The Town of Emerald Isle still considers ensuring the existence of a fishing pier in Emerald Isle as a high priority. The deal that was in the works between the present owner and a private developer last fall did not materialize. There are presently no proposals on the table, but several things have happened since last fall of a positive nature.
First, the saveourpier.com web site has recorded more than 11,700 visitors from all over the United States and several foreign countries. People are still signing to support the effort on almost a daily basis. Support from so many people from many different places has increased the awareness of the importance of the issue which helps in getting the needed funding.
Second, the Town of Emerald Isle has created the Village East zoning district which allows the possibility of an overlay district that encourages developers to provide recreational facilities. This type of zoning should be beneficial to both the developer and the Town if redevelopment should occur.
Third, the State Legislature created a Water Access Study Committee (Committee) to “study the loss of diversity of uses along the coastal shoreline of North Carolina and how these losses impact access to the coastal public trust waters of the State”. The Committee recognized the importance of fishing piers and suggested that the State of North Carolina provide the North Carolina Aquarium with enough funds to own and maintain three fishing piers. One pier to be located on the northern coast, one on the central coast, and one on the southern coast. If funds are provided by the legislature, we will certainly work to make sure the central pier is located in Emerald Isle. The Committee also recommended that places like fishing piers that provide access to the public be taxed at present use value rather than market value. If and when the property is sold, the difference in “present use” and “market value” would have to be paid. Hopefully this type of temporary tax relief will encourage piers to stay in operation. The Committee also recommended that State organizations that provide grant funds for public projects, assign higher value to those projects that provide public access and recreational value.
And lastly, the Saltwater Fishing License went into effect January 1, 2007 (Bogue Inlet Pier bought a blanket license for anyone that fishes there). Fees from that license will be used to fund numerous projects and certainly one possibility would be a fishing pier.
In closing, Bogue Inlet Pier is open with plans to continue operations indefinitely. The Town remains optimistic about ensuring the existence of a pier in Emerald Isle and will continue to work towards that goal. Happy fishing and I look forward to seeing you on the pier.