02 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / February Edition


Calendar of Events –


Boating Skills & Seamanship Class
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will start a comprehensive Boating Skills and Seamanship course that satisfies all state requirements. The course is for both novice and experienced boaters and will be taught over thirteen class sessions conducted on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and on Saturday morning March 7th.

The course covers general information about boating including selecting a boat, registration requirements, equipping your boat, trailering, powering your boat, boat handling, nautical highway signs, rules of the nautical road, boating safety, navigation, plotting, lines and knots, weather, your boat’s radio, what to do in case of boating emergencies, and state-specific laws and regulations you must follow.

Click here to view the full press release and to find information on how to register for the class.


Azalea Festival Logo
N.C. Azalea Festival
April 1st – 5th
Wilmington


Wilmington has been celebrating Spring Southern Style since 1948. There’s something for everyone among their community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture. This will be the 73rd annual festival and is considered one of the top events in the Southeast.
For more information » click here


Southport Spring Festival LogoSouthport Spring Festival
April 10
th
Southport


Welcome Spring Easter weekend in style at the Southport Spring Festival, a tradition for more than 25 years. This festival features a wide variety of activities.
For more information » click here



.Days at the Docks Festival

April 25th – 26th
Holden Beach

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The annual festival occurs in April or May and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season. In addition to the food and arts & crafts, enjoy live music & entertainment, a horseshoe tournament and the world famous “Bopple Race”. Lots of activities for the entire family!
For more information » click here



Blue Crab Festival

May 16th – 17th
Little River SC

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This will be the 39th annual world famous Blue Crab Festival. It is held on the waterfront in Little River and is one of the largest festivals in the Southeast. The purpose of this festival is one that supports and showcases the fabulous atmosphere of the local communities.
For more information » click here


Events
TDA - logo
Discover 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 –

Run for the Arts 5K
The Town and Brunswick Arts Council will cosponsor a 5K race; the event is scheduled on Saturday, March 14th. During the event participants and their guests can paint by numbers a professionally designed mural on the Bridgeview Park restroom.

 Create art while you run
Brunswick Arts Council invites the public to participate in the Run for the Arts 5K fundraiser to be held Saturday, March 14, in Holden Beach. The event is a walk/run fundraiser and creating community art – “paint by numbers mural.” Participants can walk or run on this stroller and wheel chair accessible course. The race will be held 10 a.m.-noon and the mural participation will be held until 2 p.m.

Advance registration is $25, $30 day of the event. Sponsorships are available. To register to run, become a sponsor or make a donation, visit www.brunswickartscouncil.org. To volunteer, contact Mary Beth at execdir.brunswickartscouncil@gmail.com. Funds raised from this activity will be used to support ongoing arts programming, scholarships and arts grants within Brunswick County.
Read more » click here


Family Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt
The Town will hold its sixth annual nighttime Easter Egg Hunt on Friday, April 10th beginning at 7:00 pm. Teams of four will compete against each other. This event is designed for youth and adults and will be held at Bridgeview Park. Participants will need to bring their own flashlights to the event.
Registration is required but has not started yet…


Easter Sunrise Church Service
Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and Holden Beach Chapel are sponsoring an Easter sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. Sunday April 12th at the Holden Beach Pier.


HBBC

Holden Beach Beautification Club Plant Sale
The HBBC is holding their 9th Annual Plant Sale on Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th at the Emergency Operations Center, which is beside Food Lion located at 1044 Sabbath Home Road. Landscaping plants, perennials, annuals, herbs and gardening gloves will be available for purchase. All funds generated from the plant sale are earmarked for beautification projects on the island. Visit the Beautification Club’s website at http://holdenbeachbc.org/ if you are unable to attend the plant sale but would like to contribute.



Days at the Docks Festival
The festival occurs in April or May of each year and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. This year it is April 25th & 26th. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season.

 


Pickleball Tournament
Holden Beach is hosting their fourth annual Pickleball Tournament. This year the Battle at the Beach tournament is May 1st to May 3rd.

For more information » click here
Register online » click here

What is Pickleball you ask?

Pickleball: growing sport for seniors
Pickleball originated in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The ball used is a perforated plastic ball similar to a Whiffle ball. The game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. The net is a couple inches lower than a tennis court net and the court is smaller too (20 feet by 44 feet vs. 36 by 78), and the paddles are oversized ping pong paddles made of plywood, aluminum or graphite. The game can be played with two or four players. Experience in tennis, badminton and ping pong is helpful, as there are similarities with those sports. There already are over 100,000 players in the United States alone. When tennis and badminton players find it difficult to navigate the larger courts, the next step is Pickleball, where there is not as much running required.
Read more » click here


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


Reminders –


Hurricane Vehicle Decals –

The 2020 vehicle decals are scheduled to be distributed with the March water bills.
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Building Numbers

Ocean front homes are required to have house numbers visible from the beach strand.

Please call Planning and Inspections Department at 910.842.6080 with any questions.

§157.087 BUILDING NUMBERS.

   (A)   The correct street number shall be clearly visible from the street on all buildings. Numbers shall be block letters, not script, and of a color clearly in contrast with that of the building and shall be a minimum of six inches in height.

   (B)   Beach front buildings will also have clearly visible house numbers from the strand side meeting the above criteria on size, contrast, etc.  Placement shall be on vertical column supporting deck(s) or deck roof on the primary structure.  For buildings with a setback of over 300 feet from the first dune line, a vertical post shall be erected aside the walkway with house numbers affixed.  In all cases the numbers must be clearly visible from the strand.  Other placements may be acceptable with approval of the Building Inspector.


SM - Phone Book - CR
The new tide charts are here! The new tide charts are here!”

Holden Beach Tide Charts – 2020
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BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, March 17th

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News from Town of Holden Beach
The town sends out emails of events, news, agendas, notifications and emergency information. If you would like to be added to their mailing list, please go to their web site to complete your subscription to the Holden Beach E-Newsletter.
For more information » click here


Volunteers needed
The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. If you are interested in serving, 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 $82.48 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

 

Recycling renewal is approaching, you should get e-mail letter in the next few weeks


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.

Safety Notice –
Waupaca Elevator Company has issued an important safety notice. The potential hazard is associated with normal wear in your elevator. If your elevator develops the problem and it is not repaired, the elevator may drop unexpectedly with you in it and you may be injured. They recommend you contact your elevator service company.

Waupaca Elevator Recalls to Inspect Elevators Due to Injury Hazard
For more information » click here


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 –


Dog Park
The dog park will remain closed for the foreseeable future. The Town needed to use the land at the dog park to place material from the canal dredging project as the dredge spoils area. It is unknown when it will be returned to a useable state as a dog park again. They are currently looking at other options for a dog park on the island.

Four people spoke during the Public Comments session at the January BOC’s meeting,  all in favor of creating a new Dog Park area. The park was utilized by people daily. We no longer have anywhere on the island to walk a dog safely.  The nearest dog park for off leash activity is in Shallotte. I think we should make every effort to provide an area for dogs on the island. My recommendation is to utilize existing town property. The Town actually owns quite a bit of property. For instance, we have two parcels between BAW and OBW, across from Marker Fifty-Five, that were platted as streets but never put in; between High Point Street and Neptune Drive. We had previously discussed the possibility of creating parking areas out of them, one of them could be made into a dog park. Parking should be on the BAW side of the park, so it doesn’t get taken over by guests going to the beach. The designated area would be an additional recreational opportunity as well as an option for having dogs off their leashes instead of in unauthorized areas like the beach strand. As for allocating funds the cost should be paid for by the canal POA’s. You ask: Why? In April of 2014 we established the Dog Park on Town owned property at Scotch Bonnet Drive, at a cost of $19,000 sourced from BPART account. The Canal Dredging Project  was mostly paid for from the Water Resources Development Grant of $1,439,922 which we secured in December 2017. According to Town Manager Hewett, “the Canal Dredging Project is paying all costs for the reconstitution of the Scotch Bonnet site to include installation of dog park facilities at that location.” That’s all well and good but meanwhile we do not have a dog park.  It is my humble opinion that the right thing to do is for them to pay to create a temporary replacement dog park too.

NRPA Park Pulse: Americans Agree Dog Parks Benefit Local Communities
Local parks and recreation agencies provide dog parks for the areas they serve
Each month, through a poll of Americans that is focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted. With this month’s poll, we look at the possible benefits dog parks bring to their communities.

91% of Americans believe dog parks provide benefits to their communities.

Availability of dog parks is especially popular among millennials (94 percent) and Gen Xers (92 percent) followed by baby boomers (89 percent) who agree dog parks provide benefits to communities.

Top 3 Community Dog Park Benefits:

      • 60% Gives dogs a safe space to exercise and roam around freely
      • 48% Allows dogs to socialize with other dogs
      • 36% Allows owners a chance to be physically active with their pet

For more information » click here


Corrections & Amplifications –


Previously reported – February 2018
Reminder of Decal Distribution and Re-entry Policies for Owners  

EVACUATION, CURFEW & DECALS

What is a State of Emergency?
A proclamation by the Town which enacts special ordinances and/or prohibitions during emergency situations to protect the public, public health and property. These prohibitions can include limitations on movement, curfews, directing of evacuations, controlling ingress and egress to the emergency area, alcoholic beverages, and more.  State of Emergencies are issued in accordance with N.C.G.S. 166A-19.22.

What is a curfew?
A curfew is an order, typically during a State of Emergency, which requires all persons in the affected areas to remain on their own property. During a curfew, you are not free to move about public domain areas or on others’ property.  Violations of a curfew could lead to arrest in certain situations.

What is a voluntary evacuation?
A voluntary evacuation creates a recommendation for all parties in the affected area to get their affairs in order hastily and evacuated.

What is a mandatory evacuation?
A mandatory evacuation means you must leave the area in which an order has been issued. With recent changes to the laws in North Carolina, you no longer have the option of staying in an area under an order of mandatory evacuation. 

Why is the sewer system turned off during a storm/event?
Often the sewer system is turned off during storms which have the potential to create significant flooding on the island. The system is turned off to protect its integrity. If it were left on, it could pose a significant threat to the public health.  When the system is manually shut down, it also greatly reduces the time needed to bring it back up after an event which equates to getting residents and guests back on the Island much faster.

Why is there a delay for decal holders to get back on the island once a storm ends?
After a storm, many things must occur before even limited access can be allowed. Some of those things include making sure the streets are passable; the sewer system must be restarted to comply with State laws; the utilities (water, sewer, electricity, propane supplies) must be checked to ensure no safety risk are present; and the post-storm damage assessment team needs to perform an initial assessment.

Where can I get up-to-date information during and after a storm or State of Emergency?
You can sign up for the Town email service by clicking here. The newsletter, along with the Town’s website will be the main sources of information during an emergency situation. Links to the Town’s official Facebook and Twitter pages can be found on the website. You can also download our app for Apple and Android phones by accessing the app store on your smart phone and searching Holden Beach.

Please refrain from calling Town Hall and Police Department phone lines with general information questions. These lines need to remain open for emergencies, storm management and post-storm mitigation.  All updates concerning re-entry, general access, etc. may be found on the Town’s website and other media outlets.

Why do I see others moving about the island during a curfew?
If a curfew order is in place, you must stay on your own property.  You may see many other vehicles moving about the Island.  We often receive assistance from other local, state, federal and contract personnel during events. It is likely these are the personnel you are seeing and they are involved in the mitigation process for the event. Please do not assume that a curfew order has been lifted and/or you are free to move about the island.

Can I check my friends’ property for them?
If a curfew order is in place, you may ONLY travel to your personally owned property.  Traveling about the Island to check on others’ property is not allowed.  is in place, you may ONLY travel to your personally owned property.  Traveling about

Who can obtain decals?
Only property owners and businesses who service the island can obtain a decal. 

How do I get decals for my vehicle…?

If I am an owner?
Decals will be mailed out in water bills to property owners before the season starts.  Those owners who need additional decals can contact Town Hall.
A fee may apply, please check the current fee schedule.

If I am a renter?
You must contact the owner of the property to obtain a decal. 

If I am a business owner on the Island?
You must contact Town Hall to obtain a decal.

If I am a business owner off the Island that provides services on the Island?
You must contact Town Hall for eligibility and to obtain a decal.

When does my decal expire?
All decals expire on the last day of the calendar year as indicated on the decal.

Where do I put my decal on my car?
Decals must be displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield, where they are not obstructed by any other items to include window tinting, other decals, etc.  Officials must be able to clearly read the decal from outside the vehicle.  Please note that re-entry will not be allowed if a current, intact decal is not affixed to the windshield as designated.

How do I replace a decal if I get a new vehicle?
If you trade a vehicle or otherwise need a replacement decal, you may obtain them from Town Hall during normal business hours. A fee may apply, check the current fee schedule.

Can I obtain a decal right before an emergency occurs?
While most of the storms we deal with are tropical in nature with some type of advanced warning, we do experience many other types of events that could create a State of Emergency without warning. All eligible parties should obtain decals as early as possible each year to avoid being denied access to the Island.  Decals shall not be issued during the 24-hour period prior to an anticipated order of evacuation so staff can concentrate on properly preparing the Town for the storm/event.

Can I use a tax bill or another document for re-entry?
No. You MUST have a decal to re-enter the Island until it is open to the general public.

How does re-entry after a storm during a State of Emergency work?
The bridge is closed to all vehicle access, except for official vehicles. Once those with proper decals are allowed access, they must conform with the current rules in place by the specific State of Emergency Order.  After all hazards have been rendered safe, the bridge will be opened to the general public.  A curfew could remain in effect however, to ensure the safety and security of the Island and its residents and guests.  Please understand this process typically takes days to evolve and could be significantly longer, depending on the amount of damage sustained.  Please refrain from calling for times for re-entry, as those are often not set on schedule. Instead, stay tunes to local media outlets and official social media accounts for accurate updates.

How can I check on my property if access is limited to the Island?
Once it is safe, property owners with valid decals will be allowed back on the Island after a storm/event.  At this point, you can travel to your property, in accordance with the rules of the specific State of Emergency Order currently in place. 

If you live out of the area, please do not travel to the Island until you are certain you will be allowed access.  Stay tuned to those media outlets and email services that are of official nature for this information. Also, be certain you have your current, valid decal properly affixed to your vehicle.

It is a good idea to be sure your contact information is current with the Town tax office as this is the location Town officials will use in the event you need to be contacted.

For more information » click here


NC General Statute 166A-19.22
Power of municipalities and counties to enact ordinances to deal with states of emergency.

Synopsis – The governing body may impose by declaration or enacted ordinance, prohibitions and restrictions during a state of emergency. This includes the prohibition and restriction of movements of people in public places,  including   imposing   a curfew; directing   or compelling the voluntary   or mandatory evacuation of all or part of the population, controlling ingress and egress of an emergency area, and providing for the closure of streets, roads, highways, bridges,  public  vehicular  areas. All prohibitions and restrictions imposed by declaration or ordinance   shall take effect immediately upon publication of the declaration unless the declaration sets a later time.  The prohibitions and restrictions shall expire when they are terminated by the official or entity that imposed them, or when the state of emergency terminates.

Violation – Any person who violates any provisions of an ordinance or a declaration   enacted or declared pursuant to this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.


Vehicle Decals
Property owners will be provided with four (4) decals which will be included in their water bills. It is important that you place your decals on your vehicles immediately to avoid misplacing them. Decals will not be issued in the 24-hour period before an anticipated order of evacuation.

The decals are your passes to get back onto the island to check your property in the event an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield, where they are not obstructed by any other items. Officials must be able to clearly read the decal from outside the vehicle.  Please note that re-entry will NOT be allowed if a current, intact decal is not affixed to the windshield as designated.


Odds & Ends


CodeRed / Emergency Communications Network
Do you want to have the latest information about warnings in our area? Sign up for emergency notices and critical community alerts.  When one takes place, Brunswick County utilizes a mass notification system to call, text and email individuals with important information. CodeRED is a lifesaving notification system that keeps residents informed of emergencies near them.

Brunswick County strongly encourages residents to enroll to receive alerts. The CodeRED system will allow you to manage your own information and update your contact information on your own. This information is private and is not sold or shared with outside parties. Please take a moment to sign up for alerts by clicking here so you can stay safe.


Large great white sharks ‘converging’ off Carolinas. Is the weather a cause?
A sudden convergence of great white sharks is taking place off the Carolinas — from Cape Hatteras to Charleston — proving the apex predators are being mysteriously drawn to a tight strip off the coast. Satellite tags reveal seven great whites are within that area, with an eighth hovering at the South Carolina-Georgia border, near Hilton Head. Most (five) are sitting off Southport, near Wilmington.
Read more » click here

Tracking site » click here

Cluster of sharks in one spot off Carolinas coast grows more intense
The clustering of great white sharks off the Carolinas coast is growing more pronounced and mysterious, based on satellite tracking data shared Saturday on social media. Eight tagged great white sharks are now practically on top of each other along the border of North and South Carolina — and they represent the only sharks currently tracking along the East Coast, according to a map posted on Facebook by OCEARCH. Researchers began noticing a convergence of great white sharks off the Carolinas in late January, but the group was more spread out. Now the sharks are exhibiting a clear preference for the same spot off Southport, near Wilmington, the data shows. OCEARCH says the tagged sharks, ranging in size from 8 feet to nearly 13 feet, represent a tiny sampling of what is actually off the coast, meaning waters could be full of great
Read more » click here
 

Sharks of North Carolina
Read more » click here

Shark Attack
The chances of being attacked by a shark are very small compared to other animal attacks, natural disasters, and ocean-side dangers. Many more people drown in the ocean every year than are bitten by sharks. The few attacks that occur every year are an excellent indication that sharks do not feed on humans and that most attacks are simply due to mistaken identity.

Your chances of being attacked by a shark are just 1 in 11.5 million!

What Are the Odds? Long, Most Likely
Not everyone is at risk of a being bitten by a shark. 1 in 11.5 million is the rate of attacks in one year at 68 U.S. beaches and is based on attendance figures at the venues.
Read more » click here


This & That


State officials announce grants to improve public beach access
The state Division of Coastal Management recently announced the availability of approximately $1 million in funding to help local governments in 20 coastal counties improve public access to coastal beaches and waters for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access program provides matching funds to local governments to construct low-cost public access facilities. “This funding continues to allow the state to be a resource for successful rebuilding and restoring of our public spaces along the coast,” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “It is an important means to provide and maintain safe access for our residents and visitors.” Local governments interested in applying for financial assistance must submit a pre-application to the Division of Coastal Management by 5 p.m. on April 17. Local governments will be notified by May 15 if their proposal is selected to submit a final application. Final applications are anticipated to be due in August 2020. All final applicants will be notified in September if their project has been selected for funding. For more information about the Public Access Grant application process, go to the DEQ website at deq.nc.gov. Funding for the grant pro-gram comes from the North Carolina General Assembly through the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Access projects may include walkways, dune crossovers, restrooms, parking areas, piers and related projects. Funds also may be used for land acquisition or urban waterfront revitalization. Staff with the state Division of Coastal Management selected the recipients based on criteria set by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. The grant program has provided more than $48 million for more than 459 public waterfront access sites since the program began in 1981. For more in-formation about the Public Beach and Coastal Water-front Access program, go to the DEQ website at deq.nc.gov.
Beacon Article dated February 6


Carolina Bays Parkway (SC 31) Extension

NCDOT preparing to narrow down route options for CBP Extension
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will soon narrow down its list of route alternatives for the Carolina Bays Parkway Extension, a half-billion-dollar proposed highway project proposed to streamline traffic between southern Brunswick County and North Myrtle Beach. In December, NCDOT released nine route alternatives for the project that’s been studied since the mid-2000s. Shortly after, NCDOT hosted a pair of public meetings in Little River and in Sunset Beach to present information on the project and hear feedback from stakeholders. So far, the project has already received pushback from some factions of the community, including Sunset Beach Town Council, Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, and a multi-generational farm, Indigo Farms.

Concerns have been raised that progress on the Horry County side of the project will outpace North Carolina’s, thereby locking in NCDOT to a route that the public hasn’t endorsed. Also, local tourism dollars are likely at stake, given the project would increase traffic flow to the Grand Strand. South Carolina is further along in funding the project, having already dedicated $125 million to it via a 2016 Horry County capital project sales tax referendum. Right-of-way acquisitions on the South Carolina side of the project will begin in 2022 ; NCDOT has not dedicated any funds for right-of-way acquisitions for its portion of the project. In all, the 19-mile proposed project will cost an estimated $552 million combined, with NCDOT required to cover roughly two-thirds of the total cost (14 miles of the project would run through North Carolina). Each of the nine proposed route alternatives would replace roughly 6 miles of existing roadway on Highway 17 and ultimately converge at the existing terminus in South Carolina between the existing Carolina Bays Parkway S.C. 31 at S.C. 9 (view all route alternatives).

Public comment
The public comment period on narrowing down the nine proposed alternatives ended Jan. 10 at midnight. Comments submitted before this deadline will be considered part of the public record, according to an NCDOT spokesperson, and comments submitted after will still be considered but not in the public record. Weigh in on the routes via a detailed project website, which includes the option to draw suggested lines, provide commentary, and rank alternatives. Once comments are analyzed, NCDOT will rule out a few of the proposed alternatives to narrow down which routes will be further studied in a detailed environmental analysis. NCDOT will narrow the routes down this spring; a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected this winter. Once the environmental study is available, a new public comment period will open, including public hearings. A preferred alternative (not the final decision, but the last step before it) could be selected by summer 2021.
Read more » click here


Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


Trump reveals Space Force logo, and ‘Star Trek’ fans aren’t happy
President Trump unveiled the new U.S. Space Force logo on Friday, and the Internet didn’t take kindly to it. The design for the newly minted sixth branch of the military looked an awful lot like the Starfleet Command insignia from the Star Trek series and movies, depicting a delta and a globe encircled by a rocket and set against a backdrop of stars. Minutes after Trump tweeted out the image, a chorus of observers rushed in to ridicule the similarities. It was an “obvious Star Trek knockoff,” one user wrote. “Boldly going where we’ve gone before,” quipped another. Even actor George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu in the original series, joked that the franchise was “expecting some royalties from this. ”
Read more » click here


Hot Button Issues
Subjects that are important to people and about which they have strong opinions


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Climate
For more information » click here.

 


The EPA just rolled back protections for wetlands.
What does it mean for Cape Fear region?
The Environmental Protection Agency and United States Army just finalized a historic rule that removes federal protections for wetlands. Under the new rule passed last week, wetlands and streams that do not continuously maintain a surface water connection will no longer have federal protections under the Clean Water Act. If implemented, the rule will likely have devastating national impacts on water quality and increase flood-related risks in already vulnerable coastal communities, including the Cape Fear region. The new ruling redefines Waters of the United States (WOTUS) protected from pollution and obstruction in the Clean Water Act. It ignores subsurface flow (i.e. underground water) connecting wetlands and streams that don’t have a direct surface water connection. This means wet, low-lying inland features that currently trigger federal and state review in the development process could soon get filled in with little to no oversight. “We could fully expect to see new development in areas that are very vulnerable to floodwaters,” Keri Allen, coastal advocate at the North Carolina Coastal Federation, said. “Without protections for these wetlands, you’re going to see building there.”

‘No basis in science’
In comments submitted last year, North Carolina’s Attorney General and Director of the Department of Environmental Quality described the rule as having been established “on the basis of arbitrary dividing lines that have no valid basis in science.” An estimated 17% of North Carolina’s total landmass is comprised of wetlands, at 5.7 million acres. Of these wetlands, 95% are located in the coastal plain. Nationwide, more than half of wetlands will no longer be protected under the new ruling. Even wetlands still technically defined as a WOTUS directly adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be impacted by this ruling. Should it be implemented, the ruling would open up development in areas protected for decades, leading to unprecedented stormwater runoff and flooding, which inevitably will bear down on the coast. Thirty-nine days into his presidency, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to initiate repealing the 1972 Clean Water Act. Last year, the new definition opened up to public comment, garnering 620,000 comments on the proposal, according to the EPA. Proponents of the change describe it as removing red tape to give breathing room to property owners who own land containing jurisdictional wetlands or streams. In announcing the finalized rule last week, the EPA characterized the changes as a simplification of the federal review process that will spur economic growth. Scores of environmental advocacy groups, scientific organizations, and state-level government agencies adamantly oppose the rule’s justification. “In the process, the agencies have abandoned their expertise,” the Southern Environmental Law Center wrote in its comments, submitted last year on behalf of 80 organizations, including the Cape Fear River Watch. The change was a top lobbying priority for the National Association of Realtors last year, according to the SELC. While the rule’s economic analysis
admits it would increase downstream flooding damages, put a greater cost burden on storm-restoration agencies, and increase costs for drinking water suppliers, it claims removing federal oversight would save money overall.

Environmental groups argue this methodology is flawed and fails to fully quantify the extent of imminent damage, should the rule go into effect. Soon, the new rule will be published in the Federal Register. After 60 days in the Federal Register, it will become effective — that is, baring delays from legal challenges, which are anticipated. “These revisions don’t just undo what was done under the Obama Administration,” Allen said. “These set us back decades.”

Wetlands
Wetlands are, in essence, sponges. Often described as nature’s kidneys, wetlands provide critical environmental and economic functions. Hydrophytic plants (i.e. plants that grow totally or partially submerged in water, or in waterlogged soil) absorb excess nutrients found in stormwater runoff, helping to protect bodies of water from harmful algal blooms and pollution. They both save and generate public money by reducing the need for investments in storm-control costs and spurring economic growth via tourism and commercial fisheries. One acre of wetlands is capable
of storing 330,000 gallons of water. When removed, these waters flow unimpeded, directly to traditional navigable waters, pushing storage capacity limits in storm events, causing rivers and stream to crest and ponds and lakes to overflow. Ephemeral streams — riverbeds that are alternately dry or filled by stormwater — would also lose federal protection under the new rule. Currently, if developers wish to impact wetlands or stream features, an extensive oversight process is initiated. Filling or dredging wetland features requires a 404 permit, obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a subsequent state-level version from the Division of Water Resources with a 401 permit. Property owners must prove impacts are “unavoidable” before impacting these resources; if such a determination is granted, the owner must invest in a 2:1 ratio in a public mitigation program that restores wetlands and streams. “Right now we have a pretty thorough process of inter-agency coordination,” Allen said. If the rule is implemented, Allen said the future permitting process is uncertain. “That’s something we don’t know,” she said. “It will definitely be a diminished review process.” The new WOTUS ruling shifts the burden of oversight responsibility to states — an unwelcome task for North Carolina. Both the DEQ and AG’s Office assert the state is too ill-equipped, over-burdened, and underfunded to pick up the jurisdictional review of these wetland and stream features. And according to the SELC, states lack the “political will” and funds to confront powerful polluters. It’s also worth noting that water quality issues are driven by interconnected water systems — networks that do not start or stop at state boundary lines.
Read more » click here

Dirty Water Rule puts the Cape Fear River and NC’s drinking water at risk
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Jan. 23 that leaves half the nation’s wetlands and thousands of streams, which provide millions of Americans with drinking water, without the federal protection of the Clean Water Act. “North Carolinians care deeply about clean water: for drinking, swimming, fishing and sustaining nature. Yet this Dirty Water Rule will leave the Cape Fear River and other waterways vulnerable to pollution and degradation, and put our drinking water at risk,” said Krista Early, Clean Water Advocate of Environment North Carolina. “Polluted water can make anyone sick, no matter where you live or your politics. This move defies common sense, sound science, and fifty years of bipartisan support for clean water. “The Dirty Water Rule puts the wetlands of North Carolina at risk. As unprotected wetlands become degraded or paved over, they will no longer help filter out pollution. Pollution from unprotected streams and lakes will flow into the rivers like the Haw and Cape Fear. North Carolina waterways like the Cape Fear River are already facing problems from toxic PFAS pollution and degrading our streams and wetlands around it will only make that problem worse. According to U.S. EPA’s own data, intermittent and ephemeral streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans. The Dirty Water Rule removes Clean Water Act protections for many of these streams, putting the drinking water of many North Carolinians at risk. Noting the nexus among streams, wetlands, and larger waterways, the Dirty Water Rule was recently rebuked by EPA’s own science advisors. Public support for maintaining Clean Water Act protections is widespread. More than one million Americans, including business owners, local officials, scientists, and hunters and anglers, provided comments to EPA, urging the agency to protect streams and wetlands under the Act. Those speaking up include North Carolina business owners, faith leaders, public health experts, swimmers, and anglers who are raising their “Voices for Clean Water.” Lobbyists for corporate agribusiness, developers, and the oil and gas industry have long demanded that federal protections be removed for streams and wetlands. Pollution from agribusinesses contributes to toxic algal out-breaks, fish kills, dead zones, drinking water contamination, and fecal bacteria that can make swimmers sick. Some developers are eager to build on wetlands and the oil and gas industry has countless pipelines running through them. Some of North Carolina’s Members of Congress are speaking up too. Representative David Price (NC-04) recently co-sponsored a House resolution urging EPA to reverse course on the Dirty Water Rule and several other attacks on clean water. “The Dirty Water Rule is a moment of truth for every single representative in Congress,” said Drew Ball, State Director of Environment North Carolina. “Representative Price is not sitting silently as this administration rips up protections for our rivers, our lakes and our drinking water and no member of Congress should.” “With the Dirty Water Rule, the administration has put the interests of polluters over those of the public and our drinking water,” said Early. “We’ll be calling on Congress and the courts to uphold the Clean Water Act.”
Beacon Article dated February 6


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Development Fees
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Flood Insurance Program
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to December 20, 2019.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2020.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, 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. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance.

The level of damage from recent catastrophic storms makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.

Flood insurance – whether purchased from the NFIP or through private carriers – is the best way for homeowners, renters, business, and communities to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.
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GenX
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Brunswick County tops national list for PFAS contamination
A study from the Environmental Working Group tested tap water samples from 44 sites across the county in 2019. The results of that study, fully released at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, found Brunswick County had the highest level of PFAS contamination at 185.9 parts per trillion. Wilmington, at 50.5 ppt, was also in the top five on the list that ranks 31 states and the District of Columbia for presence of these per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and more than 600 others.
Read more » click here

Public Notice
Brunswick County statement in response to Environmental Working Group
January 2020 report
Brunswick County began an extensive testing program for PFAS contaminants when academic studies revealed the presence of multiple PFAS in its drinking water, testing a suite of PFAS contaminants on a weekly basis. Brunswick County’s water samples have continuously remained below the EPA’s established health advisory levels for PFOA + PFOS and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ established provisional health goal for GenX, however the combined levels of all PFAS is concerning and the County continues to test and monitor for most known PFAS compounds and GenX during its routine testing.

At this time, the EPA does not have an established health goal for several of the other compounds listed in this report that are contributing to the overall 185.9 ppt sample level, however the PFOA + PFOS and GenX sample levels in this report are also below the provisional health goals mentioned above. Due to the fact that little or no study has been done on the health effects of combined PFAS or many of these individual PFAS found in the source water, Brunswick County has taken a proactive approach to install the most protective water treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant to remove these contaminants.

Brunswick County’s leadership recognizes that high quality water is of paramount importance to our customers and residents and agree that reverse osmosis is the most effective PFAS removal technology, which is why the Board of Commissioners and county administration are embarking on a project to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, as well as increase capacity at the plant to support the county’s growth. Brunswick County Public Utilities has been working diligently with engineers at CDM-Smith and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to design, permit and build an economical low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the plant for the benefit of all Brunswick County water users.

Low-pressure reverse osmosis is considered one of the most advanced and effective methods to treat and remove both regulated and unregulated materials from drinking water, including GenX, 1,4-dioxane and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In April 2018, the County conducted two rounds of testing on a pilot low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. The results showed that low-pressure reverse osmosis reduced most PFAS including GenX to undetectable levels, essentially removing all the components.

Not only do pilot studies indicate that low-pressure reverse osmosis is the most effective advanced treatment method for PFAS removal, but they also indicate that it is the most economical advanced treatment option for the removal of high percentages of PFAS at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Most previous studies focus on the high-energy cost when using reverse osmosis for the treatment of saline or brackish water, but the cost is considerably less when used to treat fresh water for PFAS contaminants, especially short-chain PFAS.

All of the County’s water sample test reports are available to the public at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx/ 


 

Homeowners Insurance
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Hurricane Season

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Inlet Hazard Areas

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Inlet Hazard Area Workshop 01/16/20

The state Division of Coastal Management held a workshop for the Town of Holden Beach to review proposed Inlet Hazard Area boundary updates and associated Coastal Resources Commission rule amendments.

Ken Richardson –NC Division of Coastal Management

“At a Glance”
. 1. Boundary: Updated Inlet Hazard Areas
. 2.
Rule: All structures treated equally
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Structure size: 5,000 sq. ft.
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Density: 1 unit per 15,000 sq. ft. of land
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Rule: setback based on inlet erosion rates
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Rule: Grandfathering rules still apply

Review presentation » click here

IHA Takeaways:

  1. CRC’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards used a methodology which involve possibilities, not certainties.
  2. They seem convinced that the west end will have serious erosion issues that are influenced by the inlet
  3. The IHA is based on the worst-case scenario
  4. One has to ask: What is happening in the inlet, other than that OIB is building a terminal groin there?
  5. THB is penalized for the west end accretion in model based on standard deviation formula
  6. Realtors and contractors both felt very strongly that this designation would be like a Scarlett letter
  7. The change could have a significant negative impact for the entire island
  8. The word HAZARD paints too negative a picture, they should consider a change to use RISK instead
  9. Ken requested and wants community input and it would carry more weight coming from the Town
  10. He recommended that the THB send them something summarizing the communities comments
  11. The comment period closes on January 31st

There were eighty-seven (87) members of the community in attendance


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Breaking News
Public Comment period on the proposed rulemaking to update IHA has been extended to March 2nd

 


Public Comment Period Extended
The N.C. Coastal Resource Commission is extending the public comment period until March 2nd for proposed rulemaking intended to update Inland Hazard Area boundaries and associated development rules. The original comment period was scheduled to end on January 31st.

The proposed rules and related documents are available on the DEQ website.

Please take the time to familiarize yourself with this very important matter and send comments in.

Written comments may be mailed to:
Braxton Davis, Director
Division of Coastal Management
400 Commerce Avenue
Morehead City, NC 28557

Comments may also be emailed to DCMcomments@ncdenr.gov.

Please list “Inlet Hazard Area updates” in the subject line.


Town Website
Inlet Hazard Area Comment: 
The N.C. Coastal Resource Commission extended the public comment period until March 2nd for proposed rulemaking intended to update Inland Hazard Area boundaries and associated development rules. The proposed rules and related documents are available on the DEQ website. The Town has submitted a letter in opposition of the proposed update. Click here to see the letter. Applied Technology & Management, the Town’s consulting coastal engineer also provided comments. Click here to view the letter. It is important that individuals take the time to familiarize themselves on the topic and submit their own letters.
For more information » click here 


State Extends Time For Input On New IHAs
The state Division of Coastal Management has extended the public comment deadline on proposed redrawn inlet hazard area boundaries and building rules within them. Public comments may be submitted through March 2, an additional month past the original Jan. 31 deadline. Ken Richardson, a shoreline management specialist with the division, told members of the North Carolina Coastal Resources Advisory Council, or CRAC, on Wednesday that the division had received a hefty amount of comments about the proposed boundaries and rules. Given the volume of comments the state had already received, Richardson said a staff summary of that public feedback would be presented to the Coastal Resources Commission, or CRC, which will likely discuss the proposed changes during its April meeting in Manteo. “This is just kind of the start,” he said. The CRC may discuss in April issues raised by the public, including proposed grandfathering dates related to rebuilding after storms, proposed limits on the size of structures built within the boundaries and whether the method established to draw the new boundaries accurately predicts erosion rates at the state’s developed inlets.

Spencer Rogers, a member of the Science Panel and CRAC, told fellow council members Wednesday that there are problems with some of the proposed changes. The most serious, he said, is that erosion rates are severely underestimated at some of the inlets under the proposed rules. Current Inlet Hazard Areas, or IHAs, were drawn based on the historic migration of the inlet shoreline. Under the proposed changes, the hybrid vegetation line, or most landward position of the historic vegetation line, is used to establish setbacks within inlet hazard boundaries. Inlet hazard areas are defined as shorelines especially vulnerable to erosion and flooding where inlets can shift suddenly and dramatically. Erosion rates are more similar and evenly parallel along a straight shoreline. That’s not the case at inlet shores, which curve around. Including the average oceanfront erosion shoreline rates with part or all of an inlet shoreline can distort the historical rate of change to an inlet’s shore, Rogers explained. In a memo to the CRAC, Rogers points to Tubbs Inlet as an example of the disparity. The Sunset Beach shoreline at Tubbs Inlet was “blocked” to have an erosion rate of 2 feet per year. That shoreline eroded about 1,000 feet between 2009 and 2014, a rate of about 200 feet a year, Rogers said. Tubbs Inlet is one of 19 active inlets in the state. A little more than 2,900 acres at the state’s 10 developed inlets are designated as IHAs. Those inlets include Tubbs, Shallotte and Lockwood Folly in Brunswick County; Carolina Beach, Masonboro, Mason and Rich in New Hanover County; New Topsail and New River in Pender County; and Bogue Inlet in Carteret County.

The proposed maps expand current IHAs collectively by a little more than 1,359 acres while removing about 470 acres from existing boundaries at the 10 developed inlets. The greatest pushback on the proposed boundaries comes from Holden Beach in Brunswick County and North Topsail Beach in Onslow County. During a series of public meetings DCM hosted late last year and into this year, beach property owners and town officials from Holden Beach expressed their concerns about the proposed expansion of the IHA at Shallotte Inlet eastward for about 2 miles from the end of the island, which is accreting. The preliminary boundary encompasses a little more than 200 structures, nearly four times the 51 structures in the current IHA.

People have also criticized the proposed structure size limit within IHAs. New construction is limited to structures no larger than 5,000 square feet. Rogers said the CRC needs to clarify whether that limit is strictly meant for buildings or all structures, including parking lots, roads and bridges. He also suggested that the CRC consider changing the proposed grandfathering date of August 2009 to the date the new rules are adopted. Currently, buildings in IHAs that are larger than 5,000 square feet and built before Aug. 11, 2009, may be rebuilt after a storm. Those buildings could not be rebuilt under the proposed rules. Other changes to existing rules, including overturning the prohibition of dune construction near inlets, and changing the general permitting rule to allow bulldozing in IHAs may also be considered.

The Science Panel recommends that the IHA boundaries be updated every five years.

Submit comments
Written comments may be sent to Braxton Davis at braxton.davis@ncdenr.gov or Ken Richardson at ken.richardson@ncdenr.gov.

Read more » click here 


 

Lockwood Folly Inlet
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Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling
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Report details risks to N.C. coastline from planned offshore drilling
A report by a North Carolina-based research center claims the Trump Administration’s proposal to open much of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans could endanger the environment and the health of coastal communities. Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center’s December report said the expansion of offshore drilling off North Carolina’s coast will endanger public health. Its reliance on onshore pipelines, waste disposal facilities, ports and refineries pollute the air, water, and threaten wildlife and ecosystems.
Read more » click here




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Solid Waste Program

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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.
///// October 2019
Name:            Island Way
Cuisine:         American
Location:      1407 E Beach Drive, Oak Island, NC
Contact:        910.278.7770 /
https://www.islandwayres.com/

Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:               Inexpensive <=$18 / Moderate <=$24 / Expensive <=$30 / Exorbitant <=$40
Rating:          Three Stars
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Island Way is a popular casual upscale beachfront restaurant with fantastic views of the ocean and pier. Its beach dining in style, with both indoor and outdoor dining options. This is one of the better restaurant offerings in the area, that is far better than most. I was quite impressed; what a pleasant surprise!  It’s a busy place, that is filled to capacity nearly every evening. So, be cautious about making dining plans there during prime tourist season. If you want to eat there you probably should call ahead for reservations.


Book Review:
Read several books from The New York Times best sellers fiction list monthly
Selection represents this month’s pick of the litter
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BACKLASH by Brad Thor
This is the nineteenth entry in the international espionage saga featuring the exploits of Scot Harvath an ex- Navy SEAL, Secret Service Agent and later a covert counterterrorism agent. Russians come after Scot in a way few have ever dared. But they are confident that the United States can’t prove it was them. Cut off from any and all support, Harvath must battle his way out. But survival isn’t enough, he wants his revenge and goes after those who wronged him and his country.


.That’s it for this newsletter

See you next month


HBPOIN / Lou’s Views

.          • Gather and disseminate information
.          • Identify the issues and determine how they affect you

.          • Act as a watchdog
.          • Grass roots monthly newsletter since 2008

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