July 11, 2017

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Comments from Town Manager - Monthly Statistical Report

Plans Submitted for New Hotel

The Planning Board is scheduled to review plans for a new, 25-room hotel at its July 24 meeting.  The planned hotel is proposed for the current site of the Lighthouse Mini-Golf course at the corner of NC 58 / Islander Drive / Reed Drive.  Site and building plans may appear on the Board of Commissioners’ August 8 meeting agenda.

Comprehensive Land Use Plan Review

The Town’s consultant and Town Planner Josh Edmondson are currently working with NC Division of Coastal Management staff to address concerns with the Town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and we expect to finalize the plan later in July.  The final version of the plan, which is not expected to include any substantive policy changes from the version approved by the Board earlier this year, may appear on the Board of Commissioners’ August 8 meeting agenda.

Text Message Alert System

As of July 7, a total of 583 people have signed up for the Town’s new text message alert system.  We will continue to publicize this new, simple way for our residents, property owners, and visitors to remain informed about the Town.

Abandoned Go-Kart / Bumper Boat Facility Clean-Up

The Town’s contractor, Watson’s Land Clearing, has nearly completed the removal of all concrete from the property.  Remaining work includes removal of “straggler” concrete pieces (to be raked), final grading, and seeding.  I expect this work to be complete in the coming days. 

I continue to explore various ideas for the potential future development of a new “meeting and events center” at this location, and hope to schedule a Board work session sometime in the next few months to discuss these ideas.  In response to concerns expressed by property owners in Queens Court, I continue to work toward scenarios that do not negatively impact Queens Court.

Funding Included in State Budget for Islander Drive Improvements

Thanks to the efforts of Rep. McElraft, the recently approved State budget includes a provision awarding $100,000 to the Town for revitalization efforts on Islander Drive.  These funds may be used for any beneficial purpose in the Islander Drive area, including expenses associated with the potential future development of a new “meeting and events center”.

Surfside Realty Tract Acquisition

Also thanks to the efforts of Rep. McElraft, the recently approved State budget includes a provision whereby the Town’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant application ($545,000) and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant application ($500,000) are awarded, providing a total of $1,045,000 toward the $3 million land purchase.  With the Town’s $455,000 committed by the Board, the Town now has half of the necessary funding committed.  I continue to work with officials at MCAS Cherry Point on the requested $1.5 million, and I remain optimistic that these funds will be formally committed prior to October.  Thus far, we appear to be on track to close on the land purchase in late October.

Trump Administration Re-Considering Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in the Atlantic Ocean

The Trump Administration recently announced efforts to develop a new leasing program that could include offshore areas in the Atlantic Ocean.  The Atlantic Ocean was excluded from the current 2017-2022 plan, however, the Trump Administration is now developing a new leasing program that would replace this plan, and cover the 2019-2024 time period.  The Trump Administration has indicated that the Atlantic Ocean may be included in the new 2019-2024 plan.  As you know, the Board of Commissioners went on record formally opposing offshore oil and gas drilling in October 2015, and I’ve attached a copy of that resolution for your information. 

Potential Olde Cove Bicycle Path

Olde Cove Road is located approximately 300 feet from the closest cross-street, and it is not legally possible to travel by golf cart from that subdivision to other locations.  I am currently working with residents in that subdivision to explore the possibility of constructing a short, golf-cart-only path on the north side of the NC 58 right of way between Olde Cove Road and Whitewater Drive.  I am awaiting confirmation from NCDOT that this new path would be permitted by NCDOT, and may discuss this idea further with the Board in the coming months.

The estimated cost of this improvement is approximately $15,000, and I have been contemplating a scenario whereby the Town would fund 50% and the residents in the subdivision would fund 50% of the cost of this improvement.  This approach could essentially serve as a “pilot project” that could potentially be applied to other areas of Emerald Isle in the future.

Draft EIS for Bogue Banks Master Beach Nourishment Project (Local 50-Year Permit)

The public comment period for the draft EIS closed on May 30, and there do not appear to be any overly significant comments that cannot be addressed by the towns and the County.  The County’s consultants are currently working to respond to the comments and prepare the Final EIS, which will hopefully be released later this year or early next year, with the actual permit authorization (hopefully) granted in early 2018. 

As you know, the Town is working toward a winter 2018-2019 beach nourishment project in eastern Emerald Isle, and I am hopeful that the 50-year permit authorization will be issued in time to enable the Town to proceed with the planned beach nourishment project in winter 2018-2019.  Ideally, the 50-year permit authorization will be granted in early 2018, the project scope and detailed design work can be finalized in spring 2018, and construction bids can be solicited in summer 2018, with work beginning in late 2018 or early 2019. 

New All-Terrain Vehicle Loaned to EIFD at No Cost

Tractor Country, an ATV dealer based in Dover, NC, has loaned the Town a brand new ATV (at no cost) for the Town’s lifeguard program to use for the remainder of the summer.  The Town greatly appreciates the generosity and public service commitment of Jonathan Macklin, an Emerald Isle property owner who made this ATV available to the Town.

Fire Department Personnel Grant

As you know, the Town has requested Federal grant funding for 3 new firefighter positions, and the anticipated grant funds ($122,158) and required local match ($40,679) are included in the FY 17-18 budget.  We have not yet received a decision on this grant request, however, we expect a decision sometime this summer.  We remain optimistic that the requested grant funds will be awarded to the Town, and this will enable the Town to expand Fire Department staffing from 4 personnel per shift to 5 personnel.

Police Department Implements New Crime Mapping Program

The Police Department has implemented a new crime mapping program that identifies crimes that have occurred in Emerald Isle in recent weeks.  The new program is part of the Town’s continuing efforts to keep our residents and property owners well-informed.  To access the maps, please visit , or follow the links from the Police Department page on the Town’s website.

Senate Bill 126 (Sales Tax Redistribution) Not Approved Prior to General Assembly Adjournment

Thankfully, this bill was not approved by the NC House prior to adjournment, and these provisions were not included in the approved State budget.  Thus, we are confident that any changes will not impact the Town’s FY 17-18 budget.  The General Assembly will reconvene in August, however, and we will be monitoring that status of S126 during that special session. 

Current School Calendar Law Remains Unchanged

Thankfully, the General Assembly did not approve any changes to the current school calendar law during the recently concluded 2017 long session.  The General Assembly will reconvene in August, however, and we will be monitoring any school calendar bills during that special session.

Coastal Storm Damage Prevention Fund On Hold

Despite the fact that both the NC Senate and NC House versions of the State budget included the creation of a new Coastal Storm Damage Prevention Fund, it was not ultimately included in the final, approved State budget.  There is language in a few outstanding bills that would create this new State fund that would theoretically provide future State funding to assist local communities with beach nourishment, and these outstanding bills may be considered when the General Assembly reconvenes for a special session in August.

New Beach Swing at Western Ocean Regional Access

The new “beach swing” installed at the base of the dunes at the Western Ocean Regional Access has been well-received, and enjoys frequent use.  The Town has been informed by NC Division of Coastal Management staff, however, that the new beach swing is technically not permitted, and advised the Town to either seek a variance or a rule change from the NC Coastal Resources Commission before installing additional beach swings.  I will be working with NC Division of Coastal Management staff in the coming weeks to request a rule change, and hope to present the rule change for CRC consideration in the coming months.  In the meantime, NC DCM staff has indicated that the new “beach swing” may remain until this issue is resolved. 

Alesia Sanderson, Parks and Recreation Director, has received several requests from Emerald Isle property owners interested in sponsoring additional “beach swings” , and we have placed these requests on hold until we can resolve the permit issue.

Planning Board Considering “Commercial Village” Zoning Concept

Town Planner Josh Edmondson is currently working with the Planning Board to develop the “Commercial Village” zoning concept that was recommended in the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  This concept would apply to the areas along NC 58 currently zoned “Business”, and would likely allow complementary residential uses above commercial uses in this zone in the future.  The Planning Board will continue its work in July and August, and a potential ordinance amendment may be presented to the Board at the September 12 meeting. 

EMS Transition to Town Department

I have tentatively scheduled a Joint EMS Committee meeting for September 18 to begin planning for the transition of EI EMS, Inc. to a Town department no later than March 1, 2018.  I don’t expect the logistics of this transition to be difficult, and expect EI EMS, Inc. to become part of the Town organization no later than March 1, 2018.

Nies v. Emerald Isle

The US Supreme Court is currently considering the Nies’ petition to hear the case, and the Town’s attorneys are currently working on the Town’s official response.  The Washington, DC law firm of Deutsch Hunt PLLC is assisting the Town’s attorney, Brian Edes, with this response.  We expect to receive the US Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not they will hear the case sometime this fall.

Golf Cart Ordinance Enforcement

In response to increasing concerns about unregistered golf carts, underage golf cart operation, illegal golf cart parking, and other violations, the Police Department is currently placing additional emphasis on enforcement of golf cart violations. 

In the case of unregistered golf carts, individuals receiving a citation can have the citation voided if they simply register the golf cart in a timely manner.  A total of 820 golf carts were registered in Emerald Isle during FY 16-17.

Cape Emerald Pond Bulkhead

I will be working with the Cape Emerald homeowners association this fall to install the new, 2-ft. high bulkhead along the south side of the Cape Emerald pond.  All adjacent property owners have expressed support for this approach, with the exception of one, and the bulkhead may “skip” this property if the owner does not wish to participate in the project.

New Flood Map Appeals Process Set to Begin

As you know, new flood insurance maps were released for Carteret County in 2016, and include many beneficial changes for Emerald Isle property owners.  There are however, a relatively small number of Emerald Isle property owners who may be negatively impacted, and the official 90-day appeal period is expected to begin in late July or August.  I have attached an information sheet about the appeals process, and Town Planner Josh Edmondson is available to assist any Emerald Isle property owners who are interested in filing an appeal.   

Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival – Saturday, September 30

Detailed planning is currently underway for the 2017 Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival, which we expect to be produced in a similar fashion as the 2016 event. 

The new “dune” stage, constructed last year, will soon be expanded by an additional 200 sq. ft., along with a small cover.  We expect to have this work complete in time for the festival on September 30. 

Unified Development Ordinance Simplification

Josh Edmondson and I will be working on a significantly simplified UDO to present to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the coming months.  My goal is to eliminate all unnecessary regulations and confusing language, and create a simple, reader-friendly ordinance that achieves the Town’s most important development policy goals.

Emerald Isle Commercial

I hope to meet with TDA officials in the coming weeks to pursue the airing of the new “Emerald Isle commercial” video in strategic markets.  I remain hopeful that the TDA will embrace this idea and help to better promote Emerald Isle as a tourism destination.