge rides were held in May 2016, and continue to attract a mix of serious and recreational bicyclists to Emerald Isle. The 10th annual Day4Kids was held in September 2015, and continues to offer great family fun, at no cost to the families who attend this great annual event. The 12th annual Emerald Isle Christmas Parade was held in November 2015, and continues to be a big hit for our residents, second homeowners, and the surrounding area.
The Town has been working hard over the past fiscal year to create an annual fall season event that will hopefully someday rival the crowds of the annual St. Patrick's Festival, and worked hard during FY 15-16 on planning for the return of the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival. The Town secured funding from the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority to present the festival on the beach strand at the Western Ocean Regional Access in late August 2016. Mark your calendars for September 30, 2017 for next year's event!
The Town, in partnership with Bogue Inlet Pier, also continued its July 4 fireworks tradition over the ocean. The 2016 show also included a new Glow Party at The Pier, with music and laser lights on the beach strand. Another Glow Party was held on Memorial Day weekend 2016, and we hope to offer more in the future.
Police Department Continues Popular Programs
The EIPD continued its excellent programs during FY 15-16, and these programs are paying off in the form of reduced crime, positive community relationships, and a greater sense of community. The popular Police Educating the Public (PED), Coffee with a Cop, Neighborhood Watch, Ice Cream Ticket, R U OK?, and the new Internet Exchange Lot have all made a positive difference in our community. In addition to these great programs, EIPD is currently working on the development of a Citizens Police Academy. Because of the success of these programs, the FY 16-17 budget includes a new Community Relations Officer position to continue and improve existing programs, and also continue the development of new programs.
New Rescue Tubes Funded by Community Donations
In yet another reminder of the generosity of the people of Emerald Isle, the Town received nearly $10,000 of private contributions to fund new "rescue tubes" at each public beach access location in Emerald Isle during FY 15-16. Each rescue tube, including mounting poles, hardware, and signage, was sponsored for $90, and the response to this opportunity was overwhelming! Thank you! The new rescue tubes have already made a difference, and will enhance the safety of those visiting the beach for years to come.
Lifeguard Program Expanded, Improved
The Fire Department manages the Town's lifeguard program, which includes fixed lifeguard stands at the Western Ocean Regional Access and the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, and three mobile lifeguards patrolling the Town's 12 miles of ocean beach. The program was expanded for summer 2016 to add a new supervisor position to also serve as a third mobile lifeguard. The 2016 lifeguard team was involved in 82 water rescues, and thankfully there were no drowning incidents!
Fire Department Secures Significant Grant Funds
The Fire Department prepared a successful grant application to the US Fire Administration for the purchase of new self-contained breathing apparatus to enhance firefighter safety, and the hard work paid off with a grant award in excess of $145,000 in August 2016.
Osprey Ridge Storm Water Pump Station Moves Forward
In response to chronic nuisance flooding concerns in the Osprey Ridge neighborhood, the Town proceeded with plans to construct a new storm water pump station for this area. The Board of Commissioners identified this project as its top budget priority for FY 16-17, initiated design work in April 2016, and awarded a construction contract in September 2016. Work is currently underway, and is expected to be complete by early 2017. The new pump station, along with 8 existing pump stations, will discharge storm water into Emerald Isle Woods Park, which is viewed as a model, environmentally-friendly storm water management system for the entire Coast Guard Road corridor.
Other Notable Items:
- The Town replaced existing beach access walkways at 18th Street, Bryan Street, and Nina Street during FY 15-16. The Town's goal is to replace three aging beach access walkways each year.
- Town staff and the Board of Commissioners completed a comprehensive review of the entire Code of Ordinances, systematically reviewing all 13 chapters to identify outdated provisions, clarify confusing language, and create a simpler code for Town staff and the public to understand. The Town will soon begin a similar process to update the Town's Unified Development Ordinance.
- A total of 1.2 miles of Town streets were resurfaced during FY 15-16. The Town is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 46 miles of streets.
- New flood insurance rate maps were unveiled by the State and FEMA in June 2016, and the maps are very favorable for most Emerald Isle property owners. The Town Planner worked hard to understand the proposed changes, communicate the impacts to the public, and is available to assist our residents and property owners in any way that is helpful. The new maps are expected to be effective sometime in 2017 or 2018.
- At the recommendation of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the EIPD completed another controlled deer hunt in an effort to effectively manage the large deer population in Emerald Isle. A total of 35 deer were eliminated, and more than 900 lbs. of deer meat was donated to the Hope Mission in Morehead City.
- The EIPD monitored concerns about coyotes in Emerald Isle, and consulted with biologists at the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for guidance on this issue. The Town provided helpful information to our residents and property owners, and ultimately arranged a new coyote trapping program that will be implemented in winter 2016-2017.
- New sidewalk stubs were constructed at the Emerald Plantation and Mangrove Drive intersections to provide a safer pedestrian and bicycle connection to nearby businesses.
- The Town's golf cart program continues to be very popular, with nearly 700 golf carts registered in the program, which allows the operation of traditional golf carts on all Town streets except NC 58 and Coast Guard Road. Golf carts are also not permitted to operate on the NC 58 bicycle path or the Coast Guard Road bicycle path.
- New beach vehicle ramp gates were installed at the Ocean Drive "dog-leg", Black Skimmer, and The Point ramps. The new gates are more durable and attractive, and match the gates at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access. Additional new gates are planned for the Western Ocean Regional Access and Emerald Isle Woods Park later this winter. The new gates are part of the Town's continuing efforts to improve the aesthetics of all Town facilities and public areas.
- In another effort to improve community aesthetics, the Town adopted new rules for non-profit event signs. The Town continues to allow temporary signs in the public right-of-way for non-profit special events, however, such signs must have a professional appearance and be constructed with rigid materials. Flapping banners are not permitted.
- In North Carolina, the authority to regulate fishing activities is vested in the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Town has very limited authority on fishing issues. In response to multiple shark incidents in North Carolina in summer 2015 and summer 2016, the Town did enact temporary restrictions on shark chumming / fishing in order to promote public safety.
- The NC Coastal Resources Commission enacted new regulations that eliminated the 2,500 sq. ft. cap on the size of structures subject to the static line exception on the oceanfront. The Town pushed for this action in recent years, which now establishes a de facto limit of 5,000 sq. ft. and restores conforming status to nearly all oceanfront structures in eastern Emerald Isle.
- The Board of Commissioners endorsed a new Joint Land Use Study prepared to protect MCAS Cherry Point and MCALF Bogue from encroachment from future development, and ultimately enhance their ability to withstand future base closing initiatives.
- The Town continues to receive excellent service from Simmons & Simmons Management, the Town's solid waste contractor. Simmons & Simmons collected nearly 3,400 tons of residential trash and nearly 800 tons of recyclables in FY 15-16.
- The Parks and Recreation Department continues to offer high quality children's programs, including pre-school, afterschool, and summer day camps.
- The Town permitted a total of 33 new residential units in Emerald Isle during FY 15-16, the most in a decade. The Town continued its contract relationship with Carteret County for building inspections, and conducted nearly 3,300 inspections during the fiscal year. A total of 99% of all inspection requests are completed within 24 hours of the request or on the date requested.
- The Police Department was involved in nearly 12,500 calls for service during the entire fiscal year, with a significant increase in call volumes during the summer months. Thanks to improved technology, the EIPD maintains an average response time of approximately 2 minutes.
- The Fire Department extinguished 14 structure fires in Emerald Isle during the entire fiscal year, with all but two resulting in only minor damage. This number was down from 25 structure fires during the previous fiscal year.
- The Town continued its close partnership with the non-profit Emerald Isle EMS, Inc. during FY 15-16. EI EMS, Inc. continues to operate a high quality, professional service for the Town's residents and visitors, and responded to more than 830 calls for emergency medical services during the fiscal year. EI EMS, Inc. has an annual budget of more than $560,000, with $390,000 provided by the Town, and the balance from service fees and donations.
The Town continually strives to make sure our residents, property owners, visitors, and businesses are well-informed about the Town's services, projects, and issues. There are several ways to stay informed: the Town maintains a comprehensive website ( http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ ), email distribution list (sign up in the top right corner of the website), publishes the monthly Emerald Tidings newsletter via the email distribution list and in the Island Review magazine, maintains the new "Emerald Isle App" (download at Google Play and the App Store), and also publishes Facebook and Twitter updates. We want you to know what's going on in Emerald Isle!
Town Employees Strive to Provide Highest Quality Services
The entire Town staff is committed to serving you in the best way possible, and our employees work hard to maintain and improve our beautiful town. Although there is always room for improvement, the Town is fortunate to employ a quality staff of committed people. The various Town departments continued to provide the high quality, responsive, and courteous daily services that our residents, businesses, and visitors deserve in Emerald Isle over the past year, and will continue to do so in the future.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you! We sincerely hope we meet your expectations, and that our efforts enhance your enjoyment of Emerald Isle and your property value!