04 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


BOC’s Special Meeting 04/12/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Fire Department Organization and Functions – Fire Chief Todd

Agenda Packet – background information was not provided

Previously reported January 2023
The Tri-Beach VFD has been using the four bay Town owned building at 572 Ocean Boulevard West for a number of years to house fire apparatus that is used for firefighting, emergency medical calls and rescue calls on the island and off the island as needed. Housing the equipment on the island has been beneficial to Town of Holden Beach residents and vacationers on the island. Currently, staffing by the department is in place twelve hours a day (7:00 AM to 7:00 PM) during the summer months typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The rest of the year, 24-hour staff responds to calls on the island from the off-island fire stations. Due to the increase in permanent residents and renters staying on the island, before Memorial Day, during the summer, and after Labor Day, emergency calls on the island are on the increase. Tri-Beach is working on a plan to provide sufficient staff to man Station 2, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year. This will improve the response time to calls on the island during the entire year. To safely house staff 24 hours/7 days a week, upgrades to Station 2 will be necessary. The Board of Directors of the Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department is formally requesting the Town  of Holden Beach to put a plan in place to upgrade (or replace) the existing Station 2 building to provide the necessary facilities (such as a bunk room, kitchen, flood resistance, etc.) to support safely housing onsite staff for 24 hours a day. The Tri-Beach Chief officers and staff stand ready to assist Town personnel in the planning and execution of upgrading the Station 2 building to provide enhanced fire, emergency medical and rescue services to the residents and vacationers in the Town of Holden Beach. Please respond to the Board of Directors as soon as possible so that we can all move forward on this plan.

Fire Department Presentation » click here

Assistant Chief David Ward of the Tri-Beach Fire Department made the presentation. As a representative of the fire department, he was there to justify the request for them to either upgrade or replace the existing fire station. Call volumes have significantly increased, and they would like to staff the fire station on the island around the clock all year long so they can adequately provide protection to the public. Timbo pointed out that this is a critical facility and impacts our Community Rating System score which reduces our homeowners insurance costs. The Board members agreed that they need to create a committee so they can make an educated decision about what they should do. Mayor Holden requested additional information from the fire department to know what their options are before they proceed.

No decision was made – No action taken

Previously reported February 2023
Follow-up to the last meeting request for additional information. The current location is situated pretty much where it needs to be. The fire station could be placed between Fayetteville Street  and the eight hundred block on OBW, which is  based on a five (5) mile maximum service area. Basically, the fire station needs to stay where it’s at on Starfish Drive. That said, as their equipment gets larger he questioned whether the site was big enough to accommodate the larger vehicles. There was not any discussion about moving forward or creating a committee.
TRI Beach Fire Department, Logo and Name
Growth in Holden Beach prompts potential changes for emergency responses
Town commissioners could soon consider changes to be a critical part of the town’s emergency response. Commissioners heard from the Tri-Beach fire chief Tuesday about needed upgrades to the town’s fire station. It’s currently run mostly by volunteers and is only staffed during the day between May and September. Fire Chief Doug Todd said over the past few years, calls have increased in Holden Beach as more people spend time on the island year-round. When the town’s station isn’t staffed, the next closest station on the mainland responds, but getting to the west end of the island can take up to 15 minutes. The current building also does not have anywhere for staff to sleep or make food, and it often floods during major storms. Mayor Alan Holden said he hopes future upgrades could make the town safer. “We enjoy a great relationship with Brunswick County and the Tri-Beach Fire Department and we’re looking forward to making that an even better relationship,” Holden said. “Through that, we have to provide all the services that we can provide for them so they can help us.” Holden also said he’s proud of the growth the town and Brunswick County have seen in recent years. Commissioners have discussed putting together a committee to further analyze possible upgrades or replacements for the current fire station. They did not take action during Tuesday’s meeting.
Read more » click here

Update –
Chief Todd briefly reviewed staffing and budget issues. He stated that fire fees are not adequate to meet their financial needs. The fire fees have been in place since 2017 and are based on the square footage of the home. The contract covering us has been in place since 2003 and is still viable. They made two hundred and eighteen (218) calls on the island last year. He also touched on the status of their equipment, the replacement cost and a several year lead time. Rating is impacted by staffing, training, and equipment, which is not scheduled again till 2027. Currently, staffing by the department is in place twelve hours a day (7:00 AM to 7:00 PM) during the summer months typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Chief Todd committed to have staffing on the island twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week, all year long, only if we build a new fire station. The current building is past its useful life, the current site is acceptable to rebuild at and Timbo confirmed it is doable there.


2.   Discussion and Possible Action on Division of Water Resources’ Grant for Lockwood Folly Dredging – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson
  a.
Resolution 24-04 – Water Resources Development Grant Resolution
.   b.
Ordinance 24-05, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 23-11, the Revenues                 and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 (Amendment No. 5)

Agenda Packet – pages 1 – 11

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action in adopting a resolution for submission of a DWR grant. The grant is for dredging of the Lockwood Folly Inlet using the Miss Katie.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The town was contacted about the availability of the Miss Katie to accompany the sidecast operation of the Corps scheduled in May with a follow up hopper operation. Should the Corps not be able to keep their calendar the Miss Katie could perform the sidecast and hopper functions prior to our main tourist season.

a huge ship on the sea with the US Flag

The attached resolution (attachment 1) is necessary to apply for grant funding through the State of North Carolina for a dredging project to aid deteriorating inlet conditions. The Corps revealed they plan to conduct a sidecast dredge operation in May using the Merritt. The Town was previously successful in obtaining a shallow draft inlet permit and is equipped to perform this operation should the Corps schedule vary, as well as, having hopper dredge capabilities using the Miss Katie in conjunction with this project. Using the hopper dredge will allow for a better end product for the upcoming tourist season and the dredge results to last longer than simply using the Merritt alone. The Town has coordinated with Dare County and the Oregon Inlet Task Force to obtain permission to use the Miss Katie which is a requirement should the BOC want to engage in this endeavor. The navigability of the Lockwood Folly Inlet impacts the fishing industry in Brunswick County as well as the many residents and visitors to Holden Beach that utilize the inlet for recreational water pursuits. Tourist season is knocking on our door and safety is a paramount issue. The attached image (attachment 2) shows the latest Corps’ survey of inlet conditions. The resolution asks for $656,625 in state funding which is 75% of estimated project costs and would leave $218,875 as the projected local share of which Brunswick County has indicated a willingness to participate.

 Update –
Christy stated that the grant application and budget amendment were included in the packet. Apparently there is a sense of urgency and a number of obstacles that have to be overcome. Based on the time frame that we are working with she asked they make the motion to accept the resolution and budget amendment. In addition, they also need to give the Town Manager authority to execute the contracts. David stated that this is not a done deal and will require some heavy lifting to get it done.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Holden Beach seeks Miss Katie for inlet dredging
The Town of Holden Beach is seeking a state grant to help fund the dredging of the Lockwood Folly Inlet before tourist season arrives. During the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners’ April 12 special meeting, the board passed a resolution requesting state grant funding and a budget amendment for a Lockwood Folly Inlet dredging project. The project, if completed, will use the town’s Shallow Draft Permit and the Miss Katie dredge from Dare County and the Oregon Inlet Taskforce. The inlet was dredged using the Miss Katie last year due to the inlet’s emergency status. Whether this project will come to fruition is murky water, Town Manager David Hewett said. Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is ultimately responsible for dredging the inlet and plans to conduct a sidecast dredge operation in May using a dredge named the Merritt. Ferguson told the board that the town has requested the inlet be on a quarterly cycle for dredging. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have other projects and limited funding that affect when, or if, they can dredge the inlet before tourist seasons, she said. “There are a lot of obstacles in our way,” Ferguson said. The town must obtain permission from the Oregon Inlet Taskforce for the group to release the Miss Katie dredge, she said, noting the next task force meeting is not until May. The resolution requests $656,625 in state funding for the project. The estimated cost for the project is $875,500. The remaining balance of $218,875 would be paid for by the town and Brunswick County. “We can’t move forward without a grant because we don’t have the funds to do that… If we did not get the grant, we would not follow through with contracting,” Ferguson said. The grant process takes about 30 days and the town’s permit has environmental windows that are closing, she explained. The Miss Katie is the only tool available to the town under these circumstances, Hewett said. He noted it would be helpful to revise the town’s permit to allow year-round dredging to improve future inlet dredging situations. “The [Army Corps of Engineers] gets to do it anytime, but our permit has an environmental window,” Hewett said, noting the town has not nailed down details on a permit revision but may pursue a budget request for the revision next year. The town manager said he is not sure if the project will come to fruition. “It’s not a done deal. There’s still a bunch of work that’s got to be done,” he said. The board’s action includes submitting the resolution and grant paperwork to the state and giving the town manager authority to do all contracting paperwork if funding is granted. Contracting with the dredge would not come back before the board. More information can be found in the Holden Beach April meeting agenda at www.hbtownhall.com/agendas

Read more » click here


3.   Budget Workshop
.   a. General Fund Revenue
.   b. Tax Rate
.   c. BPART Fund Revenue

Agenda Packet – pages 12 – 15


Houston, we have a problem …

Until we pay of debt service we need to accept that we will have to
hold off on a lot of proposed projects


Commissioner Tracey Thomas was not in attendance


BOC’s Regular Meeting 04/30/24


Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Conflict of Interest Check

2024 Rules of Procedure for the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners
(e) Conflict Check. Immediately after the approval of the agenda, the Presiding Officer shall poll each member to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. In the event that a potential conflict is disclosed, the members will vote on a motion to allow or excuse that member with respect to the agenda item. If excused, the member may not participate in any discussion, debate, or vote with respect to the agenda item.

The Board was polled by Mayor Holden. All of them declared that there was no conflict of interest with any agenda item at this meeting. 


2.   Public Comments on Agenda Items

There were comments made by five (5) members of the public at the meeting and additional comments were posted on the Town’s website
For more information
» click here

The Holden Beach Concerned Taxpayers Group
To better establish a cost for a new pier we asked for estimates from architect Chip Hemingway and Clancy & Theys Construction Company who are the builders of Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina. We need assistance from our state and federal governments to help defer the cost by making an investment in the future. Total cost estimate is $30,643,807 you can complete the parcel owners petition form on their website https://www.newholdenbeachpier.com/.


3.   Police Report – Lieutenant Dilworth

Agenda Packet – pages 23 – 30

Police Report » click here

Police Patch
Business as usual, normal amount and type of activity for this time of year. 

 


The Ocean Boulevard paving project and bike lanes has been completed. Frank reminded everyone to watch their speed on the newly paved road,  the speed limit is only 35 mph. Also, the bike lane is not supposed to be a vehicle parking area.

The police department currently has only nine (9) officers of the ten (10) they are budgeted to have. 

      • Justin Hewett is our new Officer in the Police Department
      • Recruiting to fill Police Officer vacancy

Having the full complement of ten (10) police officers seems to be an elusive goal. 


Public Service Announcement –
Scams – be on guard, you need to protect yourself from scammers
Please do not send money when contacted via phone calls

NC residents lose millions to scammers: Report reveals top 10 scam categories
The 41-page report from the North Carolina Department of Justice examines artificial intelligence, the opioid crisis and its scam report.
People in North Carolina are losing millions of dollars each year to scammers, according to a report from the state Department of Justice. This 41-page report looks at everything from artificial intelligence to the opioid crisis – showing that just about any news event and spur scammers into action. The report breaks down the 10 scam categories you’re most likely to fall victim to, and some of the topics are not easy to avoid. The most common types of scams include telemarketing and robocalls, motor vehicles, credit, utilities, home improvement, the internet, landlord-tenant issues, insurance, personal service and real estate. In 2023, the North Carolina Department of Justice received hundreds and in many cases thousands of reports of scams in these arenas. Telemarketing and robocall scams were the most common, with 3,281 reports. Never give anyone your personal information and trust your gut if something feels off. Anyone who thinks they’ve been scammed in North Carolina can call 1-877-566-7226 or file a complaint on the Department of Justice’s website.


What he did not say –

Golf carts are considered a motor vehicle and subject to all laws, rules and regulations that govern motor vehicles


If you know something, hear something, or see something –
call 911 and let the police deal with it. 


A reminder of the Town’s beach strand ordinances:
…..1)
Chapter 90 / Animals / § 90.20 / Responsibilities of owners
…….a)
pets are not allowed on the beach strand except between 5p.m. and 9a.m. daily
…….b)
dog’s must be on a leash at all times
…….c)
owner’s need to clean up after their animals
…..2)
Chapter 94 / Beach regulations / § 94.05 / Digging of holes on beach strand
…….a)
digging holes greater than 12 inches deep without responsible person there
…….b)
holes shall be filled in prior to leaving
…..3)
Chapter 94 / Beach regulations / § 94.06 / Placing obstructions on the beach strand
…….a)
all unattended beach equipment must be removed daily by 6:00pm


After five years, Holden Beach Police need new detective
After five years of waiting, Holden Beach’s Police Chief Jeremy Dixon has pleaded his case to the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners to fund a police detective position in the town’s fiscal year 2024-2025 budget. During the commissioners budget meeting on March 18, Dixon requested a detective position be approved and funded in the upcoming budget because the town needs a detective. Cases are going unsolved and suspects are not being interviewed because the town does not have anyone to do the work, he said. “It’s a bad look on the department and it makes me look terrible,” he said. Dixon told The Brunswick Beacon in October that his department is allotted a 10-person staff with one chief, one lieutenant, one sergeant and seven patrol officers. He said an ideal full staff would include eight patrol officers, two patrol sergeants, one detective, one lieutenant and one chief. If 13 officers were on staff, patrol shifts could be adequately covered, and investigations would be more thoroughly conducted, he added. “Our department has not been allotted a detective position,” he said in October. “Therefore, we have no dedicated investigator to follow-up on incident reports. This, in itself, is a disservice to the town.” Dixon told commissioners in March that the department has identified criminal suspects, but it has had no one to interview the suspects. Though officers are taking reports, there is no follow up to the reports and potentially solvable cases are being left untouched, he explained. “Trying to explain to our community that we cannot do our job because we do not have the resources is very stressful,” he told The Brunswick Beacon in October. A detective would allow the town to work on and possibly solve cases that require collaboration with other towns and counties. Some cases, such as breaking and entering, involve repeat offenders that jump from town to town and some suspects are from out of town, like Charlotte, and would require a detective to travel for an interview. If approved, Dixon said, the detective would have the time and resources to conduct interviews, investigate cases and even help the department as an extra patrol officer when needed. “The resources out there are vast if you have the person that’s dedicated to doing the job,” he added. Dixon was promoted to chief on April 1, 2019 and served as the last town detective. The position has not been funded since Dixon’s promotion; Town Clerk Heather Finnell told The Brunswick Beacon. Asked if the town is required to have a detective, Finnell said she does not know of any such requirement. Dixon told the board during the meeting that a detective could have investigated 90 cases in just the past two years. “In the last two years, 90 cases that somebody should have looked at better than we did,” he said. “Let’s say for instance a house is broken into. The officer responds and takes a report, and then the report goes nowhere,” he told The Brunswick Beacon in October. “There is no follow-up.” Commissioner Tracey Thomas questioned if highly intense investigative crimes, such as a murder, are handled by the county or state. “Things that happen inside this jurisdiction are the responsibility of the Holden Beach Police Department,” Dixon said in response. The Town of Holden Beach does not currently see many investigative crimes but, the chief explained, the police department does not have the staff to handle an increase in those crimes either. “God forbid those cases start rolling in, because there’s no one that has the time, specialty, expertise, training to go investigate those cases properly,” he said. Though the Town of Holden Beach has 10 police officer positions, only nine of those positions are filled. A detective could help and perform other officer duties like patrolling, the chief said. It would be easy for a detective to go on patrol but, he noted, it is “unrealistic” for a regular officer to conduct interviews with suspects and complete detective work. The board during its March 18 meeting did not take any action on the detective position. The Brunswick Beacon reached out to Chief Dixon multiple times for follow-up on his previous comments. Dixon did not respond to those inquiries prior to this paper’s publication on Monday morning, April 15. The March 18 meeting packet can be found on the Town of Holden Beach’s website at https://hbtownhall.com/agendas. Video recordings of meetings can be found on the town’s website at https://www.facebook.com/holdenbeachtownhall or YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@townofholdenbeach.
Read more » click here

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

Although I support having a larger Police Department I cannot condone saying cases are going unsolved and suspects are not being interviewed because the town does not have anyone to do the work in the local newspaper. What was he thinking?


4.   Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 31 – 33

Inspections Report » click here


ACTIVE NEW HOME PERMITS                                                                = 41
OTHER ACTIVE PERMITS                                                                         = 312
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $30,000                                                             = 45
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $100,000                                                           = 15
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS                            = 4
* AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED WAITING PICK UP                                                     = 16
TOTAL PERMITS                                                                                         = 369


PERMITS IN REVIEW                                                                                 = 4
CAMA ISSUED                                                                                             = 1
ZONING ISSUED                                                                                         = 6


PERMITS SERVICED FOR INSPECTIONS FROM 12/12-1/11                = 136
TOTAL INSPECTIONS MADE                                                                 = 507

Update –
Timbo briefly reviewed department activity last month, the department still remains extremely busy. He has a Americans with Disabilities Act/Key Bridge Mediation Agreement meeting scheduled and will report on the status of those items at the next scheduled Regular Meeting.

Same As It Ever Was


5.   Finance Department Report – Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 34 – 36

Finance Report » click here

Three graphs were presented, with monthly comparisons of the following funds:
    1) General Fund
    2)
Water/Sewer Fund
    3)
BPART Fund

BPART Fund – Beach Preservation / Access & Recreation / Tourism
BPART is a Special Revenue Fund authorized by act of the General Assembly which allows the Town to collect six cents of an Accommodations Tax for the purposes of funding beach preservation and tourism related expenses.

Update –
Funds are tracking similar to last year’s numbers.


6.   Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 24-06, An Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Title VII: Traffic Code – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 37 – 39

 Ordinance 24-06 » click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 24-06, An Ordinance Amending the Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Title VII: Traffic Code

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The proposed ordinance allows the Town to extend the paid parking program to year round. It also removes H63 from Section 72.02(8) to reflect the changes made at the March meeting.

TOWN MANAGER’S RECOMMENDATION:
Recommend approval if the Board would like year round parking.


Previously reported – March 2024
The first motion made was to extend the season and charge for parking year-round. The justification used was that the expenses that we incur are not seasonal. The counter argument made is that we have not provided the services we committed to yet and we should wait to do this until we provide these services.
A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

Update –
This Ordinance codified the motion that was made last month. It removes parking areas on McCray and extends the season charging  for parking year-round. The motion was made to approve it as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


7.   Block Q
. a)
Discussion and Possible Action on the Block Q Site Plan –
.      Assistant Town Manager
Ferguson
. b)
Discussion and Possible Action on Constructing Bathrooms at Block Q –              .      Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 40 – 47


7a)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on the Block Q site plan. The PRAB worked on this concept design for several months which included holding special meetings.

BACKGROUND /PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The BOC directed the PRAB to work with the current architect to develop a new site plan for Block Q that includes a concert space with dance floor, the planned ADA compliant bathrooms, greenspace, and other potential amenities. Some items from the list were eliminated as part of the PRAB’s meeting discussion.

ADVISORY BOARD RECOMMENDATION:
The members of the PRAB voted to adopt the Block Q plan presented at their last meeting and attached to this document.

TOWN MANAGER’S RECOMMENDATION:
BOC receive and favorably consider the PRAB’s conceptual plan.


7a)

The attached site plan (attachment 2) was developed in response to the tasker (attachment 3) sent from the BOC to the PRAB (Parks and Recreation Advisory Board). The PRAB held meetings, including special meetings over the last few months, working with the architect to develop what they deemed the best conceptual plan for the sit e. The final document considered the public feedback  they received throughout the process . The tasker mentioned things like playground equipment and food trucks and those were eliminated because Bridgeview Park already has equipment on site and food trucks could be positioned in other parts of Jordan Boulevard if the BOC voted for an ordinance change. There was also feedback from a local restaurant owner that this type of service would severely impact his business. The conceptual plan as presented does not show details like sidewalks or benches and picnic tables because their location could change based on final stormwater installation, etc.


Update –
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) developed and presented a site plan for Block Q. Commissioner Parfus made the motion to accept/receive the work product from the PRAB while curtailing any further work from them on this project. The Board did not take action  since it does not address several important issues. Consensus is that the plan still requires additional work before we can move forward.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


7b)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on constructing bathrooms at Block Q

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) has recommended a site plan for the development of Block Q, including bathrooms, a pavilion, and parking .

Block Q will be developed in phases.  This first  phase will only  involve the bathrooms  and  bathroom  parking since  a grant has been accepted for this work. Additional B1ock Q features  will  be developed  and approved  in future phases of work . Since this future work is still  tentative, at  this time storm  water plans  will only  be developed  for  the bathrooms and bathroom parking.

Possible Action:
Approval to move forward with construction of bathrooms at Block Q and the development of the associated storm water plans only for the bathroom and bathroom parking.


Previously reported – March 2024

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED
Discussion and possible action in accepting a grant from NC Department of Environmental Quality for bathrooms, associated parking, site prep, and landscaping on Block Q (see memo for more details).

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The BOC’s directed the staff to submit the grant in both a pre-application and final application process. The grant has been awarded and current action rests with the BOC.

Block Q Access Development (Bathrooms /Associated Parking)
The town applied for and has received a grant from DEQ through the NC Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program. The total of the grant is $560,000 of which the town’s obligation will be $140,000 to construct a restroom facility, associated parking, site prep and landscaping. There is a contractual obligation that we must maintain the facilities built using grant funds for 25 years. If the board accepts /approves the contract, a budget amendment would need to be adopted so that the funds can be recognized in this year’s budget. Since we will not be executing the project this fiscal year, they will be reappropriated in next fiscal year’s budget. Accepting the grant includes authorizing the manager to execute the grant paperwork.

The Board discussed whether or not to accept the grant at this time. The bottom-line is that we can’t put bathrooms on the site without doing stormwater work, an additional $300,000 expense, for the entire site. Motion was made to accept the grant and pass the associated budget amendment. They decided it was in our best interest to accept the grant now, so they can move forward with this project, and then work on modifying the stormwater plan.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
Commissioner Thomas stated that since last month we accepted the grant for the bathrooms we should just spend money on this phase of the project. The motion was made to move forward with construction of the bathrooms there and the development of the associated storm water plans only for the bathroom and bathroom parking area. The Board instructed the town  staff to revise the stormwater plan to include only the stormwater work necessary for the bathrooms and associated parking as accepted in the grant.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion


8.   Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 24-07, An Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Section 92.32, Unlawful Lights – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 48 – 51


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Text Amendments to Light Ordinance 92.32

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Revision of the Light Ordinance to remove conflicting portion of the ordinances.


Update –
Last month Timbo requested that the Board charge the Planning & Zoning Board to review our lighting ordinance. The Board tasked P&Z to address the issues Timbo has with that ordinance. Timbo informed them that what he presented is not a finished product. The Board has the opportunity to make any changes they want before the Public Hearing. We have modified this ordinance several times already without obtaining the desired effect. The primary change that was made this time is that P&Z  clarified the difference between holiday lights as opposed to decorative lighting so that ordinance is enforceable. The Board requested that Timbo work on the verbiage of a few items for additional clarity and bring the revised ordinance back to them at the next scheduled Regular Meeting.

No decision was made – No action taken


9.   Discussion and Possible Scheduling of a Date to Hold a Public Hearing on Ordinance 24-08, An Ordinance Amending the Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Chapter 154: Flood Damage Prevention – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 52 – 62

Ordinance 24-08 » click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Text Amendments to NFIP Section 154 of the Town’s Ordinance as recommended by FEMA. A Public Hearing needs to be scheduled.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Recommendations by FEMA and NC Department of Public Safety


After review, the Board of Commissioners has found that the recommended amendments are consistent with the adopted CAMA (Coastal Area Management Act) Land Use Plan and are considered reasonable and in the public interest for the following reasons.

Use of Property: The amendment as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to align better with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) goals.


Update –
At the last annual evaluation, FEMA made several recommendations to the town that are simply text amendments to our Ordinance. The critical five (5)  year evaluation is this fall which could impact our Community Rating System (CRS) that impacts our insurance premium rates discount. The motion made was to move forward,  accept the submitted consistency statement, and schedule a Public Hearing before our June Regular Meeting.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Community Rating System (CRS)
The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.

As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS:

      • Reduce flood damage to insurable property;
      • Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP, and
      • Encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

For CRS participating communities, flood insurance premium rates are discounted in increments of 5% (i.e., a Class 1 community would receive a 45% premium discount, while a Class 9 community would receive a 5% discount (a Class 10 is not participating in the CRS and receives no discount)). The CRS classes for local communities are based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories:

      • Public Information,
      • Mapping and Regulations,
      • Flood Damage Reduction, and
      • Flood Preparedness.

National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System
For more information » click here


10.  Discussion and Possible Action on the Transfer of Files and Papers from the Former Attorney – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 63 – 64


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on the transfer of files and papers from the former attorney. Discussion and possible action on selecting a new Town Attorney.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Our former attorney was terminated in January and has not transferred files or surrendered papers as required by the NC State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct. Our interim attorney has contacted the former attorney three times by  phone (on  Feb 8th,  Mar 12th,  and  Mar 21st ) and  twice by email (on  Feb  12th and 21st )    requesting  the documents. Enough time has now passed to refer this issue to the NC State Bar Attorney-Client assistance program.


Update –
Apparently our former attorney Richard Green turned over the documents requested earlier today. Therefore, there is no need to refer this issue to the NC State Bar Attorney-Client assistance program.

No decision was made – No action taken


11.  Discussion and Possible Action on Selecting a New Town Attorney – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 63 – 64, plus separate packet

Attorney Proposals » click here

We have received responses to our RFP from multiple law firms and need to proceed with selecting a new Town Attorney .

Possible Action:

    • Determine finalist(s)
    • Schedule interviews, if needed
    • Instruct the Town to contact the Attorney-Client assistance program with the NC State Bar regarding the prompt transfer of files and surrender of papers from our former attorney

Update –
They have begun the process of hiring a permanent Town Attorney.  They discussed scheduling interviews including doing some remotely to avoid unnecessary travel. Town Clerk Finnell will contact the candidates to determine their availability for interviews.


12.  Discussion and Possible Action on Conflict-of-Interest Concerns Related to the Holden Beach Property Owners Association – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 65 – 66

Attorney Determination » click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on conflict-of-interest concerns related to the HBPOA

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
During the March BOC meeting, Commissioners Smith and Dyer raised concerns that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) emails made it very apparent that there is a conflict of interest that exists with Commissioner Myers and Thomas in regards to matters related to the pier since they also serve on the board of the HBPOA, and because they are on the two different boards and they are discussing business about the pier, they think it would be a conflict of interest doing business as a board of the POA and then voting on it in the Town as a board. Therefore, they should recuse themselves from any vote related to the pier.

The Town Attorney stated that she had already cleared them of a conflict-of-interest for solely serving on the HBPOA board and offered to provide extra research reviewing the emails and the possibility of a conflict when voting on matters related to the pier.

That extra work has now been completed and the Town Attorney has made her determination.

Possible Action:
Accept the Town Attorney’s findings and determination related to the conflict-of-interest matter.


Moore Law

 During the Board of Commissioners meeting on March 19, 2024, this Board discussed conflicts of interest. As with any potential conflict of interest, I ask that you provide me with any and all information relevant to the potential conflict so said conflict may be explored in full. In North Carolina, a governing board member has a duty to vote and may only be excused from voting in specific situations allowed by statute. The North Carolina General Statutes (C .S.) allow governing board members to be excused from voting only on the following matters:

    • Matters involving the consideration of the member’s own official conduct of financial interest; or
    • Matters on which member is prohibited from voting under statutes :
    • When directly benefit under a public contract approved or considered by the Board (G.S 14- 234);
    • Zoning matters likely to have a “direct, substantial, and readily identifiable impact on the member” (G.S. 153A-340(g); S. 160A-38l(d)); and
    • Quasi-judicial decisions on land-use matters where member’s participation would violate the constitutional requirement of an impartial decision maker (G. lS3A-341.1; GS 160A- 888(e2))

In all of these matters. there are requirements necessitating some sort of gain, be it personal financial impact. personal interest, or direct benefit.

 After analyzing the statutes, Town Conflict of lnterest Policy, and other relevant literature , as well as reading every email distributed in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request for emails released in February 2024, there does not appear to be any direct benefit, personal impact or interest, or familial benefit directly related to any Town business that can be attributed to Commissioner Tom Myers or Commissioner Tracey Thomas. As a result, no conflicts of interest have been declared for Commissioners Myers and Thomas to serve on the Board of the HBPOA and on the Board of Commissioners for the Town of Holden Beach.

 Given the subject matter of this letter , I believe it is best that I also formally inform the public and the Board that I have no ties to the HBPOA. I have never been hired by or worked for the HBPOA in any capacity. I am not a member of the HBPOA, nor have I ever attended a meeting. This letter and a similar letter I submitted to the HBPOA for its March 2024 meeting only serve to clarify my answer to the conflict of interest question raised at the March 2024 Board of Commissioner’s Meeting.


Update –
The motion was made to accept the Town Attorney’s findings and determination that there is no conflict-of-interest to serve on the Board of the Holden Beach Property Owners Association (HBPOA) and on the Board of Commissioners for the Town of Holden Beach.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion


13.  Holden Beach Pier Property
. a)
Holden Beach Community Alliance Presentation of Their Petition to Save the .      Pier – Commissioners Smith and Dyer
. b)
Discussion and Possible Action on Pier Property Development – Mayor Pro  .      Tem Myers and Commissioner Paarfus
. c)
Discussion and Possible Action to Request Staff to Issue a Request for                .      Proposals to Repair or Rebuild the Holden Beach Pier that will Meet North            Carolina Building Codes – Commissioners Smith and Dyer
. d)
Discussion and Possible Action to Request Staff to Issue a Request for                     Proposals to Repair or Replace the Building at the Town Property Located at    .      441 Ocean Boulevard West – Commissioners Smith and Dyer

Agenda Packet – pages 67 – 98, plus separate packet

Holden Beach Community Alliance Feedback » click here


13a)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Allow a Representative from the Holden Beach Community Alliance to present their Petition to Save the pier.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The Holden Beach Community Alliance is a 501 (c)(3) registered NC nonprofit organization. They conducted a petition drive to Save the Pier and would like to present the petition, go over the results and how they conducted the project. The information came from property owners and the surrounding community.

Holden Beach Community Alliance Presentation » click here

At the beginning of the meeting, Commissioner Thomas proposed that they limit the presentation to ten (10) minutes per the Rules of Procedure. Despite the person making the presentation acknowledging this was enough time it was objected to by two (2) of the Commissioners. They are unnecessarily making everything an issue. The vote was strictly to limit the time allowed for the presentation.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

Update –
Lisa Ragland did a slide presentation and discussed the result of the Holden Beach Community Alliance (HBCA) survey which was in support of moving forward with the pier project. The petition statement is “If you want the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners to evaluate ALL viable options to SAVE THE PIER and are against the demolition of this historic landmark, please sign this petition”.  By design, they did not ask about spending tax payer dollars to save the pier. She claims they have overwhelming support to have the pier preserved, repaired, restored, or rebuilt. Lisa offered five (5) various options on how we could possibly move forward. Frankly, she was passionate and made a good case on their behalf.

No decision was made – No action taken

Holden Beach Community Alliance / Save the Holden Beach Pier Petition
For more information » click here


13b)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on Pier Property Development

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The purpose is to develop a project approach for the pier property based on the attached information

It is imperative that it be understood that  the pier is an amenity and will have to compete against critical projects infrastructure and other non-critical for funding. Examples of critical infrastructure projects include water system capacity increases, stormwater projects, tire station replacement (for 24/7 manning), road paving, beach and inlet maintenance, etc.

SUMMARY
The purpose of this document is to initiate discussion concerning development of the pier property by providing a baseline approach to that development. It is not intended to be the final project plan, but to serve as a starting point.  Development of  the pier property should encompass the entire property, not just the pier and pier building, with priority given to addressing the pier. Phases have been suggested to make the development financially manageable. A notional timeline for preliminary work has been outlined with possible funding scenarios to accomplish it. Last information concerning public private partnerships is provided along with stakeholder information.

Pier Property Development Plan » click here

Update –

Commissioner Parfus discussed a detailed plan for a project approach to develop the pier property. It appears that he really did his homework, was very prepared, knew his stuff, and offered a viable game plan to move the project forward. Motion was made to approve the development plan that he submitted for the pier property.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Commissioner Thomas wants the town attorney to look at the PARTF Grant which the Town accepted to determine what our legal obligations are. They decided that since it was not on the agenda it was not appropriate to consider any action. Motion was withdrawn.

No decision was made – No action taken

Mayor Pro Tem Myers wanted to direct the Town staff to determine budgetary requirements, to estimate capital costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, funding strategies, and develop a draft RFP. Motion failed with the vote two (2 ) for and three (3) against.

No decision was made – No action taken
Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas voted in favor of the action


13c)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Request staff to issue RFP (Request for Proposal) to repair or rebuild the Holden Beach Pier that will meet North Carolina Building Codes

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
This is a continuing effort to have the pier repaired to have it serve as a recreational activity for property owners, tourists, and the local community. The pier is a staple of Holden Beach, a part of history that has served many generations of family activities, producing memories that these generations want to pass on to future generations. There have been numerous attempts to get reasonable bids by a wider range of contractors, however the staff has not been allowed to submit RFP since original bids. There is no reason for the town to not submit RFP to see what the cost would be with different methods of engineering.

Update –
After discussion they decided to delay this until they are further along in the process.

No decision was made – No action taken


13d)

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Request staff to issue RFP (Request for Proposal) to repair or replace the building located at the town property located at 441 OBW Holden Beach. The building will need to meet North Carolina Building Codes

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The purpose is to have recreational space on the property that allows for retail, food vendors, restrooms/outdoor showers and an entry/ticket booth to the towns pier. A private/public partnership with town would be welcomed. The staff would direct this type of partnership.

Previously reported – March 2024
Commissioners Smith and Dyer are now proposing a public/private partnership. This step is simply a request to get proposals to see if there is any interest in privately doing this project. They say that there is, including one from  previous Commissioner Murdock. Commissioner Paarfus said that an RFP is premature, in his opinion we need to wait until its decided what we want to do there, so we know what we are asking for. Mayor Pro Tem Myers said that they have asked for and have gotten a lot of input and we should look at what the public said before we head down this path. Although a public/private partnership could be a viable option we are not at the point of putting out a formal request for services yet.
No decision was made – No action taken

Local Government Commission Approval of Certain Public Enterprise Agreements

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

Frankly, this is not a viable location for a year-round business and does not have adequate parking for a seasonal business. The parking lot there has been full throughout the fall and winter regardless of the weather. That is without either the pier being available for use or any business running out of the building. There just is not adequate parking there to support beachgoers, fisherman, and whatever else we plan to do with the building.

Update –
Commissioners Smith and Dyer are again proposing a public/private partnership for the building at the pier property. Motion was made directing the Town staff to contact the Local Government Commission to determine what are the requirements, and what is the approval process for a public/private partnership.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


14.  Discussion and Possible Action on Placing the Town Manager’s Report on the Board of Commissioners’ Meeting Agenda – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – page 99


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on placing the Town Manager’s report on the BOC meeting agenda.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The Town Manager typically provides the Commissioners with an update on the status of key projects and programs, such as:

    • The sale of 796 OBW
    • Sewer Station #2 grants and upgrade work
    • Stormwater Study
    • Water System Assessment
    • RFP to demolish the pavilion

This information is typically provided to the Commissioners in written format at the beginning of the BOC meeting and discussed by the Town Manager after the Public Comments towards the end of the meeting.

Moving this report up onto the regular agenda similar to the Police Chief, Building Inspector, and Finance Director reports will allow for more discussion and possible action. It will also increase transparency by including the report information in the meeting packet for the public to review prior to the meeting .


Update –
Mayor Pro Tem Myers would like to have the Town Manager report be added to the agenda. They danced around the timeliness of the report if it is submitted early enough to be in included in the agenda packet. The Board decided to add Town Manager written report to the monthly agenda starting next month.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Commissioner Smith opposed the motion
    


15.  Town Manager’s Report


Pavilion
Only received one responsive bid for demolition of the pavilion  at $25,000
Consideration of award of contract at next scheduled Regular Meeting


Sewer Lift Station #2 / Greensboro Street
EPA Grant Component $2,669.867
State Funding $1,940,000
Remaining Financing – forecast a possible need for short-term borrowing

 Preliminary paperwork has been submitted to NC Department of Environmental Quality
Waiting to receive offer to fund which will require BOC’s action

Update –
No change in status since last month’s report


Canal Dredging
Previously reported – January 2024
$343,800 Department Wildlife Resources grant awarded for Harbor Acres dredging. $257,850 state and $85,950 local which is from the Harbor Acres Canal Special Revenue Fund. Waiting for NC Department Water Quality  certification for USACE permit approval. Current Request for Proposal (RFP) is out for a 2,700 cyds bucket to barge project in Harbor Acres. Bids are due back by February 6th. Staff is preparing for BOC consideration of grant acceptance and dredger award in Special Meetings that are scheduled in February.

Previously reported – March 2024
Maintenance dredging bid from T.D Eure was the low bidder at $189,000
Dredge boat on site and has been dredging the entrance canals
So far, so good …

Update –
Project has been completed, engineer is certifying


LWF Inlet
Town is working on dredging the inlet using the dredge boat Miss Katie
Grant funding was applied for
Coastal consulting engineer is coordinating with permitting agencies
See Special Meeting 04/12/24 above for additional details


Pier Beach Access / 441 OBW
The walkway, emergency access ramp, and blue matting placement was completed by the Public Works Department. They are still working on refining the handicap parking spaces layout.


Beach Accesses
Sand is piling up on the blue matting will require regular housekeeping maintenance


Quinton Street Beach Access / 114 OBE
Town staff is still working on having bathrooms there
Most responsive bid received at $70,000 and contract has been awarded
This is part of the Key Bridge Mediation Agreement
They are making every effort to complete construction before prime tourist season


High Point Street
Paving project completed, engineer certifying


Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project
Project is pretty much completed including bike lanes and crosswalks

They had a discussion about the crosswalks as follows:

Town Manager Hewett –
Five (5) crosswalks approved at four (4) locations with two (2) at Jordan Boulevard

Several years ago, the locations were determined by working with NCDOT on meeting their nine (9) criteria

Lieutenant Dilworth –
Still in the NC General Statute that pedestrians have the right-of-way regardless of whether it’s a marked crosswalk or any street intersection  

Inspections Director Evans –
Because of the amount of traffic at Jordan Boulevard we may be getting a crossing switch there


796 OBW
The Town owned home there has been advertised with initial offers in the upset bid process due on Friday


In Case You Missed It –


Annual Beach Monitoring
Survey completed , surveying stakes along the length of the beach strand


Pets on the beach strand
Pets – Chapter 90 / Animals / §90.20
Pets must be on a leash at all times on the island.
From May 20th through September 10th
It is unlawful to have any pet on the beach strand
. * During the hours of 9:00am through 5:00pm


Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule
starting the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 25th) twice a week


Recycling

starting after Memorial Day (May 23rd) weekly pick-up


Paid Parking
Annual parking passes are now available for purchase
Paid parking begins and will be enforced starting April 1st

 THB Newsletter (02/09/24)
Annual Parking Passes Now Available
Annual parking passes are now available for purchase. The Town uses SurfCast by Otto Connect Mobile Solution. This is a mobile app downloadable for Apple and Android devices. You can also visit https://surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay to purchase a pass. Paid parking is enforced April 1st – October 31st, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Click here for more information on the paid parking program.


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
Property owners will be provided with four (4) decals were included in their April water bills. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. 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 that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side 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. 

 Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations. https://hbtownhall.com/evacuation-decals


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On March 22, 2024, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2024. 


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


Upcoming Events –

Concerts on the Coast Series
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups are held at the pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information » click here 


16.   Mayor’s Comments

From the Mayor’s Desk (04/24/24)

Hello!

It is exciting to see all of the activities taking place here at Holden Beach!

      • Ocean Boulevard paving and bike paths look great!
      • The Holden Beach causeway has been repaved too!
      • New flowers and plants are beautiful at Town Hall and the garden at the south end of the bridge. Thank you volunteers!
      • Days at the Dock happens this weekend with beautiful weather expected.
      • The first concert of the year will take place at the park next to Town Hall and our Town water tank on May 26th at 6:30 p.m. The band will be the Main Event Band.
      • The Corps of Engineers is planning to re-dredge the Lockwood Folly Inlet on or before Memorial Day. Always be careful there!
      • The new public access adjacent to the Holden Beach fishing pier on the west side is open.
      • The parsonage beside the Holden Beach Chapel has been completely remodeled. There will be an open house this Sunday immediately after the 10:00 a.m. service. Refreshments will be available. Come see it!
      • Sales and construction activity is strong. Rental season is “cranking up”.
      • Trolley Stop on Jordan Boulevard burned a few weeks ago but the site has been cleaned up.
      • The beach strand looks great and shell hunters are happy!
      • The Town commissioners are meeting often trying to complete the 2024/2025 budget. The deadline will be met, and the budget will be adopted before June 30th.
      • Holden Beach was awarded the national title of The Best Restored Beach for 2023. This took place is Washington, D.C. recently.

 Happy spring!!


General Comments –


Meeting Agenda
Yet another marathon session, the meeting ran for over three (3) hours

BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, May 21st

Special Meeting Schedule 

Paid Parking

Mayor Pro Tem Myers asked Town Manager Hewett if they enforced paid parking during the festival. David answered NO. That is not what the contract with Otto says so regulations either need to be enforced or the contract changed.

Do not see anywhere that the Board approved suspending paid parking during festivals

In order not to enforce the regulations during the festival the BOC’s needed to execute an amendment to the contract which is what they have done in the past.  Since they did not approve any motion regarding festivals they should have charged for parking island wide, they cannot just decide to not enforce the regulations.

Previously reported – October 2022
Consideration of Early End to Paid Parking this Year – Town Manager Hewett
Agenda Packet – pages 30
Mr. Varner with Otto Connect contacted me regarding the possibility of ending paid parking on October 28, 2022 and allowing free parking island-wide for festival weekend, October 29th and 30th. I suggested this decision would require BOC approval. Mr. Varner needs direction so that he can plan accordingly if the season will end on October 28th.

David stated that this is a contract matter and that he needs Board direction. The thinking is that in order to promote the festival it would be advantageous to suspend paid parking. They agreed to suspend the paid parking season and Otto enforcement island wide as on October 28th
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Town of Holden Beach Newsletter
Paid Parking Update
In an effort to better facilitate the Festival by the Sea, the Board of Commissioners voted during their last meeting to end paid parking effective October 28, 2022. We would like to remind everyone that while parking will remain free until April 2023, all other parking regulations are in effect and will be enforced. For complete details refer to our website at https://hbtownhall.com/ordinances.

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

It’s a zoo out there during the festival weekend. With all the parking problems that happen during the festivals you would think we would want to continue enforcing parking in designated areas only. By suspending enforcement that was done by Otto people can and will park anywhere they want. It seems to me that they put up the white flag and surrendered. Instead of attempting to get some semblance of compliance they are going with – it is what it is.

Previously reported – December 2022
I would like to discuss possibly having the BOC direct the Town Manager to review this information and suggestions from citizens on the first year of paid parking and return staff suggestions to the BOC for the January BOC meeting.

Commissioner Smith requested that the Town Manager Hewett and his staff review these suggestions and consider making changes to the paid parking program. They would like staff suggestions to be presented to the Board at their January meeting.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Previously reported – January 2023
Discussion and Possible Action on Response to Parking Program Tasker – Town Manager Hewett
Agenda Packet – pages 29 – 32
Inspections Director Evans, Chief Dixon, Assistant Town Manager Ferguson, Budget & Fiscal Analyst McRainey, Town Clerk Finnell and I met with Jim Varner and Jack DeSantos from Otto Connect to discuss the Board of Commissioners tasker from the December meeting. Below are the group’s recommendations.

Discuss possibly having free parking for the two festivals and in the area of any permitted event.

 It is recommended that paid parking be suspended townwide during festival weekends. Other Town sponsored events are already addressed in Code of Ordinances Section 72.02(0).

David assembled a staff group which met with Otto Connect to discuss the recommendations that were submitted. Commissioner Smith went through each item on the list and discussed the recommendations that were made. He asked what the Board wanted to do moving forward. The Board by consensus made a decision on each item. The primary takeaway was to leave most things as they are for the time being. The only significant change that was made is that they increased the paid parking rates, they agreed to set the fees for the 2023 season at $4 per hour, $20 per day, $80 per week and $150 for an annual pass. Despite the increase the fees are still less than Otto Connect recommended and also less than what Oak Island just implemented.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Previously reported – February 2023
Agenda Packet
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE RESPONSE TO PARKING PROGRAM TASKER
The Board reviewed the staff response provided to the Board’s parking tasker. Jim Varner and Jack Desantos joined staff in developing the response. The Board discussed the items line by line. Lieutenant Dilworth said the Police Department supports the document provided. After discussion, the Board agreed to the following changes to the paid parking program: update the contract with Otto Connect regarding the way boat trailers without tags are handled; increase fees to $4 per hour, $20 per day, $80 per week and $150 one vehicle/$300 two vehicles annual pass; and delegate Otto Connect to work with staff to install signage. The Board would also like Otto Connect to work with staff to do a street-by-street assessment of signage.

Do not see that they actually approved the tasker
that references free parking during festivals

Previously reported – March 2024
The third motion made at the March meeting was to charge for parking during festivals. Currently we just do not enforce paid parking regulations anywhere on the island when there are festivals. That is not what the contract with Otto says so it either needs to be enforced or the contract changed. The motion made is to not enforce regulations in the festival area only.
No decision was made – No action taken


 It’s not like they don’t have anything to work on …

The following twenty-one (21) items are what’s In the Works/Loose Ends queue:

        • 796 OBW Project
        • Accommodation/Occupancy Tax Compliance
        • ADA Mediation Agreement
        • Attorney
        • Beach Mat Plan
        • Block Q Project
        • Carolina Avenue
        • Dog Park
        • Fire Station Project
        • Harbor Acres
        • ICW/No Wake Zone Enforcement
        • Inlet Hazard Areas
        • Parking – 800 Block
        • Pavilion Replacement
        • Pier Properties Project
        • Rights-of-Way
        • Sewer System/Lift station #2
        • Stormwater Management Project
        • USACE/Coastal Storm Risk Management Study
        • Water System Assessment/Water Tower
        • Waste Ordinance Enforcement Policy
        • Wetland Delineation/Bulkheading

The definition of loose ends is a fragment of unfinished business or a detail that is not yet settled or explained, which is the current status of these items. All of these items were started and then put on hold, and they were never put back in the queue. This Board needs to continue working on them and move these items to closure.





Hurricane Season
For more information » click here.

Be prepared – have a plan!


‘Alarming’ Ocean Temperatures Suggest This Hurricane Season Will Be a Daunting One
An early forecast from one set of experts sees an above-average hurricane season that may rival the busiest years on record.
A key area of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already abnormally warm, much warmer than an ideal swimming pool temperature of about 80 degrees and on the cusp of feeling more like warm bathtub water. These conditions were described by Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami, as “unprecedented,” “alarming” and an “out-of-bounds anomaly.” Combined with the rapidly subsiding El Niño weather pattern, it is leading to mounting confidence among forecasting experts that there will be an exceptionally high number of storms this hurricane season. One such expert, Phil Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University, said in his team’s annual forecast on Thursday that they expected a remarkably busy season of 23 named storms, including 11 hurricanes — five of them potentially reaching major status, meaning Category 3 or higher. In a typical season, there are 14 named storms with seven hurricanes and three of them major. Dr. Klotzbach said there was a “well above-average probability” that at least one major hurricane would make landfall along the United States and in the Caribbean. It’s the Colorado State researchers’ biggest April prediction ever, by a healthy margin, said Dr. Klotzbach. While things could still play out differently, he said he was more confident than he normally would be this early in the year. All the conditions that he and other researchers look at to forecast the season, such as weather patterns, sea surface temperatures and computer model data, are pointing in one direction. “Normally, I wouldn’t go nearly this high,” he said, but with the data he’s seeing, “Why hedge?” If anything, he said, his numbers are on the conservative side, and there are computer models that indicate even more storms on the way.

The United States was lucky in 2023.
Last year was unusual. Though only one hurricane, Idalia, made landfall in the United States, 20 storms formed, a number far above average and the fourth most since record keeping began. Typically, the El Niño pattern that was in force would have suppressed hurricanes and reduced the number of storms in a season. But in 2023, the warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic blunted El Niño’s effect to thwart storms. That left Idalia as the one impactful storm of the season in the Atlantic, with 12 deaths attributed to it and over $1 billion in damage. It hit in the big bend of Florida, where few people live, and the prevailing thought among hurricane researchers is that the East Coast got lucky, Dr. Klotzbach said. That luck may change this year. The El Niño pattern is dwindling now, and the likelihood of a La Niña pattern emerging during the hurricane season could also cause a shift in the steering pattern over the Atlantic. During an El Niño weather pattern, the area of high pressure over the Atlantic tends to weaken, which allows for storms to curve north and then east away from land. That’s what kept most of the storms last year away from land. A La Niña weather pattern would already have forecasters looking toward an above-average year. The possibility of a La Niña, combined with record sea surface temperatures this hurricane season, could create a robust environment for storms to form and intensify this year. Just because there are strong signals during an El Niño year that one thing will occur, it doesn’t mean the opposite happens during a La Niña year, Dr. Kirtman said. But if the high pressure strengthens and shifts west, it will mean more hurricanes making landfall. The region where storms are most likely to form is often called the “tropical Atlantic,” stretching from West Africa to Central America and between Cuba and South America. During a La Niña year, Dr. Klotzbach said, there’s a slight increase in hurricanes forming in the western side of this main development zone — closer to the Caribbean than to Africa. When a storm forms there, it is more likely to make landfall because it’s closer to land. And while it is difficult to predict specific landfalls this far ahead of the season, the sheer odds of more storms increases the expected risk to coastal areas. Sea surface temperatures also affect the hurricane season. Over the past century, those temperatures have increased gradually. But last year, with an intensity that unnerved climate scientists, the warming ratcheted up more rapidly. And in the main area where hurricanes form, 2024 is already the warmest in a decade. “Crazy” is how Dr. Kirtman described it. The main development region is, right now, warmer than it’s historically been,” he said. “So, it’s an out-of-bounds anomaly.” There is little doubt in his mind that we are seeing some profound climate change impacts, but scientists don’t know exactly why it is occurring so quickly all of a sudden. But it is happening, and it is likely to affect the season. “The chances of a big, big hurricane that has a large impact making landfall is definitely increased,” he said.

Early forecasts aren’t always right.
It’s reasonable to take this forecast with a grain of sea salt; the seasonal forecast in April hasn’t always been the most accurate. Colorado State University’s April forecast for the 2023 hurricane season called for a slightly below-average season with 13 named storms. Instead, there were 20. Even Dr. Klotzbach admits the April forecast isn’t always the best prediction, but its accuracy is improving. The weather can be fickle, and much can change before the season officially begins on June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its own forecast in late May. But for now, Colorado State and a few other forecasting groups have all called for one of the busiest seasons on record. By year’s end, Dr. Klotzbach said, he’ll be writing a scientific paper on one of two things: the incredibly active hurricane season of 2024, or one of the biggest head fakes in Atlantic hurricane season history. But he’s pretty confident it will be the former. “If it turns out to be two hurricanes,” he said, “then I should just quit and do something else.”
Read more » click here

The 2024 hurricane season could be busy.
Here’s what to expect in North Carolina.
“This is the highest prediction for hurricanes that (Colorado State University) has ever issued with their April outlook.”
The start of the 2024 hurricane season is sneaking up just as the weather warms, and forecasters are already out with their early-season predictions. But with climate change warming the oceans and air temperatures seemingly hitting new highs every month, with the European Union’s climate service declaring March to be the 10th consecutive month of record worldwide temperatures, is it only a question of how bad things will be this year? Or will Southeastern North Carolina be able to (mostly) dodge the proverbial storm bullet for another year?

What are forecasters saying?
According to forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU), who have been releasing April predictions since 1995, the 2024 season will be “an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season.” The researchers are predicting 23 named storms, with 11 becoming hurricanes and five of those becoming Category 3 or stronger systems. That’s about 170% of the usual storm activity of an average year. “This is the highest prediction for hurricanes that CSU has ever issued with their April outlook,” stated the researchers in a release.

 The probability of one of those storms making landfall on the mainland U.S.:

    • 62% for the entire U.S. coastline (average from 1880–2020 is 43%).
    • 34% for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (average from 1880–2020 is21%).
    • 56% probability a hurricane will come within 50 miles of the N.C. coast, 85% for a named tropical storm.

The researchers added that the predicted storm activity is exhibiting characteristics similar to the 2010 and 2020 seasons.

How bad were 2010 and 2020?
For the Wilmington area, the 2010 hurricane season didn’t bring too many impacts although Tropical Storm Nicole did drop more than 22 inches of rain on the Port City, flooding more than 100 roads in Brunswick County and leaving chunks of Pleasure Island underwater. But for the Atlantic basin as a whole, it was very busy, with some of the more brutal storms, particularly Alex and Karl, hammering the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A pair of Category 4 monsters, Danielle and Earl, also luckily stayed out mostly at sea. A decade later, 2020 proved to be the most active hurricane season ever with 30 named storms, 14 of which developed into hurricanes. That list included a record 12 U.S. landfalling storms, including Hurricane Isaias, which raked the Brunswick County beaches and knocked out power to nearly 400,000 customers in the Carolinas.

What about El Niño & La Niña in 2024?
While El Niño conditions have dominated for the past year or so, that should transition into La Niña by the time hurricane season rolls around. Dr. Michael Mann, a meteorologist and scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that will mean decreased wind shear in the tropical Atlantic and a more favorable environment for tropical cyclones.

Did we learn anything from the 2023 season?
Unfortunately, Mann said one of the lessons that last season reinforced was that in a world buffeted by climate change forecasters continue to have a tendency to under predict the actual number of named storms. He added that while ocean surface temperatures are somewhat retreating from the record heat we’ve seen recently, his team is still expecting to see abnormally warm water temperatures in the main development region of the Atlantic for storms. In other words, it could be a long, stormy season so buckle up and be prepared. “It takes only one storm near you to make this an active season for you,” said CSU meteorologist Dr. Michael Bell. Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November.
Read more » click here 


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Lou’s Views . HBPOIN

.                                          • 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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04 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / April Edition


Calendar of Events –


Days at the Docks Festival


Days at the Docks Festival
April 27th & 28th
Holden Beach

 

The annual festival which started in the 1980’s 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


Strawberry & Wine Fest



Strawberry & Wine Fest

April 28th
Sunset Beach

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The Strawberry and Wine Festival, hosted by the Old Bridge Preservation Society since 2014. There will be wines available from Silver Coast Winery with strawberries as the main fare of the day. It’s a day of wine, food, entertainment, and craft vendors.  
For more information » click here


Blue Crab Festival



Blue Crab Festival

May 18th & 19th

Little River SC

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Little River has been celebrating the World Famous Blue Crab Festival since 1981. 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


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 –


Music Notes, A Schedule of the Summer Concert

Concerts on the Coast Series
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups will temporarily be held at the Bridgeview Park picnic pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information
» click here


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


Reminders –


THB Newsletter (03/30/24)
Paid Parking

Paid parking will be enforced starting April 1st in all Holden Beach designated parking areas. It will be enforced from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily, with free parking before and after that time. All parking will use license plates for verification. 

As a reminder, Holden Beach uses the “SurfCAST by Otto” parking solution. Annual passes are now available for purchase on the mobile app. You will also be able to purchase passes by scanning the QR-codes located on the parking signs for access to https://surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay.

Rates for the 2024 season are as follows:
$5 per hour for up to four hours
$20 per day and for any duration greater than four hours
$80 per week (seven consecutive days)
$175 per calendar year for a single vehicle (annual passes)

Handicap parking is free in designated handicap spaces and only with a valid license plate or hangtag.

Parking rates can be paid via credit card, debit card or PayPal. 

Visit https://hbtownhall.com/paid-parking for more information and to view a table with authorized parking areas. 


Pets on the Beach Strand


Pets on the Beach Strand

Pets – Chapter 90 / Animals / 90.20
From May 20th through September 10th it is unlawful to have any pet on the beach strand during the hours of 9:00am through 5:00pm.

 


Solid Waste Pick-Up Schedule
GFL Environmental change in service, trash pickup will be twice a week.Starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Saturday after Labor Day: Pick-up is every Tuesday and Saturday from May 25th through September 30th

Please note:
. • Trash carts must be at the street by 6:00 a.m. on the pickup day
. • BAG the trash before putting it in the cart
. • Carts will be rolled back to the front of the house


GFL Refuse Collection Policy
GFL has recently notified all Brunswick County residents that they will no longer accept extra bags of refuse outside of the collection cart. This is not a new policy but is stricter enforcement of an existing policy. While in the past GFL drivers would at times make exceptions and take additional bags of refuse, the tremendous growth in housing within Brunswick County makes this practice cost prohibitive and causes drivers to fall behind schedule.


Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule –

starting the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 25th) twice a week 

Recycling

starting after Memorial Day (May 23rd) weekly pick-up 


Curbside Recycling – 2024Curbside Recycling
GFL Environmental is now offering curbside recycling for Town properties that desire to participate in the service. The service cost per cart is $106.88 annually paid in advance to the Town of Holden Beach. The service consists of a ninety-six (96) gallon cart that is emptied every other week during the months of October – May and weekly during the months of June – September. 
Curbside Recycling Application » click here
Curbside Recycling Calendar » click here


GFL trash can at a beautiful green land


Trash Can Requirements – Rental Properties
GFL Environmental – trash can requirements
Ordinance 07-13, Section 50.08

Rental properties have specific number of trash cans based on number of bedrooms.

* One extra trash can per every 2 bedrooms
.
.

 § 50.08 RENTAL HOMES.
(A) Rental homes, as defined in Chapter 157, that are rented as part of the summer rental season, are subject to high numbers of guests, resulting in abnormally large volumes of trash. This type of occupancy use presents a significantly higher impact than homes not used for summer rentals. In interest of public health and sanitation and environmental concerns, all rental home shall have a minimum of one trash can per two bedrooms. Homes with an odd number of bedrooms shall round up (for examples one to two bedrooms – one trash can; three to four bedrooms – two trash cans; five – six bedrooms – three trash cans, and the like).


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.


Yard Waste Service, second and Fourth Fridays, April and MayYard Waste Service
Yard debris pick-up will be provided twice a month on the second and fourth Fridays during the months of March, April, and May. Please have yard waste placed at the street for pick-up on Thursday night. The first pickup of the season is on March 8th. No pick-ups will be made on vacant lots or construction sites.

Debris must be placed in a biodegradable bag or bundled in a length not to exceed five (5) feet and fifty (50) pounds. Each residence is allowed a total of ten (10) items, which can include a combination of bundles of brush and limbs meeting the required length and weight and/ or biodegradable bags with grass clippings, leaves, etc.


Bird Nesting AreaBird Nesting Area
NC Wildlife Commission has posted signs that say – Bird Nesting Area / Please don’t disturb. The signs are posted on the west end beach strand around 1307 OBW.

.
People and dogs are supposed to stay out of the area from April through November
.   1) It’s a Plover nesting area
.   2) Allows migrating birds a place to land and rest without being disturbed


Storm Events –


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
Property owners will be provided with four (4) decals which were included in their April water bills. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. 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 that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side 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.

Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations.


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.


Turtle Watch Program –


Two turtles wandering in the beach shore

Turtle Watch Program – 2024

Members of the patrol started riding the beach every morning on May 1 and will do so through October looking for signs of turtle nests.
For more information » click here

.


Early-season sea turtle false crawl reported in Holden Beach
An early-season sea turtle false crawl was reported Wednesday morning in Holden Beach. “This is surprisingly early, given that no nesting has been reported in Georgia and South Carolina so far this year, and turtle crawls in those states normally precede North Carolina,” local volunteers said. Sea turtle nesting season normally begins in May and runs through November. It is unknown whether this turtle will try to nest in Holden Beach again or elsewhere (including south of NC). To report a crawl, you can call 910-470-2880 or 910-329-0222.


Dates set for summer educational programs

We’ve set our dates for our traditional summer educational programs.

Turtle Talk for all ages will be held on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. from June 19 through August 24.

Children’s Turtle Time will be at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays June 26 through August 7. This is for children 3-6 years old.

Both programs are free of charge and will be held at the Holden Beach Chapel.


Upon Further Review –


Perpendicular Structure to the Shore

Will the N.C. coast see more terminal groins as erosion continues and sand gets scarcer?
More than a decade after N.C. law was changed to allow the construction of terminal groins, why have only two been built along the coast?
During the middle of President Barack Obama’s first term in office, North Carolina made one of the biggest changes to how it manages oceanfront development since the adoption of the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA). State legislators approved a bill that softened North Carolina’s long-standing prohibition on hardened structures along the beachfront except in very specific cases, such as to protect historic buildings. The legislation, Senate Bill 110, specifically allowed up to four “test” terminal groins later increased to six to be built along the coast. The controversial decision, reinforced by Gov. Bev Perdue allowing it to become law without her signature, ended a 30-year state ban and decades of discussion among property owners, coastal officials, environmentalists and scientists over the best way of dealing with shifting sands on inherently unstable barrier islands amid the need to protect often very expensive beachfront properties. A dozen years later, how has the move impacted the N.C. coast? Or has it?

What is a terminal groin?
A terminal groin is a hardened structure placed at a right angle out from the beach into the ocean and is generally built close to an inlet or at other high-erosion area. Unlike jetties, which are usually built in pairs on either side of a channel or inlet, terminal groins are low-slung structures designed to allow waves to pass over them. Groins also are often built of stone, which allows water to pass through them. Terminal groins work by trapping sand that moves parallel to the beach in near-shore waters. The result is a buildup of the beach on the updrift side of the groin. If enough sand is captured and held by the groin, the structure is often buried, becoming visually little more than a bump on the beach.

Why are they controversial?
By capturing sand that travels down the beach near to shore, a groin depletes the sand supply to the beach area immediately down-drift of the structure. In response, down-drift property owners often seek to install their own groins to counteract the increased erosion in front of their oceanfront homes, leading to a cascading effect of groin installation along the beach. In effect, the groin is robbing sand from one part of the beach to help build up another part. Those concerns prompted state regulators to enact North Carolina’s hardened-structure ban in the 1980s. But some coastal officials, backed by worried property owners, said the state’s existing erosion-control methods namely expensive beach nourishment projects and ugly temporary sandbags were ineffective, especially around inlets, and towns needed another tool in the beach-management toolbox to deal with disappearing beaches in high-erosion areas.

What’s happened with terminal groins?
Two new terminal groins have been built since the law was changed last decade. Bald Head Island built a terminal groin to help deal with chronic erosion woes along the west end of south beach. The groin was finished in 2016 after village residents approved an $18 million bond to finance the project. Ocean Isle Beach started construction of its terminal groin on the island’s eastern end to counteract chronic erosion woes tied to nearby Shallotte Inlet in late 2021. The Brunswick County town had initially won federal approval to build the groin in 2017, but the project was challenged by the National Audubon Society. The case was decided in the town’s favor in early 2021. The $11 million project, originally estimated to cost around $9.5 million, was funded through a special town account to pay for beach projects and a portion of Ocean Isle’s accommodation tax on rentals. Both Ocean Isle and Bald Head officials in the past have praised the work the terminal groins have done in stabilizing the beach and helping protect oceanfront properties and infrastructure.

What about groins in other towns?
A number of other coastal communities have or are considering terminal groins, but no new projects are currently moving forward. Figure Eight Island, a wealthy private enclave squeezed between Wrightsville Beach in New Hanover County and Lea-Hutaff Island in Pender County, had long been leading the charge to allow terminal groins to be built along the North Carolina oceanfront. A terminal groin on Figure Eight was seen as a way of dealing with erosion at the island’s north end caused by the meandering Rich Inlet. But plans for a structure were finally shelved in 2017 after island property owners rejected funding the proposed groin. Holden Beach also has kicked the tires on building a terminal groin to counteract the disappearing beach and help protect threatened homes on the island’s eastern end near Lockwood Folly Inlet. But after the costs of building and maintaining the groin, including periodic injections of fresh sand, were shown to cost north of $30 million over 30 years, the town’s commissioners voted to withdraw their permit application with the Army Corps of Engineers. North Topsail Beach in Onslow County for years also has studied the possibility of building a terminal groin at the town’s north end to help stabilize the battered beach near New Inlet. The chronic erosion has left dozens of homes along the beach relying on sandbags for protection from the encroaching ocean. But the high cost of building and maintaining such a structure coupled with erosion woes in other parts of the town have seen those plans put on the back burner for now. Most recently, Oak Island officials have raised the idea of studying the feasibility of constructing a terminal groin on their beach’s west end near Lockwood Folly Inlet. Sick of seeing fresh sand pumped onto the beach simply washing away after a few weeks or months, town officials wondered if a groin would offer a more permanent, cost-effective solution to the chronic erosion problem that’s left more than a dozen homes relying on sandbags for protection. But at a workshop in January the town’s engineering firm warned that any groin project would take years of studies before construction could begin, and the building and future maintenance of the structure would be expensive.

Will more terminal groins get built in N.C.?
That remains to be seen. But as beach quality sand becomes scarcer to access in near-shore areas and more communities eye the same sand resources, forcing some to look farther offshore to find material to nourish their beaches, the idea of building a terminal groin could resurface as part of the solution facing beach towns in risk of losing parts of their most important asset. Still, the cost factor is likely to be a big deterrent for all but the most wealthy coastal communities, said Dr. Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. He said that while a terminal groin might help stabilize a portion of the beach, it in no way diminishes the need for expensive nourishment projects to rebuild other parts of the beachfront. Sand also need to be periodically placed around the groin to counteract the impact of altering the natural processes that the sand would follow if the structure wasn’t there. “I haven’t seen conclusive evidence over the long run that terminal groins are going to save communities money, which is one of the primary reasons for building them,” Young said. “I think the jury is still out on that.” He also noted that terminal groins can capture sand that’s meant to curl around an inlet, creating the shoals and sandy spits that shorebirds and many humans enjoy visiting something that can be lost or severely impacted to protect homes along just one part of a beach. “It’s an amenity that adds value to everyone else who likes to walk the beach,” Young said of those inlet shorelines. “A terminal groin becomes an obstruction to that in your community.”
Read more » click here


Corrections & Amplifications –


  • Bike Lane.
    Key takeaways:
        • Add 7’ asphalt to the south side of existing pavement
        • Add 3’ asphalt to the north side of existing pavement
        • Recenter the travel lanes
        • Create two (2) five (5) foot bike lanes on either side of the road

DOT Bike Lane Report Presentation » click here


796 OBW

Previously reported – March 2024
Discussion and Possible Action on 796 Ocean Boulevard West

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on 796 OBW

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:

    • Town purchased the property in September 2019 for $342,500 because of possible noise issues when the adjacent sewer system was upgraded. The noise seems to be a non-issue
    • Town leased the property for a while to a town employee at below market rates. The property now sits vacant, and the Town has no current plans for its
    • The property is a second-row 3,316 square foot 3-bedroom / 2-bathroom residential house that cannot be easily converted into something different. The neighborhood is zoned Single Family
    • After receiving complaints from neighbors, the Town completed a significant renovation to repair several items and improve the appearance of the structure ($52,670).
    • The 2024 loan payment is $68,120 (principal & interest) and continues thru 2037 (which at 2.29 % for 15 years is ~$850k loan)
    • The town should not be in the property management business or competing in the rental home market against its property owners who pay BPART
    • The funds from the sale of the property and savings from ongoing maintenance & loan payments can be put to better

Possible Actions:
Instruct staff to get bids from local realtors to sell 796 OBW

Update –
We purchased the property in 2019 and still have no viable plan for what to do with it. The motion was made to sell the property. Town Manager Hewett suggested how the sale of Town property might be handled. He also recommended that he meet with our Town Attorney to decide the best method to sell it. They decided to sell it and Town Manager and Town Attorney can figure out the best way on how to sell it.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

Freeing it of a $68,000-a-year mortgage,
this Brunswick town to sell its beach house
A town-owned three-bedroom, two-bathroom home just a street away from the ocean in Holden Beach will soon hit the market, after the town spent thousands on repairs. The town of Holden Beach purchased the single-family home at 796 Ocean Blvd. West in September 2019 for $342,500. The home sits beside a town sewer pump station, which the town was upgrading to pull much of the sewer system out from underground and elevating the electrical and pump systems above base flood elevation. Concerned the changes would cause noise issues at the neighboring house, the town purchased the home largely to serve as a buffer so the noise would not affect neighbors farther west, Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden previously told the StarNews. Aside from the proactive move to block potential noise, the town did not have a plan for the property at the time of the purchase. The town rented the home to a town employee for a time at below-market rates before it was eventually left vacant. Last spring, the town was considering a few options to reanimate the home, including renovating the home for sale or short-term rental, or converting the home into a public space with bathrooms and other communal spaces, taking advantage of its proximity to the beach. The town’s yearly payment, including the principal and interest, totals over $68,000 a year. The loan, town staff reported, continues through 2037 and totals roughly $850,000. “We should sell this property so we can get some taxes on it, we can get out from under a $68,000-a-year payment,” commissioner Tracey Thomas said at the board’s March 19 meeting. Last year, neighboring property owners raised concern, not regarding noise from the sewer station, but over the appearance of the town-owned home. In response, the town invested $52,670 in “significant renovation and repair” efforts to “improve the appearance of the structure.” Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Myers described the purchase as a “solution in search of a problem.” “We haven’t been able to find a problem it really serves,” Myers said. “I don’t wanna be handcuffed and we’ve gotta have this thing forever. We’re not using it, it’s sitting vacant, it’s going to fall in disrepair again…”
In March, the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners was split three to two, ultimately passing a motion to direct staff to begin the process of selling the property. Commissioners Page Dyer and Rick Smith voted against the move, with Dyer arguing the town should recess the decision until the completion of an island-wide ADA-compliance assessment. The assessment could identify services the town may need to invest in, such as public bathrooms, and the property could be needed to address such needs, she said. The prevailing motion authorized town staff to sell the property in an approach they see fit without the matter coming back before the board for further authorization.
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Odds & Ends –


Brunswick County reminds residents to practice severe weather safety
March 3-9 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. Brunswick County Emergency Management urges residents and community members to be ready for severe weather events and to understand the risks that can come with them. “Spring brings the potential for severe weather,” said Brunswick County Emergency Management Director David McIntire. “With warmer weather quickly approaching, now is the time for you and your loved ones to start preparing for the severe weather season. Sign up for ReadyBrunswick to make sure we can contact you during an emergency.” Severe weather can happen anywhere and at any time. Not only can severe thunderstorms develop rapidly, but they can also bring lightning, hail, flash floods, and tornadoes. Brunswick County officials encourage community members to take this week to create a household emergency plan and update emergency supply kits. Brunswick County also encourages community members to practice their emergency plan by participating in the annual statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. The National Weather Service (NWS) will broadcast the drill over the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on radio and TV and on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios. “We encourage all county residents, visitors, businesses, and organizations to participate in the upcoming tornado drill,” McIntire said. “Creating a plan is only one part of being prepared. Practicing your plan will help you and your loved ones know where to go and what to do when severe weather strikes.” Tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms when winds change direction and increase in speed. These storms can produce large hail and damaging winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. In 2023, the NWS recorded 24 tornado touchdowns across North Carolina, and 127 large hail events (hail that is 1 inch in diameter or larger), 844 damaging thunderstorm wind events, and 139 flood or flash flood events.

Emergency officials recommend the following safety tips:

Before Severe Weather

    • Know the terms. WATCH means severe weather is possible. WARNING means severe weather is occurring; take shelter immediately.
    • Make a plan. Develop a household emergency plan so all members know where to go, who to call, and what to do during a disaster.
    • Prepare a kit. Assemble an emergency supply kit for use at home or in your vehicle. Make sure to include a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water for each household member and pets. The Brunswick County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension has prepared a hurricane cookbook to help individuals and families prepare meals in advance in case of an emergency.
    • Subscribe to emergency alerts. Residents and visitors can sign up for alerts from ReadyBrunswick, Brunswick County’s emergency notification system. 
    • Sign up for the Special Needs Registry. Residents are strongly encouraged to sign up for the Brunswick County Special Needs Registry if they have additional needs in functional areas. These functional needs may include but are not limited to maintaining independence, communication, transportation, supervision, and medical care.

During Severe Weather

    • Stay informed. During an emergency, stay tuned to reliable local media outlets, listen to NWS weather alerts, and follow Brunswick County on social media for continuous updates. You can also subscribe to receive email updates from the County to stay updated on media releases and important announcements.
    • Find a safe room. Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows. Go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
    • Seek shelter. If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequately safe structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge. If there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.

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Alerts
Brunswick County uses ReadyBrunswick as part of the County’s effort to continuously improve communications during emergency situations within our area. Powered by Everbridge, the ReadyBrunswick notification system sends emergency notifications in a variety of communication methods such as:

      • Landline (Voice)
      • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
      • Mobile (Voice)
      • Mobile SMS (Text Messaging)
      • Email

In the case of an emergency, you may choose to receive notifications via one or all of these communication methods. It’s recommended that you register several media options to receive messages in the event a particular communication device is unavailable.
For more information » click here

Brunswick County Emergency Communications Notification System
Get notified about emergencies and other important  community news by signing up for our ReadyBrunswick Emergency Notification System. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods, and more. You will receive time-sensitive messages wherever you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. You pick where, you pick how.

 SIGN UP HERE to choose the type of alerts you want to receive.


This and That –


Another boat access could enter the water near Holden Beach
During the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s (NCWRC) Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 21, the committee discussed creating another boating access area near Holden Beach to connect to the Intracoastal Waterway. Local fishermen, captains and residents have been fighting for more boat and trailer parking space in Holden Beach for over a year, and this potential project could bring that to the area, along with a potential third boat ramp. The commission unanimously voted in favor of moving the project to “phase I.” Ben Solomon, assistant chief and land acquisition manager of the commission’s Land and Water Access Division, presented a slideshow on the land purchase opportunities and the roughly drafted project. He said the boat access sketch plan and parking plan are only conceptual. “Most boat ramps in Brunswick County, aside from Holden Beach, operate at over-capacity status at this time,” Solomon said. Brunswick County only has six public boat ramps with 233 trailer parking spaces, he explained, and it would be important to keep the existing ramp on Holden Beach. He said the existing Holden Beach boat access is a small ramp with limited parking for the high volume of boat traffic that residents and visitors bring. “Just within Brunswick County, we have 12,000 registered vessels,” he said. “There’s an additional 18,000 registered vessels in surrounding counties.” Solomon showed the commission three separate parcels they are looking to purchase off Cedar Landing Road SW — adjacent to the Holden Beach Marina and Holden Beach Bridge — noting a developer also wants to purchase them. If purchased, the access would be located in county jurisdiction. There are two options the commission considered: Option A and Option B. Option A calls for purchasing all three parcels that total 3.7 acres and Option B calls for purchasing only two parcels that total 1.9 acres. The asking price for Option A is $5.9 million and the asking price for the Option B parcels is $3.2 million. The NCWRC received phase I approval to pursue the acquisition of the three parcels for Option A, Solomon told The Brunswick Beacon on Monday, March 11. “Phase I approval is the first step in the Commission’s land acquisition process and allows commission staff to work with the State Property Office to order an appraisal for the subject properties and further develop the project,” he explained. He told the commission that the access site will have maximum level parking if they pursue all three parcels. Option A would bring 98 trailer parking spaces and 17 car parking spaces to the area if the project comes to fruition. Option B would only bring approximately 53 trailer parking spaces and six car parking spaces. Solomon said the trailer parking spaces would fit both the vehicle and the trailer. Tax parcel 232NA001, the middle parcel, houses a commercial building with an existing boat launch. Solomon said the commission would try to permit a second boat launch to be put in the access area. The conceptual design is still subject to permitting and approvals that could restrict plans, Solomon added. “This is a good baseline for us to look at and get a feel for,” he said. The project could cost between $1.5 and $1.9 million, he said, but that cost would include site-level parking, two boat ramps and structure removal from one of the parcels. Solomon said potential funding sources for the project are the coastal recreational fishing license grant, state funds and possible legislative appropriation. “The Commission does have an interest in expanding public boating access opportunities around Holden Beach and plans to further assess feasibility of this potential boating access area by ordering an appraisal and developing funding partnerships,” he told The Brunswick Beacon. To access the recording of the February Committee of the Whole meeting, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQPj77J1jZE.
Read more » click here


 

The Good Goddess, La Bona Dea, With Two Women

Gov. Cooper and Sen. Rabon want to use native plants in state landscaping projects. Why?
Legislation and executive orders now require state agencies to first see about using NC-native plants and trees in state landscaping projects. But why aren’t we doing that already?

The number hovers around 14 percent. That’s how many plants sold in North Carolina are considered native. Horticulturists, researchers, state Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, and now Gov. Roy Cooper believe that number is much too low and is costing the state’s flora and fauna in the process. But officials say increasing the number of shrubs, plants and trees endemic to North Carolina in yards, along roads, in parks, and in backyards isn’t as easy as simply saying it’s the right thing to do even if most people already know Bradford pears are stinky, fragile, invasive trees that should be avoided. Here’s a look at some of the challenges to increasing the use of native plants in North Carolina, and steps already underway to convince landscapers and backyard gardeners to plant Virginia creeper, for example, instead of English ivy.

The power of the pen
Last month, Cooper signed Executive Order 305. While the order focused mostly on aspirational goals to preserve millions of acres of North Carolina forest and wetlands by 2040, it also included language ordering state agencies to whenever possible use native plants for landscaping projects on state-owned property. Native North Carolina plants generally are defined as those that occurred in the state before European settlement. Non-native, or exotic, plants are those that are not native to the Tar Heel State. “State-funded or permitted projects and activities, including those administered on behalf of the federal government, shall avoid introducing non-native plants,” the order states. “To support native biodiversity, cabinet agencies shall also consider the native plant practices of private properties in future lease agreements.” Since the state is North Carolina’s largest landowner, with universities, state parks, historic sites, and right of ways along roads maintained by the N.C. Department of Transportation covered by the order, the move could mean a dramatic increase in the number of native plants appearing across the state. The governor’s order piggybacks on legislation that’s been championed by Sen. Bill Rabon for years. His Native Plants Act, which became law last year, requires plants native to the Southeastern U.S., “with a strong preference for plants native to North Carolina,” to be used in landscaping projects in state parks and along state highways.

Shouldn’t we be going native all the time already?
While a question and would seem to have a simple answer, it isn’t, well, that simple. Chris Moorman, a wildlife ecologist at N.C. State University, said landscapers often have to pick plants to meet a certain objective, say providing shade for a parking lot. While going native naturally provides some of the best food and groundcover requirements for local wildlife, it might not meet the goal of the project, and thus a non-native plant is a better fit for that particular role. “Native plants aren’t always necessarily the only answer,” said Dr. Barbara Fair, a landscape extension specialist at N.C. State. She said that in our urban areas where the landscape has been changed dramatically by humans, sometimes non-natives are just a better fit especially when it comes to meeting certain functions and promoting biodiversity. “They can just often survive and thrive better in these very altered environments,” Fair said, ticking off the benefits from mitigating heat to handling stormwater runoff that urban trees offer.

What are the advantages of going NC-plants first?
The advantages for native wildlife and insects is easy to see. “From an ecological standpoint, they have co-evolved with the local communities, including the plants and animals,” Moorman said. “Because native wildlife co-evolved with native plants, there are often critical linkages between the individual plants and animal natural history.”
Native plants also reflect North Carolina’s rich ecological history and are often tied into many of the state’s cultural traditions and foods. But there are other, more pragmatic reasons to go native, too. Native vegetation is designed to better handle North Carolina’s often hard growing conditions, which climate change is forecast to exasperate not to mention stronger and bigger hurricanes. With natives often more drought- and heat-tolerant than non-native plants, and with longer periods of dry, hot weather forecast for North Carolina in coming decades, officials say they are often a hardier bet than exotics from another part of the country or world. Native coastal plants are also generally better able to withstand salt water, which can make them a better alternative for waterfront homeowners with sea levels projected to keep rising in coming decades and tide surges set to increase. Then there is the popularity of the Tar Heel State. North Carolina’s population in 2000 was just over 8 million. It is estimated to be nearly 10.9 million by April, according to the latest U.S. Census figure. Projections estimate the state will be home to nearly 14 million people by 2050. “Urban development removes much of the preexisting vegetation cover, so landscaping with native plants can return that lost vegetation cover, along with the food and cover the plants provide for wildlife,” Moorman said. “Animals are critical dispersal agents, especially birds, so fostering the linkage between native plants and wildlife helps foster native plant persistence.”

Is going native easy?
Not as easy as it should be, but that hopefully will change in the coming years, officials said. “People plant what they see in big box stores and what they see planted around them, which largely is not native plants,” Moorman said. They also often look for what they used to have in their gardens before moving to North Carolina. But what worked in Connecticut or Ohio might not be the best choice in hot, sandy and often nutrient-poor soils of North Carolina’s Coastal Plain. There’s also a financial risk for landscapers, homeowners and even nurseries to increase their stock of native plants if people either aren’t going to buy them because they don’t know what they are or they die quickly when planted due to being placed in the wrong conditions. “That’s the million-dollar question, really, and it’s a very complicated answer,” Fair said of increasing the stock of native plants. She said many native trees aren’t fast growers one of the reason crepe myrtles are so prevalent in urban areas and people’s tastes can be finicky. Then there are issues for the plant industry, like how quickly can they ramp up production of native flora and is it a wise investment. “Yes, it’s certainly something we should work to promote,” Fair said, noting the educational outreach efforts many state agencies and local nurseries do to promote native plants. “But we have to realize this is a long-term process that we need to be thinking about.”

Want to go native? Here are some resources:

Read more » click here


NC State Native Plant Resources » click here

NC Sea Grant Coastal Landscapes » click here

New Hanover County Arboretum Native Plant Garden » click here

Audubon Native Plant Database » click here

Fauna & Flora » click here
Holden Beach recommended plant list – deer resistant & salt tolerant


Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


Living along the NC coast is increasingly risky.
So why are property values still rising?
A new economic model suggests that tax incentives and federal subsidies help fuel coastal property price increases despite growing climate change risks, like sea-level rise
Anyone who has dreamed of owning a property at the beach knows that it’s a goal shared by many. Couple in the growing popularity of coastal living in general − the Wilmington-area’s population jumped from 200,000 in 1990 to more than 450,000 in 2020 − and home ownership is increasingly becoming the privilege of the rich and the few. According to a report by online research publisher Stacker using real estate data from Zillow, Wrightsville Beach has seen a nearly 74% increase in property values over the past five years, with the typical home value now pushing an eyewatering $1.46 million. That makes it the most expensive town in the state, with Bald Head Island a close second with a 76% increase in values in the past five years increasing the average home on the Brunswick County island to $1.3 million. Of the top ten priciest locales in North Carolina, six are coastal communities. But are government actions helping bake in the advantages that high-income property owners have in reaching the coastal dream even as evidence mounts that the risk from climate change and sea-level rise is making living along the ocean an increasingly risky proposition? That’s a question North Carolina researchers attempted to tackle in a recent study published in Nature Communications that looked at how economic incentives and subsidies are impacting coastal property markets. Dr. Dylan McNamara, professor of physics and physical oceanography at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and one of the study’s authors, said the changes occurring along much of the U.S. coast can’t be viewed as just uniquely physical or uniquely economic. “They are linked, a coupled human environmental system where the environment is impacting humans and humans are impacting the environment,” he said. Dr. Martin Smith, an environmental economics professor at Duke University, and McNamara created a new economic model called the Coastal Home Ownership Model (C-HOM) to analyze the long-term evolution of coastal real estate markets. Smith said government actions to protect and enhance coastal communities from environmental risks, such as sea-level rise and stronger and more frequent hurricanes, helps support and boost property values. “What it signals to the market is that this is a fine place to further invest,” he said. Paradoxically, as property values increase and coastal communities become more wealthy, it becomes easier for officials to justify additional and more expensive projects to maintain that economic value in these increasingly vulnerable areas. “We’re shielding these markets from the underlying risks they face, and hence propping up these markets, McNamara said. 

Subsidized sand
Take the history and role of beach nourishment projects, for example. When Congress decided to get the federal government involved in the beach-building business nearly six decades ago, the thinking was oceanfront communities would only require sand roughly once every 10 years or so. The cost of these federal projects would be split between Washington and local governments, with the federal government picking up most of the tab and the state and/or local communities paying the rest. As erosion has increased thanks to sea-level rise and more frequent storms, that’s now been reduced to every couple years a timeline that doesn’t include federal emergency beach-building projects after major storms. And as more towns see their beaches washing away and confront the high costs of nourishment, thanks to sand scarcity and increased environmental regulations, there is a growing chorus of communities who want their own federal nourishment project. Currently, New Hanover County’s three beach towns and Ocean Isle Beach in Brunswick County are the only North Carolina communities that are guaranteed a periodic injection of fresh sand largely funded by the federal government. Critics say beach nourishment projects funded by federal taxpayers are bad long-term investments that literally just wash away, only benefit rich oceanfront property owners, and have to be repeated every few years to be truly effective. Backers claim beach-building projects are vital to keeping coastal economies running, protecting oceanfront properties and vital infrastructure, and helping communities hit hard by hurricanes rebound.

Analyzing the trade-offs
Both McNamara and Smith said there’s no doubt taxpayer-subsidized projects like beach nourishments have short-term and even medium-term economic benefits. But the cost of defending the shoreline, while propping up property values, is itself increasing. That means more of those costs need to be shouldered by state and local governments if they have the necessary political will and the deep pockets. McNamara and Smith also warn that those rising costs, which beach towns will increasingly have to pass on to their residents or private property owners will have to fund themselves, coupled with surging property values will likely increase the gentrification of many coastal communities a process that’s already occurring in many beach towns. Some North Carolina coastal communities are already facing these tough decisions. In 2022, North Topsail Beach pulled out of a federal beach nourishment project with Surf City over cost concerns, and Dare County has told residents of Rodanthe, an unincorporated community on Hatteras Island that has some of the highest erosion rates along the entire N.C. coast, that it simply can’t afford to nourish the village’s eroding beach that has already swallowed several homes. Increasing home and flood insurance premiums also are heaping additional pressures on many coastal residents. With the impacts from climate change expected to get worse in the coming decades, the researchers said change is coming. How officials manage the long-term economic adjustments required to adapt to an evolving environment so that they don’t all hit at once could be key to sustaining some of these coastal communities. ”As markets begin to sniff out those impacts, which is to say as the risk begins to increase, values will begin to go down,” McNamara said. “So, the question is when do we see that trajectory, and what path will it take.”  Potential options the researchers suggest include managed retreat, possibly including the idea of a purchase and buy-back program so owners can continue to “rent” their homes until they have to move, and building smaller, movable structures that can more readily react to the rising ocean levels instead of the McMansions that are increasingly proliferating along the coast. “There are certainly trade-offs,” Smith said, “but we want people to have a clear view of what those trade-offs are.”
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Consumers Hate ‘Price Discrimination,’ but They Sure Love a Discount
The Wendy’s debacle is a warning shot for brands: If you want to play with prices, make sure to communicate why and whom it could help.
It’s been a strange and maddening couple of years for consumers, with prices of essential goods soaring and then sinking, turning household budgets upside down. Perhaps that’s why, in late February, the internet revolted over Wendy’s plan to test changing its menu prices across the day. If the Breakfast Baconator winds up costing $6.99 at 7 a.m. and $7.99 three hours later, what in life can you really count on anymore? The company later issued a statement saying it would not raise prices during busy parts of the day, but rather add discounts during slower hours. Nevertheless, the episode won’t stop the continued spread of so-called dynamic pricing, which describes an approach of setting prices in response to shifting patterns of demand and supply. It might not even stop the growth of “personalized pricing,” which targets individuals based on their personal willingness to pay. And in many circumstances, customers may come around — if they feel companies are being forthright about how they’re changing prices and what information they’re using to do it. “There’s a need for some transparency, and it has to make sense to consumers,” said Craig Zawada, a pricing expert with PROS, a consultancy that helped pioneer dynamic pricing by airlines in the 1980s and now works across dozens of other industries. “In general, from a buyer standpoint, there has to be this perception of fairness.” Dynamic pricing, by one name or another, has been around since the dawn of merchandising. Sometimes it’s a means of maximizing return on fixed expenses, such as labor: Happy hour is a way to boost bar traffic before the after-work rush, for example. (You might say Wendy’s was attempting a happy hour for Baconators.) “Load balancing” is a similar concept in energy and transportation. Utilities charge less for power overnight, and transit agencies impose higher fares during rush hour to encourage users to shift toward off-peak times, when energy and trains are in less demand. Other times, it’s an effort to liquidate perishable or seasonal goods, like fresh produce at a grocery store or winter coats at Macy’s. Then there’s “surge pricing” on ride-hailing platforms, which is meant to quickly prod more drivers to start picking up passengers. Some commodity goods, like gasoline, fluctuate daily with international markets. In the analog era, changing prices was costly, requiring manually updating signs or applying markdown stickers. As restaurants, retailers, parking garages, gyms, salons and event venues became more automated, price changes became effortless even at brick-and-mortar locations. Robert Orndorff is the vice president for product development at Spectrio, which makes digital signage — a key tool for smoothly adjusting price levels, and increasingly common in many industries. Signs can be connected to inventory systems that automatically adjust prices as supplies dwindle, for example, and changes can be rolled out quickly in response to competitors’ moves. “You have all these dynamic things going on that would make you want to change what’s on that screen at any given time,” Mr. Orndorff said. “The technology absolutely enables all that.” It’s easy to understand why companies want to change prices more frequently: to make more money. But does that mean that as dynamic pricing spreads, prices will be higher on average? Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, posed the question to the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, at an oversight hearing in March, calling the technique “just another way for corporations to make it harder for consumers to seek out lower prices.” “Are you concerned that the wide adoption of these pricing schemes, if you will, contribute to inflation?” Mr. Brown asked. Mr. Powell responded that dynamic pricing lowers prices as well as raises them, and that the overall impact on price levels isn’t yet known. Part of the concern comes from the idea that dynamic pricing is often enabled by algorithms, which are opaque to consumers and regulators, and can be tools of collusion. The Federal Trade Commission recently filed a legal brief warning that price fixing by algorithms is still illegal, even without explicit human direction. And when one company dominates the market, dynamic pricing is more likely to inflate prices overall. But in a competitive environment, dynamic pricing can also lead to price wars that benefit consumers. Most companies use the strategy to try to broaden their reach, according to pricing experts, increasing their revenues by bringing in new customers rather than making more money on each one. In a recent study of a large restaurant chain that used an algorithm to vary prices for food delivery, diners reacted strongly, smoothing out orders across the day and enabling the company to bring in more revenue even as it lowered prices on average. Or take airlines: Lowering fares far in advance allows more price-sensitive, date-flexible leisure travelers to afford the trip, while business travelers pay much more for last-minute tickets. Those decisions can be increasingly targeted, since companies have vast troves of data about their customers, and direct connections with them through smartphone apps. Jean-Pierre Dubé is a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who has studied personalized pricing. In one experiment, two movie theaters offered mobile discounts to people who were located closer to their competitor, effectively creating a two-tier price structure. (This is common with senior and student discounts.) In the end, both moviegoers and theaters came out ahead. “When both firms do it, the prices go down a ton,” Dr. Dubé said. “The only reason the firms aren’t harmed profit-wise is that you can generate enough new customers who wouldn’t have otherwise gone to a movie to make up for it.” If companies did this more often, they might end up charging wealthier people more, effectively creating a progressive cost structure for goods and services. For example, a 2017 economics paper found that grocery stores could make more money by offering lower prices in poor neighborhoods, which they currently tend not to do. It’s also clearly legal: The Federal Trade Commission wrote in 2018 that “absent unfair and deceptive conduct,” personalized pricing itself provides “no basis for intervention.” But few companies have embraced the strategy, fearing the kind of fury that Wendy’s faced — or, at least, don’t charge different sticker prices for different people, which draws accusations of the uglier term “price discrimination.” Instead, they’ve found more subtle ways to personalize the shopping experience that create essentially the same result. Zohar Gilad runs Fast Simon, a company that helps retailers optimize their websites. Instead of offering different prices, they might display higher-end items for customers with a free-spending buying history, and clearance items for bargain hunters. Targeted coupons for hesitant browsers also create a personalized price by another name, creating a sale that might not have happened. “Say if you search for something and you didn’t buy it, you may get an email saying: ‘Hey, you have great taste. We saw you looking for black boots. Here’s a 20 percent coupon,’” Mr. Gilad said. “I think that personalization, done correctly, can be good and serve both shoppers and the merchants well.” Nonetheless, some retailers prefer the loyalty that can stem from stable prices, even if it means forgoing short-term profits. Walmart, with its Every Day Low Prices approach, eschews coupons and rarely discounts anything. The practice “helps us earn trust with our customers, because they don’t have to chase sales and can count on us to consistently offer everyday low prices,” said Molly Blakeman, a Walmart spokeswoman. Retailers also must take care to avoid the appearance of discrimination. The Princeton Review came under scrutiny when ProPublica revealed that because it charged higher rates for test preparation in certain ZIP codes, Asian American students tended to pay more than other groups. Researchers found that in Chicago, Uber’s and Lyft’s pricing algorithms resulted in higher fares in neighborhoods with more nonwhite residents. The companies said their pricing was based on demand patterns and not with any intent to discriminate. The most important factor, said the Consumer Federation of America’s director of consumer protection, Erin Witte, is that shoppers understand the rules that merchants have created. Problems arise when there’s an “informational imbalance,” especially when it comes to something as existential as food, which may have fueled the Wendy’s backlash. “When they feel like they can participate meaningfully in a negotiation about price, everyone understands on some level that a business is going to make money on a transaction,” Ms. Witte said. “But when you feel like you’re the subject of price manipulation that you as the consumer don’t have any access to, and certainly can’t predict with any measure of certainty, it just feels very unfair.”
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Hot Button Issues

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



Climate

For more information » click here
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Earth sees hottest-ever March, the 10th record-breaking month in a row
The Earth just recorded its hottest March on record, the 10th month in a row to reach that feat, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Fueled by a mix of human-caused warming and the El Niño climate pattern, the all-time monthly highs were observed both in the air and in the ocean’s waters, the Copernicus report said. The heat over the past 12 months has pushed global average temperatures to an unprecedented 1.58 degrees Celsius (2.84 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial levels, and the hotter air over the Atlantic Ocean in particular could lead to an especially intense hurricane season, scientists warned. “It should be eye-catching — we are going toward uncharted territory,” said Gillian Galford, the lead of the Vermont Climate Assessment and a professor at the University of Vermont who reviewed the report. “It’s rather unusual we see such an increased temperature over months and seasons.” She added that the warmer waters in the Atlantic in particular can lead to larger storms and a more intense hurricane season. It could also lead, she said, to more storms dumping more water in places like Vermont in the northeastern United States, which saw intense flooding last summer. March’s average surface air temperature of 14.14 degrees Celsius (57.45 degrees Fahrenheit) was .1 degrees (.18 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous high set in March 2016. Copernicus found that the Antarctic sea ice extent was 20 percent below average after the planet experienced its warmest winter, defined as December through February. While experts say the 10 consecutive months reflect a broader trend that is likely to continue, they said it doesn’t suggest that every month will be record-breaking indefinitely. “But historic highs will probably continue in the months ahead,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus. “Seasonal forecasts suggest spring and summer are likely to be warmer than average,” Burgess told The Washington Post. “The reality is unless we change our emissions dramatically, we’ll look back at 2023 and consider it a cool year, 10 to 20 years in the future.” The report comes two months after scientists found Earth’s 12-month average temperature for the first time breached 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, defined as the average temperatures between 1850 and 1900. Climate experts fear that catastrophic changes, like the collapse of critical ocean circulations, could occur should the Earth’s temperatures remain near or above that threshold for multiple years. In the 2016 Paris climate agreement, nations around the world agreed to keep global average temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The nearly 200 participating countries also agreed to “pursue efforts” to keep the multiyear averages below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which could allow for the survival of coral reefs and less deadly heat waves. But to do so, activists have noted that emissions need to be sharply cut by 2030. It’s unclear exactly what influence El Niño — the warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern Pacific that tends to lead to warmer weather around the world — had in the record heat. But scientists say that 10 consecutive months of record temperatures suggest human-caused climate change played a role, noting that March’s broken record took place after El Niño peaked. Peter Huybers, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, said the records are not a “huge surprise” given the continued global greenhouse gas emissions. “It’s a bellwether whenever you break a record,” he said. “And we’re seeing those records in spades this year. But we’re exactly where we expected to be given those fundamentals.” He added that the Earth’s natural fluctuation, which results in some warmer years and some cooler years, could mean the streak eventually ends as El Niño weakens and is potentially replaced by La Niña, its opposite. But the long-term trends of unprecedented heat are likely to continue, which Burgess said could make it more difficult to predict how the climate will behave in the future — especially if a “tipping point” is reached. “Then we’ll need a lot more science and data to predict what could happen next,” she said.
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There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear



Flood Insurance Program

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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On March 22, 2024, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2024.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2024.



GenX

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EPA head Michael Regan returns to NC, announces new standards for ‘forever chemicals’
The federal government has set standards for so-called forever chemicals in drinking water and will provide $1 billion for testing and other protective measures, said Michael Regan, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who spoke Wednesday morning in Fayetteville. Regan announced the measures regarding PFAS, or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, at an event in front of the P.O. Hoffer Water Plant operated by the Public Works Commission, the locally owned utility. Regan served as director of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality from 2017 until March 2021 when President Joe Biden tapped him to head the EPA. “Today I’m proud to return to North Carolina to announce the first-ever, nationwide, legally enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS,” Regan said, “the most significant action EPA has ever taken on PFAS.”  He said the chemicals, which are used in products such as non-stick coating for cookware and firefighting foam, “have a place and are important for certain industries and certain practices.” But he added: “There is also no doubt that these chemicals entering into our environment in an uncontrolled manner are harmful to our families, harmful to our communities and harmful to our economy.”  The new standards will require utilities to test for six different types of PFAS in drinking water; the chemicals have been linked to certain types of cancer. The new standards limit PFOA and PFOS, two common types of PFAS, to 4 parts per trillion, as well as four other types of PFAS similar to those two. The regulations could reduce the impact pf PFAS on 100 million people, Regan said. A reporter’s question to Regan at Wednesday’s event noted that the standards addressed six types of PFAS but there were thousands. “We’re starting with this six,” he said. “With this six, we have the best science and data to design these health standards.” He said the EPA would “continue until we get to all of them.” 

Activist: Persistent as forever chemicals
Other speakers Wednesday were N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper; state Attorney General Josh Stein; Brenda Mallory, chairperson of the Council on Environmental Quality for the Biden Administration; Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin; Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group; and Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear and a mother whose family has been directly affected by PFAS pollution. Donovan, who brought her daughters to the EPA event, listed several activists who had raised concerns about PFAS. She said one of her fellow activists likes to say: “We are as persistent as PFAS.” 

‘Preparing for this day’
The Wilmington StarNews first reported evidence of PFAS pollution in the local water supply in 2017, tracing the contamination to the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant at the Bladen and Cumberland county line. In 2019, a consent order was negotiated by Regan’s DEQ; Chemours; and the Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Cape Fear River Watch. It requires the chemical company to reduce its impact on the water, air and soil through several measures, including well-testing and providing bottled water or other replacement water to residents. Cooper and Stein highlighted the state’s role in dealing with PFAS contamination. “In North Carolina, we’ve already been preparing for this day,” Cooper said about the new standards. “Our Department of Environmental Quality is partnering with our local water systems, getting ready, taking hundreds of samples of water, providing technical assistance.” The state will propose PFAS limits for surface and groundwater, too, he said.

‘Bring some money by’
Cumberland County Commissioner Glenn Adams praised the EPA decision and said he believed it was just the beginning. The Wednesday announcement applies to the whole nation, he said. “For us, we already knew what the issue was,” he said. “Hopefully when they talk about reducing limits they’ll bring some money by. “We’ve already been talking about Gray’s Creek and Cedar Creek — it’s spreading” he said about PFAS contamination. He says the officials he heard from today appreciated that funding was needed. “It’s a health risk,” he said. “We always talk about the health risk.”
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EPA announces new PFAS standards for water utilities, but fails to address NC chemical industry
On Wednesday, the EPA announced first-time legally enforceable maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for six types of PFAS. They include:

      • PFOA 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt) 
      • PFOS 4.0ppt 
      • GenX chemicals 10ppt 
      • PFNA 10ppt 
      • PFHxS 10ppt  
      • Mixtures of GenX, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFBS meeting a hazard index standard of 1.

“This is a very important first step, a huge move for the EPA to protect communities in our country,” Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney Jean Zhuang told Port City Daily. Public water utilities will be required to complete initial monitoring of the compounds by 2027 and must implement solutions to reduce chemicals exceeding the MCL by 2029. After 2029, utilities with PFAS exceeding MCLs will be required to give public notice of the violation and take action to reduce them in drinking water. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is seeking federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to assist water utilities in funding expensive filtration technology. CFPUA installed its granular-activated carbon system in 2022, which cost $43 million. It raised its rates 8% in 2022 to help cover the costs. CFPUA spokesperson Cammie Bellamy said the utility is in compliance with the EPA’s new rules and provides updated testing results. She said the site will soon include comparisons with new PFAS maximum contaminant levels. Pender County spokesperson Brandi Cobb said Pender is also in compliance with the new standards and has been filtering PFAS compounds through its GAC system. “We appreciate having a specific regulation, as it offers clarity and guidelines on the essential measures to mitigate toxic chemicals in the water,” Pender County Utilities executive director Anthony Colon told PCD. “Nonetheless, it is concerning that the EPA places more responsibility on utility companies and their customers than on the companies responsible for introducing these chemicals into the water in the first place.” While the MCL standards place requirements on public water utilities, it remains unclear if the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will implement the rules for companies that require pollution discharge elimination system permits. In a public comment to the EPA, CFPUA executive director Kenneth Waldroup said PFAS manufacturers should be the foremost focus of expensive regulation, not utilities. According to DEQ Deputy Communications Director Josh Kastrinsky, the agency is proposing to include the EPA’s PFAS standards in the state’s surface and groundwater standards to the Environmental Management Commission, the appointed body oversees and creates rules for DEQ. North Carolina currently does not have surface or groundwater water standards for PFAS; new standards would include PFAS in discharge permits. It’s unclear if the EPA’s new rules will affect a recent permit submitted by automotive manufacturer Lear Corporation, for instance, which included no PFAS limitations in its February draft NPDES permit for its Kenansville facility. DEQ extended the public comment period for the draft permit after a Cape Fear River Watch petition protesting the omission gained thousands of signatures. It is currently under EPA review. Kastrinksy told Port City Daily the agency is currently reviewing public comments for Lear’s draft permit and a final announcement will be made soon. “We do want to emphasize that EPA and our states need to take the next step and ensure that utilities can meet these standards — and not be too burdened — that they should begin using existing legal tools under the Clean Water Act to stop PFAS pollution at the source,” Zhuang said. Beyond Lear, she noted other known and suspected North Carolina dischargers do not have PFAS limitations in their NPDES permits, including DAK Americas’ emissions in the Cape Fear River and Colonial Pipeline, which releases in the Yadkin River watershed. “Dischargers should be tasked with implementing best available control technologies (BACT) in all cases for cleaning our waters and air,” UNCW geographer Roger Shew told PCD. “This should not be a discussion item. If the technology is available then it should be put in place —  that is and should be EPA’s responsibility.” Cape Fear River Watch executive director Dana Sargent said she views the announcement as positive, but argued the EPA’s first-time PFAS regulations should have been established decades earlier. “Thousands of people have become sick or died from PFAS exposures while the chemical manufacturers who knew of the dangers 60 years ago, cozied up to the EPA, and federal and state officials, who — instead of doing their jobs to protect human health and the environment — helped make these corporations trillions of dollars, completely unregulated, for decades,” Sargent said. On March 19, Cape Fear River Watch and other local nonprofits sent a letter to EPA expressing alarm about the agency’s private, invite-only workshop on the national PFAS testing strategy with chemical industry representatives. The groups are currently suing the EPA to require comprehensive PFAS testing in North Carolina, to include 54 Chemours-specific compounds. Zhuang pressed the fact that Wednesday’s announcement only applies to a few PFAS compounds; different agencies estimate a range from 6,000 to more than 12,000 variants. She hopes for more comprehensive regulation in the future. Sargent similarly called for more expansive action: “It’s time the USA adopts the precautionary principle followed by other developed countries, which requires companies prove their products are safe before they enter the environment, rather than waiting for people to get sick and die, before beginning a decades-long process to regulate them.” She added the agency has not sought public input for its PFAS testing strategy, which Sargent believes is excessively influenced by the chemical industry. “Even now, they refuse to regulate the corporations directly by requiring them to stop the pollution at the source, but instead put the burden on utilities to either filter this dangerous filth or do the government’s job to pressure companies to stop discharging it,” she said. Powerful business groups in the state such as the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, and the American Chemistry Council have pushed against stronger PFAS regulations.  Legislators introduced a House Bill 600 provision last year to limit DEQ from imposing limits on PFAS, but withdrew it after public backlash. Industry groups also fought against Rep. Ted Davis Jr’s bill to require Chemours to pay for the public utilities’ PFAS filtration systems in New Hanover and Brunswick counties in 2022. Shew said DEQ should work with PFAS discharging companies to meet the new standards:. “And if they don’t, they should be held fiscally accountable. There should be incentive penalties to ensure they adhere to the new rules.”
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EPA announces first-of-its-kind restrictions on PFAS contamination in drinking water
The Environmental Protection Agency announced utilities will have to restrict the amount of forever chemicals in their drinking water supply by 2029. “Today is a significant step towards cleaner and safer water for all Americans,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “These new standards will give people the confidence they deserve when they turn on the tap.” The announcement was made Wednesday when state and federal leaders gathered in Fayetteville by the Chemours company’s Fayetteville Works Plant. Chemours contaminated the area’s drinking water supply by dumping forever chemicals in the Cape Fear River. According to the Environmental Working Group, North Carolina is third in the nation when it comes to PFAS water contamination. For years, local advocates have been calling for regulations. Dana Sargent is one such advocate and executive director of Cape Fear River Watch. She says the water contamination has caused numerous people living in Fayetteville and the Cape Fear region to experience health problems. “There are a ton of stories in this community of people with diseases that are directly linked to PFAs,” Sargent said. “Thyroid disorders, kidney and testicular cancers, things that you wouldn’t expect in the ages of people, and then it’s generational.” While Sargent is happy the limits are now in place, she questions why it took so long for them to pass the regulations and why they won’t actually be enforcing them for the next five years. “Our federal government knew PFAS was dangerous at least 26 years ago, and here we are in 2024 with the first regulation,” Sargent said. “They’re allowing sampling for three years. Currently, in North Carolina, we’ve had sampling for about 7. We don’t need any more sampling. We know there’s PFAs in the water. We could move forward right away with forcing the utilities to get these things filtered.” Sargent said she also wished the new restrictions put the burden on the producers of these chemicals, not the water suppliers. “I want our federal government and our state regulators to hold the polluters accountable, and that’s missing from this type of action,” Sargent said. “It’s our pocketbooks and it’s our health that’s been burdened by these companies who continue to bank off of this stuff.”

The new maximum contaminant levels are:

      • PFOA 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt)
      • PFOS 4.0ppt
      • GenX chemicals 10ppt
      • PFNA 10ppt
      • PFHxS 10ppt

“These are really pretty good because it’s hard to detect those chemicals lower than those levels,” Sargent said. “The right answer would be we don’t want any PFAS contamination in our water, but there will never be a perfect filtration system.” WECT reached out to three utility companies in the area to see if they currently comply with these new restrictions. Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says all of its systems comply since they implemented a new filtration system in 2022. H2GO in Brunswick County said its systems also comply because it sources its water from Lower Peedee and Black Creek aquifers which are free of PFAS contaminants, and not the Cape Fear River. Brunswick County Public Utility says its systems do not comply with these new standards yet but should soon. The utility is in the process of building a filtration system that should help remove PFAs from the water supply. Contractors estimate the project should be completed by the end of 2024.
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With new ‘forever chemical’ standards set,
how will NC utilities clean up their water?
Filtering manmade chemicals like GenX out of public water supplies could cost billions. Utilities say their customers shouldn’t have to shoulder the costs
In a historic announcement earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its first-ever drinking water standards to protect people against toxic “forever chemicals.” Michael Regan, EPA administrator and North Carolina’s former top environmental regulator, traveled to Fayetteville to unveil the new regulations for six manmade per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX. The chemicals are used in many household and everyday items, and they “have a place and are important for certain industries and certain practices,” Regan said. But decades of uncontrolled dumping of the chemical compounds into the environment, including into waterways and groundwater that serve as drinking sources for millions, and their widespread use, including in fire-fighting foam, has seen PFAS contamination and health concerns proliferate across the country. The substances are often called forever chemicals because they do not easily break down in nature or the human body. The choice of Fayetteville for the announcement was not by accident. Seven years ago, the StarNews broke the story that water in the Cape Fear River downstream of Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Plant contained high levels of previously unknown chemicals. In the years since, PFAS have been found throughout the United States and worries about the environmental, financial and health impacts of this national contamination have seen a raft of moves to protect people, punish the PFAS polluters, and learn more about the true health impacts of the compounds that have already been linked to several types of cancer. While officials, environmentalists and grassroots activists said this month’s announcement is a welcome first step to help protect people and the environment from the still largely unknown impacts from the widespread contamination, it’s only the beginning. “It’s absolutely fantastic to now have these baseline standards for our public water systems,” said Jean Zhuang, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). “But we need further steps to stop PFAS from getting into the environment in the first place, and that means going after the polluters who are profiting from producing these chemicals.” She added that existing legal tools, like the federal Clean Water Act, already give federal and state regulators the ammunition to go after these industries. But enforcement and seeing actual steps on the ground is a slow process. It took six years after Chemours, and its former parent DuPont, were found to have been dumping GenX and other forever chemicals into the Cape Fear River for decades from Fayetteville Works before a barrier wall and groundwater capture and treatment project were in place to stop more than 90% of PFAS-contaminated water from reaching the river. Then there’s the sheer volume of PFAS out there. According to the EPA, there are nearly 15,000 synthetic chemicals and little is known about the potential health impacts of most of them. “We’re starting with this six,” Regan said at the Fayetteville event. “With this six, we have the best science and data to design these health standards.” In a statement, Chemours said it was proud of its actions using the best-available technologies to eliminate almost all PFAS discharges from Fayetteville Works. “We know of no other company in North Carolina that has made such a significant investment to address emissions and legacy remediation,” company spokesperson Cassie Olszewski wrote. But Chemours did express some reservations over the EPA’s new PFAS limits in drinking water. “While we will review the final regulation, we have serious concerns with the underlying science used and the process EPA followed in developing the (maximum contaminant levels), including as commented to EPA by various parties,” the company said. “Chemours supports government regulation that is grounded in the best available science and follows the law.”

Multibillion-dollar bill
Announcing new standards to limit the amount of toxins coming out of people’s taps might have been the easy part. According to the EPA, the new rule’s requirements will be phased in over the next five years, with initial PFAS monitoring required to be finished within three years and then two additional years for capital improvements if the numbers come in too high. According to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, more than 300 water systems in the state including 42 large municipal utilities serving a combined three million residents have PFAS levels that will exceed the new federal standards. While some larger municipal systems like the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) that serves New Hanover County and H2GO that serves Brunswick County have the financial pockets to fund the monitoring and installation of PFAS filtration systems on their own before receiving any money from potential settlements with polluters, many do not. That could leave water customers footing the bill if other sources of funding can’t be secured. Recognizing this, Regan said the federal government is making billions in funding available for PFAS testing and future capital improvements to water systems to filter out toxins. North Carolina also has made funding available to help utilities deal with PFAS contaminants. But the Denver-based American Water Works Association (AWWA) fears officials are seriously underestimating the true cost to utilities of meeting the new and future PFAS drinking water standards. Chris Moody, AWAA’s regulatory technical manager, said a recent study found the cost of PFAS treatment nationally to be three times higher than the EPA’s estimates, potentially requiring an investment of up to $40 billion. Then there is the EPA’s aggressive five-year timeline to have all of the improvements in place, which will leave water systems competing against each other for limited resources and manpower amid a stretched supply chain. “There is a possibility that even by water systems’ best efforts many will take longer than five years to complete construction and start-up of the new facilities,” Moody said. Which brings us back to getting industry to pony up the costs of PFAS testing and system improvements. Already some major chemical producers have announced settlements topping $11 billion with states and public water providers. That list includes 3M, DuPont, Chemours, Corteva and Johnson Controls. But many cases are continuing to work their way through the courts, and not all states and utilities have agreed to settle with the companies over their PFAS dumping. Zhuang, the SELC attorney, said it was not only important to go after polluters for the PFAS contamination they’ve already caused, but use regulatory steps to stop any more toxins from entering the environment. “We are very excited about this announcement and these new drinking water standards, but there’s always more work that needs to be done,” she said.

More information
Details about the EPA’s new PFAS drinking water standards:

    • For PFOA and PFOS, EPA is setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL) goal, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health impacts, including certain cancers.
    • EPA is setting enforceable MCL at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in our drinking water to the lowest levels that are feasible for effective implementation.
    • For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.
    • Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, EPA is setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.

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Homeowners Insurance
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Anti-regulation sentiment may be fueling insurance crisis
When Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey met last month in Manteo for a brief overview and Q&A with community members worried about property insurance issues, he stressed that his office had limited power over building code changes and insurance company business decisions in North Carolina that have unnerved homeowners. First of all, he said, billion-dollar losses from storms, wildfires, floods and other disasters are worldwide challenges. But the property insurance industry in the U.S., where population numbers and real estate values are often highest in the highest-risk areas, is approaching its own survival crisis. “It’s a very hard market right now across the United States,” Causey said. “Companies just don’t want to write homeowners policies.”
Confronted with looming policy price hikes and feeling powerless to stop their insurance companies from pulling out of the state, frustrated homeowners are turning to the government for solutions. “People say, ‘Why don’t you change the system?’” Causey said, responding to the audience’s questions about future insurance affordability and access. “The only group that can change that system is the legislature.” Whether Causey, a Republican who is seeking reelection to the post he’s held since 2017, is shifting blame may be debatable, but it is evident from the last legislative session that focus on property insurance viability in the state was not a priority for the North Carolina General Assembly. Rather than modernizing the state’s 15-year-old residential building codes, a step incentivized by lower property insurance costs, millions in government grants, and more resilient and efficient construction, North Carolina legislators passed a law, House Bill 488, that in much of the state banned inspection of exterior sheathing in structures exposed to winds of 140 mph or less. The bill also removed authority from the North Carolina Building Code Council, a panel of industry specialists that had been working for months on updating codes, froze the old energy-efficiency standards until 2031 and directed creation in 2025 of a new separate residential council. While the legislation is certain to deprive the state of available funds for climate resilience, it is also locking homebuyers into new housing that is built to outdated standards and thus more vulnerable to climate hazards. As a result, homebuyers will have increasingly higher utility bills, as well as structures more prone to damage in weather events, ultimately making their home more expensive to own. “Everybody’s going to be paying quite a bit more for homeowners’ insurance because … our building codes are hopelessly out of date when it comes to residential construction in some areas,” said Kim Wooten, a member of the Building Code Council and the chair of the council’s ad hoc energy committee. “The other piece of this is that North Carolina is now going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in grant money from the federal government to increase our ability to withstand flooding from flood events, storm events, weather disaster events.” The bill also allocated about $500,000 for staff members for the new residential council, which had been part of the existing Building Code Council, she said. Wooten, who was on the panel from 2008 to 2013 before rejoining about five years ago, is an engineer. Anti-regulation sentiment in the legislature as well as persistent climate change skepticism, Wooten said, has contributed to lawmakers’ resistance to updating codes. The North Carolina Home Builders Association, which lobbied for the bill, had said that sheath inspection is unneeded and, along with energy-efficiency updates, would add an average of about $20,000 in costs to a new home. But in an independent analysis Wooten conducted as part of her role with the energy committee while reaching out to green homebuilders, industry insiders and researchers, said that energy efficiency was consistently one of the five top things homebuyers want in a home — and the costs were “nowhere near” what the homebuilders claim. “They just pulled a number out of a hat, which is the same number they pulled out of their hat five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” Wooten said. “Yeah, it’s always $20,000.” Zach Amittay, a Southeast advocate for E2, also known as Environmental Entrepreneurs, told Coastal Review that it’s understandable that the homebuilders’ group would want to protect their bottom line, but ultimately, the consumer and the taxpayer will be paying the piper. “It’s going to become more and more financially untenable for folks to be able to have insurance, and then you’re dealing with more uninsured homes and then what happens after storm damage,” he said. Less resilient construction often translates to more severe damage to both the interior and exterior, Amittay added. That leaves underinsured property owners unable to afford repairs or replacement of their home. “That’s also the kind of thing that, in my opinion, the government should be taking steps to try and protect residents from these sort of outcomes,” Amittay said. On its website, the North Carolina Home Builders Association said that “viable” code changes would have to be supported by data and follow proper processes. “We work to develop and support cost-effective and affordable building codes, standards, regulations and state legislation in the construction area,” according to the website. “While safety is our priority, proposals also have to be examined for their cost-benefit and practicality.” Typically, cities and towns in the U.S. base their building codes on recommendations that are updated every three years from the International Code Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. According to a Feb. 28 Swiss Re Institute report, at $97 billion, or 0.38% of gross domestic product, the U.S. suffers the highest economic cost “in absolute terms” from weather events in the world, mostly related to hurricanes. The Swiss Re Group is a leading global provider of reinsurance and insurance. “The first step towards cutting losses is to reduce the loss potential through adaptation measures,” the report found. “Examples of adaptation actions include enforcing building codes, increasing flood protection, while keeping an eye on settlement in areas prone to natural perils.” Each dollar invested in new building codes designed for construction that can better withstand storms can save $6 to $10 later, according to the report. “Ultimately,” the report said, “losses as a share of GDP of each country will depend on future adaptation, loss reduction and prevention.” Property owners on the Outer Banks and elsewhere on the North Carolina coast were shaken earlier this year by eye-popping proposed rate increases for homeowners insurance, averaging 42% statewide and as high as 99.4% in some coastal counties. Rates in the state are set by the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which was established as a separate entity to represent insurance companies in the state, and operates independently of the insurance commissioner. “It’s the largest rate request I’ve ever seen, (since 2017 when he took office) 42% state average, 99.4% in some counties. 25,000 letters and comments, including from associations and county boards, congressional delegations,” said Causey, who has challenged the Rate Bureau. But barring a negotiated agreement, Causey said he expects the rates will be adjudicated in court on Oct. 7. “I haven’t seen the evidence to justify such a drastic rate increase on North Carolina consumers,” Causey said in a Feb. 6 press release. Other insurance impacts weren’t as broad, but they can factor into future costs. In February 2023, Nationwide insurance had notified the state that it would not be renewing 10,525 policies in North Carolina, about half of which were related to hurricane risk, spurring homeowners’ fears of more companies fleeing. Then, in August, the legislature overturned Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of H.B. 488, allowing the building code bans to go into effect. Causey’s office had opposed the bill, and he said that his office “weighs in” on insurance company actions in the state such as Nationwide’s decision. At the same time, a volatile property insurance market can spook real estate investors, and eventually, economic stability. “It’s not going to be, ‘Can you afford it?’” Tanner Coltrain, agency manager at Farm Bureau Insurance in Swan Quarter, told Causey at the Manteo meeting, referring to insurance availability. “It’ll be, ‘Can you even buy it?’ There may be some comfort in that North Carolina has what many consider one of the most innovative programs in the nation that encompasses resilience, insurance and consumer incentives and costs in one fell swoop. The North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association, or NCIUA, offers grants up to $8,000 for eligible homeowners toward roof replacement with what’s known as a fortified roof through its Strengthen Your Roof pilot program. Studies have shown that as much as 90% of catastrophic insurance claims from storm damage are related to roof failures, and the NCIUA program has shown the effectiveness of fortifying roof construction. But despite its proven track record, funds for the program were decreased during the General Assembly’s last session. “We’re looking for the legislature to put more money into resilience,” Causey said.
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Hurricane Season
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‘Alarming’ Ocean Temperatures Suggest This Hurricane Season Will Be a Daunting One
An early forecast from one set of experts sees an above-average hurricane season that may rival the busiest years on record.
A key area of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already abnormally warm, much warmer than an ideal swimming pool temperature of about 80 degrees and on the cusp of feeling more like warm bathtub water. These conditions were described by Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami, as “unprecedented,” “alarming” and an “out-of-bounds anomaly.” Combined with the rapidly subsiding El Niño weather pattern, it is leading to mounting confidence among forecasting experts that there will be an exceptionally high number of storms this hurricane season. One such expert, Phil Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University, said in his team’s annual forecast on Thursday that they expected a remarkably busy season of 23 named storms, including 11 hurricanes — five of them potentially reaching major status, meaning Category 3 or higher. In a typical season, there are 14 named storms with seven hurricanes and three of them major. Dr. Klotzbach said there was a “well above-average probability” that at least one major hurricane would make landfall along the United States and in the Caribbean. It’s the Colorado State researchers’ biggest April prediction ever, by a healthy margin, said Dr. Klotzbach. While things could still play out differently, he said he was more confident than he normally would be this early in the year. All the conditions that he and other researchers look at to forecast the season, such as weather patterns, sea surface temperatures and computer model data, are pointing in one direction. “Normally, I wouldn’t go nearly this high,” he said, but with the data he’s seeing, “Why hedge?” If anything, he said, his numbers are on the conservative side, and there are computer models that indicate even more storms on the way.

The United States was lucky in 2023.
Last year was unusual. Though only one hurricane, Idalia, made landfall in the United States, 20 storms formed, a number far above average and the fourth most since record keeping began. Typically, the El Niño pattern that was in force would have suppressed hurricanes and reduced the number of storms in a season. But in 2023, the warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic blunted El Niño’s effect to thwart storms. That left Idalia as the one impactful storm of the season in the Atlantic, with 12 deaths attributed to it and over $1 billion in damage. It hit in the big bend of Florida, where few people live, and the prevailing thought among hurricane researchers is that the East Coast got lucky, Dr. Klotzbach said. That luck may change this year. The El Niño pattern is dwindling now, and the likelihood of a La Niña pattern emerging during the hurricane season could also cause a shift in the steering pattern over the Atlantic. During an El Niño weather pattern, the area of high pressure over the Atlantic tends to weaken, which allows for storms to curve north and then east away from land. That’s what kept most of the storms last year away from land. A La Niña weather pattern would already have forecasters looking toward an above-average year. The possibility of a La Niña, combined with record sea surface temperatures this hurricane season, could create a robust environment for storms to form and intensify this year. Just because there are strong signals during an El Niño year that one thing will occur, it doesn’t mean the opposite happens during a La Niña year, Dr. Kirtman said. But if the high pressure strengthens and shifts west, it will mean more hurricanes making landfall. The region where storms are most likely to form is often called the “tropical Atlantic,” stretching from West Africa to Central America and between Cuba and South America. During a La Niña year, Dr. Klotzbach said, there’s a slight increase in hurricanes forming in the western side of this main development zone — closer to the Caribbean than to Africa. When a storm forms there, it is more likely to make landfall because it’s closer to land. And while it is difficult to predict specific landfalls this far ahead of the season, the sheer odds of more storms increases the expected risk to coastal areas. Sea surface temperatures also affect the hurricane season. Over the past century, those temperatures have increased gradually. But last year, with an intensity that unnerved climate scientists, the warming ratcheted up more rapidly. And in the main area where hurricanes form, 2024 is already the warmest in a decade. “Crazy” is how Dr. Kirtman described it. The main development region is, right now, warmer than it’s historically been,” he said. “So, it’s an out-of-bounds anomaly.” There is little doubt in his mind that we are seeing some profound climate change impacts, but scientists don’t know exactly why it is occurring so quickly all of a sudden. But it is happening, and it is likely to affect the season. “The chances of a big, big hurricane that has a large impact making landfall is definitely increased,” he said.

Early forecasts aren’t always right.
It’s reasonable to take this forecast with a grain of sea salt; the seasonal forecast in April hasn’t always been the most accurate. Colorado State University’s April forecast for the 2023 hurricane season called for a slightly below-average season with 13 named storms. Instead, there were 20. Even Dr. Klotzbach admits the April forecast isn’t always the best prediction, but its accuracy is improving. The weather can be fickle, and much can change before the season officially begins on June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its own forecast in late May. But for now, Colorado State and a few other forecasting groups have all called for one of the busiest seasons on record. By year’s end, Dr. Klotzbach said, he’ll be writing a scientific paper on one of two things: the incredibly active hurricane season of 2024, or one of the biggest head fakes in Atlantic hurricane season history. But he’s pretty confident it will be the former. “If it turns out to be two hurricanes,” he said, “then I should just quit and do something else.”
Read more » click here

The 2024 hurricane season could be busy.
Here’s what to expect in North Carolina.
“This is the highest prediction for hurricanes that (Colorado State University) has ever issued with their April outlook.”
The start of the 2024 hurricane season is sneaking up just as the weather warms, and forecasters are already out with their early-season predictions. But with climate change warming the oceans and air temperatures seemingly hitting new highs every month, with the European Union’s climate service declaring March to be the 10th consecutive month of record worldwide temperatures, is it only a question of how bad things will be this year? Or will Southeastern North Carolina be able to (mostly) dodge the proverbial storm bullet for another year?

What are forecasters saying?
According to forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU), who have been releasing April predictions since 1995, the 2024 season will be “an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season.” The researchers are predicting 23 named storms, with 11 becoming hurricanes and five of those becoming Category 3 or stronger systems. That’s about 170% of the usual storm activity of an average year. “This is the highest prediction for hurricanes that CSU has ever issued with their April outlook,” stated the researchers in a release.

 The probability of one of those storms making landfall on the mainland U.S.:

    • 62% for the entire U.S. coastline (average from 1880–2020 is 43%).
    • 34% for the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula (average from 1880–2020 is 21%).
    • 56% probability a hurricane will come within 50 miles of the N.C. coast, 85% for a named tropical storm.

The researchers added that the predicted storm activity is exhibiting characteristics similar to the 2010 and 2020 seasons.

How bad were 2010 and 2020?
For the Wilmington area, the 2010 hurricane season didn’t bring too many impacts although Tropical Storm Nicole did drop more than 22 inches of rain on the Port City, flooding more than 100 roads in Brunswick County and leaving chunks of Pleasure Island underwater. But for the Atlantic basin as a whole, it was very busy, with some of the more brutal storms, particularly Alex and Karl, hammering the Caribbean and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A pair of Category 4 monsters, Danielle and Earl, also luckily stayed out mostly at sea. A decade later, 2020 proved to be the most active hurricane season ever with 30 named storms, 14 of which developed into hurricanes. That list included a record 12 U.S. landfalling storms, including Hurricane Isaias, which raked the Brunswick County beaches and knocked out power to nearly 400,000 customers in the Carolinas.

What about El Niño & La Niña in 2024?
While El Niño conditions have dominated for the past year or so, that should transition into La Niña by the time hurricane season rolls around. Dr. Michael Mann, a meteorologist and scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that will mean decreased wind shear in the tropical Atlantic and a more favorable environment for tropical cyclones.

Did we learn anything from the 2023 season?
Unfortunately, Mann said one of the lessons that last season reinforced was that in a world buffeted by climate change forecasters continue to have a tendency to under predict the actual number of named storms. He added that while ocean surface temperatures are somewhat retreating from the record heat we’ve seen recently, his team is still expecting to see abnormally warm water temperatures in the main development region of the Atlantic for storms. In other words, it could be a long, stormy season so buckle up and be prepared. “It takes only one storm near you to make this an active season for you,” said CSU meteorologist Dr. Michael Bell. Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November.
Read more » click here



Inlet Hazard Areas

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 .
Lockwood Folly Inlet

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Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling

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Offshore Wind Farms

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Things I Think I Think –


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

Restaurant Review:
The 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.
 ///// January 2024
Name:              Ruth’s Chris
Cuisine:           Steakhouse
Location:        244 North Water St, Wilmington, NC
Contact:          910.343.1818 / https://www.ruthschris.com/restaurant-locations/wilmington
Food:                Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:           Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:      Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost: $55         Inexpensive <=20 / Moderate <=26 / Expensive <=35 / Exorbitant <=60
Rating:            Three Stars
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located inside the River Place complex in the heart of historic downtown, is renowned for its aged USDA Prime steaks. Despite being a franchisee of the largest upscale steakhouse restaurant group in the world it is everything one would expect from a high-end steakhouse. The only negative is it is very pricey, not your any-night-of-the-week restaurant. The new location is a great venue that offers some fantastic views with ample indoor and outdoor seating.


Dining Guide – Local
Old places, New faces
Name:            SmacNally’s
Location:      1045 B-Var Road, Supply NC
This spot that was once known as Betty’s Waterfront Restaurant before reopening in 2020 as LouLous Waterfront Restaurant. LouLous has permanently closed. They weren’t closed long before a new eatery was announced for the space. Owners of SmacNally’s Waterfront Bar & Grill are planning a second location for 1045 B-Var Road S.W. in Supply. 

Popular Outer Banks seafood restaurant planning a second location in Brunswick County
For 25 years, SmacNally’s Waterfront Bar & Grill has been serving fresh seafood and burgers in Ocracoke. Now, the owners are planning to expand the brand for the first time, and they’ll be doing so in Brunswick County. Scott McNally announced that they’ll be taking over the recently closed LouLous Waterfront Restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway at 1045 B-Var Road S.W. in Supply. “It’s time,” McNally said. “We’ve put a lot into this brand and it’s time to grow.”  McNally has decades of experience in restaurants, and together with partners Tom Burruss, Matt Bacheler and Persell Morgan, they have more than 120 years in hospitality. One caveat is they wanted to continue with the waterfront restaurant tradition that’s close to local seafood. It made the Holden Beach area ideal. “At SmacNally’s we work with fishermen, and we have a fish cleaning counter right at the end of our dock. They bring it right from there, to our restaurant. It’s usually just hours from the ocean.”  That dock-to-kitchen model is one they’d like to continue in Holden Beach. If that’s not possible, they still plan to work with local markets for the freshest seafood, he said. LouLous restaurant opened in fall 2020 in what was formerly Betty’s Waterfront Restaurant. The space has indoor and outdoor dining, a bar area and slips for boat parking. McNally said they hope to open the SmacNally’s in May. “Or sooner, if possible,” he said.
Read more » click here


Peach Cobbler Factory
The dessert chain that also has a location in Carolina Beach has opened a mobile unit (with delivery options) in Holden Beach. The menu includes a variety of cobblers, puddings, cinnamon rolls and other desserts at 3247 Holden Beach Road S.W. 


2024 James Beard Award – Outstanding Chef
A chef who sets high culinary standards and has served as a positive example for other food professionals while contributing positively to their broader community.

Chef Dean Neff owner of Seabird in Wilmington, is one of five in the finalist round for the Outstanding Chef category in the James Beard awards


Dining Guide – Local * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Dining Guide – North * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Dining Guide – South * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Restaurant Reviews – North * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Restaurant Reviews – South * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)


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


Resurrection Walk by Michael Connelly
This is the seventh entry in the Lincoln Lawyer series of legal thriller novels. Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller enlists the help of his half-brother, retired LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus (“Harry”) Bosch, to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for the murder of her sheriff’s deputy ex-husband. The title “Resurrection Walk” meaning for prisoners who have just been exonerated of their crimes, declared innocent, and set free. This walk is their resurrection back to their lives.


That’s it for this newsletter

See you next month


Lou’s Views . HBPOIN

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

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

https://lousviews.com/


03 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


Pier Property Public Input Session 02/29/24

THB Newsletter (02/16/24)

Public Input Session – Holden Beach Pier
The Town of Holden Beach is seeking input on the Holden Beach Pier Property. Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects will hold a public input session on Thursday, February 29th, starting at 5:00 p.m. The public will have the opportunity to drop by, review the proposed project with the architect and submit written comments. The public input session is not intended to be a meeting of the Board of Commissioners. 

Previously reported – February 2024
The Board provided information on the Pier Public Input Session scheduled for February 29th. The public will have an opportunity to review the current plans for the pier project. No presentations will be made at the meeting.
There also will be no public comments allowed, however the architect will be there and available  to answer any questions.  However, the public will be able to submit written comments. The intent is to make it very similar to the input session that was held for the Sailfish Site Plan.


Facebook – Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Myers

PIER PUBLIC INPUT SESSION
The pier was purchased based on assumptions and estimates that are proving to be unrealistic. It is no longer clear if the total cost of repairing and maintaining the current structure will be less than the cost of building a new one. In either case, the financial burden on the Town will be excessive unless significant external funding can be obtained.

Notice is hereby given that a quorum of the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners may be present at the Public Input Session for the Holden Beach Pier on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Town of Holden Beach hosts public input meeting for fishing pier
Many people in Holden Beach want to see the town fishing pier preserved however, neighbors are worried about the financial impact. The town of Holden Beach hosted a public input meeting on Thursday for people to ask questions and share opinions about the fishing pier. ” I love this place, I have been coming here since 1955, I was three,” said Joe Utley a Holden Beach resident. The town purchased the pier in 2022, expecting the cost of repairs to be much lower than they are. In recent years, the pier has been closed down because of safety concerns. More information on people’s feelings on the pier and budget costs can be found here. Chip Hemingway the project architect who drew up a master plan of the pier for the town, says current plans include restoring the existing pier. He says the drawn-up plans to restore the pier are over budget. Right now, town officials say it is unclear what the final cost of the potential pier could be. “We did a master plan and a design for construction; they came in over budget. And we are hoping to adjust the drawing slightly to get within the budget. However, the new Town Council decided they wanted to look at the overall plan again and offer to allow the town to have more input into the planning process,” said Hemingway. He and town officials say they want to hear the public’s opinion before any final decision or vote is made. If you were not able to attend the Thursday meeting, a link to submit a public comment can be found here. ” I hope that everyone that sees this will join us in funding this so all of us can enjoy it, we want to keep the pier,” said Utley. Maria Surprise another Holden Beach resident says she does not want to see the pier torn down however, does not want taxpayers to pay the bill to restore it. She says she was against the town purchasing the pier in the first place. “What we’re trying to do now is get a handle on what this is going to cost for us going forward. Because it didn’t seem like a lot of the due diligence that should have been done before we purchased it was actually done. And so now we’re finding out that there’s all these extra costs. “And it’s a pretty penny and only the people here in Holden Beach, pay for it right now,” said Surprise.
“It’s a lot of gray areas about money and financing, that’s why I would like to appeal to all the citizens that love this coastline, let’s fund this thing we want to keep this pier,” said Utley.
Read more » click here

Update –
The BOC’s had decided that a public input session was needed and that they will handle the discussions. The format is similar to the Sailfish Site Plan input session that was held recently.


Block Q Property Public Input Session 03/07/24

Map Aerial view of the Block Q4

THB Newsletter (02/16/24)

Public Input – Block Q
The Board of Commissioners tasked the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) with developing a new site plan for Block Q that includes a concert space with dance floor, ADA compliant bathrooms and greenspace. Other potential amenities to be examined by the PRAB include playground equipment, shaded areas, benches, picnic tables, informational panels, areas for food trucks and usage during festivals. The PRAB held an initial scoping session with the architect to organize the effort and will have future working sessions in which public input is encouraged. The first session to provide public input is Thursday, March 7th at 2:00 p.m. Comments may be provided by attending the session or sending them to the town clerk at [email protected] by Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. The purpose of this particular session is to obtain feedback from those property owners and businesses directly adjacent to Block Q and who might be impacted by any changes to the site. These property owners will also receive a letter from the town in the next few days. 

Previously reported – February 2024
The motion made was to task the Parks and Recreation Board to work with the current architect to develop a new site plan for Block Q. It seems to me that we should just start with only the most essential elements like the restrooms, vehicle, and boat parking. In addition to Block Q the committee should consider integrating Jordan Boulevard into those plans. The Town had plans to develop a promenade on Jordan Boulevard. The Town owns the land that the commercial properties are utilizing for private parking for their businesses. We already own the property there, by utilizing it for vehicle parking it may give us more flexibility on what we can do in Block Q. Diagonal parking on both sides of the road and down the center would add a significant number of parking spaces. Plus, vehicles parked there would be closer to the beach access then parking in Block Q. In addition, not having to have vehicle parking in Block Q would allow other things to be there like the Pavilion. In my humble opinion we should develop plans for Block Q that includes a promenade on Jordan Boulevard.

Holden Beach seeking public input for Block Q development with concert space
The public is invited to provide input concerning the development of Block Q, according to the Town of Holden Beach. “The Board of Commissioners tasked the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) with developing a new site plan for Block Q that includes a concert space with dance floor, ADA compliant bathrooms, and greenspace. Other potential amenities to be examined by the board include playground equipment, shaded areas, benches, picnic tables, informational panels, areas for food trucks and usage during festivals,” the announcement states. According to the town, the first public input session is set for Thursday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at the town hall public assembly at 110 Rothschild Street in Holden Beach. Comments also can be sent by email to the town clerk at [email protected]. Emails must be submitted by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. “The purpose of this particular session is to obtain feedback from those property owners and businesses directly adjacent to Block Q and who might be impacted by any changes to the site. These property owners will also receive a letter from the town in the next few days,” the town adds. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality‘s Division of Coastal Management has awarded $420,000 for the project.
Read more » click here

Holden Beach talks turning Block Q to Block P-arty
The Holden Beach Board of Commissioners during its Jan. 23 meeting expressed safety concerns about the existing pavilion and discussed moving town concerts across the street to the Block Q property. Two motions were passed 3-2, with Commissioners Page Dyer and Rick Smith opposition each. One motion called for having engineers reassess the condition of the pavilion, located at 131 Jordan Blvd., and avoid using it until reassessed; the other motion put Block Q site plans back on the chopping block. The board’s discussion and actions are in response to the February 2023 Right Angle Engineering pavilion condition assessment, which reported needed repairs, improvements or replacement. The report called for the town to make a plan within 12 months of the assessment and implementation of the plan or demolition within the 12 subsequent months. “That first 12 months is up, I think we need to do something,” Mayor Pro-Tem Myers said, noting that the town needs to figure out how safe the structure is and come up with a plan before any town events are hosted there. The passed motion supports staff to engage with Right Angle to do a reassessment and bring that report back to the board. Myers also urged staff not to use it until the report was done due to safety concerns. Though the original pavilion was built in 2009, an engineer designed a temporary bracing system and column repair plan in 2010 to fix the structure. The report stated the column repairs were never implemented. “We have determined that failure of the existing structure is not immediately impending, but significant repairs and/or improvements are required in the short term,” the report states. Inspections Director Tim Evans told commissioners that the pavilion was poorly built from the start and repairs to temporarily brace the structure are starting to fail. “I am the one that’s supposed to really look out for the life, safety, health and welfare of the citizens of this town and it puts me in a bad position,” he said. “But it doesn’t make me sleep good at night knowing I got this engineer report and knowing the condition of that structure up there.” Evans explained that he condemned the original structure because it did not meet the minimum inspection requirements, nor did the pier that was connected to the pavilion. Despite bracing and monthly assessment, he said the whole structure continues to rack and deteriorate. When a structure racks, he noted, they either bring the structure back to where it needs to be, or they take action to keep it from racking anymore because it will eventually reach a point of failure when it moves like that. He told the board that he will soon condemn the pavilion, as he did in 2010, if the board does not take action due to how dangerous the structure is becoming. “I felt comfortable we weren’t going to hurt somebody, I don’t feel that comfortable [now],” he said. The roof, Evans said, is the main concern but the stage itself is perfectly fine for town events. He said the permanent fix would be costly but taking the roof off could be a temporary quick fix to keep the town from losing its summer concert space. Commissioners Dyer and Smith favored Evans’ recommendation. Dyer said she wants a reassessment done but wants to make the pavilion safe enough for concerts to go on, as well. Asked if the reassessment report could be completed before the concerts begin, Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson said probably not. She said there are steps to take before doing the reassessment, which may not be completed prior to the summer concert series. Myers said he wants the pavilion to be permanently fixed and suggested relocating concerns at least temporarily. “If we have a problem of where to hold the concerts, we do have Block Q,” Myers said as the board transitioned to discussing Block Q. In a January special meeting, the board voted to halt the Phase 1 stormwater work for the new Block Q parking area. The first project sketch displayed paid parking spots, boat trailer spaces, a dog park area and public restrooms on the block enclosed by South Shore Drive, Quinton Street and Brunswick Avenue. The motion passed on Jan. 23 supported the Parks and Recreation Board to work with Pinnacle Architecture Professional Association to develop a new site plan for Block Q. The plan is to include a concert space, dance floor, already planned Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathrooms, greenspace, boat and trailer parking spaces, car parking spaces and other potential amenities.
Assuming the pavilion is going away, Myers said he wants to use the grassy Block Q land as a new space for the concerts. Smith said he feels it is a waste of time and money to start the Block Q plans all over again. He said the previous plan was good and that the designated pull-through boat and trailer parking was a necessity. “The plan we had was a good plan and it was a good start to the plan and would still give ample greenspace for a pavilion and a place to have the amenities,” he added. Like Smith, Dyer said the Block Q plan pull-through parking spots for boats and trailers and the ADA bathrooms were the most important aspects of the previous plan. She said the board previously discussed putting the pavilion on the Block Q property but decided to emphasize boat parking and bathrooms first. The prior plans, she added, left space for a pavilion so the town could add it later. “The problem with putting a pavilion over there is, you’re going to be facing residential homes,” she said. She added that some people, such as nearby residents, may not want the pavilion to change locations and those residents should have a say before making any decision. “We will have public input,” Myers said in response. Prior Block Q coverage can be viewed on The Brunswick Beacon website by searching “Block Q” in the search bar.
Read more » click here

Update –
The BOC’s had delegated to the Parks and Recreation Board through a tasker for them to propose a Block Q site plan. They also decided that a public input session was needed. Parks & Recreation Committee ran the meeting  and handled the discussions.


BOC’s Special Meeting 03/08/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Budget Workshop

Facebook – Mayor Pro Tempore Tom Myers

At yesterday’s budget meeting we got our first look at proposed BPART spending for next year. The total was $5M with no money allocated for the pier or the pavilion, and spending for only the bathrooms & associated stormwater work at Block Q. Almost 40% of the spending will go to paying our debt; 16% for contracted services; 10% for beach access and ADA improvements; and 7% for staff salaries and benefits. About 14% has to be paid to the County. It is obvious we have a lot of work to do to achieve our goals of funding priority items while balancing the budget, not raising taxes, and maintaining our fund balance reserves.


BOC’s Special Meeting 03/18/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here


1. Budget Workshop
.      a. Proposed Objectives for Fiscal Year 2024/2025
    b. Governing Body & Administration
    c. Inspections Department
    d. Police Department
.      4. Canal Funds, Capital Improvement Plan and Projects


BOC’s Regular Meeting 03/19/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet »  click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Conflict of Interest Check

2024 Rules of Procedure for the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners
(e) Conflict Check. Immediately after the approval of the agenda, the Presiding Officer shall poll each member to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. In the event that a potential conflict is disclosed, the members will vote on a motion to allow or excuse that member with respect to the agenda item. If excused, the member may not participate in any discussion, debate, or vote with respect to the agenda item.

The Board was polled by Mayor Holden. All of them declared that there was no conflict of interest with any agenda item at this meeting. 

Both Commissioners Smith and Dyer claimed that Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas have a conflict since they are on the Board of the HBPOA. They sprung this without consulting Sydnee Moore the Town Attorney who has previously ruled that being on HBPOA Board is not a conflict of interest. Sydnee stated unless they can show specifics why they think there is a conflict they can proceed.


2.   Public Comments on Agenda Items

There were comments made by eight (8) members of the public at the meeting and additional comments were posted on the Town’s website
For more information
» click here


3.   Discussion and Possible Award of Contract for Roadway Work (High Point Street) – Public Works Director Clemmons

Agenda Packet – pages 23 – 24

Supplement Agenda Packet » click here

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and Possible Award of Contract for Roadway Work (High Point Street)

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Right Angle Engineering has released an invitation to bid for the paving overlay of High Point Street. The bids are due on March 18th so they will not be received in time to be included in the packets. Staff’s intent is to send a supplement with the information before the meeting. Due to timing issues, staff is requesting the Board delegate contract authority to the town manager if the engineer makes a recommendation for award that is within the budgeted amount.

Update –
Staff recommendation is to award the bid to Highland Paving who is currently doing the DOT Ocean Boulevard repaving project. The Board approved awarding the contract to Highland Paving.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


4.   Discussion and Possible Action on Evaluation of Holden Beach Pavilion – Town Manager Hewett, Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 25 – 34

ISSUE/ ACTION REQUESTED:
Board receive evaluation on Holden Beach Pavilion.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Right Angle Engineering has completed the requested updated structural condition evaluation on the HB Pavilion.


As requested, representatives of Right Angle Engineering visited the referenced site in January of 2024 to investigate the existing framing condition as compared to the  previous  year’s investigation . Since the prior year’s investigation, we were informed that there had been temporary work done on the structure. There were no engineered design plans provided to us for review of this work. The main purpose of this report is to re-evaluate if the previously designed repairs are functioning as intended since installation in 2010.


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on the Pavilion.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Right Angle Engineering Report dated March 4, 2024:

SUMMARY
Based on our investigation, no significant repairs and/or improvements were conducted that would prolong the life of the structure or address the main issues that have been raised by our investigations and prior repair plans. Due to lack of significant improvements to the structure and continued deterioration, we recommend the Pavilion be closed. When coupling the pile repair work with roof truss repairs, framing repairs, soon to be needed decking restoration, likely roofing replacement, and other aesthetic improvements, these costs likely approach or exceed the current value and/or replacement cost of the 15-year-old structure. Based on our two investigations and evaluations, the pavilion has not been constructed, repaired, or improved in accordance with any engineered plans. As the structure continues to deteriorate it becomes more plausible that a wind event and/or gravity alone will result in significant damage and/or collapse of this structure.

Possible Action:

    • Instruct staff to rope off entry to pavilion stage and post signs that say, ‘Keep Off’ or ‘Danger.’
    • Request that staff send out an RFP to tear down the current pavilion

Update –
Based on two (2) evaluations the  engineers recommendation is to tear it down. Discussion was whether we just remove the roof or tear down the entire structure. Town Manager Hewett stated that the pavilion wasn’t built in accordance with an engineered plan. Building Inspector Evans stated that based on the engineers evaluation, the entire structure needs to be torn down. Timbo basically spelled it out for them, they really do not have an option other then to move forward with demolition of the pavilion. The Board authorized the Town staff to send out a request for proposal to tear down the structure.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

A request for proposal (RFP) is a solicitation, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.

Holden Beach town leaders vote to demolish pavilion ahead of a busy summer concert season
The Holden Beach Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to tear down the pavilion in town after years of structural and safety issues. “It was poorly, poorly built. That’s why I condemned it the first day I got here,” Timothy Evans, the town’s planning and inspections director, said. There was a lengthy discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting. Some leaders weighed the options of repairing parts of the pavilion, while others pointed out that it would cost more than just demolishing the structure altogether. “I would have to, whether y’all did or not, go down there and post this building as a condemnation. Just like I did the first time. I would have to close it. If y’all decide not to tear it down, then you’re going to put me in an adversary position with the board to have a hearing with you and give you an order to remove it and then you’re going to be in another adversary position because it’s going to have to go to an administrative board somewhere if y’all fail to act. So, I think this report is pretty precise, it’s pretty clear, it’s very professionally done. I’ve read it three or four times. It needs to be taken down,” Evans said to the board. Ultimately, the board decided to follow the recommendation of the engineering firm and tear down the pavilion. There are currently structural reinforcements essentially holding it all together. Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers sent WECT the 2023 report from the same engineering firm which said, “the structure is not immediately impending, but significant repairs and/or improvements are required in the short term.” Now, about a year later, their recommendation is to tear it down. In a report this month, the engineering firm found that the venue was not built, repaired, or improved properly. It warned that the Pavilion could collapse from wind – or even its own gravity. Evans commented and said that in years past the pavilion likely could have been repaired, but the project was put off too long, leaving them with the only option of tearing the structure down. “What jumped out to me is that they were reevaluating some of the previous designated repairs that they suggested back in 2010. My question is, why weren’t any of those done?” Commissioner Rick Smith asked. Town Manager David Hewett replied saying, “They weren’t funded by the board of commissioners.” Right now, there is no set timeline for when the pavilion will be torn down, but leaders hope it’s done sooner rather than later. Commissioner Dr. Page Dyer asked about getting a bid to rebuild the pavilion immediately, but other leaders pointed out that it’s not as easy as putting pen to paper. Hewett mentioned that it could be a 9-12 month process of getting a new design and figuring out the next steps from engineers for a new pavilion. There will be a discussion at a later date for where a new pavilion could be built. It was also mentioned that the current pavilion sits on part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers right of way, but there is an encroachment agreement in place. Myers told WECT that they have secured a temporary location at the picnic pavilion for the summer concerts, but there are still some details to be ironed out.
Read more » click here

With concert series approaching, Holden Beach votes to demolish its pavilion. Here’s why.
A notable town structure in Holden Beach will be torn down following concerns of structural and safety issues. After receiving a second evaluation from an engineer, the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners voted at its March meeting to follow the recommendation to close the pavilion. “The findings are very clear,” Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers said. “It needs to be closed and the cost to repair it would likely exceed the cost of replacing it.” The pavilion was installed under the Holden Beach bridge in 2010, and it’s been cause for concern ever since. In 2011, the structure and the building inspector who signed off on the project were the center of an investigation by the N.C. Code Officials Qualification Board. The project was slated to cost $160,000 but eventually cost the town closer to $200,000 and thousands more in structural repairs. “It was poorly, poorly built. That’s why I condemned it the first day I got here,” Timothy Evans, the town’s current planning and inspections director, said. Evans condemned the pavilion in April 2010 and filed a complaint with the N.C. Code Officials Qualification Board, alleging that the former inspector had “defrauded the public or attempted to do so” and was “guilty of willful misconduct, gross negligence or gross incompetence,” according to past StarNews reporting. The investigation report eventually ruled that the past inspector did not have a conflict of interest in inspecting the project, but subsequently affirmed that the project did have numerous code violations. In 2010, some structural repair designs were completed by an engineer, but, the recent report states, they were never implemented. This resulted in the sagging of the roof framing and other damage to the structure. Town manager David Hewett said those recommended improvements were not executed because they were not funded by the board of commissioners at the time. Ultimately, the recent report concluded the cost to repair the structure to be suitable for use would exceed the cost of replacing the 15-year-old structure. “Based on our two investigations and evaluations, the pavilion has not been constructed, repaired or improved in accordance with any engineered plans,” the report reads. “As the structure continues to deteriorate it becomes more plausible that a wind event and/or gravity alone will result in significant damage and/or collapse of the structure.” Concerns were raised by some board members regarding the town’s 2024 summer concert series. The town has already announced headliners for the upcoming concert series, which will begin in late May and continue each Sunday through Sept. 1. While the series has previously been held at the pavilion, the concert location for 2024 is yet to be determined, according to the town’s website, but could be moved to Bridgeview Park. The vote to demolish the current structure was passed by the board unanimously.
Read more » click here


5.   Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 24-02, An Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Chapter 72: Parking Regulations – Town Manager Hewett

Agenda Packet – pages 35 – 39

Ordinance 24-02 » click here

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 24-02, An Ordinance Amending the Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Chapter 72: Parking Regulations

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Recent repaving and the addition of the bike lane by DOT has encroached into the ROW to such an extent that 50 spaces along McCray between Avenue A and Dunescape on the north side of the street are compromised to the extent they can’t be used for parking. While it appears, there is still 10 feet of ROW, its use would require removal of brush and fill added to bring the ROW up to the grade of the new road surface. It is believed this would not be a prudent measure as this action would require significant permitting, an encroachment agreement and would result in fill adjacent to documented wetlands.

ORDINANCE 24-02
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE HOLDEN BEACH CODE OF ORDINANCES, CHAPTER 72: PARKING REGULATIONS

BE IT ORDAINED BY the Mayor and Board of Commissioners of the Town of Holden Beach, North Carolina, that Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Chapter 72: Parking Regulations be amended as follows.

Section One: Amend the Parking Zone and Area Table in Section 72.03 Parking Authorized by Permit Only as follows (changes are highlighted):

Town of Holden Beach Parking Zone and Area Table
The following table indicate the specific areas within the corporate limits of the Town of Holden Beach where parking is specifically authorized pursuant to Ordinance 72 and its counterparts and references. Changes and/or modifications to this table are restricted to actions by the Board of Commissioners.

McCray Street Avenue A to Dunescape Drive
All Vehicles / Northside only / 40 spaces / Zone H63

Update –
The recent repaving and addition of the bike lane by DOT has encroached into the rights-of-way to such an extent that the spaces can no longer be used for parking. Town Manager Hewett stated that in order to utilize this area for parking would require significant permitting, an encroachment agreement from the DOT and require fill adjacent to documented wetlands. Motion was made to amend the parking ordinance as submitted, eliminating parking on McCray Street.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents TextSince we are going to lose the parking spaces on McCray, now might be a good time to revisit parking on the properties we own in the 800 block. The Town owns ten (10) parcels in the 800 block which we obtained in April 2013 ostensibly to be used for parking. In March of 2021, they wanted to start the process now because we need to get the ball rolling and do what needs to be done. They agreed to send plans to the DOT for their approval. Also, they agreed to hire a civil engineer to delineate the wetland area and do any required permitting. We delineated all town property bordering marsh areas that is included in the parking plan. The following year, once we had the results of the wetlands determination,  the discussion was about adding parking on the 800 block lots. Now it’s just another Loose End.


6.   Discussion and Possible Action on Holden Beach Paid Parking Fees and Schedule – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – page – 40

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discuss and possible action on Holden Beach Paid Parking fees and schedule

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Oak Island
Paid Parking: $5/hour; $20/day; $80/week; $175/year (Resident Season Permit $10)

Topsail Beach
Paid Parking: $5/hour; $25/day; No weekly or season pass

Kure Beach
Paid Parking: $5/hour; $20 /day; $100/week; $225/year (Resident Season Permit $20)

Carolina Beach
Paid Parking: $6/hour; $25/day; $100 /week; No season pass

Holden Beach
Paid Parking: $4/hour; $20/day; $80/week; $150/year (No resident permits)

Possible action:

      1. Increase Holden Beach fees to be in line with other local beaches
      2. Charge for parking during festivals at Pier and East-end
      3. Extend the season or charge for parking year-round

Update –
The proposed actions were presented as separate motions as follows:

The first motion made was to extend the season and charge for parking year-round. The justification used was that the expenses that we incur are not seasonal. The counter argument made is that we have not provided the services we committed to yet and we should wait to do this until we provide these services.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

The second motion made was to change the rates as follows to $5/hour; $20/day; $80/week; $175/year. Anyone that already has purchased a yearly pass are grandfathered in and basically got an early bird special. They clarified that a yearly pass are only valid within the calendar year purchased., so you would need a new pass January 1st. . Also, the transaction fee the town is charged will come down.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

The action required is the same as last year, the Board approved both motions with the instructions to have the Town Manager execute an amendment to the contract to support whatever is necessary to implement the two (2) approved motions.

The third motion made was to charge for parking during festivals. Currently just do not enforce paid parking regulations anywhere on the island when there are festivals. The motion made is to not enforce regulations in the festival area only.

No decision was made – No action taken

The fourth motion made was to provide full-time residents an annual pass for $20 that is restricted to one per household only for vehicles that are registered on the island. The Town Attorney Moore requested that the motion be tabled until she could do some research regarding the legality of the proposed resident permit.

No decision was made – No action taken

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

We just lost approximately 40 to 50 parking spaces on the north side of McCray Street do to the road work/bike lane project which is a loss of revenue for the Town. I believe that raising the parking fees will provide us with much needed revenue for a long list of projects that we don’t appear to have adequate funds for at this time.

Last year we ended paid parking early to allow free parking island wide for festival weekend. The thinking was that in order to promote the festival it would be advantageous to suspend paid parking. The Board agreed to suspend the paid parking early.  Frankly, I did not agree with that decision. It’s a zoo out there during the festival weekend. With all the parking problems that happen during the festivals you would think we would want to continue enforcing parking in designated areas only. By suspending enforcement, people can and will park anywhere they want. Paid parking should be enforced during festivals.

I do not feel extending the paid parking program year-round is the right thing to do. The public should have access to the beach strand without any fees for at least a portion of the year. That said, certainly starting the program one month earlier in March makes a lot of sense to me.

 As for any other ordinance considerations, it is important that any definitions and conditions are clear to help the public avoid inadvertent errors and enable enforcement. In other words, it needs to be standardized, and easily understood. Parking should only be in designated parking spaces whether its paid parking or not, plain and simple. I personally object to parking in the rights-of-way, but I understand why some property owners want to be able to park there on their property. A potential accommodation would be to issue a day specific one-time permit for any homeowners that have an activity at their property that requires them to occasionally park in the  rights-of-way.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!


7.   Police Report – Chief Jeremy Dixon

Agenda Packet – pages 41 – 48

Police Report » click here

Police Patch
Business as usual, normal amount and type of activity for this time of year. 

 


The police department currently has only nine (9) officers of the ten (10) they are budgeted to have. 

      • Justin Hewett is our new Officer in the Police Department
      • Recruiting to fill Police Officer vacancy

Having the full complement of ten (10) police officers seems to be an elusive goal. 


Public Service Announcement –
Scams – be on guard, you need to protect yourself from scammers
Please do not send money when contacted via phone calls

NC residents lose millions to scammers: Report reveals top 10 scam categories
The 41-page report from the North Carolina Department of Justice examines artificial intelligence, the opioid crisis and its scam report.
People in North Carolina are losing millions of dollars each year to scammers, according to a report from the state Department of Justice. This 41-page report looks at everything from artificial intelligence to the opioid crisis – showing that just about any news event and spur scammers into action. The report breaks down the 10 scam categories you’re most likely to fall victim to, and some of the topics are not easy to avoid. The most common types of scams include telemarketing and robocalls, motor vehicles, credit, utilities, home improvement, the internet, landlord-tenant issues, insurance, personal service and real estate. In 2023, the North Carolina Department of Justice received hundreds and in many cases thousands of reports of scams in these arenas. Telemarketing and robocall scams were the most common, with 3,281 reports. Never give anyone your personal information and trust your gut if something feels off. Anyone who thinks they’ve been scammed in North Carolina can call 1-877-566-7226 or file a complaint on the Department of Justice’s website.


What he did not say –

Paid Parking will become effective April 1st
They are getting ready for Days at the Dock


If you know something, hear something, or see something –
call 911 and let the police deal with it.


8.   Discussion and Possible Action on Resolution 24-03, Resolution Declaring Law Enforcement Participation in the Federal 1033 Program – Chief Dixon

Agenda Packet – pages 49 – 50

Resolution 24-03 » click here

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Adopt resolution to allow police department to participate in federal 1033 program.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Federal 1033 program requires Civilian Governing Board written support for participation. 


The LESO/1033 Program is just one way for law enforcement agencies to obtain military sourced equipment. The LESO/1033 Program handles excess military property for use by law enforcement agencies, but prohibits transfer of military uniforms, body armor, Kevlar helmets and the other items.

Update –
After we acquired two (2) Humvees they found out that we are not in compliance without participating in the program. We need this resolution approved in order for us to be in compliance. Motion was made to pass the resolution as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


9.   Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 51 – 53

Inspections Report » click here 


ACTIVE NEW HOME PERMITS                                                                = 46
OTHER ACTIVE PERMITS                                                                         = 281
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $30,000                                                             = 44
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $100,000                                                           = 3
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED WAITING PICK UP                                                     = 17
TOTAL PERMITS                                                                                         = 344


PERMITS IN REVIEW                                                                                 = 5
CAMA ISSUED                                                                                             = 2
ZONING ISSUED                                                                                         = 9


PERMITS SERVICED FOR INSPECTIONS FROM 12/12-1/11                = 104
TOTAL INSPECTIONS MADE                                                                 = 487

Update –
Timbo briefly reviewed department activity last month, it was the busiest month that they ever  had. Timbo requested that the Board charge the Planning & Zoning Board to review both our frontal dune policies and regulations ordinance and our lighting ordinance. The Board tasked P&Z to address the issues Timbo has with these ordinances.

Same As It Ever Was


10.   Finance Department Report – Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 54 – 56

Finance Report » click here

Three graphs were presented, that the Board previously requested, with monthly comparisons of the following funds:

      1. General Fund
      2. Water/Sewer Fund
      3. BPART Fund

BPART Fund – Beach Preservation / Access & Recreation / Tourism
BPART is a Special Revenue Fund authorized by act of the General Assembly which allows the Town to collect six cents of an Accommodations Tax for the purposes of funding beach preservation and tourism related expenses.


11.  Discussion and Possible Acceptance of a Grant from the NC Department of Environmental Quality for Bathrooms, Associated Parking, Site Prep and Landscaping on Block Q – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson
a. Ordinance 24-03, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 23-11, The Revenues and
Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 (Amendment No. 3)

Agenda Packet – pages 57 – 95 which is too large to include here

Ordinance 24-03 » click here

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action in accepting a grant from NC Department of Environmental Quality for bathrooms, associated parking, site prep, and landscaping on Block Q (see memo for more details).

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The BOC’s directed the staff to submit the grant in both a pre-application and final application process. The grant has been awarded and current action rests with the BOC.


Block Q Access Development (Bathrooms /Associated Parking)
The town applied for and has received a grant from DEQ through the NC Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program. The total of the grant is $560,000 of which the town’s obligation will be$140,000 to construct a restroom facility, associated parking, site prep and landscaping. There is a contractual obligation that we must maintain the facilities built using grant funds for 25 years. If the board accepts /approves the contract, a budget amendment would need to be adopted so that the funds can be recognized in this year’s budget. Since we will not be executing the project this fiscal year, they will be reappropriated in next fiscal year’s budget. Accepting the grant includes authorizing the manager to execute the grant paperwork.

Update –
The Board discussed whether or not to accept the grant at this time. The bottom-line is that we can’t put bathrooms on the site without doing stormwater work, an additional $300,000 expense, for the entire site. Motion was made to accept the grant and pass the associated budget amendment. They decided it was in our best interest to accept the grant now, so they can move forward with this project, and then work on modifying the stormwater plan.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


12.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 24-04, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 23-11, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 (Amendment No. 4) – Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 96 – 97

Ordinance 24-04 » click here

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Approval of Budget amendment.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
To transfer unassigned General fund balance over 70% lo Beach and Inlet Capital Reserve Fund and to transfer appropriate funds to FEMA fund to cover the cost of the project that was not captured in the disbursements from FEMA.

Update –
A housekeeping item, they adopted budget amendment as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

It shall be the Fund Balance Policy of the Town of Holden Beach to maintain a minimum of 40% and a maximum of 70% of unassigned fund balance in the General Fund.


13.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Contract Between the Town and Martin Starnes and Associates for Audit Services for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 – Mayor Pro Tem Myers, Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 98 – 119

Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs and PA

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on the annual audit contact

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:

    • The current audit firm has submitted an engagement letter and proposed
    • This would be the second year of the three-year proposal presented in FY 2023.
    • The Audit Committee met on February 28th and voted unanimously to move forward with  the current auditor for the 2023/24 annual

Possible Actions:

    • Instruct staff to execute the contract for the 2023/24

Previously reported February 2024
Discussion and Possible Approval of Contract Between the Town and Martin Starnes and Associates for Audit Services for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 – Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 34 – 54

Item was removed from the agenda


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Approval of Audit Contract

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
To ensure a timely audit conducted by a reputable firm we have previously contracted

FINANCE RECOMMENDATION:
Recommend approving contract to ensure another timely audit. This would be year two of the three year proposal of audit services presented in FY 2023

FEES:
Audit Fee                                                                    $35,125
Financial Statement Drafting                                $3,900
Single Audit Fees (up to 2 programs)                   $3,750
TOTAL                                                                        $42,775

Previously reported February 2023
Two (2) firms were evaluated by the THB Audit Committee for their suitability to be contracted to perform external audits of the Town’s financial statements for Fiscal Years 22/23, 23/24 and 24/25. The qualifications of Martin Starnes & Associates and Sharpe Patel were measured using the RFP scoring tool developed by a previous Audit Committee.

Based upon the scoring tool evaluations, the Audit Committee recommends that the BOC’s authorize the Town Manager to contract with Sharpe Patel.

Based upon the scoring tool evaluations, the Audit Committee recommended that we contract with Sharpe Patel. However, David recommended that we do not change the auditor. After some discussion, the Board chose to ignore the Audit Committee recommendation despite a 147% fee increase and a $12,000 price difference (Sharpe Patel proposed fee was $25,032 vs. Martin Starnes proposed fee $36,975). The North Carolina Local Government Commission requires the Town to have an annual audit performed. The Town has used  Martin Starnes for the past three (3) years to perform this service. They have experience working with the town and the Town is happy with the incumbent. Approval of the contract means that Martin Starnes has been selected for their fourth consecutive year, to handle our audit for the fiscal year that ends June 30th 2023. The motion was made to continue working with Martin Starnes for another year.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Commissioner Kwiatkowski opposed the motion

Update –
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers asked to have this agenda item removed so that the Audit Committee will have an opportunity to discuss and do their job. Town Manager Hewett objected because he said it would compromise getting the audit done in a timely manner.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents TextThe protocol is to change firms every few years, traditionally we have done that after vendor has audited us for three (3) years, this would be the fifth consecutive year we have contracted with them.


Update –
The Audit Committee met on February 28th and voted unanimously to move forward  with  the current auditor for the 2023/24 annual audit. The motion made was to retain the audit firm Martin Starnes for another year and accept the proposed contract. Martin Starnes was awarded the $42,775 contract for the fifth consecutive year.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


14.  Discussion and Possible Action to Direct Staff to Develop and Issue a Request for Proposals to Upfit the Pier and Pier House – Commissioners Smith and Dyer

Agenda Packet – page – 120

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Direct staff to request RFP to upfit the pier and pier house.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Have private builder upfit/repair pier house and pier and lease from town. The parking and campground remain in control by the town.

Update –
Commissioners Smith and Dyer are now proposing a public/private partnership. This step is simply a request to get proposals to see if there is any interest in privately doing this project. They say that there is, including one from  previous Commissioner Murdock. Commissioner Paarfus said that an RFP is premature, in his opinion we need to wait until its decided what we want to do there, so we know what we are asking for. Mayor Pro Tem Myers said that they have asked for and have gotten a lot of input and we should look at what the public said before we head down this path. Although a public/private partnership could be a viable option we are not at the point of putting out a formal request for services yet.

No decision was made – No action taken

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

Frankly, this is not a viable location for a year-round business and does not have adequate parking for a seasonal business. The parking lot there has been full throughout the fall and winter regardless of the weather. That is without either the pier being available for use or any business running out of the building. There just is not adequate parking there to support beachgoers, fisherman, and whatever else we plan to do with the building. I just don’t see how they think that it could be profitable.


15.  Discussion and Possible Action on 796 Ocean Boulevard West – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 121 – 125

 ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on 796 OBW

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:

    • Town purchased the property in September 2019 for $342,500 because of possible noise issues when the adjacent sewer system was upgraded. The noise seems to be a non-issue
    • Town leased the property for a while to a town employee at below market rates. The property now sits vacant, and the Town has no current plans for its
    • The property is a second-row 3,316 square foot 3-bedroom / 2-bathroom residential house that cannot be easily converted into something different. The neighborhood is zoned Single Family
    • After receiving complaints from neighbors, the Town completed a significant renovation to repair several items and improve the appearance of the structure ($52,670).
    • The 2024 loan payment is $68,120 (principal & interest) and continues thru 2037 (which at 2.29 % for 15 years is ~$850k loan)
    • The town should not be in the property management business or competing in the rental home market against its property owners who pay BPART
    • The funds from the sale of the property and savings from ongoing maintenance & loan payments can be put to better

Possible Actions:
Instruct staff to get bids from local realtors to sell 796 OBW

Update –
We purchased the property in 2019 and still have no viable plan for what to do with it. The motion was made to sell the property. Town Manager Hewett suggested how the sale of Town property might be handled. He also recommended that he meet with our Town Attorney to decide the best method to sell it. They decided to sell it and Town Manager and Town Attorney can figure out the best way on how to sell it.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion


16.   Discussion and Possible Action on Audio/Video Broadcasting of Town Meetings – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – page – 126

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on audio video broadcasting of Town meetings.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The audio video broadcasting of Town meetings is inadequate. While the new cameras and microphones are an improvement, additional enhancements are still needed (e.g., improved audio and the ability to broadcast the presentations that are displayed on the meeting room television screens).

Possible Actions:
Task Town Staff to review and assess what other towns are doing and make recommendations for improvement.

 Update –
The motion was made to direct the Town Staff the task to review and assess what other towns are doing and make recommendations for audio/video improvement. In other words, benchmark what other towns are doing and determine what are the costs associated with providing this service. Commissioner Paarfus specifically requested various price point options.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Commissioner Smith opposed the motion


17.   Town Manager’s Report


Personnel

Kimberly Bowman is our new Permit Specialist in the Inspections Department
Penny King is our new Receptionist in the Administration Department
Justin Hewett is our new Officer in the Police Department
The Police Department is still not fully staffed, recruiting to fill Officer vacancy


Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Study

The Town has made application to NC Department Wildlife Resources for $750k state budget appropriation for the Town’s CSRM Study contribution match. It is anticipated that the $750k appropriation and pending federal Disaster Relief Act funding that  probably will negate the need for any further Town expenditures. All matching funds for the CSRM study are now in place.


Stormwater Project Partnership Agreement (PPA)

Town staff met with USACE Program Manager in February to develop a draft PPA. Awaiting draft PPA for about a half dozen projects for  an estimated cost of two (2) million dollars. The intent is to position the Town to receive federal stormwater funding for these projects.


Beach Strand

 Lockwood Folly Maintenance Crossing (LWFMX) project is wrapping up and will be completed by the end of this month. The dredge boat Lexington placed approximately 100,000cy of beach compatible sand on the beach strand from Amazing Grace to around Blockade.

 Documentation of rock raking  was provided to the Division of Coastal Management.

They anticipate that the Notice of Violation will be lifted now that the work has been completed. We still have a three (3) year tilling requirement to comply with.

Sand fence repairs are underway with vegetation planting to start soon after.


Federal Funding

Staff is preparing funding priorities for Congressionally directed spending projects. Currently the three (3) elements are Coastal Storm Damage reduction Project, Stormwater Project, and Lockwood Folly Inlet dredging. 


Sewer Lift Station #2

Sewer Lift Station #2 » click here

EPA Grant Component $2,669.867
State Funding $1,940,000
Remaining Financing – forecast a possible need for short-term borrowing

 Preliminary paperwork has been submitted to NC Department of Environmental Quality
Waiting to receive offer to fund which will require BOC’s action


Canal Dredging

Maintenance dredging bid from T.D Eure was the low bidder at $189,000
Dredge boat on site and has been dredging the entrance canals
So far, so good …

Previously reported – January 2024
$343,800 Department Wildlife Resources grant awarded for Harbor Acres dredging. $257,850 state and $85,950 local which is from the Harbor Acres Canal Special Revenue Fund. Waiting for NC Department Water Quality  certification for USACE permit approval. Current Request for Proposal (RFP) is out for a 2,700 cyds bucket to barge project in Harbor Acres. Bids are due back by February 6th. Staff is preparing for BOC consideration of grant acceptance and dredger award in Special Meetings that are scheduled in February.


Paid Parking

Annual parking passes are now available for purchase
Paid parking begins and will be enforced starting April 1st

 THB Newsletter (02/09/24)
Annual Parking Passes Now Available
Annual parking passes are now available for purchase. The Town uses SurfCast by Otto Connect Mobile Solution. This is a mobile app downloadable for Apple and Android devices. You can also visit https://surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay to purchase a pass. Paid parking is enforced April 1st – October 31st, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Click here for more information on the paid parking program.


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
Property owners will be provided with four (4) decals which will be included in their April water bills. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. 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 that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side 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. 

 Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations. https://hbtownhall.com/evacuation-decals


Pier Beach Access

441 OBW walkway, emergency access ramp, and blue matting placement will be completed by the Public Works Department shortly  


Quinton Street Beach Access

114 OBE  staff is still working on having bathrooms there


Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project

Contractor is proceeding and is on schedule to complete by Memorial Day
David is hopeful it will be completed way before that


In Case You Missed It –


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On March 22, 2024, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2024. 


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


Upcoming Events –

Easter Sunrise Service
Holden Beach Chapel and the Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and are sponsoring an Easter Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunday March 31st  at the Holden Beach Pier.

Family Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt 
The Town will hold its annual nighttime Easter Egg Hunt on Friday,
April 5th beginning at 7:00 p.m. Teams of four will compete against each other. Participants will need to bring their own flashlights to the event and something to place their eggs in.

Concerts on the Coast Series
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups are held at the pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information » click here


General Comments –


BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third  fifth Tuesday of the month, April 30th

The meeting scheduled for April 16th was moved to April 30th

Budget meeting scheduled for April 30th was cancelled

 

Special Meeting Schedule 


 It’s not like they don’t have anything to work on …

The following twenty-four (24) items are what’s In the Works/Loose Ends queue:

        • 796 OBW Project
        • Accommodation/Occupancy Tax Compliance
        • ADA Mediation Agreement
        • Attorney
        • Beach Mat Plan
        • Bike Lanes
        • Block Q Project
        • Carolina Avenue
        • Crosswalks OBW
        • Dog Park
        • Fire Station Project
        • Harbor Acres
        • Hatteras Ramp/Coastal Waterfront Access Grant
        • ICW/No Wake Zone Enforcement
        • Inlet Hazard Areas
        • Parking – 800 Block
        • Pavilion Replacement
        • Pier Properties Project
        • Rights-of-Way
        • Sewer System/Lift station #2
        • Stormwater Management Project
        • USACE/Coastal Storm Risk Management Study
        • Water System Assessment/Water Tower
        • Waste Ordinance Enforcement Policy
        • Wetland Delineation/Bulkheading

The definition of loose ends is a fragment of unfinished business or a detail that is not yet settled or explained, which is the current status of these items. All of these items were started and then put on hold, and they were never put back in the queue. This Board needs to continue working on them and move these items to closure.





Hurricane Season
For more information » click here.

Be prepared – have a plan!


Why a hot Atlantic has hurricane forecasters very worried
Hurricane season is still more than three months away, but in parts of the tropical Atlantic, it feels like we might as well already be in the thick of it. Across a strip of ocean where many cyclones are born, February ocean temperatures are closer to what scientists expect in July. The ominous warmth is stirring concerns of yet another hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season. Seven of the last eight seasons have been above normal. Last year, similarly unusual warmth fueled a storm season that was significantly more active than meteorologists might have expected given the presence of the El Niño climate pattern, which emerged last spring and creates conditions that tend to inhibit Atlantic cyclone formation. As meteorologists look ahead to this hurricane season, which begins June 1, they see an increasing likelihood that a La Niña pattern will replace El Niño by late summer or early fall. That is another bad sign for the U.S. coastline — La Niña is associated with active patterns in the tropical Atlantic. It’s still too early to say whether the warmth will persist into hurricane season, or when La Niña might arrive. But, especially together, the trends suggest that an active season could be difficult to avoid, said Michael Lowry, a meteorologist with WPLG-TV in Miami and a former National Hurricane Center scientist. “There’s plenty of time ahead before we get to the meatiest part of the hurricane season,” Lowry said. “But a lot’s going to have to change … for forecasters to feel much more comfortable going into hurricane season.”

A persistent trend of record warmth
Last spring, the strongest climate signal scientists know of — El Niño — gave every indication of a slowdown in Atlantic hurricane activity in the summer and fall. El Niño’s signature is a surge of warm waters and towering clouds in the central and eastern Pacific. It triggers changes in atmospheric circulation that, on the other side of the planet, can make it harder for tropical storms to form and strengthen: Areas of high pressure with sinking air are more common over the Atlantic, and wind shear, when wind speed and direction vary at different altitudes, increases. The expectation of El Niño prompted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters to predict a mostly typical Atlantic hurricane season, a downgrade from years of increased storm activity. But as El Niño developed, and unusual warmth appeared well beyond the Pacific zones the climate pattern is known for, forecasters warned that a quieter season was far less than certain. By August, it became clearer: The ocean warmth was likely to counteract El Niño’s typical effect in the Atlantic, and NOAA upgraded its forecast. The season ended up with about 20 percent more activity than average, as measured by a statistic known as accumulated cyclone energy. Now, with a new tropical weather season ahead, Atlantic temperatures are perhaps even more remarkable.

Why meteorologists have reason for concern
In a zone of the Atlantic known as the main development region for hurricanes, sea surface temperatures are running well above normal — and 1.1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) higher than in any other year on record, said Philip Klotzbach, a tropical meteorologist at Colorado State University. If that trend persists into hurricane season this summer, it could mean a ripe environment for tropical waves flowing from Africa to develop into cyclones. “Basically, it is the perfect recipe for hurricanes to form and strengthen,” Alejandro Jaramillo, a meteorologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said in an email. “The warmer waters provide extra fuel available for hurricanes, potentially leading to the formation of stronger storms.” One factor behind the Atlantic warmth: weak winds over the ocean, Klotzbach said. That discourages evaporation, which would allow the waters to cool by transferring heat into the air. Models suggest weaker-than-normal winds continuing into March, Klotzbach said. Beyond that, longer-term models predict that surface temperatures will remain elevated, and that by the heart of hurricane season, from August through October, precipitation will be above normal across the tropical Atlantic, something that suggests a strong pattern of waves flowing off Africa, Klotzbach said. If those predictions come to pass, “I’d expect a very busy season in store,” he said in an email. Meanwhile, climate scientists predict that La Niña is more likely than not to develop by August. While El Niño increases wind shear — which acts to disrupt hurricanes’ columns of rotating winds — La Niña tends to discourage it, clearing the way for storms to organize and strengthen. The warm water in the tropical Atlantic is part of a global pattern of record sea-surface temperatures, fueled by both El Niño and human-caused climate change. The planet’s average sea surface temperature reached an all-time record of 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit (21.2 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Why it’s too soon to panic
Meteorologists stressed that it is far too soon to say how the hurricane season may play out. Official seasonal forecasts from NOAA, Colorado State and other sources won’t arrive for months, and even they carry plenty of uncertainty. And there is still much scientists don’t understand about how the ocean behaves and what triggers longer-term changes in tropical weather. For example, it wasn’t immediately clear what was behind an unusual drought of Atlantic hurricanes in the 1970s and 1980s — until scientists realized that a surge in air pollution from Europe was acting to cool the tropical Atlantic by blocking sunlight, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Similarly, it isn’t yet clear why the Atlantic is warming more dramatically than other oceans, or for how long it will continue, he said. Even if scientists could predict an active hurricane season with more certainty, “that’s not what you want,” Emanuel said. “You want the number of destructive landfalling storms.” That is outside meteorologists’ capabilities — it was just last year that NOAA extended its tropical outlooks to seven days. But Lowry said the state of the Atlantic is such that, even if ocean temperatures trend closer to normal, there is still far more heat in the waters that could be available for storms come summer and fall. “This is such an extreme case that it doesn’t bode well,” he said.
Read more » click here


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03 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / March Edition


Calendar of Events –


Southport Spring Festival
Southport Spring Festival

March 29th & 30th  
Southport

 

Welcome Spring Easter weekend in style at the Southport Spring Festival, a tradition that started in 1996. This festival features a wide variety of activities.
For more information » click here 

The Spring Festival in Southport has been cancelled


N.C. Azalea Festival
N.C. Azalea Festival

April
3rd thru 7th
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 festival is considered one of the top events in the Southeast.
For more information » click here


Strawberry & Wine Fest



Strawberry & Wine Fest

April 28th
Sunset Beach

.

The Strawberry and Wine Festival, hosted by the Old Bridge Preservation Society since 2014. There will be wines available from Silver Coast Winery with strawberries as the main fare of the day. It’s a day of wine, food, entertainment, and craft vendors.  
For more information » click here


Days at the Docks Festival


Days at the Docks Festival
April 27th & 28th
Holden Beach

 

The annual festival which started in the 1980’s 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 


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 –


Name, logo, and website address of HBPOA

HBPOA Easter Membership Meeting
HBPOA membership meeting at  10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 30th at Town Hall.


Easter Sunrise Service
Holden Beach Chapel and the Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and are sponsoring an Easter Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunday, March 31st  at the Holden Beach Pier.


Annual Night Time Easter Egg Hunt in The Town
Family Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt 
The Town will hold its annual nighttime Easter Egg Hunt on
Friday, April 5th beginning at 7:00 p.m. Teams of four will compete against each other. Participants will need to bring their own flashlights to the event and something to place their eggs in. Participants MUST register by March 18th and space is limited to the first 100 families. Email Christy at [email protected] to register.


Holden Beach Beautiful Club Artwork

The Holden Beach Beautification Club (HBBC) Plant Sale has been cancelled


Music Notes, A Schedule of the Summer Concert

Concerts on the Coast Series
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups will temporarily be held at the Bridgeview Park picnic pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information
» click here


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


Reminders –


Solid Waste Pick-Up Schedule
GFL Environmental change in service, trash pickup will be once a week. This year September 30th was the  the last Saturday trash pick-up until June. Trash collection will go back to Tuesdays only.

Please note:
. • Trash carts must be at the street by 6:00 a.m. on the pickup day
. • BAG the trash before putting it in the cart
. • Carts will be rolled back to the front of the house


GFL Refuse Collection Policy
GFL has recently notified all Brunswick County residents that they will no longer accept extra bags of refuse outside of the collection cart. This is not a new policy but is stricter enforcement of an existing policy. While in the past GFL drivers would at times make exceptions and take additional bags of refuse, the tremendous growth in housing within Brunswick County makes this practice cost prohibitive and causes drivers to fall behind schedule.


Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule –

starting the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 25th) twice a week 

Recycling

starting after Memorial Day (May 23rd) weekly pick-up 


Curbside Recycling – 2024Curbside Recycling
GFL Environmental is now offering curbside recycling for Town properties that desire to participate in the service. The service cost per cart is $106.88 annually paid in advance to the Town of Holden Beach. The service consists of a ninety-six (96) gallon cart that is emptied every other week during the months of October – May and weekly during the months of June – September. 
Curbside Recycling Application » click here
Curbside Recycling Calendar » click here

Recycling renewal form was sent, you should have gotten e-mail letter already 


Yard Waste Service, second and Fourth Fridays, April and MayYard Waste Service
Yard debris pick-up will be provided twice a month on the second and fourth Fridays during the months of March, April, and May. Please have yard waste placed at the street for pick-up on Thursday night. The first pickup of the season is on March 8th. No pick-ups will be made on vacant lots or construction sites.

Debris must be placed in a biodegradable bag or bundled in a length not to exceed five (5) feet and fifty (50) pounds. Each residence is allowed a total of ten (10) items, which can include a combination of bundles of brush and limbs meeting the required length and weight and/ or biodegradable bags with grass clippings, leaves, etc.


Free Dump Week
Free Dump Week
Brunswick County will be hosting its spring free dump week the third week in April at the Brunswick County Landfill April 15th – April 19th.  Brunswick County residents and/or property owners may dispose of all materials, except for regular household trash or new construction debris, free of charge. Proof of Brunswick County residency or property ownership is required and will be checked at the landfill entrance.

Brunswick County Landfill
172 Landfill Rd NE, Bolivia, NC 28422

For more information » click here


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
Property owners will be provided with four (4) decals which will be included in their April water bills. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. 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 that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side 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.

Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations.


Smoke DetectorsSmoke Detectors
Time change means time to check smoke detectors, too. The fire department is encouraging people to test their smoke alarms and change the battery. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, whether they are battery-operated or hard-wired.


Bird Nesting Area
Bird Nesting Area

NC Wildlife Commission has posted signs that say – Bird Nesting Area / Please don’t disturb. The signs are posted on the west end beach strand around 1307 OBW.

People and dogs are supposed to stay out of the area from April through November
. 1) It’s a Plover nesting area
. 2) Allows migrating birds a place to land and rest without being disturbed


Upon Further Review –


  • Bike Lane.
    Key takeaways:
        • Add 7’ asphalt to the south side of existing pavement
        • Add 3’ asphalt to the north side of existing pavement
        • Recenter the travel lanes
        • Create two (2) five (5) foot bike lanes on either side of the road

DOT Bike Lane Report Presentation » click here


Paid parking in Holden Beach to start next month
As of May 1, paid parking will go into effect in designated areas at Holden Beach, located in Brunswick County 38 miles west of Wilmington. Commissioners passed the paid parking ordinance at the beginning of the month. It will be enacted April through October and affects 500 spaces, both for regular and low-speed vehicles. Beach goers will have to pay $3 per hour for up to four hours, $15 a day or $60 a week. Parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with license plate verification. Holden Beach utilizes the mobile app SurfCAST by Otto. Passes can be purchased by scanning QR codes on the signs, which go to the website https://surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay. Parking can be paid via credit card, debit card or PayPal on the app.

Citations will be issued for:

• Parking without an active paid permit in a designated parking area
• Parking within 40 feet of a street intersection
• Parking in a crosswalk, sidewalk, or pedestrian access ways
• Parking blocking a driveway or mailbox
• Parking facing opposing traffic
• Parking in a no parking zone, or within right-of-way
• Parking on any portion of the roadway or travel lane
• Parking a non-LSV vehicle in an authorized LSV location

Annual passes are also available for purchase for $150 a year for a single vehicle or $250 a year for two vehicles. Handicap parking will remain free in designated spaces and must be proven by a valid license plate or hangtag. 

For more information on parking, click here.
Read more » click here

Editor’s Note –
Rate has changed annual passes are $175 a year for a single vehicle

Paid parking at area beach towns to begin: Here are 2024 rates
Coastal communities from Pender to Brunswick counties will begin paid-parking programs starting March 1, with a few slated to kick off in April. Hourly costs, passes and timelines are listed below for beachgoers. To learn more — rules, fines for violations, residential free pass information, and how to access the applications to pay for parking — click the beach name in blue to go to the municipalities’ parking pages directly. Money from parking is intended to help fund the paid program as dictated by North Carolina Statute § 160A-301 which states revenue from public on-street metered parking must go toward parking maintenance; this doesn’t include town-owned lots. However, municipalities can petition legislators for an exemption to utilize proceeds otherwise. The GA has granted exceptions for Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island, Wrightsville Beach, Holden Beach and the City of Wilmington. Those monies fund needs benefitting public use, such as combatting beach erosion or paying for lifeguards.

Here is what visitors will pay this season:

Holden Beach
Located between Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, Holden Beach contracts with Otto and its program runs April 1 through Oct. 31, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Rates for the 2024 season are:

    • Hourly: $4 up to four hours
    • Daily: $20 for duration longer than four hours
    • Weekly: $80 per seven consecutive days
    • Annually: $150 for one vehicle

Oak Island
Oak Island first charged for parking in the 2023 season and continues to contract with Otto Connect this year. Marked spaces are paid April 1 through Sept. 30, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Rates have not changed:

    • Hourly: $5 up to three hours
    • Daily: $20 per day or any duration greater than four hours
    • Weekly: $80 per week for seven consecutive days
    • Annually: $175, with a limit of 500 passes sold

Ocean Isle Beach
Currently, parking is free at beach accesses at Ocean Isle, including more than 200 spaces. Though overnight parking is not allowed in the town-owned spaces.

Parking is paid at the Ocean Isle Pier for $10 daily, $45 weekly and $175 seasonally. It’s free after 6 p.m.

There is also a privately owned lot that charges fees but is not operated by the town. 

Though town leaders have discussed adding more paid parking to the beach town, nothing has passed yet.

Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is one of the remaining beaches to offer parking for free in Brunswick County. However, parking at the pier is $10 per day with seasonal passes available through a lottery.

The coastal town has been gathering information about launching a paid parking program. It started a committee last year to help gauge next steps, which included conducting research and gathering input via surveys from area residents.
Read more » click here


Corrections & Amplifications –


Brunswick Beach Road with Properties, Cars, and Signboards

Holden Beach Causeway – Facebook
Sometimes change is out of our control but if we recognize it in time, we can help influence change to have a positive outcome. Our community is special and no longer a secret. The area’s population increase is happening at a rapid pace. The Holden Beach Causeway has become insufficient to meet today’s demand. Spend a little time on the Causeway and it is easy to see it is unsafe for pedestrians and vehicles entering and exiting the local businesses. The crash rating on the Causeway is three (3) times higher than the NC state average for similar roads. Since 2018 I have persistently advocated for a study on developing the necessary changes needed on the Holden Beach Causeway. The Holden Beach Causeway Corridor Study was approved and funded in 2019. The study was developed with the influence of the Causeway property owners working with Brunswick County Planning, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS). A special thank you to the Causeway Property Owners who were a part of the Causeway Study Steering Committee. Lyn Holden, Gina Robinson, Steven Parish, Joe Shannon, Andrew Robinson and I dedicated a lot of time working on the study. Communicating with other Causeway property owners and representing what is right for our community, to prevent an unwanted outcome. The steering committee involved Tri-Beach Fire Department in the conversations. Including their opinions on the study’s development to assure they had sufficient access through the Causeway and to the island for emergency response. All headed up by the carefully chosen consulting firm, Bolten and Menk. The consulting firm did an amazing job working with all of the obstacles on the Causeway, consulting with the steering committee and business owners about their concerns of any negative impacts from the project. We are proud to present to you the Holden Beach Causeway Corridor Study. Please visit the link below to review the final draft. Considering all of the obstacles and considerations for everyone, the outcome offers a bright future for our community. It also provides a path for sustainability and safety for our Causeway and its businesses, as our area continues to grow.

What happens next?
Chairman to the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Randy Thompson, has requested an endorsement for the Holden Beach Causeway Project from the Town of Holden Beach. Commissioner Thompson’s position for requesting the Town endorsement is the Causeway is the highway ingress, egress to the island. Next, the study will be presented to the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners for endorsement. Once the study has been endorsed by Brunswick County, the study will go back to the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study for adoption. Once adopted by GSATS, we can begin applying for Funding. It has been a long road to get to this point and we have a long road ahead to receive funding and begin construction. Thank you all for your support for the Holden Beach Causeway Project. We will need your continuous support as we navigate through the next phase of this process. I will keep this page posted as developments are made with the County required endorsements and the road to GSATS adoption.
Jabin Norris president of PROACTIVE Real Estate
For more information » click here

HB Causeway Study Report » click here

THB Newsletter (01/25/24)
Holden Beach Causeway Study
The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study MPO (GSATS) funded a study to improve the Holden Beach Causeway by observing the area and addressing the concerns of Causeway business owners and patrons as well as the community related to vehicular and pedestrian safety, accessibility, right‐of‐way encroachments, and parking deficiencies. This study provides insight as to how the corridor functions and ideas for future improvements from a transportation and land use perspective.

For more information and to view the study, visit the Brunswick County Planning Department’s website: https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/409/Holden-Beach-Causeway-Transportation-Cor

The Draft Holden Beach Causeway Transportation Study will go to the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners for a public hearing and for their consideration on February 5, 2024, at 3:00 p.m

THB Newsletter (02/01/24)
Holden Beach Causeway Study
The date the Draft Holden Beach Causeway Transportation Study will go to the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners for a public hearing and for their consideration has been changed to March 18th at 6:00 p.m. 

For more information and to view the study, visit the Brunswick County Planning Department’s website: https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/409/Holden-Beach-Causeway-Transportation-Cor.

Holden Beach Causeway study approved for future planning
The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS) transportation advisory committee (TAC) on Friday, Feb. 16, voted to add the Holden Beach Causeway Corridor Study into GSATS’ long-range planning. The action did not approve the implementation of any projects but the entire study will be in the GSATS Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP), making it eligible for federal funding if project recommendations are ever put to action. “It will never be a project unless the county comes forward and wants it to be a project,” GSATS Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Director Mark Hoeweler said. Hoeweler said the Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) recommended the TAC approve the study and add it to the GSATS MTP as an appendix. “We update that document every five years,” he added. “It has a 20-year horizon to it.” The Holden Beach Road Causeway stretches from the Sabbath Home Road-Holden Beach Road intersection to near the base of the Holden Beach Bridge. The causeway is owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and is not within the Town of Holden Beach town limits. The GSATS 2040 MTP already contains plans to widen NC 130 from the intersection of Sabbath Home Road and Holden Beach Road to the end of state maintenance, near the bridge, and add a multipurpose path. Designer Grant Meacci with Bolton & Menk, Inc., who created the study, said the study addresses parking, pedestrian safety and accessibility, and encourages supporting existing businesses. Meacci’s presentation detailed adjacent property zoning, land uses and environmental conservation areas in the study area, noting the study incorporated the county’s Blueprint Brunswick 2040 Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Parks and Recreation Master Plan, along with other demographic and traffic data related to the Holden Beach causeway area too. “So, we take all those types of analysis and start to look at what is likely to change in the area — in the immediate area — in terms of development,” he explained. The study shows there’s not a lot of “room for change other than redevelopment over time,” Meacci noted, and that developmental factors are not expected to cause a large traffic increase on the causeway. The designer said most local roads are for residential use and that the vehicle traffic on the Holden Beach causeway fluctuates between 7,000 and 10,000 trips per day throughout the year. Regarding car crashes, he said nearly half of all the crashes along the causeway are related to drivers taking left turns. A steering committee was formed to identify assets and opportunities that are specific to the causeway. Representatives of the NCDOT, GSATS, corridor business owners and property owners, and the Brunswick County Planning Department were on the committee. Meacci said the committee had meetings, public workshops and community open houses. A community survey was also sent out, which garnered 1,490 responses. A majority of participants were residents, business owners and property owners, Meacci added. Most survey respondents were folks who reside in Holden Beach, Supply, Varnamtown, Shallotte and unincorporated Brunswick County. A large portion of survey respondents said they do not feel safe traveling the causeway as cyclists and pedestrians. Meacci said the causeway’s right-of-way width is not consistent, stating there are three different widths along the causeway as it becomes wider closer to the Holden Beach bridge. The study highlights how different road design options could impact local businesses, pedestrians, drivers, and beautification, he noted. The study proposed three different design options for the causeway, Meacci said, but eventually the options evolved into two alternate designs with one recommendation. In all options, a wide multi-use path with parallel parking and street trees on both causeway sides is included. The study’s parking analysis counted a total of 795 marked and unmarked parking spaces along the causeway. Of the 795 parking spaces, 449 are on private property and 252 are in the public right of way. Options for no on-street parking, diagonal on-street parking and parallel on-street parking were given in the presentation, however, Meacci said diagonal on-street parking would allow for more parking spaces. The two alternative designs included a design that had a mix of parallel parking and diagonal parking along the causeway and a different design with no parking, with the preferred recommended alternative design being the mixed parking option. Meacci noted mixed parking installation would increase parking along the right of way from 252 to 324 spaces and increase private property parking from 449 to 584 spaces. The recommendation also includes parking for oversized vehicles. “There was a recommendation to reduce the speed limit from 45 [miles per hour] to 30 [miles per hour],” Meacci said. He said the development of an Overlay District to direct future redevelopment and improvements has also been recommended. The district would ensure buildings are “appropriately placed” along the corridor and promote land use standards and mixed use areas. The study recommendation encourages people to park once and walk from business to business, Meacci said. It includes adding crosswalks, street lights and other beautification elements along the causeway, too. Hoeweler explained that the TAC’s approval of the study sets the plan up for future implementation and makes the study eligible for federal and grant funding. “So, therefore, if anybody in the future wants to do one of those intersection projects and wants to add something, we’ve got a template to work off of,” he said, noting approval of the study is not approval of the projects within the study. If all the projects within the study come to fruition, the entire project cost estimate is $8,143,000. The cost includes ADA-compliant concrete curb ramps for paths at driveways and crossroads, crosswalks with accessible pedestrian signal push buttons at the traffic signal at Sabbath Home Road and Holden Beach Road and 60 benches. Hoeweler said GSATS could help fund parts of the project, like a bike path or sidewalks, but not the entire project. Asked if the town of Holden Beach had been included in development of the study, Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden and Town Manager David Hewett both said the town was not invited to participate. Mayor Holden told The Brunswick Beacon he owns property along the corridor and had no comment on the study. A draft of the study and cost estimates can be found on Brunswick County’s website at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/409/Holden-Beach-Causeway-Transportation-Cor.
Read more » click here


Odds & Ends –


HB Turtle Patrol 2024 shirts now available
Members of the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program (also called the Turtle Patrol) have announced that their 2024 shirt is now available for sale. There’s a new shirt each year and this one celebrates 35 years of sea turtle conservation on Holden Beach. In 1989, Judy Bryan and a small group of volunteers started the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol. Since then, dedicated volunteers on Holden Beach have given hundreds of thousands of hours to help ensure sea turtle survival. Committed to protecting sea turtles, patrol volunteers secure nest sites, educate the public and quietly celebrate as more than 4,800 hatchlings begin their journey each year on Holden Beach. The 2024 shirt highlights this 35-year commitment to the sea turtle population featuring hatchlings (be sure to count them!) as they make their way to the ocean on a moonlit night on Holden Beach. Shirts can be purchased at The Lighthouse Gifts on the Holden Beach causeway. Shirts are also available by mail from the HBTWP website (hbturtlewatch.org). The sale of shirts is the Turtle Patrol’s major fund-raising activity each year. Tote bags and hats are also available this year! If you’re interested in becoming a HBTP volunteer, now is the time to apply. Send a message to Pat Cusack, program coordinator, from the HBTWP website’s Contact page, or email him directly at [email protected] for an application or to learn more about qualifications and requirements. Typically, a new volunteer will be a “trainee” for an entire summer. Being a trainee involves working on the beach both morning and evenings, shadowing current members and attending educational programs. The annual meeting for the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program, Inc. will be Saturday, April 6, at 10 a.m. at the Holden Beach Chapel. The HBTWP was founded to monitor and protect the sea turtle population on Holden Beach. This all volunteer, nonprofit conservation organization operates under the authority of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (ES Permit 24ST11).

For more information on the HBTWP, visit their website at https://hbturtlewatch.org/ or visit them on Facebook.
Read more » click here


DNA study reveals statistics about Holden Beach 2023 sea turtle nesting season
A DNA study of sea turtle nests in Holden Beach was recently completed, revealing interesting statistics about the 2023 season. According to a Holden Beach sea turtle program, 65 of 70 loggerhead nests were analyzed, indicating 29 unique females laid nests on their beach last year — an average of 2.4 nests per female. One turtle laid five nests within 1.3 miles of shoreline. The turtle with the most nests laid six. Volunteers say that specific turtle has been laying nests on Holden Beach since 2014.
Read more » click here


Brunswick County reminds residents to practice severe weather safety
March 3-9 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. Brunswick County Emergency Management urges residents and community members to be ready for severe weather events and to understand the risks that can come with them. “Spring brings the potential for severe weather,” said Brunswick County Emergency Management Director David McIntire. “With warmer weather quickly approaching, now is the time for you and your loved ones to start preparing for the severe weather season. Sign up for ReadyBrunswick to make sure we can contact you during an emergency.” Severe weather can happen anywhere and at any time. Not only can severe thunderstorms develop rapidly, but they can also bring lightning, hail, flash floods, and tornadoes. Brunswick County officials encourage community members to take this week to create a household emergency plan and update emergency supply kits. Brunswick County also encourages community members to practice their emergency plan by participating in the annual statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. The National Weather Service (NWS) will broadcast the drill over the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on radio and TV and on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios. “We encourage all county residents, visitors, businesses, and organizations to participate in the upcoming tornado drill,” McIntire said. “Creating a plan is only one part of being prepared. Practicing your plan will help you and your loved ones know where to go and what to do when severe weather strikes.” Tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms when winds change direction and increase in speed. These storms can produce large hail and damaging winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. In 2023, the NWS recorded 24 tornado touchdowns across North Carolina, and 127 large hail events (hail that is 1 inch in diameter or larger), 844 damaging thunderstorm wind events, and 139 flood or flash flood events.

Emergency officials recommend the following safety tips:

Before Severe Weather

    • Know the terms. WATCH means severe weather is possible. WARNING means severe weather is occurring; take shelter immediately.
    • Make a plan. Develop a household emergency plan so all members know where to go, who to call, and what to do during a disaster.
    • Prepare a kit. Assemble an emergency supply kit for use at home or in your vehicle. Make sure to include a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water for each household member and pets. The Brunswick County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension has prepared a hurricane cookbook to help individuals and families prepare meals in advance in case of an emergency.
    • Subscribe to emergency alerts. Residents and visitors can sign up for alerts from ReadyBrunswick, Brunswick County’s emergency notification system. 
    • Sign up for the Special Needs Registry. Residents are strongly encouraged to sign up for the Brunswick County Special Needs Registry if they have additional needs in functional areas. These functional needs may include but are not limited to maintaining independence, communication, transportation, supervision, and medical care.

During Severe Weather

    • Stay informed. During an emergency, stay tuned to reliable local media outlets, listen to NWS weather alerts, and follow Brunswick County on social media for continuous updates. You can also subscribe to receive email updates from the County to stay updated on media releases and important announcements.
    • Find a safe room. Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows. Go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
    • Seek shelter. If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequately safe structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge. If there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.

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Alerts
Brunswick County uses ReadyBrunswick as part of the County’s effort to continuously improve communications during emergency situations within our area. Powered by Everbridge, the ReadyBrunswick notification system sends emergency notifications in a variety of communication methods such as:

      • Landline (Voice)
      • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
      • Mobile (Voice)
      • Mobile SMS (Text Messaging)
      • Email

In the case of an emergency, you may choose to receive notifications via one or all of these communication methods. It’s recommended that you register several media options to receive messages in the event a particular communication device is unavailable.
For more information » click here

Brunswick County Emergency Communications Notification System
Get notified about emergencies and other important  community news by signing up for our ReadyBrunswick Emergency Notification System. This system enables us to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods, and more. You will receive time-sensitive messages wherever you specify, such as your home, mobile or business phones, email address, text messages and more. You pick where, you pick how.

 SIGN UP HERE to choose the type of alerts you want to receive.


This and That –


Another boat access could enter the water near Holden Beach
During the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s (NCWRC) Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 21, the committee discussed creating another boating access area near Holden Beach to connect to the Intracoastal Waterway. Local fishermen, captains and residents have been fighting for more boat and trailer parking space in Holden Beach for over a year, and this potential project could bring that to the area, along with a potential third boat ramp. The commission unanimously voted in favor of moving the project to “phase I.” Ben Solomon, assistant chief and land acquisition manager of the commission’s Land and Water Access Division, presented a slideshow on the land purchase opportunities and the roughly drafted project. He said the boat access sketch plan and parking plan are only conceptual. “Most boat ramps in Brunswick County, aside from Holden Beach, operate at over-capacity status at this time,” Solomon said. Brunswick County only has six public boat ramps with 233 trailer parking spaces, he explained, and it would be important to keep the existing ramp on Holden Beach. He said the existing Holden Beach boat access is a small ramp with limited parking for the high volume of boat traffic that residents and visitors bring. “Just within Brunswick County, we have 12,000 registered vessels,” he said. “There’s an additional 18,000 registered vessels in surrounding counties.” Solomon showed the commission three separate parcels they are looking to purchase off Cedar Landing Road SW — adjacent to the Holden Beach Marina and Holden Beach Bridge — noting a developer also wants to purchase them. If purchased, the access would be located in county jurisdiction. There are two options the commission considered: Option A and Option B. Option A calls for purchasing all three parcels that total 3.7 acres and Option B calls for purchasing only two parcels that total 1.9 acres. The asking price for Option A is $5.9 million and the asking price for the Option B parcels is $3.2 million. The NCWRC received phase I approval to pursue the acquisition of the three parcels for Option A, Solomon told The Brunswick Beacon on Monday, March 11. “Phase I approval is the first step in the Commission’s land acquisition process and allows commission staff to work with the State Property Office to order an appraisal for the subject properties and further develop the project,” he explained. He told the commission that the access site will have maximum level parking if they pursue all three parcels. Option A would bring 98 trailer parking spaces and 17 car parking spaces to the area if the project comes to fruition. Option B would only bring approximately 53 trailer parking spaces and six car parking spaces. Solomon said the trailer parking spaces would fit both the vehicle and the trailer. Tax parcel 232NA001, the middle parcel, houses a commercial building with an existing boat launch. Solomon said the commission would try to permit a second boat launch to be put in the access area. The conceptual design is still subject to permitting and approvals that could restrict plans, Solomon added. “This is a good baseline for us to look at and get a feel for,” he said. The project could cost between $1.5 and $1.9 million, he said, but that cost would include site-level parking, two boat ramps and structure removal from one of the parcels. Solomon said potential funding sources for the project are the coastal recreational fishing license grant, state funds and possible legislative appropriation. “The Commission does have an interest in expanding public boating access opportunities around Holden Beach and plans to further assess feasibility of this potential boating access area by ordering an appraisal and developing funding partnerships,” he told The Brunswick Beacon. To access the recording of the February Committee of the Whole meeting, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQPj77J1jZE.
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Holden Beach business destroyed in overnight fire
A convenience store and bar in Holden Beach is in ruins after a two-alarm fire Thursday night. Videos and pictures from WECT viewers show flames shooting out of the roof of the Holden Beach Trolley Stop on Jordan Boulevard. Chief Doug Todd with the Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department says the initial call for the fire came in around 11:11 p.m. Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes and put out the flames, then stayed on scene until just after 4:00 a.m. to extinguish and monitor hot spots. Todd says the fire appears to have started in the business’s bar area on the ground floor. He says investigators believe it was an accident, but they are still searching for an exact cause. No one was hurt. Several agencies helped with the initial fire response, including Supply VFD, Civietown Fire/Rescue, Shallotte Fire Department, Brunswick County EMS, and Holden Beach Police. Crews with the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department and Sunset Harbor & Zion Hill VFD responded on the second alarm. The Brunswick County Fire Marshall’s office was also at the scene and is investigating.
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Holden Breach Trolley Shop owners prepare to rebuild following fire that destroyed 30 plus year old shop
The owners of a long-running business in Holden Beach are surveying the damage following a fire late Thursday night. Crews responded to the Trolley Stop convenience store and bar on Jordan Boulevard around 11 Thursday night. The owners said they were preparing for the beach season by staining tables for the shop’s bar and outdoor area. Security camera footage shows the moment a bag of stain-soaked rags appears to catch fire spontaneously. Jeremy and Cynthia Ridenhour purchased the shop back in 2019 and said they were excited for the new season. They said it’s difficult seeing something they’ve put so much work into going up in flames. “We’ve had people follow us throughout the whole time that we’ve had it and just to watch all fall and to go away has just been devastating for us,” Cynthia said. “It’s a tragic loss, it’s a tragic loss for the community. It’s a tragic loss for everybody that’s worked so hard and out so much into it. You know, our customers, our family, our friends,” Jeremy said. Jessica Almond is a friend and frequent customer at the shop. She said that it held a special place in Holden Beach. “Literally I’ve met friends, I moved from the Charlotte area, and I’ve met friends that have become family to me,” Almond said. “The owners, the Ridenhours, they became family to me and the whole community. It’s just a place to let loose and have a good time and everyone becomes family here.” The Ridenhours said they will eventually rebuild and they’re glad no one was hurt. They also said its important to properly dispose of rags or cloth with stain on it, so you don’t find yourself in a similar situation.
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The Good Goddess, La Bona Dea, With Two Women

Gov. Cooper and Sen. Rabon want to use native plants in state landscaping projects. Why?
Legislation and executive orders now require state agencies to first see about using NC-native plants and trees in state landscaping projects. But why aren’t we doing that already?

The number hovers around 14 percent. That’s how many plants sold in North Carolina are considered native. Horticulturists, researchers, state Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, and now Gov. Roy Cooper believe that number is much too low and is costing the state’s flora and fauna in the process. But officials say increasing the number of shrubs, plants and trees endemic to North Carolina in yards, along roads, in parks, and in backyards isn’t as easy as simply saying it’s the right thing to do even if most people already know Bradford pears are stinky, fragile, invasive trees that should be avoided. Here’s a look at some of the challenges to increasing the use of native plants in North Carolina, and steps already underway to convince landscapers and backyard gardeners to plant Virginia creeper, for example, instead of English ivy.

The power of the pen
Last month, Cooper signed Executive Order 305. While the order focused mostly on aspirational goals to preserve millions of acres of North Carolina forest and wetlands by 2040, it also included language ordering state agencies to whenever possible use native plants for landscaping projects on state-owned property. Native North Carolina plants generally are defined as those that occurred in the state before European settlement. Non-native, or exotic, plants are those that are not native to the Tar Heel State. “State-funded or permitted projects and activities, including those administered on behalf of the federal government, shall avoid introducing non-native plants,” the order states. “To support native biodiversity, cabinet agencies shall also consider the native plant practices of private properties in future lease agreements.” Since the state is North Carolina’s largest landowner, with universities, state parks, historic sites, and right of ways along roads maintained by the N.C. Department of Transportation covered by the order, the move could mean a dramatic increase in the number of native plants appearing across the state. The governor’s order piggybacks on legislation that’s been championed by Sen. Bill Rabon for years. His Native Plants Act, which became law last year, requires plants native to the Southeastern U.S., “with a strong preference for plants native to North Carolina,” to be used in landscaping projects in state parks and along state highways.

Shouldn’t we be going native all the time already?
While a question and would seem to have a simple answer, it isn’t, well, that simple. Chris Moorman, a wildlife ecologist at N.C. State University, said landscapers often have to pick plants to meet a certain objective, say providing shade for a parking lot. While going native naturally provides some of the best food and groundcover requirements for local wildlife, it might not meet the goal of the project, and thus a non-native plant is a better fit for that particular role. “Native plants aren’t always necessarily the only answer,” said Dr. Barbara Fair, a landscape extension specialist at N.C. State. She said that in our urban areas where the landscape has been changed dramatically by humans, sometimes non-natives are just a better fit especially when it comes to meeting certain functions and promoting biodiversity. “They can just often survive and thrive better in these very altered environments,” Fair said, ticking off the benefits from mitigating heat to handling stormwater runoff that urban trees offer.

What are the advantages of going NC-plants first?
The advantages for native wildlife and insects is easy to see. “From an ecological standpoint, they have co-evolved with the local communities, including the plants and animals,” Moorman said. “Because native wildlife co-evolved with native plants, there are often critical linkages between the individual plants and animal natural history.”
Native plants also reflect North Carolina’s rich ecological history and are often tied into many of the state’s cultural traditions and foods. But there are other, more pragmatic reasons to go native, too. Native vegetation is designed to better handle North Carolina’s often hard growing conditions, which climate change is forecast to exasperate not to mention stronger and bigger hurricanes. With natives often more drought- and heat-tolerant than non-native plants, and with longer periods of dry, hot weather forecast for North Carolina in coming decades, officials say they are often a hardier bet than exotics from another part of the country or world. Native coastal plants are also generally better able to withstand salt water, which can make them a better alternative for waterfront homeowners with sea levels projected to keep rising in coming decades and tide surges set to increase. Then there is the popularity of the Tar Heel State. North Carolina’s population in 2000 was just over 8 million. It is estimated to be nearly 10.9 million by April, according to the latest U.S. Census figure. Projections estimate the state will be home to nearly 14 million people by 2050. “Urban development removes much of the preexisting vegetation cover, so landscaping with native plants can return that lost vegetation cover, along with the food and cover the plants provide for wildlife,” Moorman said. “Animals are critical dispersal agents, especially birds, so fostering the linkage between native plants and wildlife helps foster native plant persistence.”

Is going native easy?
Not as easy as it should be, but that hopefully will change in the coming years, officials said. “People plant what they see in big box stores and what they see planted around them, which largely is not native plants,” Moorman said. They also often look for what they used to have in their gardens before moving to North Carolina. But what worked in Connecticut or Ohio might not be the best choice in hot, sandy and often nutrient-poor soils of North Carolina’s Coastal Plain. There’s also a financial risk for landscapers, homeowners and even nurseries to increase their stock of native plants if people either aren’t going to buy them because they don’t know what they are or they die quickly when planted due to being placed in the wrong conditions. “That’s the million-dollar question, really, and it’s a very complicated answer,” Fair said of increasing the stock of native plants. She said many native trees aren’t fast growers one of the reason crepe myrtles are so prevalent in urban areas and people’s tastes can be finicky. Then there are issues for the plant industry, like how quickly can they ramp up production of native flora and is it a wise investment. “Yes, it’s certainly something we should work to promote,” Fair said, noting the educational outreach efforts many state agencies and local nurseries do to promote native plants. “But we have to realize this is a long-term process that we need to be thinking about.”

Want to go native? Here are some resources:

Read more » click here


NC State Native Plant Resources » click here

NC Sea Grant Coastal Landscapes » click here

New Hanover County Arboretum Native Plant Garden » click here

Audubon Native Plant Database » click here

Fauna & Flora » click here
Holden Beach recommended plant list – deer resistant & salt tolerant


Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


Switching the Clocks Twice a Year Isn’t Just Annoying. It’s Deadly.
An hour of the day will be unceremoniously snatched away on Sunday as we “spring forward” to daylight saving time. Polling shows that more than half of Americans want to “ditch the switch” and prefer daylight saving over standard time by a margin of 10 to 20 points. But making that switch permanent would require an act of Congress, and while the Senate managed to pass a bill called the Sunshine Protection Act two years ago, the legislation never made it through the House. Worryingly, state legislators from Maine to the West Coast are now so fed up with waiting that they have introduced their own bills to remain on standard time permanently; states can do that without Congress. But such a switch would be a mistake. It’s not just that our afternoons and evenings would be shrouded in more darkness, which often comes with higher crime, more vehicle collisions and fewer opportunities to enjoy the outdoors after work or school. There’s another problem with standard time, and it’s gone all but unnoticed until now. Last year, my research team showed that standard time leads to far more vehicles colliding with deer. Vehicle strikes already kill millions of wild animals each year, and collisions with deer are the best documented because they are so common and damaging. When we looked at over one million collisions between deer and vehicles in 23 states across the United States between 1994 and 2021, we found these collisions are 14 times as likely in the two hours after sunset, compared to the two hours before. Deer behavior does not quite explain this since they are equally active at dawn and dusk. But traffic volumes are higher in the evening, and it’s hard for us to see things in the dark. The hour-earlier sunset that comes with standard time is thus an expensive, traumatic way to control the deer population. In all, we found that staying on daylight saving time year-round would prevent an estimated 36,550 collisions between deer and vehicles, whereas staying on standard time would add 73,660 of these collisions every year — a difference of more than 100,000. The human toll of staying on standard time would also be significant: Compared to year-round daylight saving time, year-round standard time would cause 100 more deaths, 6,000 more injuries and at least $3.5 billion in costs every year through increased deer-vehicle collisions alone. Of course, more crashes with deer is far from the only cost of standard time. The number of fatal traffic accidents at night — caused by deer or anything else — is three times higher than it is during the day, and the dark increases the risk of pedestrian accidents by up to seven times. Permanent daylight saving time would prevent 366 fatal pedestrian and vehicle accidents a year with the help of brighter evenings during the 4.5 months of the year we currently spend on standard time. Conversely, staying on standard time for an extra 7.5 months each year would add about 610 fatalities — a difference of nearly 1,000 human lives. Support for standard time has been growing in recent years, driven in large part by sleep scientists who argue it’s better aligned with humans’ circadian rhythm. One clever study compared sleep patterns of people living on either side of time zone boundaries as proxies for having sunrise come an hour earlier versus later. Those living in the proxy standard time regime got an average of 19 minutes more sleep per day, and the same study valued the associated health benefits at more than $2 billion. This is an impressive benefit, but not enough to outweigh the $3.5 billion this country would be paying to fix the damage incurred by deer collisions should we implement permanent standard time. The trump card of standard time proponents is that we tried permanent daylight saving time once before — in 1974. After it went into effect, only 42 percent of Americans favored the change. Some parents disliked sending their children to school in the dark, and in only a few weeks, eight school children were hit by vehicles and killed in Florida alone, convincing lawmakers to reverse the shift. Eight deaths may sound like a lot, but if you look at the country as a whole, morning fatalities of school children barely rose that January, from 19 to 20 — a shift that could be explained by normal year-to-year fluctuations. And if we were again to try making daylight saving time permanent, we’d save many more lives in the evenings. I can understand why parents are worried about sending their children to school in the dark. But the best solution to that problem would be to have school start later. (Already many medical associations support this because of the variety of health benefits it could offer children, including the fact that they would get more sleep.) If we move to permanent daylight saving time, we would potentially prevent hundreds of traffic deaths and tens of thousands of collisions between deer and vehicles. Robberies could drop by 7 percent. Congress has the power to make this a reality. The Sunshine Protection Act was reintroduced to the House and Senate last March with broad bipartisan support — only to languish in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for a year. It’s up to the leaders of these committees to prioritize the issue this spring. Every year, we gripe about the time switch, demand action and then return to our daily lives. But the toll on people and wildlife is too large to keep doing this year after year. And the longer Congress waits, the greater the risk of state bills for permanent standard time passing, making things worse instead of better. It’s time to spring forward permanently and enjoy the benefits of brighter evenings year-round.
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Holden Island Properties Sold Comparison

Island Homes Sold – 2023 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)
A complete list of homes sold in 2023

Island Land Sold – 2023 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)
A complete list of land sold in 2023

Island Properties Sold – Comparison * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)
A comparison of Holden Beach properties sold through the last three (3) years

County real estate market closes out 2023 with strong, consistent numbers
Brunswick County’s residential real estate market closed out 2023 with numbers very similar to last year’s performance. The number of new listings increased, while the average sales price, the number of homes sold, and total sales volume all saw slight decreases compared to 2022. “2023’s numbers were very similar to 2022, and our market seems to be cruising along steady and smooth,” said Cynthia Walsh BCAR CEO. “Thanks to continued strong demand, average sales prices increased throughout the year; however, total sales volume is slightly down compared to last year, but it’s hard to complain about $2 billion in sales. Overall, our market is positioned for a strong 2024.” Total sales volume decreased from $2,530,790,000 in 2022 to $2,486,990,000 in 2023. Average sales prices for the year were down 2.8% compared to 2022, from $453,440 to $440,865. New listings increased 5.6%, from 6,068 to 6,407, and the number of units sold dropped 5%, from 5,572 to 5,295. When it comes to December’s numbers, they tracked as expected with fewer homes sold, and a slight increase in new listings and average sales prices. Total sales volume decreased 5.9% compared to December 2022, from $180,100,000 to $169,400,000, while average sales prices were up 4.1%, from $445,799 to $464,117. Luxury homes may have been the holiday gift of the season, with 22 transactions in excess of $1 million, four in excess of $2 million and one in excess of $3 million. New listings were up 6.2% in December, from 325 to 345, and the number of units sold dropped 9.7%, from 404 to 365. Homes spent an average of 50 days on the market in December. The absorption rate, which is the amount of time it would take to sell all available inventory, remains around three months.

Brunswick County

New Listings
December 2023: 345
December 2022: 325
Increase/Decrease: +6.2%

Units Sold
December 2023: 365
December 2022: 404
Increase/Decrease: -9.7%

Average Sales Price
December 2023: $464,117
December 2022: $445,799
Increase/Decrease: +4.1%

Median Sales Price
December 2023: $353,500
December 2022: $359,900
Increase/Decrease: -1.8%

Total Sales Volume
December 2023: $169,400,000
December 2022: $180,100,000
Increase/Decrease: -5.9%

The Brunswick County Association of Realtors (BCAR) is the local association level of the largest trade association in the nation, presently serving its members, which are comprised of realtors, appraisers and affiliate members. Chartered in 1959 by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), BCAR represents the interests of its members in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. For more information, visit https://bcarnc.com/.
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Hot Button Issues

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



Climate

For more information » click here

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There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear


Weirdly Warm Winter Has Climate Fingerprints All Over It, Study Says
Recent heat waves in cities worldwide have the hallmarks of global warming, researchers said. And last month was the hottest February on record.
Winter was weirdly warm for half the world’s population, driven in many places by the burning of fossil fuels, according to an analysis of temperature data from hundreds of locations worldwide. That aligns with the findings published late Wednesday by the European Union’s climate monitoring organization, Copernicus: The world as a whole experienced the hottest February on record, making it the ninth consecutive month of record temperatures. Even more startling, global ocean temperatures in February were at an all-time high for any time of year, according to Copernicus. Taken together, the two sets of figures offer a portrait of an unequivocally warming world that, combined with a natural El Niño weather pattern this year, has made winter unrecognizable in some places. The first analysis, conducted by Climate Central, an independent research group based in New Jersey, found that in several cities in North America, Europe and Asia, not only was winter unusually warm, but climate change played a distinctly recognizable role. Climate Central looked at anomalies in December and January temperature data in 678 cities worldwide and asked: How important are the fingerprints of climate change for these unusual temperatures? That is to say, its researchers tried to isolate the usual variability of the weather from the influence of climate change. “There’s the temperature,” said Andrew Pershing, Climate Central’s vice-president for science, “and then there’s our ability to really detect that climate signal in the data.” Cities in the Midwestern United States jumped out for experiencing an extraordinarily warm winter and for the influence of climate change, which is caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. “Really off the charts,” Dr. Pershing said. “No ice on most of the great lakes. That’s remarkable.” Minneapolis, for instance, was nearly 5.6 degrees Celsius warmer than average between December and February. The fingerprints of climate change could be detected for 33 days, essentially a third of the winter season. Tehran was 4.2 degrees Celsius warmer on average during the same three-month period. The effects of human-made climate change could be detected over 68 days of winter. Milan’s winter average temperature was roughly 2 degrees Celsius higher, but there was a strong climate change signal over 55 days. Elsewhere, even though there were a few significantly hot days, winter average temperatures didn’t vary wildly, and the climate signal was less pronounced. The Climate Central report, also published Wednesday, concluded that 4.8 billion people worldwide “experienced at least one day of temperatures that would be virtually impossible without the influence of carbon pollution.” In some parts of the world, the unusually warm winter weather was overshadowed by other crises, such as war. Several cities in Ukraine were significantly warmer than usual, and there, too, were the fingerprints of climate change. Kyiv, for instance, was nearly 3 degrees Celsius warmer on average this winter, and climate change was seen to have played a role for 33 days. Likewise, in several cities of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the tropical belt, where it’s usually much hotter on average, climate signals are easier to detect, though temperature increases can be smaller. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur for instance were barely 1 degree Celsius warmer on average. But the effects of climate change could be detected for nearly the entire three-month period. It’s not just individual cities that set records this winter. Globally, February 2024 was the warmest February on record, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service. It was 1.77 degrees Celsius above the average February temperature in the recent preindustrial era from 1850-1900. This is the ninth month in a row to break the temperature record for that respective month. Taken together, the past 12 months have been the hottest 12 consecutive months on record: 1.56 degrees Celsius above the average from 1850-1900. “A year ago, the fact that the global temperature for a particular month would reach 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial level would have been considered exceptional,” said Julien Nicolas, a senior scientist at Copernicus, via email. Now, it’s happened repeatedly. This doesn’t mean we have exceeded the international Paris Agreement goal of stopping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial temperature. For that to happen, the planet would need to be 1.5 degrees warmer for several years, long enough to reflect a more permanent change. For now, in the short term, the ocean has been particularly hot. The average global sea-surface temperature in February was the warmest recorded for any month, surpassing the previous record set in August 2023.
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The planet just shattered heat records for the ninth month in a row
Last month was the planet’s hottest February on record, marking the ninth month in a row that global records tumbled, according to new data from Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service. February was 1.77 degrees Celsius warmer than the average February in pre-industrial times, Copernicus found, and it capped off the hottest 12-month period in recorded history, at 1.56 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It’s yet another grim climate change milestone, as the long-term impacts of human-caused global warming are given a boost by El Niño, a natural climate fluctuation. “February joins the long streak of records of the last few months. As remarkable as this might appear, it is not really surprising as the continuous warming of the climate system inevitably leads to new temperature extremes,” Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus, said in a statement. Even in the context of back-to-back months of unprecedented temperatures, February has been extreme. Global temperatures in the first half of the month in particular were “exceptionally high,” according to the analysis. Four consecutive days, from February 8 to 11, were 2 degrees warmer than those same days pre-industrial times. Restricting global heating to well below 2 degrees was a centerpiece of the Paris Agreement that almost every country signed up to in 2015. While scientists are much more concerned with longer-term warming, these temporary breaches are a clear and alarming sign of accelerating heating. Global ocean temperatures were also off the charts last month, hitting 21.06 degrees — the highest average for any month on record, according to the Copernicus data, beating the previous record of 20.98 degrees set in August 2023. Experts have expressed shock at just how hot the oceans have been, especially the North Atlantic, which has set a new daily temperature record every day since March 5 last year, according to Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. “At times, the records have been broken by margins that are virtually statistically impossible,” McNoldy told CNN. Record ocean heat has significant global impacts. Not only is it dangerous for marine life but it also fuels extreme weather, including scorching heat waves, intense rainfall and ferocious hurricanes. The Copernicus data “tells a familiar story of warming temperatures and shifting patterns of weather,” said Hannah Cloke, a climate scientist and professor at the University of Reading in the UK. It is entirely consistent with what scientists have predicted would happen “as greenhouse gases continue to build up in our thin, life-giving atmosphere,” she told CNN. It provides yet more evidence that the world needs to reduce emissions drastically and immediately, Cloke said. If this evidence is ignored, Cloke added, “our children’s generation, and all those that follow, will be justified in pointing to the people who lived in 2024 and cursing our reckless stupidity.”
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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 March 22, 2024, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2024.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2024.


More states deciding home buyers should know about flood risks
‘It’s a recognition that flooding is only going to get worse and that they need to take action now to protect home buyers and renters,’ says one advocate
Hours into a marathon meeting earlier this month, and with little fanfare, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission gave its blessing to a proposal that could have profound impacts in a state where thousands of homes face threats from rising seas, unprecedented rainfall and overflowing rivers. Soon, anyone who sells a home in the state will be required to disclose to prospective buyers far more about a property’s flood risks — and flood history. Rather than merely noting whether a home is in a federally designated flood zone, they will have to share whether a property has flood insurance, whether any past flood-related claims have been filed, or if the owner has ever received any federal assistance in the wake of a hurricane, tidal inundation or other flood-related disaster. With the changes, North Carolina became the fourth state this year to embrace more stringent disclosure requirements, joining South Carolina, New York and New Jersey. Advocates say the shifts, which for the most part encountered little outward opposition, represent an acknowledgment that flood risks are surging throughout the country and that more transparency about those risks is a common-sense measure that could mean more homes have flood insurance and fewer buyers face catastrophic surprises. “It’s a recognition that flooding is only going to get worse and that they need to take action now to protect home buyers and renters,” said Joel Scata, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which tracks flood disclosure laws around the country. “It’s also a recognition of the importance of transparency and fairness.” The changing disclosure policies come at a time when scientists say the nation’s coastlines will experience as much sea level rise in the coming few decades as they have over the past century. They also have documented how the warming atmosphere is creating more powerful storms and more torrential and damaging rainfalls, which already are inundating communities where aging infrastructure was built for a different era and a different climate. The more stringent rules adopted this year also follow a path set by some of the country’s most flood-battered states. Louisiana, facing massive land loss from rising seas and the prospect of stronger storms, has what environmental advocates and even the Federal Emergency Management Administration agree is one of the most robust sets of disclosure laws in the nation. Likewise, in the wake of cataclysmic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Texas adopted new rules that have also made the state a model for flood disclosure. But even as several additional states finalized new disclosure rules in 2023, many others still do not require sellers to divulge to buyers whether a home has previously flooded. That includes places such as Florida, which faces significant and rising risks from hurricanes, climate-fueled rain bombs and inland flooding along rivers. According to NRDC, more than one-third of states have no statutory or regulatory requirement that a seller must disclose a property’s flood risks or past flood damage to potential buyers. Others have varying degrees of requirements — a patchwork that means where people live can greatly influence how much they actually know about the flood risks of a home they buy or rent. “There are still too many states who keep home buyers in the dark,” Scata said. “That needs to change. Flooding is only going to become more severe due to climate change. And people have a right to know whether their dream home could become a nightmare due to flooding.” Earlier this year, FEMA proposed federal legislation that would require states to mandate certain minimum flood risk reporting requirements as a condition for ongoing participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. The agency said having a nationwide requirement would “increase clarity and provide uniformity” in many real estate transactions, but it has not yet become a reality. That lack of action on Capitol Hill has not stopped individual states from moving forward. In June, the South Carolina Real Estate Commission added new questions to the state’s residential disclosure that go into far more detail than before, including whether a homeowner has filed public or private flood insurance claims or made flood-related repairs that weren’t submitted to an insurer. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Nick Kremydas, chief executive of South Carolina Realtors, which publicly supported the enhanced disclosure requirements. Still, he said he hopes Congress will eventually allow buyers to access FEMA’s database of flood claims for individual properties. “That’s the best-case scenario.” Over the summer, New Jersey’s legislature overhauled what NRDC had labeled the state’s “dismal” disclosure requirements, instead putting in place new rules that require sellers to document a wide range of flood-related information. In addition, it requires that purchasers in coastal areas be warned about the potential impacts of sea level rise. “The idea is that the more people understand about the hazards, the more they can incorporate that into their decision-making, and the more they can have ownership of those decisions,” said Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future, a nonprofit that advocates smarter growth and resilience policies. In September, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed similar legislation, calling it a monumental step toward protecting residents from the increasing impacts of climate change. In addition to mandating more detailed flood information, it eliminated a previous option that allowed sellers to provide a $500 credit at closing in exchange for waiving the disclosure requirement. The legislation followed a similar measure from late 2022, requiring flood disclosures for renters. “This is a person’s home, and they should be warned,” said New York State Assembly member Robert Carroll (D), a prime sponsor of the disclosure bills. “This is really about knowledge and proper warning.” In large swaths of the country, there is little doubt that more properties are likely to face flooding risks over time. A report last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and other federal agencies projected that U.S. coastlines will face an additional foot of rising seas by 2050. NOAA has detailed how specific places are likely to see a sharp rise in high-tide, or nuisance, flooding, and that coastal flood warnings will become much more commonplace in coming decades. Likewise, scientists have documented an abnormal and dramatic surge in sea levels along the U.S. gulf and southeastern coastlines since about 2010, and other researchers have warned that the nation’s real estate market has yet to fully account for the expanding threats posed by rising seas, stronger storms and torrential downpours. In a study last year commissioned by NRDC, the independent actuarial consulting firm Milliman found that in New Jersey, New York and North Carolina, 28,826 homes sold in 2021 — 6.6 percent of total sales — were estimated to have been previously flooded. In addition, the firm found that expected future annual losses for a home with previous flood damage are significantly higher in each state than for the average of all homes, regardless of flood damage, in that state. Because one of the best indicators of whether a house will flood is whether it has flooded before, meaningful disclosure requirements are crucial, said Brooks Rainey Pearson, legislative counsel for the North Carolina branch of the Southern Environmental Law Center, which last year petitioned the state’s real estate commission on behalf of multiple environmental and community groups to make the disclosure changes. “People can take steps to protect themselves when you give them the information they need,” she said. “It matters, because with climate change we are seeing more frequent flooding events, including more intense storms and more flooding of houses. It’s a huge investment for a family to make to buy a house. People deserve to know whether the house they are purchasing has flooded or could flood.” Pearson says she hopes the changes coming to North Carolina and other states will help illuminate otherwise unknown risks and ultimately help reduce the number of homeowners who are displaced and devastated financially after storms such as Hurricane Florence, which battered her state in 2018. “What it comes down to,” she said, “is giving the buyer the information they need to make smart decisions.”
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GenX
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NC ‘Forever Chemical’ Plant Violates Human Rights, U.N. Panel Says
The allegations of human rights violations linked to pollution from the factory broadens a yearslong battle over the site and over the chemicals known as PFAS.
The dumping of contaminated wastewater by a chemical plant on the Cape Fear River began more than four decades ago, making the river water unsafe to drink for 100 miles. This week, in response to a petition by community groups in North Carolina, a United Nations panel called the pollution a human rights issue. The U.N. concerns about human-rights violations, the kind of claims that Americans might be more used to seeing leveled at foreign countries, broaden the scope of a global fight over the harms from what are known as forever chemicals, or by their acronym PFAS. They are the subject of a yearslong dispute over their dangers. Chemours, the chemicals giant that took over the plant in 2015, and DuPont before it, “are completely disregarding the rights and well-being of residents” along the river, a panel of U.N. human rights experts said. The pollution continues “even as DuPont and Chemours had information about the toxic impacts of PFAS on human health and drinking water,” they said, using the acronym for polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals, many of which are toxic. Chemours said it was “committed to responsibly manufacturing and producing products in a manner consistent with international principles.” The products it makes at its plant at Fayetteville, N.C., contributed to “vital technologies for green hydrogen, electric vehicles and semiconductor manufacturing,” the company said. Chemours is currently moving ahead with plans to expand the Fayetteville plant. DuPont has rejected claims that it bears responsibility for the Fayetteville plant, which it spun off as part of a corporate restructuring in 2015. PFAS are human-made chemicals that companies have used to make a wide range of water- or grease-resistant products including nonstick cookware, pizza boxes, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, firefighting foam and some cosmetics. They don’t naturally break down and instead accumulate in the environment and in the blood and organs of people and animals. Research by both chemical companies and academics have shown that exposure to PFAS has been linked to cancer, liver damage, birth defects and other health problems. A newer type of PFAS, GenX, which Chemours makes at its Fayetteville plant, was designed to be a safer alternative to earlier generations of the chemicals. New studies, however, are discovering similar health hazards. State regulators have repeatedly fined the Fayetteville plant for exceeding emissions limits, and, over the years, the Environmental Protection Agency has also issued a string of violations. In 2021, the agency started requiring chemical manufacturers to test and publicly report the amount of PFAS in household items as part of what it calls its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, a strategy to protect public health and the environment. Still, the U.N. panel, made up of special rapporteurs from its Human Rights Council, said both the E.P.A. and local regulators had “fallen short in their duty to protect against business-related human rights abuses.” That included failing to provide affected communities in North Carolina “with the type and amount of information necessary to prevent harm and seek reparation,” the panel said. The E.P.A. declined to comment. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Local environmentalists called on Chemours to halt its expansion in Fayetteville and focus on cleaning up the pollution. “We still have residents in our region who do not have access to clean, safe drinking water,” said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, which petitioned last year for the United Nations to open a human rights investigation. “We’re finding PFAS along our beaches, in locally grown produce and locally caught fish. It’s also in our air and rainwater,” she said. Yet “Chemours wants to expand production and make more PFAS.”
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Homeowners Insurance
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NC has rejected the proposal to raise coastal insurance rates by 99%.
Now what happens?
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey called the proposed increase “excessive and unfairly discriminatory.” Insurance industry says climate change, inflation driving the need to raise premiums
In a move that surprised no one, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey this month rejected a proposal by the state’s insurance industry to raise homeowner insurance premiums by 42% statewide and an eyewatering 99% in beach and coastal areas around Wilmington. “Homeowners were shocked with the high amount requested by the insurance companies, and so was I,” Causey said in a release. The rejection, however, doesn’t mean the end of the process, but just the beginning of likely negotiations between regulators and the industry that could be influenced by the upcoming November election, in which Causey is seeking re-election.

How did we get here?
The N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents the state’s insurance companies, cited two main factors for the surprisingly large rate increase proposal. First, is the rising cost of pretty much everything, including labor and potential repairs, driven by inflation and the lingering impacts of labor and material shortages tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other is climate change, which is causing more frequent and widespread property destruction, particularly tied to bigger and stronger hurricanes, as the warming climate fuels more severe weather events. Damages in North Carolina tied to 2018’s Hurricane Florence, for example, were estimated to top $22 billion, with much of that hitting inland areas. Two other factors also could be playing a role in the industry’s request, said Don Hornstein, an administrative and insurance law expert with the University of North Carolina School of Law. The first is the moratorium that was put into place during the pandemic on any rate increases. That left the industry going several years without seeing an increase in homeowner insurance rates even as the price of everything else increased. The last increase came in 2020, when insurance companies originally wanted to hike premiums by 24.5% but eventually agreed to settle for 7.9% after Causey rejected their initial request. But Hornstein said an equally big factor weighing on the size of the proposed rate increase is the cost of reinsurance basically insurance for the insurance companies themselves in case a large-scale disaster stretches their financial ability to respond. “These increased weather risks are international, not just in the U.S.,” he said, noting the recent massive wildfires in Europe and Australia as just two examples. “And as the risk is increasing everywhere, it works to the detriment of insurers seeking reinsurance everywhere.”

Rate increase shock
The rate bureau’s recent proposal included an increase of 99.4% for beachfront properties in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties in the Wilmington area and Carteret County, which includes Emerald Isle. Farther up the coast, beach areas along the Outer Banks would have seen a 45% increase. Areas on the mainland but near the Intracoastal Waterway in the Wilmington area would have seen proposed increases of 71.4% for those roughly from U.S. 17 oceanward and 43% for those farther inland. The increases would be determined by a property’s ZIP code. Proposed increases in the rest of the state also would be substantial, but not as much as a gut punch for coastal homeowners in Southeastern North Carolina. The reaction from the public and local officials was not surprising. “The Department of Insurance has received more than 24,000 emailed comments on this proposal, with hundreds more policyholders commenting by mail,” Causey said. “Scores more consumers spoke during a public comment forum. North Carolina consumers deserve a more thorough review of this proposal. “I intend to make sure they get that review.” 

What happens now?
As part of the process of raising rates in North Carolina’s regulated homeowner and auto insurance markets, the insurance commissioner has the right to reject the rate bureau’s proposal and schedule a hearing. Causey has done that, scheduling a hearing for Oct. 7. State law gives the insurance commissioner 45 days to issue an order once a hearing concludes, and the insurance industry always has the option of taking the issue to the courts if they reject the commissioner’s findings. But this is an election year, and Causey, a Republican, is seeking re-election. Assuming he wins the upcoming GOP primary against two other candidates, that could make his appearances during the hearing where he would likely attack the proposed rate increase as “excessive and unfairly discriminatory” as he already has a strong bully pulpit for him during the height of campaign season. Many times, though, state regulators and industry negotiate a settlement behind closed doors before a hearing. Hornstein said it’s likely the parties will talk, if they aren’t already doing so, and exchange numbers and thoughts on what kind of increase would be needed to keep the state’s insurance market competitive, profitable for companies, and attractive to new entrants. He said state regulators will have to walk a fine line in balancing the desires of property owners with the needs of industry. Otherwise, Hornstein warned, North Carolina’s insurance market could end up looking like Florida, Louisiana or even more recently California, where numerous insurance companies have decided their exposures to disasters whether hurricanes, flooding or wildfire just isn’t worth the risk and the high premiums, costing them business, they’d need to charge consumers. “If insurers don’t feel they have enough rates, they will cancel policies or pull out,” Hornstein said, noting that Nationwide declined to renew more than 10,500 policies in the state last year, mostly due to hurricane concerns. “Either they get what they think they need, or they’ll vote with their feet.”
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Hurricane Season

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Why a hot Atlantic has hurricane forecasters very worried
Hurricane season is still more than three months away, but in parts of the tropical Atlantic, it feels like we might as well already be in the thick of it. Across a strip of ocean where many cyclones are born, February ocean temperatures are closer to what scientists expect in July. The ominous warmth is stirring concerns of yet another hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season. Seven of the last eight seasons have been above normal. Last year, similarly unusual warmth fueled a storm season that was significantly more active than meteorologists might have expected given the presence of the El Niño climate pattern, which emerged last spring and creates conditions that tend to inhibit Atlantic cyclone formation. As meteorologists look ahead to this hurricane season, which begins June 1, they see an increasing likelihood that a La Niña pattern will replace El Niño by late summer or early fall. That is another bad sign for the U.S. coastline — La Niña is associated with active patterns in the tropical Atlantic. It’s still too early to say whether the warmth will persist into hurricane season, or when La Niña might arrive. But, especially together, the trends suggest that an active season could be difficult to avoid, said Michael Lowry, a meteorologist with WPLG-TV in Miami and a former National Hurricane Center scientist. “There’s plenty of time ahead before we get to the meatiest part of the hurricane season,” Lowry said. “But a lot’s going to have to change … for forecasters to feel much more comfortable going into hurricane season.”

A persistent trend of record warmth
Last spring, the strongest climate signal scientists know of — El Niño — gave every indication of a slowdown in Atlantic hurricane activity in the summer and fall. El Niño’s signature is a surge of warm waters and towering clouds in the central and eastern Pacific. It triggers changes in atmospheric circulation that, on the other side of the planet, can make it harder for tropical storms to form and strengthen: Areas of high pressure with sinking air are more common over the Atlantic, and wind shear, when wind speed and direction vary at different altitudes, increases. The expectation of El Niño prompted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters to predict a mostly typical Atlantic hurricane season, a downgrade from years of increased storm activity. But as El Niño developed, and unusual warmth appeared well beyond the Pacific zones the climate pattern is known for, forecasters warned that a quieter season was far less than certain. By August, it became clearer: The ocean warmth was likely to counteract El Niño’s typical effect in the Atlantic, and NOAA upgraded its forecast. The season ended up with about 20 percent more activity than average, as measured by a statistic known as accumulated cyclone energy. Now, with a new tropical weather season ahead, Atlantic temperatures are perhaps even more remarkable.

Why meteorologists have reason for concern
In a zone of the Atlantic known as the main development region for hurricanes, sea surface temperatures are running well above normal — and 1.1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) higher than in any other year on record, said Philip Klotzbach, a tropical meteorologist at Colorado State University. If that trend persists into hurricane season this summer, it could mean a ripe environment for tropical waves flowing from Africa to develop into cyclones. “Basically, it is the perfect recipe for hurricanes to form and strengthen,” Alejandro Jaramillo, a meteorologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said in an email. “The warmer waters provide extra fuel available for hurricanes, potentially leading to the formation of stronger storms.” One factor behind the Atlantic warmth: weak winds over the ocean, Klotzbach said. That discourages evaporation, which would allow the waters to cool by transferring heat into the air. Models suggest weaker-than-normal winds continuing into March, Klotzbach said. Beyond that, longer-term models predict that surface temperatures will remain elevated, and that by the heart of hurricane season, from August through October, precipitation will be above normal across the tropical Atlantic, something that suggests a strong pattern of waves flowing off Africa, Klotzbach said. If those predictions come to pass, “I’d expect a very busy season in store,” he said in an email. Meanwhile, climate scientists predict that La Niña is more likely than not to develop by August. While El Niño increases wind shear — which acts to disrupt hurricanes’ columns of rotating winds — La Niña tends to discourage it, clearing the way for storms to organize and strengthen. The warm water in the tropical Atlantic is part of a global pattern of record sea-surface temperatures, fueled by both El Niño and human-caused climate change. The planet’s average sea surface temperature reached an all-time record of 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit (21.2 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Why it’s too soon to panic
Meteorologists stressed that it is far too soon to say how the hurricane season may play out. Official seasonal forecasts from NOAA, Colorado State and other sources won’t arrive for months, and even they carry plenty of uncertainty. And there is still much scientists don’t understand about how the ocean behaves and what triggers longer-term changes in tropical weather. For example, it wasn’t immediately clear what was behind an unusual drought of Atlantic hurricanes in the 1970s and 1980s — until scientists realized that a surge in air pollution from Europe was acting to cool the tropical Atlantic by blocking sunlight, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Similarly, it isn’t yet clear why the Atlantic is warming more dramatically than other oceans, or for how long it will continue, he said. Even if scientists could predict an active hurricane season with more certainty, “that’s not what you want,” Emanuel said. “You want the number of destructive landfalling storms.” That is outside meteorologists’ capabilities — it was just last year that NOAA extended its tropical outlooks to seven days. But Lowry said the state of the Atlantic is such that, even if ocean temperatures trend closer to normal, there is still far more heat in the waters that could be available for storms come summer and fall. “This is such an extreme case that it doesn’t bode well,” he said.
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Inlet Hazard Areas

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CRC science panel to resume Inlet Hazard Areas discussion
The science panel that advises the state’s Coastal Resources Commission has scheduled a virtual meeting to pick up its review of Inlet Hazard Areas boundaries that began during its Nov. 27, 2023, meeting and discuss recent studies and data on sea level rise. The meeting is to begin at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, and is open for public listening either online or call 415-655-0003 and use access code 242 570 64312. Comments can be submitted to [email protected] with “Science Panel” in the subject line. The Coastal Resources Commission, known as the CRC, sets rules and policies for the 20 coastal counties, which the Division of Coastal Management, under the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, carries out. The science panel provides the CRC with scientific data and recommendations pertaining to coastal topics. Inlet Hazard Areas are areas of environmental concern that are especially vulnerable to erosion, flooding, and other adverse effects of sand, wind, and water because of their proximity to dynamic ocean inlets, according to the “Inlet Hazard Area Boundary, 2019 Update: Science Panel Recommendations to the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission.” The panel during its November meeting began the discussion on Inlet Hazard Areas because of the three-part charge issued by the CRC to reevaluate every five years its IHA methods and boundaries, incorporating data collected since its 2019 study, reassess its 2019 recommendations and consider alternative methods for calculating oceanfront shoreline change rates. They are to present the draft reports including proposed ag boundaries and erosion rates in summer of 2024.  The panel discussed the background of IHAs, the work that has taken place since the ongoing effort began in the late 2000s, complications, and possible alternatives, such as using different approaches for the inlets experiencing the most erosion. They will continue this discussion.
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Lockwood Folly Inlet

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Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling

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Offshore Wind Farms

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Thanks to Duke Energy,
offshore wind is blowing back into NC’s clean energy picture
There are currently three areas leased for offshore wind farms along the N.C. coast, including two about 20 miles south of Brunswick County. The project furthest along is off the Outer Banks
From concerns about financing to potential impacts on the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale, developers of offshore wind projects had to navigate some rough waters in 2023. That stormy weather included efforts by companies to renegotiate their contracts with utilities due to rising construction costs, higher inflation and supply chain disruptions, and the war in Ukraine. Those headwinds culminated in some developers deciding to walk away from projects rather than get stuck in money-losing endeavors. But the winds now seem to be blowing in the renewable energy sector’s favor, including for a pair of wind farms planned for the waters just south of Brunswick County. Late last year, a 132 megawatt (MW) project off New York’s Long Island became the first offshore wind farm in the country to start sending power onshore. Parts of another wind farm off Massachusetts came online in early January. Then in late January Duke Energy, citing a projected massive increase in future demand on its power grid, announced it was moving forward with plans to add 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind to its grid in the 2030s as part of its updated carbon plan. The plan maps out proposed roadmaps for the utility giant to meet North Carolina’s future power needs while also reducing carbon emissions from the state’s energy sector, with a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Duke’s commercial renewables arm and Total Energy Renewables in 2022 secured neighboring leases from the U.S. Bureau of EM to build offshore wind farms in the open ocean about 18 miles south of Bald Head Island. Duke has said its 54,000-acre site, which it paid the federal government $155 million to lease, could support 1.6 gigawatts of wind power. While the two companies teamed up for some survey work in the proposed project areas last summer, it will still be years before any giant wind turbines start rising from the Brunswick waters. Still, the steps from getting U.S.-based wind farms generating power to Duke’s decision to add offshore wind to its future power grid needs are all important moves in the right direction, said Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition. “Offshore winds needs to be a key component if we’re going to meet the decarbonizing requirements outlined in House Bill 951,” she said, referring to the 2021 legislation that enshrined the state’s emission-reducing carbon plan into law. “You cannot do that without offshore wind.” In its updated carbon plan filing with the N.C. Utilities Commission, Duke notes that a lot of financial uncertainties still surround offshore wind − especially when trying to project capital development and operating costs a decade or more out for these complicated, capital-intensive projects. But Kollins said a lot of the information that any new study would require could be gleamed from the increasing number of wind farms that are coming online in the coming years, including the Kitty Hawk Wind energy area that’s been under development off the Outer Banks since 2017. She added that some information that a wind farm developer would require to move forward, such as status of the sea floor around a proposed project along with wind and weather data, also could start being gathered now instead of later, allowing projects to move into the development phase that much faster. Preliminary work on securing infrastructure that can take long lead-in times, like undersea cables and substations, also could be initiated with developers as well as starting the conversation on permitting and rates rather than waiting. “It’s time and certainty, and that’s what these projects need right now,” Kollins said. “They need to know that North Carolina is a market, a reliable market for wind energy.”
Read more » click here


Things I Think I Think –


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

Restaurant Review:
The 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.
 ///// December 2023
Name:            Villa Romana 
Cuisine:
        Italian
Location:      707 South Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach SC
Contact:        843.448.4990 /
https://www.villaromanamyrtlebeach.com/
Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost: $23      Inexpensive <=20 / Moderate <=26 / Expensive <=35 / Exorbitant <=60
Rating:          Three Stars
A quintessential Italian restaurant, it feels like the great Italian restaurants that were more prevalent many years ago. Apparently, they have renovated since our last visit the traditional Roman architecture with its columns, statues, and fountains have been removed. Frankly, although it was a bit kitschy I miss them. The roving accordion player contributes to its old-world charm. Established in 1985, the menu reflects home-style interpretations of their family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. What makes them great is they are happy to prepare any dishes you want as long as the ingredients are available. It’s an exceptional value, the food is wonderful, the portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable. What’s not to like?


Dining Guide – Local * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Dining Guide – North * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Dining Guide – South * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Restaurant Reviews – North * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Restaurant Reviews – South * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)


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 Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen
When a recent visitor’s body turns up tortured and dead in her driveway, former CIA agent Maggie Bird secret past catches up with her. Maggie connects the dots to her last case that forced her into retirement after a mission that went tragically wrong, She turns to her friends,  members of The Martini Club, all former retired CIA operatives to help her uncover the truth by investigating who has come back to hunt her down. It’s very reminiscent of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series.


That’s it for this newsletter

See you next month


Lou’s Views . HBPOIN

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

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

https://lousviews.com/

02 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


BOC’s Special Meeting 02/07/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here

Meeting Reconvened Audio Recording » click here


1.   Discussion and Possible Action on Accepting Bids for Harbor Acres Dredge Project and Acceptance of a Grant from the Division of Water Resources for the Project – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson (Mayor Holden)

Agenda Packet – pages 1 – 44

Dredging Project Bids » click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action in accepting bids for a bucket to barge dredge of Harbor Acres subdivision entrance canal and the acceptance of a grant from the Division of Water Resources for the project.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Harbor Acres subdivision requests a dredge of approximately 2400 cy of material from the entrance canal to return the entrance to desired safe navigation depths.

ADVISORY BOARD RECOMMENDATION:
The canal dredging working group gave their approval for both the project and the grant at a meeting on 2/2/24.

TOWN MANAGER’S RECOMMENDATION:
Approval and award of most responsive bid; direct town manager to execute grant contract and notice to proceed regardless of bid timing receipt scenario.


Harbor Acres subdivision working group communicated a desire to move ahead with dredging on the entrance canal because of navigation safety concerns. The town has actively pursued permitting for a bucket-to-barge operation that will require the contractor to remove approximately 2400 cy of material. At the time of this memo, our engineer reports that one final water quality certification remains, and the Corps is ready to issue its permit once the certification is received. The state is requesting the BOC to act on the attached grant as soon as possible because it still needs to be countersigned on their side before any work can begin and the program manager suggests this can take some time.

Note:
To honor the state’s request, February 7th is the first meeting that would allow the BOC to act on the grant contract. A bid opening is scheduled to be held February 6 at 2:00 p.m. and as such the bid tab cannot be included in this packet and will need to be supplied at the meeting on February 7th. If three bids are received, bids can be opened on February 6th and the BOC can entertain accepting the bid and accepting the grant. If three bids are not received, we will need to readvertise. In the event of the second scenario unfolding, the BOC might consider delegating authority to the manager to execute the contract if the bid requirements are met on the second solicitation to expedite the process and comply with the state’s request.


Resolution 23-12
The Board of Commissioners requests the State of North Carolina to provide financial assistance to the Town of  Holden Beach for the Habor Acres Canal Maintenance Dredging in the amount of $257,850.00 or 75 percent of project construction cost, whichever is the lesser amount;

Update –
Maintenance dredging bid from T.D Eure was the low bidder at $189,000. The motion was made to award the contract to the most responsive bid.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


2.   Budget Workshop

a. 2024 Vision, Goals & Priorities                Agenda Packet – pages 45 – 47
b. Public Works                                                Agenda Packet – pages 48 – 53
c. Parks and Recreation                                 Agenda Packet – pages 48, 54 – 56


a. Vision, Goals & Priorities

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Review & Possible Action on 2024 Budget Vision, Goals, Priorities

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
In order to move forward with the 2024 budget, we should fist establish our Vision, then our Goals of a successful budget and finally the Priority criteria for making budget spending decisions


b. Public Works
c. Parks & Recreation

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Budget Workshop

    • Public Works
    • Parks and Recreation

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST
For the workshop, each department should provide a financial report that includes the following for each line item:

    • Last Year Total Spend
    • Current YTD Spend
    • Current FY Outlook

Update –

 a. Vision, Goals & Priorities
The motion was made to accept the proposed vision, goals & priorities
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

b. Public Works
Public Services Director Chris Clemmons discussed the department budget with the Board. Both Town Manager David Hewett and Finance Officer David McRainey both jumped in as needed to help explain the accounting procedures.

c. Parks & Recreation
Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson and Town Manager David Hewett discussed the department budget with the Board.


3.   Discussion and Possible Approval of Resolution 24-02, Resolution Confirming Support of the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Agreement – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 57 – 59


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Review & Possible Action Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement statement

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
In light of Mr. Green’s letter stating that ‘some of the newly elected Board members appear to be intent on ignoring the binding ADA mediation agreement’ and Mayor Holden’s comments to the Brunswick Beacon that ‘Myers, Paarfus and Thomas have voted to shut down some of those (ADA agreement ongoing projects)’ the Town of Holden Beach should release a statement that the town remains fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Agreement.


RESOLUTION 24-02 / RESOLUTION CONFIRMING SUPPORT OF THE KEY BRIDGE FOUNDATION ADA MEDIATION AGREEMENT

WHEREAS, the Town of Holden Beach has executed the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement; and

WHEREAS, the agreement includes the following obligations:

    • Jordan Blvd. – (a). Remove existing ramp and replace with new section of sidewalk; (b). ensure access to sidewalk from all existing accessible parking spaces; (c). provide proper markings and signage
    • 114 QBE Parking lot (a). In consultation with CAMA, as needed, identify potential ADA compliant surfaces are firm, stable, and slip resistant to the maximum extent possible given the proximity of blowing sand; (b). Make the agreed upon surface improvements; (c). Install proper signage and
    • 114 QBE Ramp Replace current wooden handrails on the ramp with round railings similar to those used at Sunset
    • 114 QBE Ramp (a). Improve the transition from the end of the ramp to the mat so as to eliminate existing dip and area of sand accumulation; (b). Extend the mat to the maximum CAMA permitted length; (c) Add options for wheelchair seating to eliminate beachgoers sitting on the mat which blocks access for other beachgoers.
    • East End Parking Area (a). Explore options from procuring Town access so as to expand accessible parking for the East End beach area; (b). In consultation with CAMA, as needed, identify potential ADA compliant surfaces that are firm, stable and slip resistant to the maximum extent possible given the proximity to blowing sand; (c) Make the agreed upon surface improvements; (d) Install proper signage and
    • East End Beach Access – (a). Explore options for procuring Town access so as to provide an accessible beach path for East End Beach area; (b). Explore the options for establishing an access path that is firm, stable, and slip resistant ADA approved surface, to the maximum extent possible given the proximity to blowing sand; (c) Install the agree upon access
    • Accessible Rest Rooms – Provide accessible Rest Rooms at East End and 114 OBE.
    • 700 Block OBW parking – (a). In consultation with CAMA, as needed, identify potential ADA compliant surfaces that are firm, stable and slip resistant to the maximum extent possible given the proximity to blowing sane; (b). Make the agreed upon surface improvements; (c) Install proper signage and
    • 801 OBW – (a). Explore the options for establishing an access path that is a firm, stable and slip resistant ADA approved surface, to the maximum extent possible given the proximity to blowing sand; (b). Install the agreed upon access
    • Pier Parking Lot – (a). install a continuous mat from the end of the hard surface of the parking lot to the beach; (b). Extend the mat to the maximum CAMA permitted length; (c) Add options for wheelchair seating to eliminate beachgoers sitting on the mat which blocks access for other beachgoers; and

WHEREAS, the Town is on track to complete these projects as required by the agreement; and

WHEREAS, the Town has not voted to shut down any of these projects; and

WHEREAS, the Town has no intention of ignoring the binding ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners that the Town remains fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement.

Update –
Commissioner Thomas read the purpose of the Resolution that was in the agenda packet. Important for the Board to respond to the allegations and set the record straight. Basically, they want to reaffirm the commitment to the ADA agreement. The motion was made to adopt the resolution as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


4.   Discussion and Possible Action Related to Mr. Green’s Contract with the Town of Holden Beach – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 60 – 64


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Review & Possible Action Related to Mr. Green’s contract with Town of Holden Beach

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Mr. Green has not provided the Commissioners of HB with a resignation letter. The letter sent to Mayor Holden on January 16 and read aloud at the Jan 23 BOC meeting is not a valid resignation letter because Mr. Green does not report to Mayor Holden per NC Statute 160A-l 73.


§160A-173. City attorney; appointment and duties.
The council shall appoint a city attorney to serve at its pleasure and to be its legal adviser.

Update –
Commissioner Thomas read the purpose of the agenda item that was in the agenda packet. The resignation letter did not follow protocols, so it is not valid.  The letter made unsupported allegations and did not give notice. The motion was made to terminate the attorney contract with Mr. Green.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


5.   Discussion and Possible Action on Hiring an Attorney for the Town of Holden Beach – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Thomas

Agenda Packet – pages 65 – 69


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Review & Possible Action Related to hiring an Attorney for the Town of Holden Beach

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Holden Beach currently has no attorney and needs an interim and permanent attorney.

Update –
The motion was made to retain Sydnee Moore as our interim town attorney and instruct Town Manager to sign letter of engagement.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


General Comments –

Mayor Alan Holden was not in attendance
Commissioner Page Dyer was not in attendance
Commissioner Rick Smith – was not in attendance
.     •
Rick participated remotely but could not vote

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers assumed the duties of the Mayor

It is worth mentioning that the budget meeting calendar and particularly this meeting was established with the three of them indicating that they were available on this date.

They did not complete the Parks & Recreation Budget Workshop portion of the meeting

The meeting was temporarily recessed to reconvene date and time certain on Friday, February 9th at 9:00am.

Commissioner Page Dyer was not in attendance
Commissioner Rick Smith – was not in attendance
.     Rick participated remotely but could not vote


BOC’s Special Meeting 02/14/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here


1. Budget Workshop

      • Governing Body
      • Administration
      • Inspections
      • Police
      • Capital Improvement Plan and Projects

BOC’s Special Meeting 02/20/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here

Audio Recording » click here


1. Budget Workshop

      • Goal Setting/Priorities

BOC’s Public Hearing / Regular Meeting 02/20/24

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet click here

Audio Recording » click here


Public Hearing


PUBLIC HEARING:
Proposed Changes to Holden Beach Code of Ordinances §157.083 Accessory Structures and §157.006 Definitions

Update –
The Public Hearing was held to hear comments on the proposed changes to Accessory Structures Ordinance, there were none.  


 Regular Meeting 02/20/24


1.   Conflict of Interest Check

2024 Rules of Procedure for the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners
(e) Conflict Check. Immediately after the approval of the agenda, the Presiding Officer shall poll each member to disclose any potential conflicts of interest. In the event that a potential conflict is disclosed, the members will vote on a motion to allow or excuse that member with respect to the agenda item. If excused, the member may not participate in any discussion, debate, or vote with respect to the agenda item.

The Board was polled by Mayor Holden. All of them declared that there was no conflict of interest with any agenda item at this meeting. 


2.   Public Comments on Agenda Items

There were comments made by eight (8) members of the public.


3.   Discussion and Possible Action on Adopting the Sailfish Park Site-Specific Master Plan as Completed by McGill Associates, PA. – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson

Agenda Packet – pages 57 -59, plus separate packet

Sailfish Park Master Plan » click here

Slide Show Presentation » click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action In adopting the Sailfish Park Site-Specific Master Plan as completed by McGill Associates, PA. The endeavor is the culmination over two budget years and the last action is a presentation by the consultant and a board vote.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
A site-specific master plan study of Sailfish Park was conducted to further the work done in the Comprehensive  Master Plan completed by McGill Associates, PA in 2021. The process involved several rounds of public input including an online survey, on-site community meetings, and a community feedback session. The plan discusses how the park should be updated to help better serve the community.

ADVISORY BOARD RECOMMENDATION:
The plan passed by a 3-1 vote of the parks and recreation advisory board.

FINANCE RECOMMENDATION:
Finance Officer reviewed document and the preliminary opinion of probable cost. Also, the park renovations are included in the CIP for FY 202S. 


This is a punctuation point of work across two budget years on a site-specific master plan for Sailfish Park. The journey involved a variety of means of public input and our consultants will walk us through a presentation of the process and discuss any questions or comments we might have regarding the plan. They have fulfilled the commitments of their contract once they make this presentation to the Board of Commissioners .

The plan reveals there is a commonality among those who voiced concerns about leaving the park the same and those that want improvements. This plan enhances the current facilities in a manner that allows all abilities to enjoy the tranquility of this passive park.

Update –
Representatives from McGill did a slide presentation and went through the process that was used to develop the site plan. The plan recommends a phased approach be pursued since the probable cost of the proposed project is approximately $435,527. The design balances an effort for the park to retain the site’s natural state while improving it, so it is both more useable and accessible for everybody by making it ADA compliant. Strong consideration was made in the park’s planning effort to develop it in such a way that it does not attract more visitors than its capacity and thereby becomes detrimental to those who love Sailfish Park. The motion was made to accept the master plan that was presented  to the Board.

A decision was made – Not Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer approved the motion

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

Disappointed, they did not move forward with this plan. The top three (3) recommended improvements were for the canoe/kayak dock launch, the  picnic areas, and parking. Hardly controversial or obtrusive. I think the price tag was outrageous at $435K (Is that all you get for your money?). But that was not why the Board didn’t move forward with the plans. We paid McGill to develop the Parks & Recreation Master Plan in 2021. Then we paid McGill to develop a Sailfish Park Site Master Plan. McGill  had significant public input, with  focus groups, surveys, and meetings. The Parks & Recreation Committee worked on this for quite some time and recommended moving forward with the plans. Unfortunately, the reason they didn’t approve the plans was because the Board chose to give priority to the few residents on Sailfish over doing what was best for the rest of us. Once again a small vocal NIMBY minority dictates what we will  do with our Town owned properties. Sad!


4. Police Report – Chief Jeremy Dixon

Agenda Packet – pages 16 – 21

Police Report » click here

Police Patch
Business as usual, normal amount and type of activity for this time of year. During a cold snap we have broken pipes, any water issues call Town Hall during the day and 911 after hours.

 


The police department currently has only eight (8) officers of the ten (10) they are budgeted to have. 

      • Preston Conley came back to work only to go back out again on medical disability
      • New officer is being processed; paperwork has been submitted to the state

Having the full complement of ten (10) police officers seems to be an elusive goal. 


Public Service Announcement –
Scams – be on guard, you need to protect yourself from scammers
Please do not send money when contacted via phone calls

NC residents lose millions to scammers: Report reveals top 10 scam categories
The 41-page report from the North Carolina Department of Justice examines artificial intelligence, the opioid crisis and its scam report.
People in North Carolina are losing millions of dollars each year to scammers, according to a report from the state Department of Justice. This 41-page report looks at everything from artificial intelligence to the opioid crisis – showing that just about any news event and spur scammers into action. The report breaks down the 10 scam categories you’re most likely to fall victim to, and some of the topics are not easy to avoid. The most common types of scams include telemarketing and robocalls, motor vehicles, credit, utilities, home improvement, the internet, landlord-tenant issues, insurance, personal service and real estate. In 2023, the North Carolina Department of Justice received hundreds and in many cases thousands of reports of scams in these arenas. Telemarketing and robocall scams were the most common, with 3,281 reports. Never give anyone your personal information and trust your gut if something feels off. Anyone who thinks they’ve been scammed in North Carolina can call 1-877-566-7226 or file a complaint on the Department of Justice’s website.


What he did not say –

It’s that time of year, rental season ends, and break-in season officially starts
Requested that we all serve as the eyes and ears for law enforcement.


If you know something, hear something, or see something –
call 911 and let the police deal with it.


5. Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 22 – 24

Inspections Report » click here 


ACTIVE NEW HOME PERMITS                                                                = 40
OTHER ACTIVE PERMITS                                                                         = 246
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $30,000                                                             = 40
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED OVER $100,000                                                           = 3
*
AMOUNT INCLUDED IN ACTIVE TOTAL
PERMITS ISSUED WAITING PICK UP                                                     = 22
TOTAL PERMITS                                                                                         = 308


PERMITS IN REVIEW                                                                                 = 14
CAMA ISSUED                                                                                             = 2
ZONING ISSUED                                                                                         = 15


PERMITS SERVICED FOR INSPECTIONS FROM 12/12-1/11                = 87
TOTAL INSPECTIONS MADE                                                                 = 254

Update –
Timbo briefly reviewed department activity last month, the department still remains very busy.

Same As It Ever Was


5a. ADA Mediation Agreement Update

Agenda Packet – pages 25 – 30

ADA Mediation Agreement Status >>> click here


Key  Bridge  Foundation  Agreement  Update

Jordan Blvd.

Remove existing Ramp and replace with new section of sidewalk. Town Removed entire parking section and spots including any adjoining sidewalks. Replaced with new parking area with ADA compliant surface, transitioned new sidewalk section.

Ensure access from all existing accessible parking spaces; Town replaced and restriped all the ADA parking spaces with proper markings and insured an ADA accessible path to sidewalk.

Provide Proper markings and signage; Town created larger access for the area than was required and extra curbing to insure parking usage.

114 OBE Parking Lot

In consultation with CAMA, as needed identify potential ADA compliant surfaces that are firm, stable and slip resistant to maximum extent given proximity to blowing sand: Staff applied for permits for the installation of pervious concrete to cover from the Towns property line to the landward toe of the CAMA Frontal Dune.

Make agreed upon Improvements; Staff retained surveyors to complete and provide maps with Topography capabilities, staff removed as much material as possible and contracted for the installation of approximately 3000 square feet of pervious concrete the maximum allowed by NCOEQ by permit.

Install Signage and markings, Town restriped Parking areas with improved Van accessible spot as well as marked access routes.

114 OBE Ramp

Replace Current Handrails: Handrails were removed and handrails complying with A117.1 Section 4 and 5 were installed.

Improve the transition from mat to eliminate existing dip and areas of sand accumulation: Staff reconfigured matt orientation design type and location.

Extend mat to the maximum NCDEQ permitted Length: Matt was permitted under rule to six feet beyond the last line of natural stable.

Add seating to eliminated blocking access. seating area was established.

East End Parking

East End Beach Access

Explore options for procuring town access to expand accessible parking for the east end beach area; Surveys and plans were developed for access and Hatteras ramp east end.

In consultation with CAMA; as needed, identify potential ADA compliant surfaces that are firm, stable, slip resistant to maximum extent possible given the proximity to blowing Sand; Staff acquired all permits necessary, for the installation of an ADA Handicap Ramp 5 feet wide 125 + or feet long to meet alt requirements of ADA 117.1, the installation of approximately 5200 square feet of pervious non slip surfaces and an emergency access. Bathrooms have been designed and sealed for construction.

Make agreed upon Surface improvements: Plans and Layout shows pervious nonslip area.

Install Proper signs; additional Parking to be stripped with access routes and ADA compliant transitions, with Proper signage.

Project is out for bids (end Date 2/26/2024 at Noon)

Accessible Restrooms

Provide accessible restrooms and 114 OBE and East End. Town has approved Bathrooms for Avenue E but are still trying to get approval from NCDEQ for the 114 OBE modification. May have to apply for a variance at NCDEQ.

700 Block OBW parking

In consultation with CAMA, as needed identify compliant surfaces to the maximum extent possible; site was evaluated.

Make the Agreed upon surface improvements: a parking area was established a hard nonslip surface was put in place with a transition to the public way.

Install Proper signage and markings; new signage and stripping in compliance with A117.1 installed.

801 O8W

Explore options for establishing an access path that is firm, stable, and slip resistant: staff has developed a plan that establishes a firm stable and slip resistant path designed and engineered by McGill and associates.

This area also required a retaining wall NCDEQ approval plan includes designs for stormwater retention and a non-slip pervious surface with access matting out beyond the last line of natural stable vegetation. Staff intends to present Bid Package in Fall

Pier Parking Lot

Extend a mat from the Hard surface to the beach, mat has been extended.

Extend mat to the maximum allowed by NCDEQ; mat has been extended to maximum allowed.

Add Option for Wheelchair seating at end, Matt has a 6-foot-wide area, for wheelchair so wheel chair occupant will not block beach goers.

ADA Compliance initiatives  not on the Agreement

Walkway at 915 OBW

 170-foot-long compliant  walkway with new transitions  and matting located at end.

ADA compliant handrails as required by A117.1 American with Disability Standards.

441 Walkway OBW

143-foot-long ADA Ramp 6 feet cross sectional width with complying with A117.1 Standards

Handrails complying with A117.1 standards, smooth transition, upon completion there will be new access routes with approved parking and proper signage

Remaining parking area to be evaluated for proper access routes and handicap spots for slope and run

Halstead Park

Parking places were reconfigured, repainted. and resurfaced to comply with Al17.1 compliance guidelines, new signage, and Access routes with transition to sidewalk.

Halstead still needs new handrails and slight modification to picnic area for handicap compliance


Previously reported – February 2024

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Review & Possible Action Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement statement

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
In light of Mr. Green’s letter stating that ‘some of the newly elected Board members appear to be intent on ignoring the binding ADA mediation agreement’ and Mayor Holden’s comments to the Brunswick Beacon that ‘Myers, Paarfus and Thomas have voted to shut down some of those (ADA agreement ongoing projects)’ the Town of Holden Beach should release a statement that the town remains fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Agreement.

RESOLUTION 24-02
RESOLUTION CONFIRMING SUPPORT OF THE KEY BRIDGE FOUNDATION ADA MEDIATION AGREEMENT

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners that the Town remains fully committed to fulfilling the obligations of the Key Bridge Foundation ADA Mediation Resolution Agreement.

Commissioner Thomas read the purpose of the Resolution that was in the agenda packet. Important for the Board to respond to the allegations and set the record straight. Basically, they want to reaffirm the commitment to the ADA agreement. The motion was made to adopt the resolution as submitted.

Update –
Timbo updated them on the status of the Key Bridge Foundation Mediation Agreement by reviewing the  work that has been done, work they are hoping to get done and where they are going with it. Briefly went over all the items listed above and advised whether work was completed or not completed yet. In addition, ADA compliance quarterly meetings are being held. The town has addressed everything in the agreement and then some.


6.   Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 24-01, An Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances §157.083 Accessory Structures and §157.006 Definitions – Inspections Director Evans
a.
Consistency Statement

Agenda Packet – pages 31 – 33

Ordinance 24-01 >>> click here


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Text amendment Section 157.006, 157.0083

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
To Bring Current ordinance in alignment with original intent


Previously reported – July 2023
Discussion and Possible Action on Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Section 157: Zoning Code (Accessory Uses) – Mayor Holden

§157.007 ONE PRINCIPAL BUILDING PER LOT
No platted lot shall be occupied by more than one principal building. No part of a yard, court, or other open space provided about any building or structure for the purpose of complying with the provisions of this chapter shall be included as a part of a yard or other open space required under this chapter for another building or structure. A residence shall always constitute a principal use.

Alan introduced the topic, but Timbo explained the issue. Basically, you can’t have an accessory structure before you have a primary structure. Property owners are required to have a bulkhead, but you can’t have a floating dock or pier without the principal structure which is the house.  Changes in the state law have made piers and docks an accessory structure.  The Board requested that Timbo to come back to them with proposed changes to the ordinance concerning accessory uses for the Board to review.

Previously reported – January 2024
Discussion and Possible Scheduling of a Public Hearing on Proposed Changes to Holden Beach Code of Ordinances §157.083 Accessory Structures and §157.006 Definitions – Inspections Director Evans

Accessory Structures Ordinance » click here

P&Z Board Statement of Consistency and Zoning Text Recommendation
The Town of Holden Beach Planning & Zoning Board has reviewed and hereby recommends approval of amendments to Chapter 157.006 definitions and 157.083) of the Zoning Ordinance regarding Accessory Structures. The Planning and Zoning Board has found that the recommended amendments are consistent with the adopted CAMA Land Use Plan and are considered reasonable and in the public interest for the following reasons.

    • The Cama Land Use plan only addresses activities within approved areas and the planning board believes that the Use of the property will not have, and adverse effect of permitted use within the effected Zoning
    • Aesthetics: Chapter 1: Introduction of the adopted Plan references that one of the community’s highest ranked desires is to “Retain and enhance community appearance” regarding the character of development on Holden

The text amendments to 157.006 and 157.083 are consistent with those sections,

Removing the conflict between ordinances and 5.1 of the Cama land Use Plan and encouraging the preservation of Natural resources. Key word Bulkheads.

§157.083 ACCESSORY BUILDINGS
Accessory uses and structures are permitted in any district but not until their
principal structure is present or under construction. Accessory uses shall not involve the conduct of any business, trade, or industry except for home and professional occupations as defined herein. Structures used for accessory uses shall be of comparable color and material of the primary structure and shall be on the same lot as the primary use.

Exception:
Piers, docks, and boatlifts are allowed without their principal structure .

§157.006 DEFINITIONS
ACCESSORY USE or STRUCTURE. A use or structure on the same lot with, and of a nature customarily incidental and subordinate to, the principal use or structure.

Timbo stated that the Board initiated the request to look at this issue, he briefly reviewed how we got to this point. All proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance must go through Planning & Zoning Board for review, comments, and a consistency statement. Now that P&Z has issued the consistency statement the next step is to have a Public Hearing which is required for any changes made to the Zoning Code Section 157. The Board decided to schedule a Public Hearing at the start of the February Regular Meeting.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
What this does is put the ordinance back to what it was before changes were made at the state level by the NC Building Code Council. The change would allow piers, docks, and boatlifts without having a primary structure. After considering the consistency statement, the motion was made to accept the ordinance change as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers opposed the motion


7.   Discussion and Possible Approval of Contract Between the Town and Martin Starnes and Associates for Audit Services for Fiscal Year 2023 – 2024 – Finance Officer McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 34 – 54

Item was removed from the agenda


Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs and PA

ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Approval of Audit Contract

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
To ensure a timely audit conducted by a reputable firm we have previously contracted

FINANCE RECOMMENDATION:
Recommend approving contract to ensure another timely audit. This would be year two of the three year proposal of audit services presented in FY 2023

FEES:
Audit Fee                                                                    $35,125
Financial Statement Drafting                                $3,900
Single Audit Fees (up to 2 programs)                   $3,750
TOTAL                                                                        $42,775

 Previously reported February 2023
Two (2) firms were evaluated by the THB Audit Committee for their suitability to be contracted to perform external audits of the Town’s financial statements for Fiscal Years 22/23, 23/24 and 24/25. The qualifications of Martin Starnes & Associates and Sharpe Patel were measured using the RFP scoring tool developed by a previous Audit Committee.

Based upon the scoring tool evaluations, the Audit Committee recommends that the BOC’s authorize the Town Manager to contract with Sharpe Patel.

Based upon the scoring tool evaluations, the Audit Committee recommended that we contract with Sharpe Patel. However, David recommended that we do not change the auditor. After some discussion, the Board chose to ignore the Audit Committee recommendation despite a 147% fee increase and a $12,000 price difference (Sharpe Patel proposed fee was $25,032 vs. Martin Starnes proposed fee $36,975). The North Carolina Local Government Commission requires the Town to have an annual audit performed. The Town has used  Martin Starnes for the past three (3) years to perform this service. They have experience working with the town and the Town is happy with the incumbent. Approval of the contract means that Martin Starnes has been selected for their fourth consecutive year, to handle our audit for the fiscal year that ends June 30th 2023. The motion was made to continue working with Martin Starnes for another year.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Commissioner Kwiatkowski opposed the motion

Update –
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Myers asked to have this agenda item removed so that the Audit Committee will have an opportunity to discuss and do their job. Town Manager Hewett objected because he said it would compromise getting the audit done in a timely manner.

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Commissioners Smith and Dyer opposed the motion

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents TextThe protocol is to change firms every few years, traditionally we have done that after vendor has audited us for three years, this would be the fifth consecutive year we have contracted with them.


8.   Discussion and Possible Action Regarding the Pier Property Public Input Session on February 29, 2024 – Mayor Pro Tem Myers and Commissioner Paarfus

Agenda Packet – pages 55 – 56

map of the Pier Design large size


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action regarding the pier property public input session on February 29th

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
This public input session will follow the same format as the one recently conducted for Sailfish Park. Hard copies of the listed Attachments (see below) will be available for public review at the session. The architect will also be present to answer questions from the public. The public will sign in and submit input on written forms. No one will speak from the podium and there will be no formal presentations.

CONTRACTS/AGREEMENTS:
The architect will charge an hourly rate of $170 without changing the scope of the current contract.

Update –
The Board provided information on the Pier Public Input Session scheduled for February 29th. The public will have an opportunity to review the current plans for the pier project. No presentations will be made at the meeting. There also will be no public comments allowed, however the architect will be there and available  to answer any questions.  However, the public will be able to submit written comments. The intent is to make it very similar to the input session that was held for the Sailfish Site Plan.

 THB Newsletter (02/16/24)
Public Input Session – Holden Beach Pier
The Town of Holden Beach is seeking input on the Holden Beach Pier Property. Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects will hold a public input session on Thursday, February 29th, starting at 5:00 p.m. The public will have the opportunity to drop by, review the proposed project with the architect and submit written comments. The public input session is not intended to be a meeting of the Board of Commissioners. 


Holden Beach Community Alliance / Save the Holden Beach Pier Petition
The Holden Beach Fishing Pier is a historic landmark and should be preserved, restored, and reopened. The recreational and economic impact this facility has on our local area has been proven by research studies and public input. Since the current town board of commissioners have suggested that demolishing this structure is an option, we need to work together to come up with a plan to SAVE IT!

If you want the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners to evaluate ALL viable options to SAVE THE PIER and are against the demolition of this historic landmark, please sign this petition. We will share our results at the Feb. 29th special meeting.

For more information » click here


Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

I was told that the petition was to ask the Board not to make any rash decision regarding the pier. At best, this explanation was disingenuous. For starters, this Board unlike the previous Board is taking a pragmatic approach to the project. The HBCA want the pier preserved, restored, and reopened without any consideration of the cost to do so. The most likely scenario will be that after the Board has figured out what has to be done and the cost to do it and then the community would have an opportunity to determine its fate.


Mired with issues, a Brunswick pier renovation project could go back to the drawing board
Newcomers on the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners have halted a years-long effort to renovate the town’s pier, which has been closed to the public for months. Since the town purchased the pier and pier house property for around $3.3 million in 2022, the board of commissioners has further assessed the pier’s structural issues and worked on a conceptual plan to renovate the property. The board unanimously approved a final site plan for the property a year ago, in February 2023. At the board’s regular meeting in December, the board was set to act on the two bids it received for phase one of the pier renovation project. After going to bid twice, the project received two bids: a nearly $2.2 million bid from Paragon Building Corp, and a $3.9 million bid from TD Eure. The 2023-24 fiscal year budget budgeted just $1.13 million for the pier renovation and repair project. The board was given three options: award one of the bids and direct staff to prepare a budget amendment for the budget shortfall; direct staff to negotiate with Paragon to reduce the scope of the work and the budget; or direct staff to reduce the scope of the project and totally rebid the project again. Instead, newly elected board members lead a successful effort to stop the project until a special meeting can be held to catch the board and the public up on the status and scope of the project. Commissioners Tracey Thomas, Rick Paarfus and Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Meyers – all of whom were elected to the board in the November 2023 municipal election – claimed the plans for the project were not made available to the public before the December meeting. While the meeting’s agenda packet did not contain detailed sketches or plans for the pier project, those materials have been available to the public at several prior meetings where the project has been discussed over the last year. Meyers and the new board members expressed interest in holding a special meeting with town staff to better understand the scope of the project and long-term vision for the property, before moving forward with a bidder. Meyers made a motion to stop the project until such a meeting is held. “…I would hesitate to move forward with any of this because I think we need a long-term vision of the pier and property and what we’re going to do with it,” Thomas said. “We need a long-term vision for the whole thing before we start just putting $2 million band-aids on the pier.” Commissioners Rick Smith and Page Dyer voted against the motion, who said the project has been a matter of public discussion for three years and it’s time to move forward with the approved plan. A master plan and subsequent phased plan has been presented to the board and public on several occasions over the past year, town staff reiterated. Tensions ran high toward the end of the discussion. “I mean if the folks would have attended the meetings and been as diligent as they are now, they would’ve seen what the plans are and they would understand what the plans are,” Smith said. “But evidently, they didn’t want to and now they want to come in and change the whole deal.” Meyers’ motion passed 3-2, pausing the project for the time being. The conceptual site plan outlined renovations to the existing pier and pier house, as well as improvements to the public parking lot on site. Architects reported to the town’s commissioners last year that the pier structure extending over the ocean is in good shape, but in need of largely cosmetic improvements such as replacing handrails and some decking. The portion of the pier over the beach needs more extensive repairs, like replacing some structural support beams. The pier is located at 441 Ocean Blvd. in Holden Beach. It remains unclear when the board will revisit the project. Several special meetings of the board were called in January, but the pier project is not on the agendas for those meetings.
Read more » click here


9.   Discussion and Possible Action on Issuing a Request for Proposals for a New Permanent Town Attorney – Commissioners Thomas and Paarfus

Agenda Packet – pages 60 – 63


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and possible action on issuing an RFP for a new permanent town attorney.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
The purpose of this request is to direct the Town to prepare an RFP to advertise for a new town attorney

Replacement of Town Attorney
As provided for at North Carolina General Statute §160A-173.

§160A-173.  City attorney; appointment and duties
The council shall appoint a city attorney to serve at its pleasure and to be its legal adviser.

Update –
A Request for Proposals (RFP) for Legal Services will be advertised in the local paper and  placed on the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ website. The law firms that are interested in providing legal services to the Town will need to  respond to the RFP no later than March 31st. The Board tasked the Town Manager with doing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Legal Services. Since it is not prudent to hire an attorney without conducting interviews the established protocols are for the entire Board to interview the potential candidates.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


10.  Discussion and Possible Action on Granting Permission to the Chaplain of the HB Chapel to Conduct the Annual Easter Sunrise Service from the HB Pier – Mayor Holden and Commissioner Dyer

Agenda Packet – page 64


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Discussion and Possible Action on Granting Permission to the Chaplain of the HB Chapel to Conduct the Annual Easter Sunrise Service from the HB Pier

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST: As in years past, the chaplain would be using the pier as the pulpit for the service and the attendees would be on the strand.

Update –
Mayor Holden said that Easter Sunrise Service has been an island tradition as long as he can remember. The Holden Beach Chapel is requesting permission to walk a short distance out on the pier only over beach strand and conduct the service from there as they have done it in the past. The motion made was to allow the Chapel to conduct the  annual Easter Sunrise Service from the pier. The Board asked Timbo if he had any safety concerns, he responded  that he did not have any concerns. The town attorney recommended we obtain a release for waiver of liability from each person that will be on going out on the pier.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Easter Sunrise Service
Holden Beach Chapel and the Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and are sponsoring an Easter Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunday March 31st  at the Holden Beach Pier.


11.  Town Manager’s Report

a. Greensboro Lift Station Update

Agenda Packet – page 65

Sewer Lift Station #2 >>> click here


Sewer Lift Station #2 Update

EPA Grant Component $2,669.867
We were apprised on December 20th that the EPA grant funding came through officially for the town. The finance officer has been working with the representatives at EPA to set up our accounting system. Based on our current knowledge base, this grant will focus on a quick turnaround where the town will submit invoices to EPA representatives. They will approve invoices and send automatic payments to us in which we have to redistribute to the contractor within a three-to-four-day period. The milestone schedule presented in the workplan based on needing to move past the winter 2023 season for construction includes completing construction by July 2025 and having system start up by October 2025. The timeline also incorporates closeout on EPA’s end, which includes their own inspections of the system. They have final completion and close out on their end listed as November 2026.

State Funding $1,940,000
Received a letter of intent to fund from the State last Friday. Have reached out twice to the program representative to make contact and clarify some items. Previous correspondence to Town says the BOC will need to make a resolution accepting the funding letter of intent, but we need some clarification first. One item of critical importance is that the state timeline does not appear to mesh with the EPA timeline; i.e.; the state schedule as received/written seems to  represent a not  to  exceed timeline that lags a year or so behind the EPA approved work plan. We are requesting clarification about advancing the state schedule to accommodate our circumstances and shovel ready project status. More to come on the resolution needed by the board.

Remaining Financing
Have been in consultation with the bond attorney and financial advisors to keep them abreast of the project’s moving parts. Forecast a possible need for short-term borrowing since the state funding references a  reimbursement  of  costs  protocol  instead of  the  payment  advance  system that the EPA follows (mentioned above). In addition to the “pay/go” financing consideration – need to factor in the ability to pay contractor should EPA deny any reimbursements.

LGC
If short-term financing is needed, a third calendar and related efforts will need to be coordinated so that the town can appear before the LGC and submit appropriate application prior to appearance.

Next Steps

    • Get questions answered from State
    • BOC resolution accepting intent to fund
    • Rebid project- old bids are not valid
    • Coordinate bid tab with State
    • Coordinate all above elements for funding and prepare for construction

Previously reported – January 2024
The NC Department Water Quality  application was made

The two (2) million dollar appropriation has not been finalized yet; it still needs to be approved

We are also still waiting for the $2.7m dollars from the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) funding / https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2022-05/fy23-cj-11-stag.pdf

Our intent is to dovetail the funding of $4.7m from the two (2) grants

Previously reported – September 2023
2018 – Sewer Station #4 / $158,000 + $1,413,000 + $282,700 +$104,920 =                         $1,958,620

2020 – Sewer Station #3 / $311,805 + $349,000 $1,622,500 =                                  $2,283,305      +17%

2023 – Sewer Station #2 /  $2,137,400 + $759,400 + $685,400 + $729,500 =                        $4,311,700     +89%

Update –
Agenda packet gave a complete status report on the project. The bids we received the last time we did this were above the dollar amount of the funding that we had  secured. We now have funding of $4,609,867 ($2,669.867 + $1,940,000).  We may need to secure short-term financing to close any expenses above the funds that have already been secured.


Personnel

Kimberly Bowman is our new Permit Specialist in the Inspections Department

The Police Department is still not fully staffed, with one hire being processed and one vacancy

The Administration Department as an opening for the front desk Receptionist


Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Study

The Town has made application to NC
Department Wildlife Resources for $750k state budget appropriation for the Town’s CSRM Study contribution match. It is anticipated that the $750k appropriation and pending federal Disaster Relief Act funding that  probably will negate the need for any further Town expenditures.


Canal Dredging

Maintenance dredging bid from T.D Eure was the low bidder at $189,000

They need to wait to award the contract until they have USACE final approval

Previously reported – January 2024
$343,800 Department Wildlife Resources grant awarded for Harbor Acres dredging. $257,850 state and $85,950 local which is from the Harbor Acres Canal Special Revenue Fund. Waiting for NC Department Water Quality  certification for USACE permit approval. Current Request for Proposal (RFP) is out for a 2,700 cyds bucket to barge project in Harbor Acres. Bids are due back by February 6th. Staff is preparing for BOC consideration of grant acceptance and dredger award in Special Meetings that are scheduled in February.


Stormwater Project Partnership Agreement

Town staff met with USACE Program Manager to develop a draft PPA

Expectation is to establish about a half dozen projects for  an estimated cost of two (2) million dollars

The intent is to position the Town to receive federal stormwater funding for these projects

Previously reported – January 2024
Original meeting with USACE was postponed and the meeting has been rescheduled for February 13th. The plan is to use elements from the stormwater master plan currently in development to aid in obtaining federal funds.


Icon of a Bike on Green Background, bike

Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project
Contractor is proceeding at a pace of a mile a day which is faster than he anticipated

Previously reported – January 2024
Contractor is wrapping up some stormwater improvements and mailbox relocations issues this week. Equipment mobilization is scheduled for this week, so he anticipates work to start very soon. It’s a work in progress but he still says the project being completed by Memorial Day.

DOT Bike Lane Report Presentation » click here

The plan includes bike lanes of 5’ on each side of Ocean Boulevard. It will be an asymmetrical widening, that is 7’ on the south side and only 3’ on the north side where the sidewalk is. 

Highland Paving has been awarded the contract and has already met with the town staff

Surveying has already been completed and work on storm water issues will begin in November

Paving prep work will start once that is completed, probably sometime in December

They anticipate that the actual paving project will be done beginning March

Work will be done starting from the west end of the island working east

They are still committing to completing the project before Memorial Day

THB Newsletter (10/20/23)
Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project
Highland Paving met with the Department of Transportation and staff last week to discuss the upcoming project. They communicated that storm water work will begin in November. The subsequent paving prep work, which we are thinking will take place in December, will involve removal of the road shoulders, three feet on the north side of the road and seven feet on the south side of the road. We do not know where the contractor will be at any given point in time. Property owners are responsible for removing any material (landscape timbers/specialty rock, etc.) from the construction area that they don’t want hauled off by the contractor. Replacement material will be generic ABC stone. Mailboxes will be moved/reset, but if they fall apart, the contractor will install a generic replacement. We are forecasting the paving won’t begin until March/April, with the project being completed by Memorial Day.

THB Newsletter (12/21/23)
Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project
Paving prep work for the project will involve removal of the road shoulders, three feet on the north side of the road and seven feet on the south side of the road. Work is scheduled to start in the beginning of January. Make sure to remove any materials before this time.  Property owners are responsible for removing any material (landscape timbers/specialty rock, etc.) from the construction area that they don’t want hauled off by the contractor. Replacement material will be generic ABC stone. Mailboxes will be moved/reset, but if they fall apart, the contractor will install a generic replacement.

THB Newsletter (01/16/24)
DOT Resurfacing and Bike Lane Project
The contractor will start moving mailboxes and street signs this week. Mailboxes will be relocated to the far edge of the right-of-way. Mail service is not expected to be impacted. Subsequent work on clearing material from the right-of-way is scheduled to begin once this work has been completed.


Beach Strand

The Town is doing rock raking from the Pier to the 800 block

The Notice of Violation will be lifted once the work has been completed

We still have a three (3) year tilling requirement to comply with


LWFMX

Lockwood Folly Maintenance Crossing project is being mobilized this week and will run until the end of March. The dredge boat Lexington is already here, Approximately 100,000cy of beach compatible sand will be placed on the beach strand from Amazing Grace to around Blockade.


In Case You Missed It –


THB Newsletter (02/09/24)
Annual Parking Passes Now Available
Annual parking passes are now available for purchase. The Town uses SurfCast by Otto Connect Mobile Solution. This is a mobile app downloadable for Apple and Android devices. You can also visit https://surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay to purchase a pass. Paid parking is enforced April 1st – October 31st, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Click here for more information on the paid parking program.


Holden Beach Birthday Celebration
The Town of Holden Beach’s luncheon birthday celebration was held on Wednesday, February 14th. As part of the celebration, participants  entered desserts judged in the category of best birthday display or best Valentine display, because let’s face it everybody “loves” Holden Beach.


THB Newsletter (02/16/24)
Public Input Session – Holden Beach Pier
The Town of Holden Beach is seeking input on the Holden Beach Pier Property. Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects will hold a public input session on Thursday, February 29th, starting at 5:00 p.m. The public will have the opportunity to drop by, review the proposed project with the architect and submit written comments. The public input session is not intended to be a meeting of the Board of Commissioners. 


THB Newsletter (02/16/24)
Public Input – Block Q
The Board of Commissioners tasked the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) with developing a new site plan for Block Q that includes a concert space with dance floor, ADA compliant bathrooms and greenspace. Other potential amenities to be examined by the PRAB include playground equipment, shaded areas, benches, picnic tables, informational panels, areas for food trucks and usage during festivals. The PRAB held an initial scoping session with the architect to organize the effort and will have future working sessions in which public input is encouraged. The first session to provide public input is Thursday, March 7th at 2:00 p.m. Comments may be provided by attending the session or sending them to the town clerk at [email protected] by Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. The purpose of this particular session is to obtain feedback from those property owners and businesses directly adjacent to Block Q and who might be impacted by any changes to the site. These property owners will also receive a letter from the town in the next few days. 

Animated Image of a Old Man with My Two Cents Text

The motion made was to task the Parks and Recreation Board to work with the current architect to develop a new site plan for Block Q. It seems to me that we should just start with only the most essential elements like the restrooms, vehicle, and boat parking. In addition to Block Q the committee should consider integrating Jordan Boulevard into those plans. The Town had plans to develop a promenade on Jordan Boulevard. The Town owns the land that the commercial properties are utilizing for private parking for their businesses. We already own the property there, by utilizing it for vehicle parking it may give us more flexibility on what we can do in Block Q. Diagonal parking on both sides of the road and down the center would add a significant number of parking spaces. Plus, vehicles parked there would be closer to the beach access then parking in Block Q. In addition, not having to have vehicle parking in Block Q would allow other things to be there like the Pavilion. In my humble opinion we should develop plans for Block Q that includes a promenade on Jordan Boulevard.

Holden Beach seeking public input for Block Q development with concert space
The public is invited to provide input concerning the development of Block Q, according to the Town of Holden Beach. “The Board of Commissioners tasked the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) with developing a new site plan for Block Q that includes a concert space with dance floor, ADA compliant bathrooms, and greenspace. Other potential amenities to be examined by the board include playground equipment, shaded areas, benches, picnic tables, informational panels, areas for food trucks and usage during festivals,” the announcement states. According to the town, the first public input session is set for Thursday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at the town hall public assembly at 110 Rothschild Street in Holden Beach. Comments also can be sent by email to the town clerk at [email protected]. Emails must be submitted by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. “The purpose of this particular session is to obtain feedback from those property owners and businesses directly adjacent to Block Q and who might be impacted by any changes to the site. These property owners will also receive a letter from the town in the next few days,” the town adds. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality‘s Division of Coastal Management has awarded $420,000 for the project.
Read more » click here

Holden Beach talks turning Block Q to Block P-arty
The Holden Beach Board of Commissioners during its Jan. 23 meeting expressed safety concerns about the existing pavilion and discussed moving town concerts across the street to the Block Q property. Two motions were passed 3-2, with Commissioners Page Dyer and Rick Smith opposition each. One motion called for having engineers reassess the condition of the pavilion, located at 131 Jordan Blvd., and avoid using it until reassessed; the other motion put Block Q site plans back on the chopping block. The board’s discussion and actions are in response to the February 2023 Right Angle Engineering pavilion condition assessment, which reported needed repairs, improvements or replacement. The report called for the town to make a plan within 12 months of the assessment and implementation of the plan or demolition within the 12 subsequent months. “That first 12 months is up, I think we need to do something,” Mayor Pro-Tem Myers said, noting that the town needs to figure out how safe the structure is and come up with a plan before any town events are hosted there. The passed motion supports staff to engage with Right Angle to do a reassessment and bring that report back to the board. Myers also urged staff not to use it until the report was done due to safety concerns. Though the original pavilion was built in 2009, an engineer designed a temporary bracing system and column repair plan in 2010 to fix the structure. The report stated the column repairs were never implemented. “We have determined that failure of the existing structure is not immediately impending, but significant repairs and/or improvements are required in the short term,” the report states. Inspections Director Tim Evans told commissioners that the pavilion was poorly built from the start and repairs to temporarily brace the structure are starting to fail. “I am the one that’s supposed to really look out for the life, safety, health and welfare of the citizens of this town and it puts me in a bad position,” he said. “But it doesn’t make me sleep good at night knowing I got this engineer report and knowing the condition of that structure up there.” Evans explained that he condemned the original structure because it did not meet the minimum inspection requirements, nor did the pier that was connected to the pavilion. Despite bracing and monthly assessment, he said the whole structure continues to rack and deteriorate. When a structure racks, he noted, they either bring the structure back to where it needs to be, or they take action to keep it from racking anymore because it will eventually reach a point of failure when it moves like that. He told the board that he will soon condemn the pavilion, as he did in 2010, if the board does not take action due to how dangerous the structure is becoming. “I felt comfortable we weren’t going to hurt somebody, I don’t feel that comfortable [now],” he said. The roof, Evans said, is the main concern but the stage itself is perfectly fine for town events. He said the permanent fix would be costly but taking the roof off could be a temporary quick fix to keep the town from losing its summer concert space. Commissioners Dyer and Smith favored Evans’ recommendation. Dyer said she wants a reassessment done but wants to make the pavilion safe enough for concerts to go on, as well. Asked if the reassessment report could be completed before the concerts begin, Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson said probably not. She said there are steps to take before doing the reassessment, which may not be completed prior to the summer concert series. Myers said he wants the pavilion to be permanently fixed and suggested relocating concerns at least temporarily. “If we have a problem of where to hold the concerts, we do have Block Q,” Myers said as the board transitioned to discussing Block Q. In a January special meeting, the board voted to halt the Phase 1 stormwater work for the new Block Q parking area. The first project sketch displayed paid parking spots, boat trailer spaces, a dog park area and public restrooms on the block enclosed by South Shore Drive, Quinton Street and Brunswick Avenue. The motion passed on Jan. 23 supported the Parks and Recreation Board to work with Pinnacle Architecture Professional Association to develop a new site plan for Block Q. The plan is to include a concert space, dance floor, already planned Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathrooms, greenspace, boat and trailer parking spaces, car parking spaces and other potential amenities. Assuming the pavilion is going away, Myers said he wants to use the grassy Block Q land as a new space for the concerts. Smith said he feels it is a waste of time and money to start the Block Q plans all over again. He said the previous plan was good and that the designated pull-through boat and trailer parking was a necessity. “The plan we had was a good plan and it was a good start to the plan and would still give ample greenspace for a pavilion and a place to have the amenities,” he added. Like Smith, Dyer said the Block Q plan pull-through parking spots for boats and trailers and the ADA bathrooms were the most important aspects of the previous plan. She said the board previously discussed putting the pavilion on the Block Q property but decided to emphasize boat parking and bathrooms first. The prior plans, she added, left space for a pavilion so the town could add it later. “The problem with putting a pavilion over there is, you’re going to be facing residential homes,” she said. She added that some people, such as nearby residents, may not want the pavilion to change locations and those residents should have a say before making any decision. “We will have public input,” Myers said in response. Prior Block Q coverage can be viewed on The Brunswick Beacon website by searching “Block Q” in the search bar.
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Water/Sewer Account
Please note that you have a NEW ACCOUNT NUMBER for your water/sewer account. It is very important that you include the correct account number on your memo line when remitting payment, you will not be sending a paper stub in when making your payment moving forward. Click here if you would like to be set up on bank draft.


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On January 19, 2024, the president signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to March 8, 2024.


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


Upcoming Events –

Easter Sunrise Service
Holden Beach Chapel and the Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and are sponsoring an Easter Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunday March 31st  at the Holden Beach Pier.

Family Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt 
The Town will hold its annual nighttime Easter Egg Hunt on Friday,
April 5th beginning at 7:00 p.m. Teams of four will compete against each other. Participants will need to bring their own flashlights to the event and something to place their eggs in. Participants MUST register by March 18th and space is limited to the first 100 families. Email Christy at [email protected] to register.


13.   Mayor’s Comments

From the Mayor’s Desk (02/02/24)
The date the Draft Holden Beach Causeway Transportation Study will go to the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners for a public hearing and for their consideration has been changed to March 18th at 6:00 p.m. For more information and to view the study, visit the Brunswick County Planning Department’s website: https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/409/Holden-Beach-Causeway-Transportation-Cor.


Click here to view the letter several mayors in the county sent opposing the proposed insurance rate increase. The letter details reasons for the opposition to the proposed increase. It also requests that another hearing be scheduled and the deadline for public comment be extended.


The undersigned mayors of Brunswick County strongly oppose the huge increase in property rates requested by the Insurance Bureau.

In Brunswick County, the proposed rates range from 43% to 99.4% with the rates for the majority of Brunswick County citizens ranging from 71.4% to 99.4%. When the proposed 15% increase in wind and storm insurance is added, the rates would increase from 58% to 114.4%. In their totality they are the highest rates in the State of North Carolina. We are not aware of any data that supports such a massive and punitive increase. Nothing has occurred in terms of massive losses in Brunswick County since the last increase that would justify such an increase.

The impact of this proposed increases would be particularly devastating to three at risk group of citizens in Brunswick County. First, in an area where there is a lack of affordable housing, rents would likely increase as the costs of insurance is passed on renters. Second many first time buyers and current homeowners will find these increase either foreclose the option to buy a home or afford it. As Mayors we are particularly concerned about the impact of this increase on teachers, first responders, medical personnel, government employees and service industry employees. Third, these proposed increase would impose significand hardships on the elderly who are living on fixed incomes.

In addition to opposing this increase, we urge that your staff carefully review both the proposed increases to determine the validity of the claimed justifications and their impact on the citizens of Brunswick County.

As you know, North Carolina law states that insurance rates shall not be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. While we understand that North Carolina citizens do need access to insurance coverage, we believe that these proposed rates are excessive, discriminatory, and limit North Carolina citizens’ access to insurance.

Finally, we are concerned that there was little time to appear at the hearing or submit written comments. We respectfully request that another hearing be scheduled and the deadline for submitting written comments be extended.


14. Executive Session Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a)(5), To Establish or Instruct Staff or Agent Concerning the Negotiation of the Price and Terms of a Contract Concerning the Acquisition of Real Property – Mayor Holden and Commissioner Dyer

Agenda Packet – page 66


ISSUE/ACTION REQUESTED:
Executive Session Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 143- 318.ll(a)(S), To Establish or Instruct Staff or Agent Concerning the Negotiation of the Price and Terms of a Contract Concerning the Acquisition of Real Property

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE OF REQUEST:
Atlantic Telephone Membership Corp, Parcel 231MD02101, property acquisition for public utilities

 Update –
The parcel is located at 480 OBW at the corner of  Greensboro and OBW across from sewer lift station #2

No decision was made – No action taken



General Comments –


BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, March 19th

The Special Meeting Schedule was amended.


 It’s not like they don’t have anything to work on …

The following twenty-five (25) items are what’s In the Works/Loose Ends queue:

        • 796 OBW Project
        • Accommodation/Occupancy Tax Compliance
        • ADA Mediation Agreement
        • Attorney
        • Beach Mat Plan
        • Bike Lanes
        • Block Q Project
        • Carolina Avenue
        • Crosswalks OBW
        • Dog Park
        • Fire Station Project
        • Harbor Acres
        • Hatteras Ramp/Coastal Waterfront Access Grant
        • ICW/No Wake Zone Enforcement
        • Inlet Hazard Areas
        • Parking – 800 Block
        • Pavilion Replacement
        • Pier Properties Project
        • Rights-of-Way
        • Sewer System/Lift station #2
        • Stormwater Management Project
        • USACE/Coastal Storm Risk Management Study
        • Water System Assessment/Water Tower
        • Waste Ordinance Enforcement Policy
        • Wetland Delineation/Bulkheading

The definition of loose ends is a fragment of unfinished business or a detail that is not yet settled or explained, which is the current status of these items. All of these items were started and then put on hold, and they were never put back in the queue. This Board needs to continue working on them and move these items to closure.





Hurricane Season
For more information » click here.

Be prepared – have a plan!


Why a hot Atlantic has hurricane forecasters very worried
Hurricane season is still more than three months away, but in parts of the tropical Atlantic, it feels like we might as well already be in the thick of it. Across a strip of ocean where many cyclones are born, February ocean temperatures are closer to what scientists expect in July. The ominous warmth is stirring concerns of yet another hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season. Seven of the last eight seasons have been above normal. Last year, similarly unusual warmth fueled a storm season that was significantly more active than meteorologists might have expected given the presence of the El Niño climate pattern, which emerged last spring and creates conditions that tend to inhibit Atlantic cyclone formation. As meteorologists look ahead to this hurricane season, which begins June 1, they see an increasing likelihood that a La Niña pattern will replace El Niño by late summer or early fall. That is another bad sign for the U.S. coastline — La Niña is associated with active patterns in the tropical Atlantic. It’s still too early to say whether the warmth will persist into hurricane season, or when La Niña might arrive. But, especially together, the trends suggest that an active season could be difficult to avoid, said Michael Lowry, a meteorologist with WPLG-TV in Miami and a former National Hurricane Center scientist. “There’s plenty of time ahead before we get to the meatiest part of the hurricane season,” Lowry said. “But a lot’s going to have to change … for forecasters to feel much more comfortable going into hurricane season.”

A persistent trend of record warmth
Last spring, the strongest climate signal scientists know of — El Niño — gave every indication of a slowdown in Atlantic hurricane activity in the summer and fall. El Niño’s signature is a surge of warm waters and towering clouds in the central and eastern Pacific. It triggers changes in atmospheric circulation that, on the other side of the planet, can make it harder for tropical storms to form and strengthen: Areas of high pressure with sinking air are more common over the Atlantic, and wind shear, when wind speed and direction vary at different altitudes, increases. The expectation of El Niño prompted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters to predict a mostly typical Atlantic hurricane season, a downgrade from years of increased storm activity. But as El Niño developed, and unusual warmth appeared well beyond the Pacific zones the climate pattern is known for, forecasters warned that a quieter season was far less than certain. By August, it became clearer: The ocean warmth was likely to counteract El Niño’s typical effect in the Atlantic, and NOAA upgraded its forecast. The season ended up with about 20 percent more activity than average, as measured by a statistic known as accumulated cyclone energy. Now, with a new tropical weather season ahead, Atlantic temperatures are perhaps even more remarkable.

Why meteorologists have reason for concern
In a zone of the Atlantic known as the main development region for hurricanes, sea surface temperatures are running well above normal — and 1.1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) higher than in any other year on record, said Philip Klotzbach, a tropical meteorologist at Colorado State University. If that trend persists into hurricane season this summer, it could mean a ripe environment for tropical waves flowing from Africa to develop into cyclones. “Basically, it is the perfect recipe for hurricanes to form and strengthen,” Alejandro Jaramillo, a meteorologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said in an email. “The warmer waters provide extra fuel available for hurricanes, potentially leading to the formation of stronger storms.” One factor behind the Atlantic warmth: weak winds over the ocean, Klotzbach said. That discourages evaporation, which would allow the waters to cool by transferring heat into the air. Models suggest weaker-than-normal winds continuing into March, Klotzbach said. Beyond that, longer-term models predict that surface temperatures will remain elevated, and that by the heart of hurricane season, from August through October, precipitation will be above normal across the tropical Atlantic, something that suggests a strong pattern of waves flowing off Africa, Klotzbach said. If those predictions come to pass, “I’d expect a very busy season in store,” he said in an email. Meanwhile, climate scientists predict that La Niña is more likely than not to develop by August. While El Niño increases wind shear — which acts to disrupt hurricanes’ columns of rotating winds — La Niña tends to discourage it, clearing the way for storms to organize and strengthen. The warm water in the tropical Atlantic is part of a global pattern of record sea-surface temperatures, fueled by both El Niño and human-caused climate change. The planet’s average sea surface temperature reached an all-time record of 70.2 degrees Fahrenheit (21.2 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Why it’s too soon to panic
Meteorologists stressed that it is far too soon to say how the hurricane season may play out. Official seasonal forecasts from NOAA, Colorado State and other sources won’t arrive for months, and even they carry plenty of uncertainty. And there is still much scientists don’t understand about how the ocean behaves and what triggers longer-term changes in tropical weather. For example, it wasn’t immediately clear what was behind an unusual drought of Atlantic hurricanes in the 1970s and 1980s — until scientists realized that a surge in air pollution from Europe was acting to cool the tropical Atlantic by blocking sunlight, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Similarly, it isn’t yet clear why the Atlantic is warming more dramatically than other oceans, or for how long it will continue, he said. Even if scientists could predict an active hurricane season with more certainty, “that’s not what you want,” Emanuel said. “You want the number of destructive landfalling storms.” That is outside meteorologists’ capabilities — it was just last year that NOAA extended its tropical outlooks to seven days. But Lowry said the state of the Atlantic is such that, even if ocean temperatures trend closer to normal, there is still far more heat in the waters that could be available for storms come summer and fall. “This is such an extreme case that it doesn’t bode well,” he said.
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