Lou’s Views
News & Views / January Edition

Calendar of Events –

Las Vegas Night
The Rotary Club of Shallotte will host its Thirteenth Annual Las Vegas Night on Saturday, January 27th at 349 Whiteville Road, the Planet Fun building in Shallotte.


TDA - logoDiscover a wide range of things to do in the Brunswick Islands for an experience that goes beyond the beach.
For more information » click here


Calendar of Events Island –

Happy Birthday – celebrate the Town’s 49th birthday
Town of Holden Beach officially established on February 14, 1969

Town’s Birthday Social is on Wednesday, February 14th at 2:30 p.m.  they will be serving ice cream and cake; no lunch will be provided. Pre-registration by February 7th is required. Call Christy at 910.842.6488 to pre-register.

Parks & Recreation / Programs & Events
For more information » click here


Reminders –

Volunteers needed
The Town needs volunteers to fill three vacancies on two Boards. The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. There are upcoming vacancies on the Planning & Zoning Board and Audit Committee. If you are interested in serving on one of these boards, please fill out a resume form and submit it to heather@hbtownhall.com


Recycling-Bin
Curbside recycling
Waste Industries is now offering curbside recycling for Town properties that desire to participate in the service. The service cost is $54.00 annually paid in advance to the Town of Holden Beach and consists of a ninety-six (96) gallon cart that is emptied every other week.
Curbside Recycling Application » click here
Curbside Recycling Calendar » click here


Elevator - CRElevators
Most states mandate that elevator systems be tested and inspected annually
. Currently the state of North Carolina does not require annual inspections to be performed on all elevator systems. The use of unsafe and defective lifting devices imposes a substantial probability of serious and preventable injury to your family and guests. It is in the owner’s best interest to minimize injuries and liability by scheduling an annual safety inspection to ensure the safe operation of their elevator system.


Library
If you need something to keep you busy in this colder weather, make sure to visit the island library. The library is in the upstairs of Holden Beach Town Hall. All the books were donated. Patrons of the library don’t have to check out a book; they are on the honor system to return it.



Neighborhood Watch –

Need to look out for each other
Call 911 if you see or hear anything suspicious
Fill out Keep Check Request Form if you will be out of town
• Submit completed Property Registration Form
• Pickup copy of Protecting Your Home


Upon Further Review –


Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling
Previously reported – September 2015
Resolution 15-09 is in opposition to offshore exploration and drilling. Why? Because we have a tourism based economy, along with the local fishing industry and quality of life depends on the health and welfare of our natural resources. We believe that the inherent risks to our region from offshore exploration and drilling have the potential to irrevocably harm our natural environment, our economic well-being and our overall quality of life. Including us there are now 79 municipalities that have passed resolutions opposing offshore exploration and drilling.

Brunswick one of only two N.C. counties to support offshore drilling
Read more » click here

Previously reported – August 2017

Cooper: Offshore drilling is ‘a bad deal’
Cooper summed up his administration’s stance on the proposed measure to explore and possibly drill off North Carolina’s coast in four emphatic words: “Not off our coast” to which the crowd erupted in a standing ovation.
Read more » click here 

Oppose Offshore Oil
2019-2024 draft plan offshore drilling talking points

Laws, goals, and policies of affected states

  • In July of 2017, Governor Cooper made his opposition to offshore drilling and seismic blasting clear – not off our coast.
  • Over 30 coastal communities in North Carolina (almost 130 along the Atlantic Coast) have passed resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic blasting. President Trump must listen to the coastal communities, local businesses and elected officials up and down the Atlantic Coast that oppose offshore drilling.

    Economic impacts
  • North Carolina’s economy relies on a healthy coast. The fishing, tourism and recreation industries support roughly 51,000 jobs and generate more nearly $2.2 billion in GDP for North Carolina. We shouldn’t prioritize oil company profits over coastal businesses.
  • Offshore drilling would threaten our identity as North Carolinians – our coastal environment, economy and quality of life.
  • Tourism and fishing – both commercial and recreational – are the economic back bone of coastal communities. Imagine the impact on beachside hotels and restaurants, fishing outfitters and realtors if ourbeautiful coastal communities were turned over to big oil.
  • The oil and gas industry’s economic projections are based on faulty assumptions that overestimate jobs and income, while discounting the existing tourism – and recreation-based economies.

Environmental risks

  • North Carolina’s coast is home to a number of endangered and threatened species including the loggerhead sea turtle and North Atlantic right whale.
  • The National Wildlife Refuges, National Seashores, state protected areas and ecologically sensitive marine areas along North Carolina’s coast are too precious to risk.
  • Instead of spending our resources developing dirty energy sources, North Carolina should instead develop clean, renewable energy sources. North Carolina has more wind energy potential than any other state on the Atlantic Coast.
    North Carolina Coastal Federation
    .
    Hearings set for potential offshore oil and gas activities off NC coast
    The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has announced it would be holding three meetings across coastal North Carolina regarding the proposed 2019-24 national outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program. The first is today in Wilmington. According to the DEQ, these hearings seek to gather public input and information on the potential impact of oil and gas exploration, and development on the biological, social, economic and aesthetic values of North Carolina’s coast.

The information gathered at these hearings will go into consideration for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Managements new five-year national outer continental shelf program, in accordance with the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which could open the Atlantic Coast for seismic testing and eventual oil and gas exploration. This after President Trump announced his “America First Offshore Energy Strategy” back in April, an executive order removing many Obama-era regulations that were designed to protect the Atlantic Coast from offshore drilling.

If approved, the plan will allow for five separate companies to being exploratory seismic testing in an area from Delaware, to Cape Canaveral, Florida, extending out 350 nautical miles. Environmental groups, like the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, Oceana, Don’t Drill NC, as well as state and community leaders are concerned about the potential for negative impacts to the state’s natural resources and environment. Upon completion, the program for 2019-24 will replace the program for 2017-22, which was approved on Jan. 17.

The first meeting will be held in Wilmington on Monday, Aug. 7, at the New Hanover County Government Center, from 5 to 7 p.m. Two more will follow; the first in Morehead City on Aug. 9, and a final meeting in Manteo on Aug. 10. These meetings will give residents a chance to voice their opinion to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. If you are unable to attend, but would still like to comment, written comments can be sent to Timothy Webster with the NCDEQ at 217 West Jones St., 1601 Mail Center Drive, Raleigh, N.C., 27699, or by email to timothy.webster@ncdenr.gov. All comments are due by Aug. 15. For information, visit The Bureau of Ocean Energy Managements website at boem.gov.
Read more » click here

Dozens weigh in on offshore drilling
State environmental officials are looking for public input about the potential impact of oil and gas exploration and development off our coast. President Trump signed an executive order in April that could expand drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

Offshore drilling is a hot topic on our coast. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing to gather feedback and to see what people think about the proposed oil and gas leasing program, along with seismic surveying proposed by the Trump Administration. Many say they worry drilling could hurt marine life.
Read more » click here

As the debate over offshore drilling heats up, what’s at stake?
The past few months have seen a contentious debate resurface along the shores of the North Carolina coast, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) explores the concept of opening the Atlantic coast to offshore oil drilling and natural gas exploration.
Read more » click here

Update –

Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling
The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.

The proposal lifts a ban on such drilling imposed by President Barack Obama near the end of his term and would deal a serious blow to his environmental legacy. It would also signal that the Trump administration is not done unraveling environmental restrictions in an effort to promote energy production.

While the plan puts the administration squarely on the side of the energy industry and against environmental groups, it also puts the White House at odds with a number of coastal states that oppose offshore drilling. Some of those states are led by Republicans, like Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, where the tourism industry was hit hard by the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Read more » click here

‘Drill, baby drill!’ comes to oil safety regulator
The Trump administration wants to open virtually all federal waters to offshore drilling even as his administration pushes to relax regulations designed to prevent a repeat of the BP oil spill.
Read more » click here

Cooper to “pursue every option” against offshore drilling
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says he’ll keep fighting efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to expand oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast, saying such drilling “represents a critical threat” to the state’s coastal economy. Cooper responded Thursday to news of additional opportunities proposed by the federal government for offshore energy development starting in 2019. He said in a release his administration “will pursue every option” to prevent drilling near the state’s beaches, fishing waters and coastal communities. The governor last summer announced opposition to expanded coastal oil and gas exploration. Last month, a state regulatory agency asked companies interested in testing to provide more information that reflects potential marine life problems. State Republican legislative leaders generally back offshore exploration, as did Cooper’s predecessor, Republican Pat McCrory.
Read more » click here

NC governor, DEQ secretary oppose Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling
The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, although the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their state coasts. “Offshore drilling and the seismic testing that would precede it pose environmental and economic risks to North Carolina’s coastal communities that we cannot afford,” NC Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said in a statement Thursday. “Protection of our beaches, sounds and marine life is vital to ensuring a robust coastal economy.”

The proposal follows President Donald Trump’s executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration’s strategy to help the U.S. achieve “energy dominance” in the global market. A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying in a joint statement that it would impose “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life. The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Trump administration called the rules an unnecessary burden on industry and said rolling them back will encourage more energy production. Environmentalists said Trump was raising the risk of more deadly oil spills. The Obama administration imposed tougher rules in response to the BP spill. The rules targeted blowout preventers, massive valve-like devices designed to prevent spills from wells on the ocean floor. The preventer used by BP failed. The rules require more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictate that experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time.
Read more » click here

Oppose Offshore Oil
Federal government moves to open nearly all of the N.C. coast and U.S. waters to offshore drilling.

Yesterday the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released the draft 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This plan opens 25 of the 26 planning areas in the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling — including the North Carolina coast. Drilling leases will be allowed within just three miles of our oceanfront beaches under this plan. Gov. Roy Cooper already released a statement reiterating his opposition to offshore drilling because of the harm it could cause to North Carolina’s coastal environment and economy.

We now have another long fight to keep North Carolina off limits to offshore drilling. Public opposition to drilling protected our coast in 2016, and we need your help to protect it again.

Check nccoast.org/oil and dontdrillnc.org for talking points. Click here to read the draft plan.

Questions? Contact coastal advocates Mike Giles at mikeg@nccoast.org or Michael Flynn at michaelf@nccoast.org. You can also reach them at 252-393-8185.


Gov: NC wants exemption from offshore drilling
Citing local pushback and a burgeoning tourism economy, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Tuesday that he would remove a state from the now-under-review Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan. That state was Florida, not North Carolina, where more than 30 municipalities have opposed either seismic testing or offshore drilling, and coastal tourism generates about $3 billion annually. Now, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper and environmentalists are wondering if the Old North State will be afforded a similar chance to be removed from the plan, which opens up exploration off the coast of every state but — possibly — Florida between 2019 and 2024. “Just as you acknowledge in removing Florida, offshore drilling threatens tourism, which is a vital economic driver,” Cooper wrote in a letter to Zinke. “The same holds true for North Carolina.”
Read more » click here

Threat of oil, natural gas drilling off Brunswick County returns with Trump declaration
Following up on an order and promise made by President Donald Trump last April, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has announced plans to open nearly all the nation’s offshore waters for drilling for oil and natural gas. The move follows another recent announcement that the Trump administration is looking to scale-back some safety regulations enacted after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and released 215-million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, fouling beaches from Louisiana to Florida.

The draft Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program would sell leases for drilling as soon as next year in nearly all U.S. waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, with the exception of American Samoa. It is a dramatic reversal of the Obama administration’s ban on expanded drilling areas, and faces opposition from governors from Delaware to Florida and more than 140 Atlantic coastal communities. Zinke said that responsible development of offshore energy resources would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines. The secretary outlined 47 possible offshore leases from 2019 to 2024. Nineteen sales would be off Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific, including six off California. “This is a draft program,” Zinke said in a conference call. “Nothing is final yet, and our department is continuing to engage the American people to get to our final product.”

Industry groups praised the plan, the most favorable to exploration and drilling in more than 30 years. Dozens of environmental organizations protested, and Gov. Roy Cooper has formally requested that North Carolina be excluded from the leasing plan. “Offshore drilling represents a critical threat to our coastal economy,” Cooper said in a prepared statement. “Protecting North Carolina families and businesses is my top priority, and we will pursue every option to prevent oil drilling near North Carolina’s beaches, coastal communities and fishing waters.” Last month, the Division of Coastal Management asked four companies to submit additional information about proposed seismic testing for offshore oil development because original proposals did not consider the latest scientific studies on harmful impacts to marine life, the governor stated.

The federal draft plan invites public comment. Cooper and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality have responded for the record. “It’s clear that opening North Carolina’s coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities—and for little potential gain,” Cooper stated. “As governor, I’m here to speak out and take action against it. I can sum it up in four words: not off our coast.” Randy Sturgill of Oak Island, an organizer for the non-profit environmental group Oceana, was more direct. “This insane plan from the Trump administration proves they are only listening to oil interests while threatening all North Carolina coastal communities with their dirty and dangerous business,” Sturgill said. “This is a radical offshore free-for-all, as the administration ignores the cries of coastal residents and elected officials that have for years made it clear they don’t want the oil industry setting up shop along our beautiful Brunswick beaches.” Sturgill called the issue “a battle for the Atlantic” that will set the stage for what residents leave for their grandchildren along the coast. “The Trump administration’s plan not only ignores the risky nature of dirty and dangerous drilling, but also the people and coastal businesses who would be most affected,” said Diane Hoskins of Oceana. “The administration’s proposal would put large multi-national corporations ahead of coastal residents and healthy ocean-dependent economies.”

Brunswick County commissioners, in the majority, have formally endorsed oil and gas exploration. They are in the minority, as more than 140 Atlantic coastal communities and groups representing 41,000 businesses have opposed drilling in the Atlantic. Southport, Oak Island, Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach and Belville have passed resolutions against drilling. “By opening these areas to drilling, the Trump administration will be acting counter to the best available science—and the will of coastal communities,” said Drew Ball of Environment NC. “We have seen an unprecedented outcry against drilling in recent years. “Local resistance matters,” Ball continued. “ More than 140 East Coast communities, including more than 30 North Carolina coastal municipalities, and thousands of businesses, trade groups and tourism associations have passed resolutions opposing Atlantic drilling and seismic testing.” “Instead of threatening our waterways and marine wildlife, President Trump should pay attention to the thousands of citizens, fishermen, town councils and business owners along the Atlantic coast and the millions of Americans from Alaska to Maine who have already said ‘no’ to offshore drilling,” Ball said. “Today’s action is the wrong decision and we will do whatever it takes to block proposals to drill off our coasts.”
Read more » click here

NC officials, environmentalists concerned over offshore drilling plan
North Carolina’s inclusion on a draft five-year offshore drilling plan has state officials and environmental organizations concerned, while oil industry representatives are calling for the public comment and review process to be carried out.
Read more » click here

Brunswick revokes previous stance on offshore drilling
Narrow vote means the county does not support or oppose offshore drilling, at least for now.
Read more » click here


Previously reported –
Holden Beach Newsletter
Chemours has issued a press release announcing that the company will take measures to eliminate byproduct GenX wastewater emissions from its Fayetteville site. Click here to view the release.

In order to keep citizens informed, Brunswick County has established a website to share information about GenX as they learn it. You can find this page at www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx. The website contains a FAQ section that they update as they learn additional information (or receive additional questions), links to all their press releases and links to other resources like information from NCDEQ. There is also a link where citizens can go to sign up to receive email updates on the topic.


The Public Information Officer for Brunswick County announced that the County has taken legal action against DuPont and Chemours for contaminating the Cape Fear River.

10.31.2017
Statement from Brunswick County
The filing of formal legal action against Chemours and DuPont represents another crucial step in protecting our public drinking water supply. It sends a clear message that Brunswick County will simply not stand for the discharge of emerging or unregulated chemicals into our public drinking water supply. Let us be clear…we will ensure that any company that threatens this vital resource is held responsible. Furthermore, our litigation team is consulting the nation’s leading experts to determine the best long-term water testing and treatment methods for the entire county. As part of that, we will ensure that the costs for doing so do not fall upon the rate payers, but upon those dumping the unregulated chemicals in the water.
For more information » click here

Update –
Top Story of 2017: GenX revelation leads to outrage, action
Discovery of toxic contaminant in region’s drinking water raises host of questions, concerns and prompts calls for statewide rules
Read more » click here

GenX update: So where do things stand now?
Much of the talk over the toxic contaminant and other emerging compounds might have moved to Raleigh, but there are still plenty of unresolved issues outside of the General Assembly
Read more » click here


Latest Lockwood Folly dredge work finished, for now
Read more » click here

Lockwood Folly Inlet Hydrographic Survey

After-dredge survey of the inlet was done on September 7
Another survey was done after storm event Irma on September 18

The high cost of inlet access
Read more » click here

County looking at longer-lasting fix to Lockwood Folly Inlet shoaling problem
Read more » click here

New dredge project on horizon for Lockwood Folly
Read more » click here

Lockwood Folly Inlet dredging approved, work expected to begin in January
The United States Army Corps of Engineers has presented a plan to dredge the navigation channel at the Lockwoods Folly Inlet in Brunswick County. The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners yesterday approved a motion to transfer $168,000 to the North Carolina Division of Water resources as part of the required local match to fund the project.

The Commissioners also agree to allow the chairman to write a letter to the Town of Holden Beach requesting $84,000, or 50 percent of the project’s local share. According to the Board of Commissioners, other towns will not be asked for financial assistance; they will also not receive any of the dredged sand for beach re-nourishment projects.

“The (United States Army Corps of Engineers) USACE has presented a plan to dredge the navigation channel 10-feet deep and 100-feet wide in a project proposed to begin in late January of 2018. The project will be performed by a ‘hopper’ dredge, the Currituck, so there will be nearshore placement of beneficial beach quality sand. However, the USACE has advised staff that it is not feasible to share the sand from this project between Holden Beach and Oak Island because of the travel distances involved and the limited time availability of the Currituck, nor is it feasible for all of the sand to be placed nearshore solely on Oak Island because of the same reasons,” according to the Board of Commissioners agenda. The total project cost is expected to be $504,000 and two-thirds of the project will be funded through the state’s Shallow Draft Navigation Fund.

In April the United States Coast Guard announced its intentions to remove ten of the navigational buoys from the channel. (Coast Guard pulls Lockwoods Folly buoys, tells mariners to sail ‘at their own risk’) The channel separates Oak Island and Holden Beach and is location where the Lockwoods Folly River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The buoys were removed due to, “extensive shoaling, or deposits of sand that reduce the water depth,” according to a previous Port City Daily article.

According to the USACE plans, the dredging will take about two weeks to complete and the material will be placed in the near shore at Holden Beach. The estimated amount of material removed from the inlet is 45,000 cubic yards.
Read more » click here

County approves funding Lockwood Folly Inlet dredge project
Brunswick County Commissioners approved the transfer of a local funds match to allow dredging of the Lockwood Folly Inlet to occur in January.
Read more » click here

Commissioners OK funding Lockwood Folly dredging
Read more » click here

Update –
Project proposed to begin in late January of 2018. The project will be performed by a ‘hopper’ dredge, so there will be nearshore placement of beneficial beach quality sand. David informed us that the tentative date for the dredge project is now the first week in February.


Corrections & Amplifications –

Water Resources Development Grant for Canal Maintenance Dredging
Previously reported – December 2017
The Town applied for grant funding through the NC Division of Water Resources Development Grant. The purpose of our request for assistance was for navigation maintenance dredging of the canals of Holden Beach.  We were notified that the grant has been tentatively approved in the amount of $1,439,922.00. This fund uses the resources of the NC Shallow Draft Navigation Fund. Since it is a reimbursement grant, each canal will be responsible for paying for their dredging project costs upfront and then the state will reimburse the dredging line in the budget after satisfactory completion of the project. To complete the grant process, the granting agency requires a resolution from the BOC and we will then have a contract sent to us. Staff recommends accepting the grant funding. Staff would also like to communicate that various projects are beginning to be funded through the NC Shallow Draft Navigation Fund and there is no guarantee for future funding for subsequent dredging events. The Town held a meeting with the Canal Dredging Working Group Members and they are in support of accepting the grant.

Grant is tentatively approved but requires a formal resolution from the Board to finalize the process. The grant is good for two years and will accelerate our current dredging schedule. It is a reimbursement grant which means we do not receive the funds until after work is completed and paid for. Christy also requested that they allow the Town Manager to execute the contract which the Board agreed to.

Update –
Holden Beach nets state funding to dredge canals
Town officials applied for funding to dredge the canals through the N.C. Shallow Draft Navigation Fund, which provides funding to keep shallow waters in the state navigable. It includes “the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and its side channels.” A two-thirds match of $1.4 million was approved for the “Holden Beach Canal Maintenance Dredging Project,” for a total project cost of about $2.2 million. The remaining cost will be paid for by the property owners along the canals via assessments, yearly fees property owners have been paying for years for canal maintenance.

For Holden Beach, the project will entail removing approximately 71,500 cubic yards of sand from more than 22,000 linear feet of canals, which Hewett said constitutes the entirety of the canal subdivisions. Hewett said the state funding Holden Beach will receive is a reimbursement grant, meaning property owners will pay for the dredging cost upfront and then the state will reimburse the property owners after the project is complete. The funding award is pending the successful execution of a grant contract between the state and Holden Beach. The dredging project will start around November 2018 and should wrap up by April 2019, Hewett said.
Read more » click here


Odds & Ends

 

North Carolina Rate Bureau Requests 18.7% Increase for Homeowners Insurance

 

 

 

The North Carolina Rate Bureau has filed notice with the N.C. Department of Insurance request a statewide average increase in homeowners insurance rates of 18.7 percent for 2018, according to Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. The NC Rate Bureau represents the homeowners insurance companies in the state in asking for this increase.

NCDOI said the rate filing is the first homeowners insurance rate increase request received from the Rate Bureau since 2014. That filing resulted in the first homeowners insurance hearing in over 20 years with the Insurance Commissioner deciding on a “no change” decision on behalf of policyholders.

The last time a homeowners insurance rate increase request from the Rate Bureau resulted in higher rates for homeowners was in 2012. The Rate Bureau asked for a 17.7 percent increase, then after negotiation settled at an overall statewide average of 7 percent.

NCDOI said a public comment period, required by law, to give the public time to address the Rate Bureau’s proposed rate increase. There are three ways to provide comment:

  • A public comment forum will be held to listen to public input on the Rate Bureau’s rate increase request at the NC Department of Insurance’s Second Floor Hearing Room from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2017. NCDOI is located in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, N.C.
  • Emailed public comments should be sent by Dec. 29, 2017 to: 2017HomeInsurance@ncdoi.gov
  • Written public comments should be mailed to Tricia Ford to be received by Dec. 29, 2017 and addressed to: 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201

All public comments will also be shared with the NC Rate Bureau. If NCDOI officials do not agree with the requested rates, they will be negotiated with the NC Rate Bureau. If a settlement cannot be reached within 50 days, a hearing will be called.

Settlements have been reached on rate filings in the past but if the case goes to a hearing, the hearing officer will rule on rates and any appeal would go through the court system. The rates set in these cases represent the highest amount allowable for all companies to charge.
Read more » click here

Bureau seeks 25 percent homeowners insurance rate hike for county beaches
Insurance companies want a 25 percent increase on Brunswick County homeowners insurance rates on or near the coast and 23.7 percent everywhere else. The number increases to a 40 percent rate hike proposed for Brunswick County renters and condominium owners, according to numbers the North Carolina Rate Bureau proposed to the state’s Department of Insurance.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced Nov. 20 that the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents homeowners insurance companies in the state, filed notice asking for a statewide average increase in homeowners insurance rates for 2018. The statewide average increase was listed as 18.7 percent, but additional information provided by Barry Smith with the Department of Insurance mapped the rate increase proposals for 29 territories across the state.

Causey’s notice announced the start of the public comment period on the bureau’s rate increase request as required by law. The DOI accepts written public comments, which should be emailed and delivered via the U.S. Postal Service by Dec. 29, 2017. Emails can be sent to 2017HomeInsurance@ncdoi.gov. Written public comments should be mailed to Tricia Ford at 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1201. All public comments will also be shared with the bureau. “We are eager to hear your comments,” Smith said.
Read more » click here

Update –
Insurance commissioner rejects proposed homeowners insurance rate increase, public hearing set
After over 9,000 residents sent in their concerns, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has rejected a proposed homeowners insurance rate increase that would hit the coast especially hard. Pending further negotiations, Commissioner Causey set a public hearing date in July to determine an appropriate rate increase. Submitted in November by the North Carolina Rate Bureau, a non-profit rating bureau that represents insurance companies, the proposal called for a 25 percent increase in homeowners insurance in many coastal communities.

Residents in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties would fall under the N.C. Rate Bureau’s 25 percent territory. Insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums was included in the November filing.

Hearing set
If the N.C. Rate Bureau and N.C. Department of Insurance (DOI) cannot reach an agreement, the rate increase would be decided upon after the public hearing, scheduled for July 23, 2018. “We can still work to negotiate a settlement between now and a July hearing date,” said Barry Smith,” communications specialist for the N.C. Department of Insurance. An increase has not been implemented since 2012 when the N.C. Rate Bureau and the N.C. DOI settled on a 7 percent. In 2014, an N.C. Rate Bureau proposed rate increase was ultimately ruled to not change after a decision was upheld by the N.C. Court of Appeals.

25, 65, or 0?
A discrepancy in necessity exists between coastal residents of North Carolina and the N.C. Rate Bureau. The Pender County Board of Commissioners, the Topsail Island Board of Commissioners and Surf City Town Council all passed resolutions objecting to the increase. The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners penned an open letter in opposition. Ray Evans, the general manager for the N.C. Rate Bureau, says the increase is long overdue. Evans said in December the increase ought to be 65 percent based on the bureau’s calculations. Overdue or not, of the 9,000 responses the N.C. DOI received, Smith said an overwhelming majority were opposed to the increase. “Our legal staff has been reading them, they saw that they were predominantly opposed to it,” Smith said. Despite the public’s disagreement, the N.C. Rate Bureau is likely to see its proposal through litigation. If the N.C. Rate Bureau and the N.C. DOI fail to reach an agreement before the public hearing, an order would be issued in October 2018 to revise standing rates.
Read more » click here

NC Dept. of Insurance rejects request for 18.7 percent increase in homeowners insurance
The North Carolina Department of Insurance has rejected a proposed 18.7 percent average increase statewide in homeowners insurance, according to a Friday news release from the agency. “We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau’s proposed increases filed Nov. 17, 2017. The next step, according to statute, is to set a hearing date,” said Commissioner Mike Causey. “After hearing and reading the more than 9,000 comments from residents across the state and studying the figures in the filing, it is now necessary to hold a hearing to reach a resolution that will make the most financial sense for our residents and insurance companies.” The hearing is set for July 23 and will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. The hearing will be held unless the NC Department of Insurance and NC Rate Bureau are unable to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the insurance commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. This means the order could be issued in October 2018.

Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the NC Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the NC Supreme Court. The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation. The NCRB filed the average 18.7 homeowners increase Nov. 17, 2017. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The requested increase for Brunswick County homeowners was between 23.7 and 25 percent. The NCRB has requested certain areas of western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Haywood, Cherokee, Mitchell and Avery counties. Anson, Montgomery, and Richmond counties would also see small rate decreases. The NCRB represents insurers that write the state’s homeowners policies. It is a non-profit unincorporated rating bureau separate from the Department of Insurance. The NCRB also represents auto and workers compensation insurance companies.

The NCDOI held a public comment forum regarding the NCRB rate filing Dec. 12, 2017. Six people attended the forum, including Rep. Bob Muller, R-Brunswick, and Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. The department also received comments via email and U.S. mail through Dec. 29, 2017. 

The last NCRB homeowners rate increase filing was in 2014 that resulted in an order of “no change” from the Commissioner of Insurance. In 2012, the NCRB requested a 17.7 percent increase, which was settled for an increase of 7 percent that took effect in 2013.
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Commissioner denies homeowners insurance rate increase
The state’s new insurance commissioner followed in his predecessor’s footsteps by denying a request for a homeowners insurance rate increase. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey rejected the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposal for a statewide 18.7 percent homeowners insurance rate increase, according to a Jan. 5 news release from the North Carolina Department of Insurance. For Brunswick County, Causey’s denial staves off the insurance companies’ call for a 25 percent increase on homeowners insurance rates on or near the coast and 23.7 percent everywhere else, according to numbers the bureau proposed to the state’s Department of Insurance.
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NC Department of Insurance press release
The North Carolina (NC) Rate Bureau in November 2017 proposed a significant rate increase for homeowner insurance rates across the State. On January 5, 2018, the NC Department of Insurance issued a press release announcing the NC Insurance Commissioner’s response to the request.

Insurance Commissioner Causey rejects proposed Homeowners Insurance rate increase: Sets Hearing Date
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set July 23, 2018 as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposed 18.7 percent homeowners insurance rate increase. “We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau’s proposed increases filed Nov. 17, 2017. The next step, according to statute, is to set a hearing date,” said Commissioner Causey. “After hearing and reading the more than 9,000 comments from residents across the state and studying the figures in the filing, it is now necessary to hold a hearing to reach a resolution that will make the most financial sense for our residents and insurance companies.” The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and N.C. Rate Bureau are unable to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. This means the order could be issued in October 2018. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court. The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation. The NCRB filed the average 18.7 homeowners increase Nov. 17, 2017. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The NCRB has requested certain areas of western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Haywood, Cherokee, Mitchell rand Avery counties. Anson, Montgomery, and Richmond counties would also see small rate decreases. The NCRB represents insurers that write the state’s homeowners policies. It is a non-profit unincorporated rating bureau separate from the Department of Insurance. The NCRB also represents auto and workers compensation insurance companies. The NCDOI held a public comment forum regarding the NCRB rate filing Dec. 12, 2017. Six people attended the forum, including Rep. Bob Muller, R-Brunswick, and Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort. The department also received comments via email and U.S. mail through Dec. 29, 2017. The last NCRB homeowners rate increase filing was in 2014 that resulted in an order of “no change” from the Commissioner of Insurance. In 2012, the NCRB requested a 17.7 percent increase, which was settled for an increase of 7 percent that took effect in 2013.
Read the press release » click here


This & That

Former Holden Beach Commissioner Sandifer dies
Former Holden Beach commissioner Patricia “Pat” Sandifer passed away unexpectedly at her home Friday morning, January fifth, at age 77. Sandifer served the town as a Holden Beach Commissioner from 1999-2001 and from 2005-2007. She was also the owner of Holden Beach Properties, a real estate company on the island that her family started in 1961.


Holden Beach fire damages 2 homes, boat
A fire in Holden Beach Tuesday morning caused nearly $500,000 in damages. The Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department, along with the Supply and Civietown Volunteer Fire Departments, responded to the fire at 120 Charlotte Street, Holden Beach, at 2:32 a.m. Tuesday. Responding units found two homes and a boat heavily involved in a fire, according to a news release from the Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department.
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U.S. judges order overhaul of North Carolina’s partisan congressional districts
A three-judge federal panel ordered congressional districts in North Carolina to be redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections, ruling on Tuesday that the Republican-drawn map was illegal and unconstitutionally partisan. The ruling was the first time that a federal court blocked a congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering, said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
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Federal court voids North Carolina’s GOP-drawn congressional map for partisan gerrymandering
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North Carolina Congressional Map Ruled Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered
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Supreme Court says North Carolina does not have to immediately redraw congressional maps that a lower court ruled unconstitutional
The Supreme Court said late Thursday that North Carolina does not immediately have to redraw its congressional district maps, meaning that the 2018 elections will likely be held in districts that a lower court found unconstitutional. The court granted a request from North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders to put the lower court’s ruling on hold. The decision was not unexpected, because the Supreme Court generally is reluctant to require the drawing of new districts before it has had a chance to review a lower court’s ruling that such an action is warranted, especially in an election year.
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Factoid That May Interest Only Me –

Study: North Carolina’s coastal policies among worst in nation on climate change
Days after a federal report issued a harsh warning about climate change, an environmental group said North Carolina’s policies leave it among the most ill-prepared on the East Coast to deal with the effects of rising seas.
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How the Wilmington area deals with rising seas and an increasing number of floods
According to research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rising sea levels magnifies tides and can cause damage without a drop of rain. So, add a weather system packing heavy rainfall or powerful storm surge, and those effects are magnified.

A much-maligned 2012 law in North Carolina essentially blocked state-level agencies from using predictive methods to determine the possible impact of rising sea levels. The initial draft of the law would have essentially gagged local and regional government from officially discussing some of the more pessimistic sea level estimates. However, the final version of the bill was altered and, while it continues to constrain coastal management and the state’s Department of Transportation, it does allow counties, towns and cities to pursue their own policies, studies and plans.

Here’s how governments and utilities in the Wilmington area are planning for potential increases in sea level…
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Brunswick County eliminated plans to address rising sea levels. Apparently, no one knows why
With 45 miles of shoreline, all of it vulnerable to storm surges and flooding, Brunswick County has a lot to lose from rising sea levels. It’s not just the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by tourist coming to Brunswick County beaches, providing millions in tax revenue. Much of the county’s population is also located near coastal and tidal river shorelines.

So why were three strategies for dealing with sea level rise eliminated from the county’s most recent plan for dealing with large scale disasters? The short answer is: no one seems to know.

But first, back up to the creation of hazard mitigation plans.

Hazard Mitigation
Brunswick County has historically included several strategies in its hazard mitigation plans. These five-year plans became requirements of all counties in the devastating wake of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and cover a wide range of potential disasters, including those related to sea level rise.

Brunswick County shares a plan with New Hanover and Pender counties, but each county has a section with its own specific strategies, as do municipalities within the county. Brunswick County’s latest plan, approved by the Board of Commissioners in 2016, eliminates three strategies for dealing with sea level rise.
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Fixing the broken National Flood Insurance Program
As expiration of a much-criticized program necessary to coastal development looms, experts and real estate officials are debating how to tweak a system nearly everyone acknowledges is faulty. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was founded in 1968 to offer coverage to homes in flood areas, ideally allowing the government to incentivize flood plain management. In the ensuing decades, as increasingly inhabited coastal communities have been struck by wetter storms, the program has built up an accumulated debt of about $24.6 billion — an amount that doesn’t include the devastation from this year’s Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria — as premiums paid into it have proven unable to account for damages paid out. On Dec. 8, the NFIP will expire, unless further action is taken by Congress. While the House has passed its version of a reauthorization bill, the Senate has yet to vote on such a measure. Regardless of reauthorization, the program is widely seen as flawed, with properties that have repeatedly flooded posing exorbitant risk and cost to taxpayers while owners there are incentivized to rebuild rather than elevating their homes or moving out of risky areas.
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The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 22, 2017, the President signed legislation passed by both houses of Congress that extends the NFIP’s authorization for four more weeks. It previously had been set to expire at midnight on December 22, 2017. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than January 19, 2018.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. In the unlikely event the NFIP’s authorization lapses, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Property owners who are required to have flood insurance would be unable to complete new mortgage transactions. The National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might result in the delay or cancellation of approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month nationwide.
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Things I Think I Think –

Dining #2Eating out is one of the great little joys of life.

Restaurant Review:
Dinner Club visits a new restaurant once a month. Ratings reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration.
//// November 2017
Name:              Catch
Cuisine:           Seafood
Location:        6623 Market St., Wilmington NC
Contact:          910.799.3847 or www.catchwilmington.com
Food:                Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:           Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:      Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:                Inexpensive <=17 / Moderate <=22 / Expensive <=27 / Exorbitant <=40
Rating:           Three Stars
Located in a nondescript strip mall on the main drag away from downtown Catch prepares modern seafood cuisine and is an award-winning eatery. Celebrity chef and owner Keith Rhodes opened Catch Restaurant in 2006. He has always favored wild caught or sustainably raised seafood and continually supports local fisheries and organic farmers. At Catch it’s all about the food, which is amazing!  If you dine out just for the food, not for anything else, Catch is one of Wilmington’s top restaurants. Despite the food being outstanding it was still over-priced. The prices are those of an upscale restaurant and they just aren’t one. Therefore, it’s hard to justify the expense. They still are on my short list of favorite restaurants.


Book Review:
Read several books from The New York Times best sellers fiction list monthly
Selection represents this month’s pick of the litter
/////

 
THE MIDNIGHT LINE by Lee Child
This is the twenty-second (22) entry in the bestselling series of crime thrillers with vigilante hero Jack Reacher. In the latest novel, the plot is driven by Reacher’s desire to learn how a West Point class ring ended up in a pawnshop. During his quest to track down the owner of the ring he stumbles upon a large criminal enterprise involved in the distribution of opioids. 

 


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