01 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


BOC’s Regular Meeting 01/17/23

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Update on Bulkheads – Shane Lippard, Right Angle Engineering (Commissioner Murdock)

Agenda Packet – pages 12 – 14

Previously reported – October 2022
Delineation study was completed, now we need to act on it. Brian stated he was looking for the Board’s thoughts on protecting those properties. This is a necessary step if we want to make use of these Town owned parcels. Timbo recommended proceeding by applying for CAMA permits for bulkheads there. David suggested Right Angle Engineering could give us the probable cost of construction. The motion was made to have the Town’s engineer, Right Angle Engineering, pursue getting CAMA permits and also to determine height of bulkheads that are needed with the estimated cost. 

Update –
The discussion was on whether we want to bulkhead the town properties in the 700 and 800 blocks of OBW. If we do it will require bulkheads on approximately 700 linear feet at a cost of $350 per linear foot. The preliminary cost estimate is  $298,925 just for a continuous bulkhead with tiebacks. Pat suggested that we still need to know how many parking spaces could be put there. Brian stated that we have no plans to put parking there now. He also made the point that the area was delineated in order to preserve property, bulkheading is a way to do that. In addition, they pointed out that USACE may require parking in that area, so it is important to minimize erosion and maintain the land there in case it is needed. David said that we will need to submit design in order to get a CAMA permit. Shane was asked to report back additional information regarding the permit process.

No decision was made – No action taken

The Town owns ten (10) parcels in the 800 block which we obtained on 04/21/13 ostensibly to be used for parking. Let me get this right. The argument against doing this is the public does not want parking there. The public did not want to buy the pier property, but we did anyway. The public does not want parking in the rights-of-way on their property, but we allow it anyway. The public did not want the speed limit to be 35mph year-round, but we did it anyway. Wait so now we care about what the public wants?  I get why Commissioner Smith objects to parking across the street from him, NIMBY, because that’s exactly how the rest of us feel about parking in rights-of-way. Commissioner Smith should recuse himself from the vote that decides this issue because of how this affects him personally.


2. Discussion and Possible Action on Delineation of Parcourse Area – Commissioner Murdock

Agenda Packet – background information not provided

Same topic as last agenda item, erosion is happening in this area. Brian would like to establish baseline delineation there. The board agreed to have delineation done for that area too.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


3.   Discussion and Possible Approval of Resolution 23-01, Resolution Declaring Cost and Ordering Preparation of Preliminary Assessment Roll and Setting Time and Place for Public Hearing on Preliminary Assessment Roll for the Improvement of Seagull Drive – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 15 – 16

Seagull Drive was paved recently using the special assessment process of North Carolina General Statute Chapter 160A, Article 10. All costs are in and total $222,630 . The next step required is for the Board to adopt the assessment resolution (Attachment 1), which will direct the administrative actions needed to begin the collection process.

It is recommended that the Board schedule the required public hearing for Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. This date will provide the necessary time for the tax collector to prepare the assessment roll and for me to meet the advertising and notification deadlines.

The suggested motion is to approve Resolution 23-01, Resolution Declaring Cost and Ordering Preparation of Preliminary Assessment Roll and Setting Time and Place for Public Hearing on Preliminary Assessment Roll for the Improvement of Seagull Drive.

Resolution 23-01 » click here

Update –
The Board approved assessment resolution as submitted in order to begin the collection process. A Public Hearing is required and is scheduled for March 14th.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


4.   Discussion and Possible Action on 796 Ocean Boulevard West Preliminary Plans – David Wood, David Wood Inc. Home Designs (Assistant Town Manager Ferguson)

Agenda Packet – pages 17 – 20

David Wood developed some preliminary plans based off previous discussions of uses for 796 OBW for the board’s review prior to engaging an engineer to conduct an engineering analysis of the  proposed plans. The staff provided Mr. Wood with an initial round of feedback and the proposed design (attached) is in front of you for review. Request the board proceed with any recommendations for changes prior to seeking an engineer’s input.

Previously reported – September 2019
Ordinance 19-15, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#3)
.    1) Provide funds for purchase of property at 796 OBW – approved $349,000
   2)
A significant portion of the cost of acquiring this property is offset by us no longer needing to do additional acoustical engineering.

Previously reported – January 2022
The Parks & Rec Master Plan lists a number of options for this facility. The Board is requesting that the Parks & Rec committee prioritizes them and recommend what they envision the building be used for. They would like a response from the committee by the BOC’s scheduled February meeting.

Previously reported – February 2022
PRAB Chair John McEntire made the presentation. He addressed the issues as the tasker required them to do. He went through the process that they took and briefly reviewed all considerations. They focused on the potential intended use of the property. They identified and explored several options. The PRAB determined that the property is optimally located to serve as a community center recreational facility as envisioned in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Previously reported – November 2022
Joel homeowner at 798 OBW talked about the condition of 796 OBW a town owned property. He had a slide presentation; the pictures are in the agenda packet. A picture is worth a thousand words, it was an effective way to show how neglected the property is and that it currently is an eyesore. He is simply requesting that the Town of Holden Beach take actions to address the deteriorating conditions there. Commissioner Kwiatkowski reminded everyone that we purchased the building and need to keep it because of noise abatement issues with the adjacent lift station. Regardless of the plans for the building, basic maintenance needs to be performed periodically. Commissioner Dyer said that we need to revisit the master plan and decide what we are doing with that building. The staff is working to get an engineering analysis for the property  done. Christy said we don’t have funds allocated and it doesn’t make sense to spend any more money on the property until we decide what we are doing there. They agreed to clean it up, so it was presentable and not an eyesore without spending any significant funds. The Board asked staff to take care of any maintenance possible while the analysis is being completed .

Previously reported – December 2022

Discussion points:

    • Possibly direct the Town Manager to solicit bids for painting the outside of 796
    • Possibly direct the Town Manager to solicit bids to repair A/C platforms, steps and remove antenna from 796
    • Discuss the possibility of requesting bids from local realtors for possibly providing weekly rental

The Board directed Town Manager Hewett to solicit bids to clean up 796 OBW. Work is to include bids for painting, HVAC platforms and back steps. They also would like to explore renting the property on a weekly basis throughout the summer until a permanent use is determined for the building.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
Currently the building is designated as a water asset which would need to change if it became a recreational facility. Architect David Wood conceptual architectural drawings were presented, and he walked the Board through the proposed preliminary design plans. The Board requested some minor modifications be made to the plans. The restraining force is that there is only eleven (11) designated parking spaces on site. Without additional parking in the 800 block, see agenda item one regarding bulkheads there, that significantly reduces the options to utilize this town property. Not to mention we do not have adequate funds to implement plans at this time. They decided to put the entire project on hold for now. The plan is to delay doing the engineering report with those funds being utilized to repair and maintain the facility. They also discussed potential renovations that are necessary regardless of their decision on what they are going to do with the building. It did not seem that they could reach a consensus regarding how the short-term plans align with their long-term plans for the facility.

No decision was made – No action taken



Begin with the End in Mind
The Board needs to decide what they are doing with this property before they get started on any renovations.


5.   Request from the Tri-Beach Fire Department to Upgrade Station #2 on Holden Beach – Fire Chief Doug Todd (Town Manager Hewett)

Agenda Packet – page 21

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 hrs./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 back to the Board of Directors as soon as possible so that we can all move forward on this plan.

Fire Department Presentation » click here

Update –
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


6.   Police Report – Lieutenant Frank Dilworth

Agenda Packet – pages 22 – 25

Police Report » click here


Police PatchFrank reviewed the actions that were taken by them last month

Normal amount and type of activity for this time of year

They responded to approximately sixty (60) water calls, when we had the cold snap, due to broken pipes.


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

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.


Neighborhood Watch

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

Crime prevention 101 – Don’t make it easy for them
. a) Don’t leave vehicles unlocked
. b)
Don’t leave valuables in your vehicles
. c)
Lock your doors & windows – house, garage, storage areas and sheds

Keep Check Request Form
. a) Complete the form and return it to the Police Department
. b)
Officers check your property in your absence

Property Registration Form.
. a)
Record of items in your home that have a value of over $100
. b)
Complete the form and return it to the Police Department


7.   Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 26 – 28

Inspections Report » click here

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


8.   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.

1) Discuss making possible changes to the way we handle boat trailers with no Possibly make contract adjustments.

Implement the following proposal:

Citation specific wording:
Non-registered trailer pursuant to N.C.G.S. §20-4.01(23), §20-50, §20-111 and §20-118.3 and parking a trailer without a paid parking permit – Code of Ordinances, Section 72.03(A). – $50 fine

Citation will be written on the towing vehicle with the designation “TR” following the license plate number.

        • Example: ABC1234-TR
        • State of Registration will be entered on a separate line of the citation

An update to the Otto contract would be required in either Exhibit A (Statement of Work) or Exhibit E (Policies).

2) Discuss a possible 24-hour limit to authorized right of way paid parking.

 Staff is not aware of this being an issue.

3) 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).

4) Discuss giving each homeowner (not empty lot owners) one free yearly pass and apply before April 1st of each year.

Our parking vendor can accommodate this, but the group does not recommend issuing a free yearly pass. The Board would need to consider the economic impact of implementing this suggestion. It would be an extra administrative step that seems to reduce the inventory of sellable spaces. In theory, if 25% of the 2,400 homeowners used their free passes, it could take up all of the paid parking spaces.

5) Discuss asking for a more detailed breakdown of the first year’s revenue (annual and weekly passes, daily parking, ticket revenue and % of collections).

 This information is currently available (Attachment 1).

Revenue:                           $455,181
Parking Vehicles:              64,280
Citations:                          2,291
Citations Paid:                   78.99%

6) Discuss possibly increasing fees ($4 per hour, $20 per day, $80 per week and $150 yearly).

The Board made a conscious decision to reduce the recommended rates when paid parking was implemented. Ocean Isle Beach currently does not have a paid parking program. Oak Island is in the process of developing the rates for their program. It is recommended to continue the upcoming season at the current rate to see the impact from the implementation of Oak Island’s paid parking program. Current fees are included for your review (Attachment 2).

7) Discuss possibly changing the paid parking dates of (Apr. 1st to Nov. 30th).

This would take a contract change but would work if the Board chooses to  extend the end date from October 31st to November 30th .

8)  Discuss the possibility of having our parking contractor install signage where necessary to reduce confusion (no parking signs on marsh streets and side streets and all areas where parking is not allowed).

This has not been an issue. If an issue is found, Otto Connect will alert me, the Public Works Department and Police Chief so the problem can be rectified.

9) Discuss eliminating all unauthorized right of way parking.

This would create more problems than it is intended to solve. The ordinance was amended to accommodate the occasions when homeowners may require additional visitor parking for private events. The current ordinance seems to be working.

10) Discuss the possibility of having the parking contractor and town staff do a street-by-street review of parking and suggest sign placement.

Street-by-street review is not necessary. Staff and Otto Connect will monitor signage as needed. Any issues will be addressed between Otto Connect, the Public Works Department, Chief Dixon and myself.

It is suggested to remove the no parking from here to corner signage

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 

Update –
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


9.  Discussion and Possible Action on Proposed Budget/Quarterly Meeting Schedule – Town Manager Hewett

Agenda Packet – page 33

Per the Board of Commissioners’ direction at the December meeting, I have established a preliminary calendar for budget and quarterly meetings. It is proposed that the meetings be held at 5:30 p.m. on the suggested dates.

Please review the dates below and be prepared to discuss alternate dates at the meeting if you are not available during the proposed dates.

Thursday, February 23rd                    Goals & Objectives Workshop
Thursday, March 16th                         Budget Meeting #1 / Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, April 20th                            Budget Meeting #2
Thursday, June 1st                                Budget Meeting #3
Thursday, June 15th                             Budget Public Hearing / Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, September 21st                  Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, December 21st                   Quarterly Meeting

Previously reported – December 2022
Commissioner Murdock requested that they schedule an additional four (4) quarterly special meeting dates. He feels that they are going to need them based on everything that they are working on now. David suggested they also schedule budget meetings. The decision was to discuss and establish a schedule at the next regular meeting.

Update –
David prepared a proposed meeting schedule and it was approved as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

The Town Manager is charged with establishing an actual schedule based on everyone’s availability. Once again, the goal is to avoid the annual rush at the end to get things done. In the last few years, the Board did not really start working on the budget until the eleventh hour. Almost every year we talk about starting the process earlier, this year we have actually moved it up in a meaningful way. It’s a good start that they have already established the budget meeting schedule.

Budget Calendar –
Local governments must balance their budget by a combination of the following:

      • Raising taxes
      • Cutting spending
      • Operating more efficiently

The Town Manager’s proposed budget is due by June 1st
Commissioners must adopt budget no later than June 30th for the next fiscal year

Adopting the annual budget is a primary responsibility of the Board


  • 10.  Discussion and Possible Action on Setting Board of Commissioners’ Objectives for Fiscal Year2023 -2024 – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – background information not provided

BOC Objectives for Fiscal Year 2021/2022

Priorities
18 Ensure funding for hurricane related FEMA projects and proceed with necessary steps  for target commencement of sand on beach in Fall 2021(TM)
17 Ensure contracting, budgeting and funding for sewer lift station 2 to allow completion in 2022 (TM)
17 Make decision on and implement new THB development fees (BOC & TM)
17 Ensure funding for 2022 DOT bike lane project, including any grant money (TM)
17 Address increasing stormwater issues with a study followed by appropriate actions    for recurring problem areas along Ocean Boulevard (in advance of bike lane project} (TM)
17 Request help from Brunswick County for a second water tower (after completing a needs assessment) (TM)
17 Ensure advocacy resources are given to limit expansion of the IHA (TM)
16 Support and participate in beach and inlet related advocacy efforts at local, state, and federal level (TM)

a. Become more involved in and lead where possible regional advocacy groups and committees
b.
Develop advocacy strategy, plan and material for county and state efforts and implement the plan
c.
Review and as appropriate amend directions to Poyner Spruill for federal advocacy; ensure funds are designated for the three-year Corps study (1.5 million total)
d.
Support and participate in advocacy efforts at any level as appropriate
e.
Greater involvement in coastal community advocacy

16 Ensure definition and implementation of new water rates for January 2022 (TM)
16 Determine if paid parking is economically viable; if so, implement paid parking (BOC & TM)
15 Oversee progress on internal control plan for fiscal year 2021/2022 completion (TM)
14 Ensure adequate resources to undertake enforcement compliance objectives decided by the Board (Increase enforcement of ordinances) (BOC & TM}
14 Request help from Brunswick County to establish an off-island parking and trolly/bus service to the beach 100 days or more a year (TM)
14 Purchase all or a portion of Holden Beach Pier (BOC & TM)
14 Maintain an up-to-date strategy to protect the beach and dune system and ensure adequate budget for implementation of plans, including soil sampling and plant modification where appropriate (TM)

Evergreens (mostly financial)
18 Balance the budget while preserving the minimum fund balance as defined by the Board; Balance the budget without raising taxes
18 Ensure the Town meets or exceeds annual financial budget goals
18 Work together for the good of Holden Beach
17 Raise revenues
17 Continue to support LWI access to ocean
16 Ensure the Town achieves an unmodified opinion rating on annual fiscal audit and     addresses noted deficiencies
16 Ensure qualified resources are available to perform audit and accounting   procedures to ensure there are no material deficiencies noted in the annual fiscal audit
14 Ensure an updated capital project budget sheet is included in final budget documents

Update –
They will follow the same procedure that they have used in the past. Each Board member will submit a list of objectives to the Town Clerk by February 9thso they can be compiled before the objectives workshop. Pat recommended that everything that they have already delineated as a priority will be the core of this year’s objectives. She asked that they only submit items that are extremely important to them that they want to add to that core list. They will then attempt to create a coherent list of objectives for this year at the scheduled budget meetings.

 A decision was made – Approved unanimously


11.  Discussion and Possible Action on Proposals Received in Response to the Town’s Request for Qualifications for Water System Asset Inventory and Assessment – Public Works Director Clemmons

Agenda Packet – pages 34 – 42, plus separate packets

As directed by the Board of Commissioners, staff solicited qualifications from firms for engineering services to develop a systemwide asset inventory and assessment of the Town’s water system, with the specific goals of evaluating the adequacy of distribution, fire flows, storage and the need for a second water tank (Attachment I ). The submission deadline was January 4, 2023.

The Town received three responses to the Request for Qualifications, McGill Associates, Green Engineering and WithersRavenel (Attachments 2 – 4), which are included for your review. In accordance with federal uniform guidance, staff prepared a ranking sheet (Attachment 5). If the Board makes the selection of a firm, they can direct staff to bring a contract back for consideration.

 RFQ – WithersRavenel » click here

RFQ – McGill » click here

RFQ – Green » click here

Update –
Chris reported that staff solicited qualifications from firms for engineering services to develop a systemwide asset inventory and assessment of the Town’s water system. The staff then prepared a ranking sheet for the Board to make a selection of a firm. The Board selected Green Engineering and directed the staff to bring a contract back for consideration.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


12.  Discussion and Possible Action on Items Necessary to Implement Recommended Changes to Personnel Pay Plan – Town Manager Hewett

a) Authorization of New Position – Finance Officer
b)
Classification and Pay Plan
c)
Salary Adjustments
d)
Ordinance 23-01, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 22 – 23 (Amendment No. 9)
e)
Town Manager Contract Amendment

 Agenda Packet – pages 43 – 79, which is too large to include here

This memo outlines the results (Atch 1) of an analysis performed by direction of the Board at its September meeting the topic of which was the separation of Town Manager/Finance Officer duties and subsequent October tasker to perform a MAPs type study for all positions.

Salary data (Atch 2) has been compiled for a separate Finance Officer position (Atch 3) in addition to each Town full-time regular position covered by the pay plan. This per position data (i.e., “market)  was acquired from local governments  with regional, functional and job similarities. Market ranges were subsequently established with minimums, maximums and midpoints for comparison to the Town’s existing pay plan. The Town’s current pay ranges were generally found to be below current market ranges; some more so than others.

Each employee’s current salary has been compared to their individual market range to ascertain their relative placement within the “new” pay plan.

Criteria/methodology used to calibrate existing employees’ salaries is based on:

    • Below minimum salary employees brought up to the new market minimums
    • Above minimum but below mid-point salaries brought up to new market midpoints
    • Employees above new market midpoints but below maximums not adjusted

Recommend approving at the regular January Board meeting with an effective date of 1 January 2023

Previously reported – August 2019
The MAPS Group / Management and Personnel Services
The study updates the classification and pay plan for THB as well as making recommendations concerning personnel policies and fringe benefits. Recommendations are being made for salary schedule, position classification plan, and costs for implementing the salary plan. Salary data determined by prevailing rate in geographic area as well as with employers who directly compete for the same pool of workers with those job skills. The salaries represent the local market which provides a reflection of the actual cost of living in the geographic area. Implementation strategy offered three options; the recommended option had an additional annual price tag of $80,327 in just salary cost. An additional cost of roughly 20% for benefits brings the total cost to implement at almost $100,000 annually. Interestingly, we offer significantly higher family health insurance coverage than the rest of the local market, yet we didn’t seem to get any credit for that in a total compensation package. Recommendations for THB are based on meeting the market, not leading the market. Takeaway was that we were in pretty good shape considering we hadn’t done a study in a very long time, but adjustments need to be made to stay competitive in the local market. Staying competitive in our total compensation package will allow us to recruit and retain employees. Presentation was a very pragmatic approach to the subject and clearly directs us on how to proceed.

Ordinance 23-01 » click here

GRADEPOSITION2021 – RANGE 2022 – RANGE 2023 – RANGE
9Customer Services Rep$29 – $37 – $44$31 – $39 – $47$36 – $46 – $56
10Public Services Tech$32 – $41 – $49$34 – $43 – $52$37 – $47 – $56
11Police Admin Assistant $31 – $39 – $47$37 – $47 – $57
12Permit Specialist $33 – $41 – $49$40 – $50 – $60
13Utility Billing Specialist $38 – $48 – $57$40 – $50 – $61
14Senior Public Services Tech$36 – $45 – $54$38 – $48 – $57$40 – $51 – $61
15Development Services Officer$38 – $47 – $56$40 – $50 – $60$45 – $56 – $68
16Public Services Crew Leader$40 – $50 – $59$42 – $53 – $63$45 – $57 – $68
17Police Officer$38 – $47 – $56$40 – $50 – $60$47 – $58 – $70
18Plan Reviewer/Inspector $40 – $50 – $60$48 – $61 – $74
19Fiscal Operations Supvr      $50 – $63 – $76$53 – $67 – $80$52 – $66 – $79
20Police Sergeant/Detective$42 – $52 – $62$44 – $55 – $66$54 – $67 – $81
21Public Services Supervisor $48 – $61 – $73$54 – $68 – $82
22Town Clerk/HR Officer $48 – $60 – $72$51 – $64  – $76$60 – $76 – $91
23Police Lieutenant$48 – $60 – $72$51 – $64 – $76$61 – $77 – $92
24Codes Administrator$53 – $66 – $79$56 – $70 – $84$69 – $88 – $106
25Finance Officer $59 – $74 –  $88$73 – $92 – $111
26Public Services Director$58 – $73 – $88$62 – $78 – $93$74 – $94 – $113
27Police Chief$61 – $77 – $92$65 – $81 – $97$78 – $98 – $117
28Assistant Town Manager$53 – $66 – $79$56 – $70 – $84$82 – $103 – $124
 Min – Mid – MaxMin – Mid – MaxMin – Mid – Max
CurrentProposed
TitleSalarySalaryIncrease%
Police Chief80,03297,57117,53921.9
Budget & Fiscal Analyst56,61272,60215,99028.2
Assistant Town Manager66,58782,28415,69723.6
Police Officer43,76758,25214,48533.1
Lieutenant65,16176,66111,50017.6
Codes Administrator77,02087,86110,84114.1
Public Services Supervisor57,28368,07810,79518.8
Town Clerk / HR Officer66,21675,6549,43814.3
Sergeant58,26967,1958,92615.3
Public Services Director85,67293,6798,0079.3
Police Officer50,77858,2527,47433.1
Police Officer50,99658,2527,25625.5
Permit Specialist32,78139,6796,89821
Police Officer39,84746,7006,85317.2
Police Officer39,84746,7006,85317.2
Public Services Crew Leader50,46156,7566,29512.5
Customer Service Rep31,22136,4315,21016.7
Police Officer41,69346,7005,00712
Police Officer41,69346,7005,00712
Administrative Assistant34,11236,9302,8188.3
Public Services Tech34,42236,8262,4047
Public Services Tech34,42436,8262,4027
Public Services Senior Tech39,20840,2331,0252.6
Utility Billing Specialist39,81140,0312200.6
Fiscal Operations Supervisor74,05274,05200
Plan Reviewer/Inspector49,71249,71200
Development Services Officer61,38161,38100
Public Services Senior Tech41,16341,16300

¯\_()_/¯ Yikes!

Update –
Heather is now our Human Resource Officer but since she was tallying votes David addressed the recommended changes to the personnel pay plan. A salary analysis was done for all of the town positions, he presented proposed updates to the classifications and pay ranges. The cost of implementing the plan as proposed has an annual total cost is $238,400. The general consensus was that we have been grossly underpaying our people. Pat said that this is a mini reorganization, a catch-up and well-deserved increase for our employees.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Apparently this was a done deal, probably decided in all of those executive sessions since they approved this without further review or discussion. Meetings were held and the pay plan was negotiated behind closed doors. Some of the discussions should have been done in public. At least that’s the way it was done in the past.  

Just to be clear, I am all for a competitive compensation package for our employees. We need to be able to attract and retain the best qualified people that we can. It was just a little over three (3) years ago that we paid a consultant firm that specializes in personnel matters to do this analysis for us. It’s hard to imagine that things have changed that much in job classifications in such a short time. We just pooh poohed the consultant’s report and arbitrarily determined these new pay grades which significantly changed the pay ranges for a number of employees. The analysis that was just done only looked at the salary portion of the equation. They did not look at the total compensation package, and that we have significantly higher family health insurance coverage than the rest of the local market. To reiterate I agree that we need to adjust salaries to reflect current market conditions. That said, I didn’t think the pay grade changes should have been done the way they were.

We now have an Assistant Town Manager with a salary of $82,284 with zero (0) subordinates. Despite the reclassification change of her title and salary in May of 2018, she basically continued to do what she was doing before. In essence we’ve given Christy the title of Assistant Town Manager with the corresponding salary pay range without any of the duties or responsibilities that comes with that position. She is still doing the same job, still doesn’t supervise anyone, and has no administrative responsibilities.  Sorry, but I simply don’t know in what universe that this makes any sense.

In 2014 the max salary for Recreation Director position was $39,395
In 2018, just four (4) years later, the max salary after reclassification was $74,063
In 2023, just five (5) years later, the max salary is now $123,821

Just nine (9) years later we have increased the max salary by $84,426 or 314.3%


For a small beach community this sure seems like a lot of money spent on exempts.

We have a Town Manager that makes $141k, with just twenty-eight (28) employees

We have an Asst.Town Manager (Grade 28) that makes $82k with max salary of $124k

      • An increase of $15,697 or 23.6%
      • With zero (0) subordinates

We have a Police Chief (Grade 27) that makes $98k with max salary of $117k

      • An increase of $17,539 or 21.9%
      • With ten (10) subordinates

We have a Public Works Dir (Grade 26) that makes $94k with max salary of $113k

      • An increase of $8,007 or 9.39%
      • With six (6) subordinates

We have a Finance Officer (Grade 25) that makes $73k with max salary of $111k

      • An increase of $15,990 or 28.2%
      • With zero (0) subordinates

We have a Codes Admin (Grade 24)  that makes $88k  with max salary of $106k

      • An increase of $10,841 or 14.1%
      • With three (3) subordinates

We have a Police Lieutenant (Grade 23) that makes $77k with max salary of $92k

      • An increase of $11,500 or 17.62%
      • With zero (0) subordinates

We have a Town Clerk/HR Off (Grade 22) that makes $76k with max salary of $91k

      • An increase of $9,438 or 14.32%
      • With zero (0) subordinates

We have a Fiscal Operations Sup (Grade 19) that makes $74k with max salary of $79k

      • An increase of $0 or 0%
      • With two (2) subordinates

 13.  Discussion and Possible Action on Establishing a Regular Schedule for a Facility Condition Inspection of Town-Owned Properties and Facilities which are Primarily Used by the Public – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 80

An effective facility condition assessment that thoroughly evaluates the important aspects of the facility, done on a regular schedule, can identify issues before they become a problem and provide information for maintenance and repair budgeting. Templates can be developed from existing online examples that will facilitate assessment and reporting on the physical condition of a building/facility to include as appropriate structural, mechanical and electrical systems. An assessment can also be done on recreational “equipment”.

The Board should request that the Town Manager organizes a list of relevant properties/facilities and equipment and suggested frequency of assessment for discussion at the April Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Update –
Pat is recommending we put together a list and develop a formal assessment process. David agreed that they could do that in order to better organize our management efforts of those facilities and equipment.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


14.   Discussion and Appointment of Commissioner to Serve on the Audit Committee – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 81- 83

Per Section 30.26 of the Code of Ordinances, the Audit Committee is comprised of a member of the Board of Commissioners and not less than two or more than four residents or property owners of the Town of Holden Beach as full members, plus one alternate member. The commissioner shall be appointed to the Audit Committee by the Board in January of each year (Attachment 1).

Commissioner Kwiatkowski is currently the commissioner serving on the Audit Committee. The Board may choose to extend Commissioner Kwiatkowski’s term or select a different commissioner to serve on the committee.

The Board can vote by ballot or verbally to fill the position. If ballots are used, please make sure to sign your name on the ballot.

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski was selected to continue to serve as Audit Committee Chairman for another year.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


  • 15.  Town Manager’s Report

Financial Report

Budget Report » click here

David did a budget report slide presentation for our second fiscal year quarter as of the end of December. He briefly gave an explanation of the fund balances. All the funds are in the black. It’s all good!

Budget is posted on the Town website –
Statement of Actual & Estimated Revenues » click here

Federal Budget
Appropriations totaling 3.8 million earmarked for Holden Beach. The three earmarks are as follows: $1,00,000 for the General Reevaluation Report, $2,669,867 for the Greensboro Street Lift Station #2 Hazard Mitigation Project, and $100,000 for the Ocean Boulevard Stormwater Mitigation Project.

FEMA storm damage repair project (CRP2)
Still awaiting the final inspection for the FEMA beach project. Six hundred thousand dollars ($600k) in eligible project expenses reimbursement is still pending until final inspection is completed. Responded to FEMA request for specific additional information. We still don’t know what the final timeline for reimbursement will be.

Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing/Bike Lane Project

DOT Bike Lane Report Presentation » click here

Previously reported – November 2022
Caitlin did a brief recap for the proposed bike lanes. 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.  They had some issues/challenges with permitting that have been resolved. They successfully got the permit issued on November 9th. In order to do so they agreed to monitor their work for any drainage issues and committed to address them after the project is completed. At the end of this month, they will advertise the project. One month later they will open bids and know what the actual prices for the contract are. At that time, they will decide whether or not to proceed with the project. The date of availability is at the end of January, with a finish date of Memorial Day.

Previously reported – December 2022
Not good news. Recently had a conversation with the project engineer Caitlin. Only one (1) bid was received, which was 40% above their estimate. The bid was also above five (5) million dollars, which automatically triggered a review. The result was that the bid was rejected, and they will need to resolicit the bid. It is expected that the project will be pushed off for at least another year. The most likely scenario is that construction won’t start till the end of 2023. The project will then  have a completion date by Memorial Day 2024.

Update –
Catlin confirmed they will resolicit the bid, construction to start September 2023 with a completion date by Memorial Day 2024.

796 OBW
Painting and repairs are underway. Informal solicitation for rental property management services to get projections for what rentals might be for this property.

Pier
NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant project application for the pier property. Last month we were informed of an administrative requirement to get a second appraisal. The appraisal is currently underway, will be submitted once we have it.

Staff has reviewed and revised the site plan . He anticipates that the final site plan review will be available for the Board at the next scheduled meeting.

Block Q
Awaiting revisions to the site plan, review will be available for the Board at the next scheduled meeting.

Canal Dredging
Survey is underway, which is done every other year. David reminded them that we still don’t have an area to put the spoils.  


In Case You Missed It –


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.


Upcoming Events –


 

THB officially established on February 14, 1969

Celebrating our 54th Anniversary

 


16.   Mayor’s Comments

From the Mayor’s Desk – 01/03/23

Happy New Year!!

Now that 2023 is here, we need to be thankful for the goodness of the past and pray for an even better future as we work together.

2022 finished with extreme cold days. A thorough check of your property for possible wind and frozen pipe damage would be a good idea.

Yes, NCDOT has again postponed the bike path project. Rebidding and a proposed start date will begin soon, I hope. I was surprised!

I believe this year there were more people on the island for Thanksgiving and Christmas than ever before. Kids were playing in the park with temperatures in the low thirties. Some only wore t-shirts and shorts! Oh, to be young!

The Brunswick County officials continue to caution me that property tax values are going up and rates will have to be adjusted. The county beaches have enjoyed values rising more than the mainland. As more information is available, Holden Beach officials will find themselves in a squeeze. Operating costs are rising like crazy and the competition to hire more good help is challenging.

The Police Department still finds itself short of a full staff.

Sales inventory is still low, and sales reflect less activity. Construction is slowing while prices of materials and availability are not as desired.

The Holden Beach Chapel provided a wonderful Christmas concert and a prayerful, moving Christmas Eve service. Both events “packed” the beautifully decorated sanctuary.

Professionals have been hired and they are working on proposals for the Block Q property besides the bridge and the fishing pier property. The commissioners will need to make decisions in the near future. Though there is not any physical work evident, there is work being done on both projects.

The Town is also heavily involved in plans for handicapped access and parking needs as required by the state and federal requirements. This is a priority topic.

Volunteers and the Town staff did a wonderful job in decorating for the holidays again this year. It will be sad seeing them removed but more celebrations are ahead!

Boaters that are storing their boats on their property should check their lines to be sure they are securely tied to docks, lifts or trailers. Wind and tides can do strange things.

Keep in mind that many supplies and parts are still available on a limited basis. If you are planning repairs and improvements this spring, it may be a good idea to contact your contractor so that supplies and parts can be ordered now.

Spring will be here before you know it!


17. Executive Session Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a)(3), To Consult with the Town Attorney

No decision was made – No action taken


  • General Comments –

Commissioner Gerald Arnold – was not in attendance

Yet another marathon session, the meeting ran for almost three (3) hours.

The Town has been live streaming their Board of Commissioners meeting on Facebook and later posting the audio to YouTube. I believe more people participate in virtual meetings than those that physically attend the meetings. It still is difficult to listen to the meetings on Facebook since the audio is so poor, it’s really hard to hear what they are saying. Virtual meeting protocols prescribe them to talk into the microphone, have speakers say their name before commenting, and to take roll call votes, among other suggestions. By far, this meeting had the best compliance with protocols. With just a few exceptions people identified themselves and also spoke into the mike. Kudos!



BOC’s Meeting

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

 


.

      • Request for Qualifications (RFQ).     .     1) Block Q
            2) Pier Properties
        .     3) Water Tower
        .     4) Stormwater
        .     5) Sailfish Park
      •  

 .


    • .

    • Hurricane Season
      For more information » click here.

      Be prepared – have a plan!

 


No matter what a storm outlook is for a given year,
vigilance and preparedness is urged.


 Board of Commissioners’ – Scorecard

NYC Mayor Koch used to ask – How am I doing?

Imagine if the BOC’s asked you – How’d they do?

The goal of government is to make citizens better off.

Action Taken – 2022

January
Ordinance 22-01, revisions to outside lights
Ordinance 22-03, public-rights-of way
Adoption Resolution 22-02, personnel policy
Adoption Resolution 22-03, recognition GFWC 15th anniversary
Adoption Resolution 22-04, pier Plan Version #2
February
Adoption Resolution 22-01, changes to fee schedule to add paid parking
Ordinance 22-02, Traffic Code, designated paid parking program
Ordinance 22-04, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#10)
.
Budget appropriation of $92,204 (funding on-street and off-street parking)
Ordinance 22-05, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#11)
.
Budget appropriation of $43,000 (transfer funds between accounts)
Adoption Resolution 22-05, pier financing contract
Ordinance 22-06, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#12)
.
Budget appropriation of $100,000 (additional funding for the Seagull paving contract)
April
Ordinance 22-07, Traffic Code, revisions to designated paid parking program
Ordinance 22-08, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#13)
.
Budget reduction of $21,336 (reduced number of days charging for parking)
Ordinance 22-09, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#14)
.
Budget appropriation of $57,150 (increased borrowing due to costs of closing)
Ordinance 22-10, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#15)
.
Budget appropriation of $1,000,000 (initial portion of funding to purchase Block Q)
Ordinance 22-11, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#16)
.
Budget appropriation of $16,775 (transfer funds between accounts)
Ordinance 22-12, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#17)
.
Budget appropriation of $1,029,880 (provide funds for Ocean Boulevard bike path)
Adoption Resolution 22-06, request state assistance for Vacuum Sewer Pump Station
May
NA
June
Ordinance 22-13, Chapter 92: Nuisances
.
Outside Lights
Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance / Budget Ordinance
.
Approved the town’s $96.6 million-dollar Budget Ordinance
Ordinance 22-15, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#18)
.
Budget appropriation of $102,461 (transfer funds between accounts)
Ordinance 22-16, Traffic Code, revisions to designated paid parking program
July
Ordinance 22-17, Amending the Code of Ordinances
.
Chapter 112: Peddlers
Ordinance 22-18, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#19)
.
Development Fees Revenue / $141,210
Adoption Resolution 22-07, permanently close portion of Carolina Avenue
August
Ordinance 22-19, Chapter 71: Traffic Schedules
.
Lowering the speed limit on Ocean Boulevard to 35 miles per hour year-round
September
Ordinance 22-20, permanently close a portion of Carolina Avenue
Ordinance 22-21, Amending the Code of Ordinances
.
Requirements of Chapter 160D NC General Statutes
Ordinance 22-22, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#1)
. • Budget appropriation of $425,609
.
Move outstanding appropriations from fiscal year 2022 to the current fiscal year
Adoption Resolution 22-08, Truist Signature Card
October
Accepted the PARTF  $500,000 grant and approved the contract for the pier properties project
November
Ordinance 22-23, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#2)
.
Budget appropriation of $38,000 (provide funds for Block Q contract)
Ordinance 22-24, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#3)
.
Budget appropriation of $35,000 (provide funds for Pier Properties contract)
Ordinance 22-25, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#4)
.
Budget appropriation of $44,900 (provide funds for Federal Advocacy contract)
Ordinance 22-26, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#5)
.
Budget appropriation of $27,448 (transfer funds between accounts, CAMA Grant )
Ordinance 22-27, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#6)
.
Create separate interest accounts
December
Ordinance 22-28, Amending the Code of Ordinances
.
Frontal Dune Policy and Regulations
Ordinance 22-29, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#7)
.
Budget appropriation of $37,112 ( insurance claim funds for Public Works truck)
Ordinance 22-30, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#8)
.
Budget appropriation of $5,000 (provide funds for Pier Properties repair)
Resolution 22-09, Recycling Fee Schedule



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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

https://lousviews.com/ 

01 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / January Edition


Calendar of Events –


NA


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 –


NA


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.  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


Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule – starting October once a week

Recyclingstarting October every other week


 

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

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



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.



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


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


Volunteers needed
The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. If you are interested in serving, please fill out a resume form and submit it to heather@hbtownhall.com.


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


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



Neighborhood Watch –

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


Upon Further Review –


  • Bike Lane
    Property owners along Ocean Boulevard were sent a CAMA notice from the DOT
    .
    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 informed us the cost of the has significantly increased by almost 30%
The good news is that our portion is only an additional $23,000 so far

Previously reported – February 2021
Engineer’s estimate for bike lanes are as follows:
Ocean Boulevard West / 5.00 miles / @$1,208,941
Ocean Boulevard East / 1.15 miles / @$403,972

NCDOT now has adequately funding so the resurfacing program for OBW which is scheduled for the spring of 2022. Bike lanes are being proposed on both sides of the road, which will add five feet on each side. This should be coordinated with resurfacing project that is tentatively scheduled already. Our cost would be $1,612,913 which hopefully at least a portion of would be offset by grants. DOT requested verbal feedback in the next 60 days, indicating whether we want to participate in adding bike lanes to the project.

Previously reported – March 2021
David provided the Board with a memo summarizing the information that he gathered since the last meeting. That memo was not included in the agenda packet. He reviewed the process, timeline, and financing. DOT informed him that if we are interested that we need to stay engaged with them. The public has said that they are in favor of having bike lanes. The project is an improvement worth the expenditure especially if we can get help with the funding through grants. They decided to give the project a green light and have David work to keep moving the project forward. 

Bike Lane Letters (04/21/22)
Town staff contacted the Department of Transportation after numerous homeowners reached out to us concerned that they had not received a letter with information on the upcoming bike lane/paving project. We were advised that only those property owners whose property is adjacent to the proposed bike lane construction where that construction intersects the Ocean Erodible Area of Environmental Concern (jurisdiction of NC Division of Coastal Management) have been sent the certified letter/attachments. This is only a small portion of the project area (approximately 150 properties) so don’t be concerned if you did not receive a letter. Those property owners that have received the certified letter/attachments can follow the instructions in the letter if they would like to contact someone about the project. 

Previously reported – June 2022
Execution of the agreement with DOT is required to construct the Ocean Boulevard Bike Lanes Project this fall in conjunction with the resurfacing of Ocean Boulevard. The project is estimated at $1,722,364 of which 42% or $723,393 is the Town’s share. The remaining 58% or $998,971 is funded by the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS). The Board authorized the execution of the Transportation Improvement Agreement with the Department of Transportation. 

Previously reported – July 2022
The NC Department of Transportation has informed the town that due to permitting issues raised during their review of the Ocean Boulevard Repaving/Bike Lane Project, construction will not begin in September as previously planned. Construction is now scheduled to start after the first of the year. The project will still have a completion date of Memorial Day. 

Previously reported – October 2022
NCDOT has contacted the Town and informed us that there is an issue in getting the CAMA permit for the resurfacing/bike lane project. It will require additional work to get it reconciled and execute the contract. They are inconclusive on whether the project will happen this spring, though they are still hoping to complete it before Memorial Day. Not what we want to hear but what we have been told.

Previously reported – November 2022
Caitlin did a brief recap. 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.  They had some issues/challenges with permitting that have been resolved. Agreed to monitoring work for any drainage issues and will address them after the project is completed. They successfully got the permit issued on November 9th. At the end of this month, they will advertise the project. One month later they will open bids and know what the actual prices for the contract are. At that time, they will decide whether or not to proceed with the project. The date of availability is at the end of January, with a finish date of Memorial Day.

Previously reported – December 2022
Not good news. Only one (1) bid was received, which was 40% above/over their estimate. The bid was also above five (5) million dollars, which automatically triggered a review. The result was the bid was rejected, and they will need to resolicit the bid. It is expected that the project will be pushed off for at least another year. The most likely scenario is that construction won’t start till the end of 2023. The project will then  have a completion date by Memorial Day 2024. Not what we want to hear!


Corrections & Amplifications –


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2023.


Odds & Ends –


As Brunswick home sale prices skyrocket over three years,
2023 tax revaluation raises concerns
Brunswick County is closing in on a revaluation that could add billions to the county tax base. Some locals are concerned about the impact on how much they pay. State law requires counties perform property revaluations every eight years, though Brunswick County policy is to reappraise properties every four. A revaluation process would be triggered if sale values increased or decreased by 15% regardless. The county’s current tax base, taking into account all real estate and vehicles, is $31.7 billion this fiscal year. Brunswick County Tax Administrator Jeff Niebauer told Port City Daily work on the revaluation is ongoing through the end of the year, wrapping January 1st. He could not offer an estimate on what the tax base would be but said his office’s work on the project will stretch through January as it handles appeals, applications for exemptions and finalizes the base to be used in the budgeting process. However, Niebauer did show the county board of commissioners some statistics on recent increases on home values during a December 5th meeting. He noted the average sale price of a single-family home in Brunswick County increased from $283,000 in 2019 to $420,000 in 2022, and the average market value sits at $276,000. As of November 1st, the tax office calculated the combined value of real estate in Brunswick County increased by 55.15%. Three areas experienced increases north of 80%: Oak Island: 85.01%, Caswell Beach: 84.17%, and Northwest: 88.03%. Varnamtown, located north of Holden Beach, had the lowest increase of any municipality in that timeframe, at 40.21%. Leland, the county’s largest town, saw a 52.49% increase. Niebauer said those increases are not final and have changed since they were calculated in November. “Depending on market conditions and recent sales in a given neighborhood, assessed value may increase, decrease or remain the same,” Niebauer wrote to PCD in an email. Niebauer noted the real estate increases are also the result of new developments coming onto vacant land increasing values of individual parcels significantly. The increases also include exempt properties, such as government facilities like the county administration complex in Bolivia. “We still have to place its value, so that value is included in that report,” Niebauer said. “However, it’s not going to generate any taxes.” The increase also includes properties that will receive tax breaks, like those owned by seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. County commissioners and municipal governments will help determine the impact by setting tax rates for the next fiscal year. If the taxable base increases, for example, they could lower taxes to maintain similar budgets. Though, it may not mean less a tax burden for a property owner whose value increased significantly. At a meeting earlier in the month in Leland, Mayor Brenda Bozeman said she has no idea how the town will handle the revaluation until it gets the final figure from the county and holds its budget workshop in February. PCD reached out to the Brunswick County Commissioners to gauge their opinions on handling the tax rate after revaluations come through. None responded. The county’s property tax rate is 0.4850 and has remained the same since 2015, when it raised from 0.4425. The rate has fluctuated through revaluations over the years. It was at a high point of 0.5925 in 2001 and 2002. Brunswick’s tax rate is above New Hanover’s 0.4550 rate and well below Pender’s 0.6450. At several recent commissioners meetings, locals spoke out during public comment periods to request the commissioners adjust the tax rate to be revenue neutral after the revaluation is completed. Many comments were met with applause. PCD asked for opinions from locals on Friends of Brunswick County, a community Facebook group with 12,000 members. A recurring concern was the revaluation’s timing coinciding with a historic spike in prices and home sales across the country. “My fear is they will have assessed on the short, yet massive overinflation of real estate,” one resident wrote in a comment. “So, if a house was assessed at 100k in 2018, it will now be assessed at 400k just because of the ludicrous price increases. That will drive many deeper into financial despair.” Art Dornfield, a resident who heavily attends county meetings, budget workshops and ran unsuccessfully against commissioner Marty Cook in this year’s Republican primary, expressed the same concerns. “the problem that comes in is, and this is nothing against the current cast of commissioners, they’ll tell you that they want to stay revenue-neutral, but revenue-neutral does not mean your taxes are not going to go up,” Dornfield said. Dornfield pointed out local officials like to tout Brunswick as one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. The county added about 7,000 residents in 2021; Leland alone grew by about 1,700 people. “That’s terrific,” he said. “If that many people are coming here, you should have a larger tax base, so with more people paying taxes we shouldn’t have an increase. If anything, it would be really nice if you gave us a tax break.” Niebauer said residents should not try to read into — or make calculations — on what will happen to their taxes based on value estimates, mainly because those figures have limitations, take more property than the county actually taxes into account and do not tell the story for individual parcels. After the revaluation comes through, residents can challenge their new property values based solely on if they do not align with similar properties as of Jan. 1. An increase or decrease in value is not grounds for appeal. Residents can expect to receive property tax notices in early January.
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Island Homes Sold – 2022 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

A complete list of homes sold in 2022

 

Island Land Sold – 2022 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

A complete list of land sold in 2022

 

Island Properties Sold – Comparison * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

A comparison of Holden Beach properties sold through the last three (3) years

 

U.S. Existing-Home Sales Slid Last Year as Interest Rates Surged
U.S. existing home sales fell last year to their lowest level since 2014, as surging mortgage rates made home purchases too expensive for many buyers. Sales of previously owned homes, which make up most of the housing market, slid 17.8% in 2022 from the prior year to 5.03 million, the National Association of Realtors said.


What’s coming to Brunswick: 7 big projects to watch in 2023
It’s no secret that Brunswick County is growing, and while the population increases, so do the number of infrastructure projects. Here are a few of the major infrastructure projects that will be underway in 2023.

Boiling Spring Lakes dams
The Boiling Spring Lakes dam project has been on the city’s agenda since four dams burst when Hurricane Florence inundated the area with rain in 2018. But without the $52 million needed to rebuild the dams and restore the city’s lakes, the project never got off the ground. But that all changed in September when the city received the final piece of the funding puzzle, a $14.9 million dollar grant from the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot Program. With an overwhelming approval of the bond referendum, which will provide additional funding for contingencies, the city is ready to begin the project. The first step is to relocate power lines, which must be completed prior to construction. The city expects to award construction bids around February 2023, but city manager Gordon Hargrove said bids may be delayed a few weeks. Financing approval is also slated for February. Construction is expected to begin soon after with completion expected in March 2026.

N.C. 211 Widening
The N.C. 211 widening project has been under way, and work will continue throughout all of 2023. The project will widen a 7.2-mile stretch from two to four lanes beginning at Midway Road and ending at the N.C. 87 intersection in Southport. Much of the work that occurred throughout 2022 was prep work, and in 2023, crews will be performing utility work, as well as grading, installing drainage measures, and installing structure. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2026.

Brunswick County Northwest Water Treatment Plant
Work to install an advanced low-pressure reverse osmosis water treatment system at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant began after the discovery of PFAS substances in the Cape Fear River in June 2017. The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners approved the construction contract for the upgrades to the Northwest Water Treatment Plant in May 2020, and construction began that summer. Construction on the plant are upgrades are still ongoing, and the county anticipates seeing the benefits of the system in late 2023 with completion slated for early 2024.

H2GO Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant
The highly anticipated completion of H2GO’s Aquifer-sourced Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant is set to bring contaminant-free drinking water to some 40,000 customers in northern Brunswick County in the new year. Delayed this year due to national supply chain issues, the decade-long construction on the plant is set for completion in January. The facility will use reverse osmosis to remove naturally occurring and man-made contaminants from raw water retrieved from five well sites. According to H2GO, water treated at the plant is expected to be tested in January and officials expect the results to show non-detect levels of PFAS contaminants. The test results will be made available to the public, according to H2GO’s website. The plant will cost $1.5 million annually to operate, according to H2GO’s website.

Carolina Bays Parkway
A massive highway project looking to connect Brunswick County and Myrtle Beach could see major movement in 2023. The Carolina Bays Parkway project was first conceived in the early 2000s. Long awaited and highly anticipated, the project hopes to connect S.C. 31 and U.S. 17 in Brunswick County. With the need for a new route in southern Brunswick greater than ever with commercial and residential developments booming across the county, the project is now nearing some concrete milestones. Seven possible routes are undergoing more detailed studies to find the corridor with the least human and environmental impacts. N.C. Department of Transportation officials anticipate results from those studies will be shared with the public in February 2023 with a public comment period to follow. The project is expected to cost the two states $552 million and is only partially funded at this point.

Midway Bridge expansion
An aging Brunswick County bridge will find new life in 2023. Construction to replace and expand the bridge over Middle Swamp on N.C. 906, or Midway Road SE, began in October and is set to be completed ahead of Memorial Day next spring. Once completed, the new bridge will have wider lanes, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. A portion of Midway Road is set to be closed while construction takes place – an anticipated seven months total. The closed portion of the highway is located roughly a mile from the Brunswick County Courthouse and government complex off U.S. 17 Business, or Old Ocean Highway. Motorists are directed to take detours to bypass the construction.

Sunset Beach improvements
In November, the Local Government Commission greenlighted Sunset Beach’s plans to purchase over four acres of land to expand amenities and services in the town. The town looks to create a town park on the land, complete with a new kayak launch, swings and benches. According to the LGC, financing for the project will be provided through an installment purchase, which allows the borrower to pay back over time instead of up front in full. With the LGC backing the purchase of the land, plans for the project should be in the next year.
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This and That –


NC drivers to spend more on gas in 2023 under new tax rate
The new year means new tax rates. For North Carolina drivers, that will mean higher gas prices.
The new year means new tax rates. For North Carolina drivers, that will mean higher gas prices. The state’s gas tax will go up 2 cents, starting on Sunday, Jan.1. It’s a hard pill to swallow but just as gas prices are cooling off, the gas tax is going up. “People sometimes buy gas several times a week so they will notice it,” said economist Mike Walden. Starting Monday, the gas tax will rise from 38.5 cents to 40.5 cents. That money is the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s largest funding source for transportation projects. The calculation takes into account population and inflation. “Last year, there are some estimates that construction costs for transportation projects may have gone up 20 percent,” Walden said. “We all needs roads to run our economy, and to get to our jobs and go to schools, etc. This is way that North Carolina tries to keep up.” In 2022, North Carolina saw unleaded gas prices soar to $4.67 in June. The average has fallen to $2.99 a gallon to close out the year. “Now, this morning, it was 50 cents lower which is great,” said Carla Bartollomeo. “I hope the trend continues.” The 2-cent increase will mean an extra $15 to $20 a year for drivers who fill up a 15-gallon tank every week. “As long as they use it to make highway construction better and make our roads better and safe that’s OK,” said Richard Head. “Something has got to pay for that.” With the shift to electric vehicles, the state will likely have to find a new model for funding transportation projects in the future. For now, the more you drive, the more taxes you’ll pay. “There’s a logic here in using a gas tax in the sense that it’s a lot like a user fee,” Walden said. The news comes as the state income tax is going down. The current rate of nearly 5 percent will drop to 4.75 percent in 2023. The plan is to keep enacting cuts until the rate hits 3.99 percent in 2027.
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Beach areas will have paid parking
After a spirited debate and public hearing, Oak Island Town Council voted Tuesday to institute a paid parking plan for beach-area parking. The council agreed to increase “resident only” spaces to about 300 and keep the system almost free for residents and property owners. The final vote for charging starting April 1 was 4-1, with Council Member Bill Craft casting the lone “no” vote. Charlie Blalock, Mark Martin, John Bach and Sheila Bell voted in the majority. The contract with Otto Connect will specify charging $5 per hour, $20 per day, $80 per week and $175 per season, with a limit of 1,000 seasonal passes issued, the council decided. The changes also restrict right-of-way parking across the island. Otto will be in charge of enforcement in beach areas; the Police Department will enforce the rules in the so-called “wooded section” north of Davis Canal and Oak Island Drive. Mayor Liz White said she pushed hard to get the best possible deal for residents, who will continue to pay $10 per two years and can park in any available space at no extra charge. “It is a cultural shift, but it’s proportional to the shift that began years ago,” White said, adding that the flood of new residents and visitors is driving the changes. White said the town is also focusing more on establishing pedestrian crosswalks, streetlights and a safer environment. Drivers tend to park anywhere available off the road during the summer season, particularly on warm weekends and holidays. This sometimes leaves emergency access areas and fire hydrants blocked, even when police write an armload of citations. “We’re trying to make order out of chaos,” White said. Bach called the move a reaction to growth and asked for patience from the public as the town tries to balance needs. “The island is going to change,” he said. Craft called the plan “atrocious” and “unacceptable.” The contract is for two years. The rules will be in effect from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 1–September 30. Parking permits will be available by QR code scans or by calling a toll-free number.
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Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


It’s not just what you eat, but the time of day you eat it
The timing of your meals can have striking effects on your weight, appetite and chronic disease risk
Most people know that what and how much you eat plays a major role in your health. But scientists are finding that when you eat can make a difference as well. Studies show that for optimal health, it’s best to consume most of your calories earlier in the day rather than later — for example by eating a large breakfast, a modest lunch, and a small dinner. This pattern of eating aligns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour clock that governs many aspects of our health, from our daily hormonal fluctuations and body temperatures to our sleep-wake cycles. Because of the way our internal clocks operate, our bodies are primed to digest and metabolize food early in the day. As the day progresses, our metabolisms become less efficient. Studies show that a meal consumed at 9 a.m. can have vastly different metabolic effects than the same meal consumed at 9 p.m.

The study of meal timing
This emerging field of research, known as chrono-nutrition, represents a paradigm shift in how nutrition researchers think about food and health. Instead of focusing solely on nutrients and calories, scientists are increasingly looking at meal timing and discovering that it can have striking effects on your weight, appetite, chronic disease risk and your body’s ability to burn and store fat. “This is something that until recently no one in nutrition had looked at — it’s always been what are you eating, and what’s the energy content of your food or the carbohydrates, protein and fat,” said Marta Garaulet, a professor of physiology and nutrition at the University of Murcia in Spain who studies meal timing and its effects on obesity and metabolism. In today’s busy world, it’s common for people to skip breakfast and binge at night after a long day at work. Researchers say that whenever possible it would be better to do the opposite — or at least to space your dinner a few hours from your bedtime. Garaulet has found in her research that even in her native Spain, which is famous for its late-eating culture, people who typically eat a large midday lunch and a light dinner develop fewer metabolic problems than people who consume a lot of nighttime calories. “In Spain, our main meal is in the middle of the day, from 2 to 3 p.m.,” she said. “We eat 35 to 40 percent of our calories in the middle of the day. And even though we eat dinner late, we don’t eat very much.”

A big breakfast and a light dinner
When you eat your meals is just one of many dietary factors that can influence your metabolic health. And for some people, like night-shift workers, it’s impossible not to consume meals late at night. But for those whose schedules permit, research suggests that having your biggest meal of the day in the morning or afternoon rather than at night could be beneficial. In a new study published in Obesity Reviews, scientists looked at data from nine rigorous clinical trials involving 485 adults. They found that people who were assigned to follow diets where they consumed most of their calories earlier in the day lost more weight than people who did the reverse. They also had greater improvements in their blood sugar, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity, a marker of diabetes risk. In another study published in Cell Metabolism in October, scientists recruited a group of adults and examined what happened when they followed an early eating schedule for six days. The schedule included breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon, and dinner at 4 p.m. On a separate occasion, they had the same participants follow a late-eating schedule, with each meal pushed back four hours over a six-day period. The study was small but tightly controlled, involving 16 people who were closely monitored, provided all their meals, and kept on a strict sleep and wake schedule in a laboratory setting.

Why late-eating makes you hungrier
The researchers found that despite eating the same foods and maintaining the same levels of physical activity, the participants were significantly hungrier when they followed the late-eating schedule. A look at their hormone levels showed why: Eating later caused their levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite, to spike, while simultaneously suppressing their levels of leptin, a hormone that causes satiety. The study found that eating later caused the participants to burn less fat and fewer calories and pushed their fat cells to store more fat. “To our surprise we found that these mechanisms were all three consistently changed in the direction that would promote weight gain,” said Frank Scheer, the senior author of the study and the director of the Medical Chronobiology Program in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Other studies have had similar findings. In one randomized trial at Johns Hopkins, scientists found that healthy young adults burned less fat and had a 20 percent increase in their blood sugar levels when they ate dinner at 10 p.m. compared with when they ate the same dinner on another occasion at 6 p.m. “It’s clear that the timing of your meals does matter — not just what you eat, but when you eat it,” said Jonathan Jun, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and an author of the study. “Eating late makes you less glucose tolerant and also makes your body burn less fat than if you had the same food earlier in the day.”

How to follow an early-eating schedule
Scientists who study meal-timing say the following strategies could help you optimize your health.

    • Don’t skip breakfast. Garaulet and her colleagues found that skipping your morning meal increases your risk of obesity. Mornings are when our bodies are primed to metabolize food. If you’re not usually hungry in the morning, have something light, then eat a large lunch. “Try to eat the majority of your calories during the morning or afternoon but not at night,” Garaulet said.
    • Morning carbs are better than late-day carbs. If you’re going to eat sweets or simple carbs like bread, pasta and pastries, it’s better to do so in the morning or early afternoon, when we are most insulin-sensitive, rather than at night, Garaulet said.
    • Try to eat dinner early in the evening. Start by moving your dinner at least one hour earlier than usual. Ideally you should aim to eat dinner at least two to three hours before going to bed.
    • Make dinner the smallest meal of the day. Even if you can’t eat an early dinner, you should try to make breakfast and lunch your biggest meals of the day and dinner your smallest. If you’re used to eating a small lunch and a big dinner, then switch the order. You can make your dinner a meal that’s heavy on vegetables to lighten it up. “Just try to shift more of your calories to breakfast and lunch,” said Courtney Peterson, an associate professor in the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
    • Try meal-timing at least five days a week. Sometimes it’s not practical to eat a small or early dinner, and that’s okay. In studies, Peterson found that people who ate a light dinner five days a week instead of seven still gained benefits like better blood sugar control and less daily fatigue. “Don’t think of this as all or nothing,” said Peterson. “Maybe on some days you can’t do it because you’re going out to eat with your family. But then on other days you can do it and that’s great. It’s important that you do what’s practical for you.”

The biology of meal timing
Scientists have uncovered several mechanisms that explain why an early-eating schedule is better for your health. Our bodies are better able secrete insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, in the morning. We also tend to be more insulin-sensitive early in the day, meaning our muscles are better able to absorb and utilize glucose from our bloodstreams. But as the day progresses, we become less and less insulin sensitive. By nighttime, the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin become sluggish and less responsive to blood sugar elevations. Another important factor is hormone-sensitive lipase, an enzyme that releases fat from our fat cells. This enzyme is typically most active at night so it can provide our bodies with energy to keep our organs functioning as we sleep. But Garaulet has found that eating late at night suppresses this enzyme — essentially preventing your body from burning fat. “We see a big difference between people that have dinner for example four hours before going to bed,” she said, “and those that have dinner around one hour before going to bed.”
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Hot Button Issues

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


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


The Last 8 Years Were the Hottest on Record
The world remained firmly in warming’s grip last year, with extreme summer temperatures in Europe, China and elsewhere contributing to 2022 being the fifth-hottest year on record, European climate researchers said on Tuesday. The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists, from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported, and 2016 remains the hottest year ever. Overall, the world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century, when emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels became widespread. Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service, said the underlying warming trend since the pre-industrial age made 2022’s ranking in the top five “neither unexpected nor unsurprising.” “The rare event now would be to see a really cold year,” he said. Last year was among the warmest despite the persistence of La Niña for the third consecutive year. La Niña is a climate pattern marked by colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that tend to suppress global temperatures. “We are continuing the long-term warming trend of the planet,” said Zeke Hausfather, a researcher at Berkeley Earth, an independent organization that analyzes environmental data. “If you draw a straight line through temperatures since 1970, 2022 lands almost exactly on where you’d expect temperatures to be.” Berkeley Earth will issue its own analysis of 2022 data later this week, as will NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Copernicus scientists said Europe had its hottest summer ever in 2022, with several heat waves rolling across the continent that set temperature records in many cities. Separate research has shown that heat waves in Europe are increasing in frequency and intensity at a faster rate than almost anywhere else, fueled by warming but also, most likely, by shifts in atmospheric and oceanic circulation. The effects of such a warm year were felt elsewhere around the world as well. Eastern and Central China, Pakistan and India all experienced lengthy and extreme heat waves in 2022, and monsoon floods in Pakistan ravaged much of the country. The heat and accompanying dryness also contributed to extensive wildfires in the Western United States.
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The last eight years have been the warmest on record, researchers say
Concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have continued to rise despite an urgent need to reduce them
Last year was the fifth hottest ever recorded on the planet, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced Tuesday. It was part of an unabated broader warming trend as humans continue to pump massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Extreme heat waves in Europe, Asia and the United States — which stemmed in part from more than a century of burning fossil fuels — helped drive 2022’s unusual warmth, researchers found. Europe sweltered through its hottest summer on record and its second-hottest year overall, researchers said. Pakistan experienced catastrophic flooding as a result of extreme rainfall. In February, Antarctic Sea ice reached its lowest minimum in 44 years of satellite records. The year “2022 was yet another … of climate extremes across Europe and globally. These events highlight that we are already experiencing the devastating consequences of our warming world,” Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, said in a statement announcing the annual findings. She said data from 2022 provides “clear evidence that avoiding the worst consequences will require society to both urgently reduce carbon emissions and swiftly adapt to a changing climate.” The records show that the last eight years have been the hottest recorded in human history. Despite the urgency to halt such warming, the world’s output of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming emissions continues to rise. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions ticked up by 1.3 percent in 2022 over the previous year, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. President Biden has pledged to cut U.S. emissions 50 to 52 percent by the end of the decade compared with 2005 levels, and while Congress recently passed far-reaching legislation to fund a shift toward cleaner energy, the nation is not yet on a trajectory to meet those lofty goals. Neither is the world. A U.N. report last fall found that despite high-profile promises to boost climate targets, nations have shaved just 1 percent off their projected greenhouse gas emissions for 2030. Scientists have said the world needs to cut planet-warming emissions roughly in half by the end of the decade to be on track to meet its most ambitious promises. The U.N. report found that the ongoing “emissions gap” — the gulf between national plans to reduce carbon pollution and the actual cuts needed to avert catastrophic warming currently leaves the Earth on a path to warm by a dangerous 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. And few nations have implemented the policies necessary to meet even these inadequate targets, the report said. “Global and national climate commitments are falling pitifully short,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said at the time. “We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.” Tuesday’s report from European researchers documents how humans are continuing to heat the planet. Researchers found that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are at the highest levels in more than 2 million years. Levels of methane, a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas, have also continued to increase and are at the highest levels in 800,000 years, according to Copernicus. “Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, are the main drivers of climate change, and we can see from our monitoring activities that atmospheric concentrations are continuing to rise with no signs of slowing,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in Tuesday’s announcement. That continued warming has led to an increase in suffering around the globe. Scientists have detailed how a warmer atmosphere is supercharging storms, intensifying droughts and leaving places less time to prepare before the next weather-related disaster strikes. European researchers on Tuesday noted that polar regions experienced episodes of record temperatures during 2022. That includes places like Greenland, where in September virtually all of the country experienced higher temperatures than in any year since at least 1979. They noted how Pakistan and northern India endured prolonged spring heat waves, and how central and eastern China faced long-lasting heat wave conditions and subsequent drought in the summer. There was the biblical flooding that displaced millions in Pakistan, along with torrential rains that led to deadly and costly floods from Australia to South Africa to the United States. And all indications are that as long as human-caused emissions continue to warm the globe, more disasters are likely to follow. “The frequency and severity of extreme climate disasters continue to increase,” Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters Tuesday in recounting the U.S. weather-related disasters over the past year. “We must adapt and become resilient to climate threats we cannot avoid.”
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Flood Insurance Program
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2023.


 

GenX
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  • Homeowners Insurance

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  • Hurricane Season
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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 2023
Name:            Tarantelli’s
Cuisine:
        Italian
Location:      102 South Second Street, Wilmington NC
Contact:        910.763.3806 /  https://tarantellis.com/
Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:               Inexpensive <=20 / Moderate <=26 / Expensive <=35 / Exorbitant <=60
Rating:          Two Stars
/////
Tarantelli’s
is a nice local classic family run authentic Italian restaurant with a broad-based menu that offers something for everyone. The restaurant and event venue are located in the historic district of downtown Wilmington. Dining is in a warm and casual relaxed atmosphere with both inside and outside dining options. Although the entrees are a bit pricey, the portions are huge, the food is good and so it is still a pretty good value.


Editor’s note –
After our pandemic hiatus we discovered that the old price guidelines were obsolete
All of our previous restaurant reviews have been updated with current menu prices


Dining Guide – Guests

Dining Guide – Local

Restaurant Reviews – North

Restaurant Reviews – South


Dining Guide – Local
Old places, New faces
Name:            Sorella
Location:      3219 Holden Beach Road, Supply NC
Macie & Ethel’s Kitchen  has permanently closed.
Sorella is a family-style Italian restaurant that will be coming to this location.


After years of rumors, Brunswick beach town getting first fast-food restaurant
Rumors that a Hardee’s restaurant would be coming to Holden Beach have been floating around the coastal community for years. Now, it’s finally happening. Construction on a Hardee’s restaurant at the intersection of Ocean View Avenue and Holden Beach Road, across from the Food Lion and Walgreens, is officially underway. Hardee’s is an American fast-food restaurant chain that opened its first location in Greenville, North Carolina, in 1960. Today, there are more than 1,800 Hardee’s locations in the nation, largely in Southeast and Midwest states. Hardee’s also has locations in 12 other countries. Alan Holden, mayor of Holden Beach, said he’s heard positive reactions from the community regarding this long-awaited upgrade to the town. Holden added that this will be the first-ever fast-food restaurant in the town. “It’s been coming for I don’t know how many years,” Holden said. “It’s about the most exciting news we’ve got in Holden Beach right now.” Hardee’s corporate office did not respond to a StarNews request for more information as of Monday, but with construction already underway, Holden said he expects the restaurant to go up quickly. “I’m hoping I’m going to be eating a ham, egg and cheese biscuit there this spring,” Holden said. While this will be Holden Beach’s first location of the burger and breakfast sandwich spot, Hardee’s restaurants dot Brunswick County, from Leland and Northwest to Shallotte and Ocean Isle Beach. In nearby New Hanover County, there are four Hardee’s in Wilmington, one in Castle Hayne and one in Carolina Beach.
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How the pandemic altered the restaurant industry forever
Chefs and restaurant owners are trying to figure out why it all feels so different. It’s because we’ve changed.
Pandemic restaurant-going was like a series of twists on the old Yogi Berra quip about how nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded. First, restaurants stood cavernously empty by mandate as we pined for them. Then we got scared to be cheek to jowl with fellow customers. As patrons surged back, a dearth of workers kept things off-balance. And as the worker shortage eased, inflation thwarted many diners from pre-pandemic levels of patronage. It’s still not normal. Looking around your favorite restaurant, assuming it’s still open, it feels different, right? The ebb and flow of service, how and when and what people order — the pandemic has meant seismic shifts for an industry defined by its resilience and adaptability, developments that will probably alter the dining landscape permanently. It’s changed because we, The Diners, have changed. Here’s how.

Where people eat
Restaurants are still seeing 16 percent fewer people dining on-premises compared to before the pandemic. Off-premises dining, however, has picked up precisely that much, according to the National Restaurant Association. But how that breaks down is telling: Delivery is up more than 5 percent while carryout is down 3. The big winner? Drive-through, up 13 percent. At this moment, 39 percent of all restaurant traffic is bumper to bumper in a drive-through lane, said Hudson Riehle, an economist for the National Restaurant Association. “Operationally, many restaurants function differently than they did three years ago, with a greater reliance on technology integration and on the off-premises market,” he said. What does this mean? The restaurant industry has been bifurcated between two types of places: ones that cater to the “hangry,” must-eat-now crowd and those who want to be nurtured and entertained. “There’s a dichotomy in what consumers want. They want value and convenience but also crave an experience,” said David Henkes, a senior analyst at market research firm Technomic. “Quick-serve restaurants are betting a lot of money that those changes are permanent.” He points to Taco Bell’s Defy, a concept that debuted in a Minneapolis suburb in June, with four drive-through lanes, a kitchen on the second floor and orders — with lanes devoted solely to delivery drivers or orders placed via Taco Bell’s mobile app — delivered downward via space-age-looking tubes to customers’ cars in about two minutes from order time. There’s no dining room. McDonald’s is doing the same this month, debuting a prototype restaurant design in Fort Worth for to-go and delivery orders. Last year, the fast-food chain added its own delivery service, and while delivery is in many cases nearly twice the price of buying it at the drive-through, customers remain enthusiastic. It’s a quest for speed and efficiency, something virtual-only restaurants and kitchens promised at the beginning of the pandemic and have been a mixed bag at delivering. Many so-called “ghost” kitchens learned the hard way that the visibility and street cred associated with brick-and-mortar operations is invaluable. “The dine-in business is going to be radically smaller than it was, with much more focus on takeout orders, a huge shift in the basis of competition to be all about technology and convenience,” Henkes said.

How people order
Accelerated by the pandemic, restaurants’ digital strategy has become key. The restaurant industry saw an 18 percent increase in eateries offering direct online ordering this year, according to BentoBox, a restaurant website company. This comes even as third-party delivery companies hold their own: Grubhub sales remained flat for the first half of this year, while DoorDash reported better-than-expected sales for the third quarter. This digital dining pivot has also prioritized delivery app menus and mobile app-based loyalty programs. McDonald’s, which launched its loyalty program about a year ago, had 25 million members as of Sept. 30 who had been active on its app in the previous 90 days. “I was talking to a client while he was trying to order food on his phone, and he was getting frustrated. I said, ‘Why don’t you call?’ and he said, ‘I shouldn’t have to talk to a person.’ Customers have come to expect digital ordering,” said Tony Smith, co-founder of Restaurant365, a restaurant management system. But a basic on-demand food delivery app costs between $30,000 and $50,000 to develop, according to software development company TekRevol. For big corporate restaurants, that cost can be amortized across units, or even passed along to franchisees. For many independent restaurants, this may be prohibitively expensive, shutting them out of this increasingly essential tool. “We are going to see a hollowing-out in the restaurant world,” said Laurie Thomas, owner of two restaurants in San Francisco and executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “We will end up with the super expensive, bespoke opportunities that you’re paying through the nose for, and then you’re going to have the fast casual restaurants. The middle restaurants will be much fewer. It won’t be an economically viable part of the industry going forward,” she said. Independent restaurants may suffer most, but some restaurant groups that may have difficulty with culture change are in the category of sit-down family dining like the name-brand stalwarts you might find circling a suburban mall that are less about “an experience or uniqueness.”

What people order
The last big revolution in the restaurant industry was during the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009. Food trucks proliferated, fine-dining chefs threw in their crisp white coats and started crafting elevated casual fare, bringing their exacting eyes to deli sandwiches and diner food. Fast casual thrived while supply outstripped demand for highfalutin, multicourse prix-fixers. Some of the culinary changes — often described as the “casualization” of the industry — wrought by those difficult times persist today, but it’s clear that the pandemic pushed things even further. Whether or not the economy heads into a recession next year, diners are skittish and extra price conscious. Restaurant transactions dropped almost 7 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to Rabobank research, a slightly worse drop than in the second quarter, experts attributing the slide to inflation in menu prices and consumers feeling squeezed. “We’ve been steadily revising our forecast downward every time we’ve looked at the industry, particularly the real number of volume growth,” said Henkes. Because restaurants have increased their prices, the top-line number looks pretty good, he said, “but underlying that is a softness developing in the fall — inflation coupled with high level of uncertainty has begun putting a damper in restaurant traffic.” Consumers feel constrained, but restaurateurs are extra pinched: According to government data, prices for food consumed at home rose 12 percent over the past 12 months, while food consumed away from home rose 8.5 percent in the same time. This means restaurant owners are eating some of that increase in food costs and not passing it along to customers to stay competitive. One way restaurants cope with uncertainty is to scale back offerings and streamline menus, focusing more on foods that have a longer shelf life, a higher profit margin or that require less labor to prepare. (Restaurant labor costs are up 9.8 percent this year, and were up 9 percent last year, according to the National Restaurant Association.) Menus became exercises in brevity in the thick of the pandemic, and while they are no longer haiku, they remain pared down. Because chefs and owners whittled entrees from 10 options to, say, six, and they have to cover the most popular categories like chicken, beef, salmon, shrimp and something vegetarian, range has suffered, and more creative fare has gotten short shrift. Adding to that winnowing of choice, Smith said, is the decimation of small independent restaurateurs’ nest eggs during the pandemic. They aren’t as insulated against potential future economic hardship. He predicts struggles and maybe closures for some small international restaurants and restaurants that focus on regional cuisines, a future that may diminish the whole array of food options in a town.
Read more »
click here

Previously reported – January 2022
Fancy restaurants and casual chains will thrive. The places in between won’t.
Even before the pandemic, some food industry analysts believed that we’d already seen the end of the golden age of dining out in America that rising labor and food costs, significant ground ceded to third-party delivery companies, and shifting consumer tastes were stymieing innovation and squeezing profits. Reeling from #MeToo and racial-inequity scandals, the restaurant industry was in a period of reckoning and reinvention when, in March 2020, everything screeched to a standstill. Now the industry is back-ish, but many things will never be the same. Dine-in visits to restaurants were down 49 percent in the 12 months ending in October 2021 compared with the pre-pandemic level in the year ending in October 2019, according to the market research firm NPD Group. Off-premises orders (carryout, drive-through and delivery) represented 50 percent of casual restaurants’ sales before the pandemic; now that figure is 80 percent. That’s here to stay — online ordering and window pickup dominate Brian Treitman’s restaurant, B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, Mass., for example, leaving his dining room, for which he still pays rent, largely a vestige from another time. So far it doesn’t sound like a loss, right? Assuming sufficient to-go containers, it just means swapping out where people consume food. Not exactly. The pandemic, coupled with an inequitable distribution of federal assistance, created winners and losers. The losers — many mom-and-pop restaurants, with a substantial portion of proprietors whose first language isn’t English — are not able to compete on wages or keep their menu prices commensurate with those of deeper-pocketed peers. Many will go out of business. There’s still a customer for high-end “experiential” restaurants. And quick-serve chains will continue to flourish. But even these categories will face problems and flux. With so many restaurant jobs open, fewer kitchen workers are willing to endure the high stress and low pay of prestigious “stages” (the industry word for internships), which will diminish the pipeline of talent. And for quick-serve, labor shortages will expedite a turn toward kiosk ordering, touchless payment apps and robotics in food preparation. Rising rents will force many restaurants to operate all day, but the continued allure of remote work means they’ll keep losing breakfast and lunch business to the sandwich hastily eaten over the sink. ​​For those who believe that food is mere sustenance, this should cause little chagrin, but for those of us who view it, at its acme, as an art, signs point to creators having fewer tools and fewer venues in which to showcase their work.
Washington Post

We’ve just lived through the greatest period of restaurant growth in U.S. history. Here’s why it’s ending.
A new book explains the sudden death of the golden age of dining out in America
We’ve just been through America’s belle epoque of restaurants. What’s more, the party is over and most of us are blithely unaware. The restaurant industry is frequently the precursor for a market correction, an early harbinger of a bear market or even a recession to come. And some experts are saying that an unfortunate confluence of factors — oversaturated restaurant markets, rising labor and food costs, weak sales, changing consumer tastes and loyalties, a shrinking middle class, declines in mall traffic, bank, and investor skittishness about returns on investments — means the near future looks bleak.
Read more » click here


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 WORD IS MURDER
by Anthony Horowitz
A clever and inventive mystery starring a fictional version of the author himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes. Their first joint investigative venture concerns the strangulation of Diana Cowper in her London home, mere hours after she visited a funeral parlor and made detailed arrangements for her own funeral. Hawthorne wants Horowitz to chronicle, in real time, his cases into books, and eventually gets him to agree.




THE SENTENCE IS DEATH
by Anthony Horowitz
A brilliant whodunit murder mystery, the second in the series. Horowitz’s doppelganger, Horowitz-the-author plays Horowitz-the-character, once again plays Dr. Watson to Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne’s Sherlock Holmes. This time around the duo sets out to investigate the murder of London divorce attorney Richard Pryce, bludgeoned to death with a bottle of vintage wine in his home.


A LINE TO KILL by Anthony Horowitz
The third book in the mystery series, a whodunit featuring intrepid detectives Hawthorne and Horowitz. A fictional version of author Anthony Horowitz serves as the narrator and the “Watson” to P.I. Daniel Hawthorne “Holmes”. This time they are invited to an exclusive literary festival on Alderney Island and find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. Hawthorne helps the sparse local police force investigate. As the title suggests, a whole line of people are suspects and were waiting their turn to commit the murder.  

THE TWIST OF A KNIFE by Anthony Horowitz
This is the fourth entry/installment in the bestselling whodunit mystery series, An Agatha Christie style murder mystery Horowitz once again plays himself: the narrator and Watson to private investigator Hawthorne’s Holmes. In his latest novel, Horowitz becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation when an obnoxious theatre critic Harriet Throsby is murdered, hours after writing a stinging review of Horowitz’s play. Hawthorne in a Poirot like fashion, assembles the play’s company, and solves the case making for a great ending to the book.


  • .That’s it for this newsletter

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12 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


BOC’s Special Meeting 11/29/22

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here NA

Audio Recording » click here NA


1.   Executive Session Pursuant to NC General Statute 143-318.11(a)(6), Personnel – Commissioners Murdock and Kwiatkowski

No decision was made – No action taken


BOC’s Regular Meeting 12/20/22

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.  Discussion and Possible Action on Pinnacle Architecture’s Draft Master Site Plan for Block Q – Randy Baker, Pinnacle Architecture (Town Manager Hewett)

Agenda Packet – pages 21 – 22

Randy Baker from Pinnacle Architecture plans on attending the meeting to discuss his rough draft of the master site plan for Block Q.

Previously reported – October 2022
The Board selected the following firms:
Pier / Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects
Block Q / Pinnacle Architecture         
David will request a proposal from each firm with contract terms
The next step would be to enter in a contractual agreement with them

Previously reported – November 2022
During our onsite visit, the scope of work for Block Q will be defined in phases and will be divided up by the extent of cost of each phase of construction. The phases discussed will be as follows:

    • Phase 1 – Overall Masterplan of Block Q (this phase will include researching the Local and Government regulations that will impact the design and construction of this area, a site plan showing the proposed layout of the parking area and new ADA and NCSBC compliant restrooms and a rendering of the site.
    • Phase II – Provide design and permit drawings to close a portion Carolina Avenue designated as Tract 1 on the survey from Coastal geomatics, dated 07-06-2022 (approximately 12,215 square feet of roadway). This phase will include a TIA (Traffic Impact Analysis) study of this area.
    • Phase Ill – This phase will consist of a complete set construction and bid documents for Block Q that will be derived by :1 determined scope of work by the Board of Commissioners after reviewing Phase I (Overall Masterplan) and the  potential  cost  of work for construction

Pinnacle Architecture, P.A. fee proposal for Architectural and Engineering design of the proposed Phases listed above are as follows:

    • Phase I Overall Masterplan – Proposed Design Fee                      $20,000
    • Phase II Road Closure -Proposed Design fee                                  $18,000
    • Phase III Construction and Bid documents                                    To Be Determined

Budget Amendment – Block Q
The attached budget amendment in the amount of $38,000 is a necessary preaudit component of the Pinnacle /Block Q contract consideration. A new budget expense line item is proposed to be established titled Block Q Professional Services and funded via a revenue appropriation of BPART Fund Balance.

Suggested Motion: Approval of Budget Amendment

Moved funds of $38,000
From Revenue account #50.0399.0000 to Expense account#50.0710.6003

Randy the representative from Pinnacle addressed the BOC’s questions. The first two (2) phases are dependent on the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) study. Expects it will take approximately three (3) to four (4) weeks to get that done and  creating the documents will take approximately two (2) to three (3) months. The motion was made to approve the proposal and the budget amendment  as submitted to the Board.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
Randy made a brief presentation of the initial proposed site plan. Randy asked for feedback and comments from the Board. There was some discussion about adding more green space initially but that could be converted to additional parking as it is needed. Additional discussions included vehicle access, boat parking, handicap parking, and better access to the restrooms for the handicapped. The Board allowed the public to participate in the discussion. He will be back with a modified site plan incorporating their wish list.

Block Q Site Plan » click here 


2.   Discussion and Possible Action on Bowman Murray Hemingway Architecture’s Draft Master Site Plan for Pier Property –  Chip Hemingway

BOC’s Supplemental Agenda Packet » click here

Previously reported – October 2022
The Board selected the following firms:
Pier / Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects     
Block Q / Pinnacle Architecture
David will request a proposal from each firm with contract terms
The next step would be to enter in a contractual agreement with them

Work Session with Firm Selected for Pier Project
Previously the Board selected Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects for the pier project. Chip a representative of the firm was present to discuss the Request for Qualifications (RFQ). He wanted to gather information so that the firm can make a proposal to the Board. In other words, he wanted to know what would they like to do with the property. Commissioner Kwiatkowski attempted to walk him through what they have discussed and considered so far. Commissioner Murdock went into a little more detail about some potential options for the property. Planning & Inspections Director Tim Evans went over the regulations that would apply to the building renovations. The architectural firm plans to have a dialogue with Timbo to make sure they understand all the potential regulations and restrictions that affect what they can do there. The firm will submit a proposal to develop a conceptual site plan for the Board to consider.

Previously reported – November 2022
We understand this project to be a master-planning drawing of the existing pier facility and conceptually illustrate proposed future building and site improvements. We will begin to identify steps needed as far as permitting and testing to prepare future designs for the pier and building.

The existing pier will be renovated. We understand the extremely deficient existing pier house will be modified to re-open and serve the pier once it is renovated.

A detailed property survey will be needed prior to creating the site master plan drawing.

The master plan site plan drawing will incorporate but not be limited to the following.
Future work will be noted or shown conceptually:

      1. Renovate existing fishing pier with a new wood ADA ramp
      2. Renovate existing pier house
        • Keep work under 50% of the appraised
        • Begin to identify phases that keep the work under 50%.
        • Incorporate exterior restrooms within the existing building.
        • Potential outdoor decks adjacent to existing pier
      3. Show an emergency vehicle cross over onto the beach strand from the pier parking area,
      4. Study the existing parking to maximize layout for the renovated
      5. Study camper parking layout for optimized efficiency and camping
      6. Showers to be located near the exterior accessed restrooms with the existing

A listing of site, pier and building improvements. We will also identify all known permits and testing that will need to occur in future design phases.

Budget Amendment – Pier
The attached budget amendment in the amount of $35,000 implements previous board direction to refine line-item expenses to detail developmental costs of the pier properties more succinctly. Approval will be necessary to satisfy the pre-audit requirements associated with the Bowman Murray Hemingway contract expenses in addition to providing for an additional survey, the facility’s operational expenses to date, and those expected to occur through the end of the FY.

Suggested Motion: Approval of budget amendment and authorize town manager to execute contract.

Moved funds of $35,000
From Revenue account #50.0710.6100
to Expense account#50.0710.6103 & #50.0710.6104

Chip the representative from BMH addressed the BOC’s questions. A detailed property survey will be needed prior to creating the site master plan drawing. From the time they get the survey it will take them approximately two (2) months to develop a master site plan. The discussion was primarily about budget restraints of what they can do and short term vs. long term plan of action there. The motion was made to approve the proposal and the budget amendment  as submitted to the Board.
 A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
Chip made a presentation of the pier revitalization project. It is the preliminary plan, he discussed where they are now and where they are headed. Their structural engineer is scheduled to be at the site next week to evaluate the building and the pier structure. He reviewed their plan for rehab of the pier, which he felt was a manageable scope of work. Chip asked for feedback and comments from the Board. They bounced some ideas off each other and shared additional information for things that needs to be incorporated into the plan. He will be back with a modified plan. Regulations require that we can only do work that is less than 50% of the appraised value. Because the renovations far exceed the allowed amount, the work will need to be done in phases.

Pier Property Site Plan » click here


3.   Election of Mayor Pro Tempore – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 23 – 24

Per Section 30.05, Mayor Pro Tempore of the Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, the Board shall elect from one of its members a mayor pro tem. The normal term of office is one year, commencing with the December meeting.

If the Board chooses to elect a new mayor pro tem, you can vote by ballot or verbally, whichever is the Board’s preference. If the Board votes by ballot, please make sure to sign your ballot.

§30.05 MAYOR PRO TEMPORE.

(A) The BOC shall elect a Mayor Pro Tempore. The normal term of office of the Mayor Pro Tempore shall be one year, commencing at the first regular meeting in December; provide, however, that the member shall serve at the pleasure of the

(B) The Mayor Pro Tempore shall discharge the duties and exercise the powers and authority of Mayor in the absence, disability, disqualification of the Mayor and during a vacancy in the office of Mayor; provided his or her rights and duties as BOC shall remain unimpaired; except he or she shall receive the salary or expenses of Mayor when serving in that capacity. No additional oath of office shall be required of the Mayor Pro Tempore upon assuming the duties of the Mayor beyond that oath taken at the time of appointment to Mayor Pro

Update –
The Code of Ordinances reads that the Board shall elect a mayor pro tem from one of its members. Per the ordinance, the Board may choose to extend the current term of Mayor Pro Tem Brown or select another member to serve as the mayor pro tern. Commissioner Kwiatkowski made a motion to nominate Rick Smith for Mayor Pro Tem. Commissioner Smith was elected to continue to serve as Mayor Pro Tem again next year.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


4.   Discussion and Possible Approval of 2023 Meeting Schedule – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 25 – 26

Enclosed is the proposed 2023 Board of Commissioners’ Regular Meeting Schedule. All dates, except for the March date, reflect the third Tuesday of the month. The proposed March date is for the second Tuesday of the month, due to scheduling conflicts.

Staff recommends approval.

2023 BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS’ MEETING SCHEDULE
Regular Meetings are held at 5:00pm on the third Tuesday of each month

JANUARY 17th
FEBRUARY 21st
MARCH 14th     Second Tuesday
APRIL 18th
MAY 16th
JUNE 20th
JULY 18th 
AUGUST 15th
SEPTEMBER 19th
OCTOBER 17th
NOVEMBER 21st
DECEMBER 19th 

Update –
The monthly meeting schedule was adopted with no changes.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Commissioner Murdock requested that they schedule an additional four (4) quarterly special meeting dates. He feels that they are going to need them based on everything that they are working on now. David suggested they also schedule budget meetings. The decision was to discuss and establish a schedule at the next regular meeting.


5.   Discussion and Possible Action on Appointment of Cape Fear Council of Government Delegate and Alternate – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – page 27

The Cape Fear Council of Governments (CFCOG) is requesting that the Board of Commissioners appoint a CFCOG delegate and alternate. Currently the delegate is Mayor Holden, and the alternate is Mayor Pro Tern Smith. The practice for selecting the delegate and alternate in the past has always been the mayor is appointed as the delegate and the mayor pro tern as the alternate.

The suggested motion is to appoint the mayor and mayor pro tern to serve as the delegate and alternate to the CFGOG.

Update –
The Board approved the suggested motion and appointed Mayor Holden as the Town’s delegate and Mayor Pro Tem Smith as the alternate to the Cape Fear Council of Governments.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


6.   Police Report – Chief Jeremy Dixon

Agenda Packet – pages 28 – 31

Police Report » click here


Police Patch
Jeremy reviewed the actions that were taken by them last month

Business as usual for this time of the year


Public Service Announcement

Jeremy requested that we all use caution if driving during the holiday season. There is lots of traffic during the holiday and statistically the country has an average of 119 fatalities a day. Please drive safely!

Chief Dixon advised people that we are expecting cold weather starting at the end of the week and to remember that the bridge freezes before the road does. They are coordinating with NCDOT but indicated that the bridge could be closed because of unsafe conditions.


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

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.


Neighborhood Watch

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

7.   Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 32 – 34

Inspections Report » click here

Update –
Timbo briefly reviewed department activity last month. They are still very busy, work is trending away from new construction to more major renovations, which is typical for this time of year.


8.  Discussion and Possible Action on Ordinance 22-28, Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Section 94.03 Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 35 – 37

As directed by the Board of Commissioners at the November meeting, staff has prepared a draft amendment to the Town’s Code of Ordinances, Section 94.03 Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations based on information provided by the Planning & Zoning Board.

If the Board agrees with the information, the suggested motion is to approve Ordinance 22-28, Ordinance Amending Holden Beach Code of Ordinances, Section 94.03 Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations.

Previously reported – June 2022
At the request of a resident, I have looked at the 1100 block dunes where the concern was raised about walkway restrictions keeping some homeowners from easily accessing the strand across multiple dunes although it is less than 300 ft as stipulated in the current ordinance 94.03, the distance and secondary dune sizes are not insignificant). I think ordinance 94.03 could benefit from a Planning and Zoning Board evaluation and possible suggestions for changes, particularly regarding walkway policies, taking into consideration what some other beach towns are doing. Feedback from P&Z at or before the October BOCM would be an appropriate timeframe. If the Board agrees, an appropriate action would be a motion for P&Z to evaluate and as appropriate propose improvements to ordinance 94.03, with particular attention to walkway restrictions, and also advise the BOCM whether Chapter 94.03 or portions thereof should be moved to Chapter 157 at or before the October BOCM.

They decided it could benefit from a Planning and Zoning Board evaluation and possible recommendations for any appropriate changes to the Ordinance. It was suggested that they should benchmark off of some of the surrounding island communities. Timbo recommended that a portion of the Ordinance should be moved to Chapter 157. A response was requested at or before the October BOCM. 

Previously reported – October 2022
Subject: Amendments to 94.03 specifically exceptions to walkways with over 300 feet to the last line of Natural Stable Vegetation.

The Board tasked the Planning Board with review of the 94.03, The TOHBPB reviewed and discussed Ordinance 94.03 and asked the staff to return  with options, Planning staff presented  5 options to the Planning Board at the next scheduled meeting. The Planning Board advertised the proposed changes to the public and then voted to send the approved changes forward to the Board.

Note: Town staff supports these changes.

The Planning & Zoning Board voted unanimously on September 27, 2022 to send forward option 5 (see attached), to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

Staff recommended changes to remain in 94.03

Staff input: Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson, Development service Officer Rhonda Wooten, Planning and Inspections Director Timothy Evans, and Public Works Director Chris Clemmons

§94.03 FRONTAL DUNE POLICIES AND REGULATIONS

 (2)   Frontal dune policy and restrictions.

         (a)   Whenever property owners elect to construct a walkway across the frontal dune on their property, to provide pedestrian access to the beach strand, the following specifications shall apply. (Note: the same criteria applies when property owners seek to apply for town approval of an encroachment agreement to construct a walkway over public property adjacent to their residence.)

    1. The walkway shall be constructed only of building materials approved by the North Carolina State Building Code North Carolina Building Code. The walking passageway shall be no wider than four feet. The underside of the walkway across the frontal dune shall be a minimum of 18 inches and a maximum of 36 inches above the crest of the sand. Exception: Town owned CAMA accessways may utilize a six-foot walkway.
    2. The first step down to the beach strand shall be placed no farther seaward than the beginning of the downward slope of the dune, or the existing line of escarpment determined by averaging the downward slope or escarpment line for the property in question and those properties directly adjacent.
    3. Steps shall be of open tread construction with a maximum riser height of eight and one-quarter inches and a minimum tread depth of nine inches and shall meet the requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code North Carolina Residential Building Code.
    4. In accordance with North Carolina State Division of Coastal Management’s enforcement of the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA), the walkway access to the beach strand over the frontal dune shall be conclusively presumed to entail negligible alteration of the dune. The walkway shall be raised on posts or pilings a minimum of two feet and a maximum of five feet depth into the dune. In no case shall the walkway be permitted if it will, in the opinion of the Local CAMA Permit Officer, diminish the dune’s capacity as a protective barrier against flooding and erosion.
    5. Except for handicap ramps, steps from the walkway to the beach strand shall be placed only perpendicular to the frontal dune line.
    6. No structure other than the one four-foot-wide wooden walkway shall be located south of the landward toe of the frontal dune. This applies to decks, gazebos, sitting areas and other additions that a property owner may desire to make to the allowed walkway. Structures (other than the four-foot walkway) that exist when this section is adopted may remain in place temporarily; however, all such structures must be removed no later than December 31, 2003, in order to be in compliance with this section. A building permit is required if there are any repairs needed to walkway load bearing surfaces, such as supporting posts. Adding additional lengths to supporting posts shall constitute a repair. Exception: town-owned CAMA accessways may utilize a six-foot walkway. Exception: property owners with lots that have more than 300 feet from the seaward toe of the frontal dune to the last line of natural stable vegetation, as determined by the local CAMA officer, may install a single walkway with a maximum width of four feet; the walkway shall be a minimum of three feet high with a maximum height not to exceed four feet; and shall terminate at the last line of natural stable vegetation. Walkways shall be permitted and built-in accordance with all federal, state and local building requirements. Exception: swimming pools may be located south of the town’s designated frontal dune; placement of pools and decking shall not extend more than 50 feet from the established seaward toe of designated frontal dune. This exception only applies when the CAMA dune is more seaward than the town’s frontal dune. 

Timbo reported that they considered five (5) options and selected this one. Text was amended and there were no substantial changes proposed. Commissioner Kwiatkowski asked him for more information on the Planning & Zoning Board’s response to the Board’s tasker. She didn’t just want their recommendation but also wanted to see how they came to that conclusion. By Board consensus they asked him to come back with support information for their position. He agreed to provide more information at the next scheduled meeting.

No decision was made – No action taken


It was my understanding that  they were supposed to be reviewing allowing walkways that were less than 300 feet as stipulated in the current ordinance. The proposed ordinance does not appear to address this issue. 

Previously reported – November 2022
Timbo stated that he was asked to bring this back with support information for their position. He provided the information which is included in the agenda packet. Bottomline is that they considered five (5) options and selected this one. He said that it seems that the general consensus including CAMA on protecting the beach strand is that they believe it is better not to have these structures going out to the frontal dunes. He thinks that the original concern was that people were cutting pathways through the dunes. He asked the question: Which is better to have people walk through the dunes or walkways that go all the way out. Apparently the staff and the Planning & Zoning Board feel not having walkways is better. They decided to put it on the next regular meeting agenda to consider adopting the text changes.

Update –
Staff has prepared a draft amendment based on information provided by the Planning & Zoning Board. After everything is said and done this resulted in simply being a housekeeping change but assists them in enforcement of that section. The Board approved the Ordinance as submitted.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Whatevah!


9.   Update on Beach Mat Plan – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – page 38

THE BEACH MAT PROGRAM

      1. Existing Public Walkways
      2. Existing Areas for Beach Mats
      3. Areas Identified for Future Handicap Access
      4. Conditions
      5. CAMA Approvals & Variances
      6. Employee Responsibility & Physical Uncontrollable Conditions
      7. Budgeting & Costs
  1. Previously reported – September 2022
    Request for staff opinion on moving forward with planning for dry sand placement of mats at select THB public accesses to enhance handicap access to the beach based on information in the CRC-22-17 document (provided as background). Request for staff opinion to allow residential use of mats for beach walkways, including consideration as a potential solution to debris concerns arising from construction of long wooden walkways over multiple dunes.

Memo from North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
Last year, the Commission amended the rules that established specific use standards  for structural pedestrian accessways (dune crossovers) that allow for public access to the beach. You will recall that the use standards previously limited these accessways to elevated, piled-supported structures terminating on the beach near the seaward toe of the frontal dune. Due to numerous local governments expressing interest in using synthetic or wooden roll-out matting as a handicap-accessible alternative for beach access, the accessway rules were amended to allow the use of these types of mats for public beach access. However, the use these materials was limited to State, federal or local governments due to concerns expressed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC) and the U.S . Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) about potential adverse impacts on sea turtle habitat resulting from their use waterward of the frontal dune.

Since the amendments went into effect, Staff has had further discussion regarding the use of beach matting for residential applications as an alternative to structural accessways. As you are aware, during storms, dune crossovers (including stairways) can account for a great deal of the debris that wind up scattered across beaches and in waterways. Staff believes that by limiting matting to the same general standards that apply to structural accessways (six feet wide and no farther waterward than six feet from the toe of the dune), public access and wildlife protection goals will be met while reducing debris on the state’s beach during storm events. Residential application of matting material would adhere to the same standards previously approved including installation at grade and prohibiting extension onto the public trust beach.

In addition, in recent years the Commission has approved three petitions for variances from local governments (Carolina Beach, Topsail Beach and Kure Beach) seeking to install beach mats on the dry sand beach (seaward of the frontal or primary dune and vegetation line) in support of enhanced handicap accessibility. The Division and Commission have supported both variance petitions, and in both cases, efforts were taken to minimize risks to sea turtles, including changes in siteing, size, and orientation of the proposed structures. However, following the Commission’s variance and issuance of a CAMA Minor Permit to the Town for installation of beach mats, the Town still assumes some liability for any “takes” of threatened or endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. For this reason, DCM has advised the Towns to consult directly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve this situation, potentially through the development of “Habitat Conservation Plans” or other formal approvals that can be issued by the USFWS for non-federal entities in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.

Staff are proposing a change to 07H.0308(c)(2)(C) to potentially allow beach mats on the dry sand beach without the need for a variance from the Commission, where they are sponsored by a local government for the purpose of enhanced handicap accessibility and are subject to review by the NC WRC and USFWS. The proposed amendments to 07K .0207 would also add residential use of matting material to the exemption language for beach accessways.

Mobi-Mat » click here

Coastal Resources Commission expands exemptions for beach mats
The NC Coastal Resources Commission approved new guidelines on Thursday that allows beach mats to be used in more ways. In a memo from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, staff says towns like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Topsail Beach have petitioned to install the mats closer to the water. Additionally, staff says they’ve also had several requests from oceanfront homeowners to install the mats for private beach access instead of a typical wooden walkway. The commission approved an amendment at its meeting in Wilmington on Thursday allowing mats sponsored by local governments to be installed on dry sand without a variance from the commission. The amendment also allows the residential use of the matting for beach walkways.
Read more » click here 

The NC Coastal Resources Commission approved new guidelines that allows beach mats to be used in more ways. Public Comments speaker pointed out that accessibility is a need not a want. Discussion to allow dry sand placement of mats at some public beach accesses for handicap use and possibly for residential walkways too. Commissioner Kwiatkowski would like to see this done for next season. The motion made was to have staff make recommendation where mats can be utilized.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
Timbo made a presentation that considers both regulations and policies that needs to be considered in order to develop a plan. Staff made recommendations where mats could be utilized. Let’s just say that it’s a work in progress for now.


10.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Revision to Engineering Services Agreement for Pump Station #2 – Public Works Director Clemmons

Agenda Packet – pages 39 – 50

Green Engineering has prepared a revised contract for sewer lift station #2 engineering services that needs to be approved by the Board of Commissioners before we can proceed with the request for bids.

Original Charges / Additional Charges / Revised Charges / Paid to Date / Balance Due

Design Phase               $116,296 / $6,500    / $122,796  / $116,296 / $6,500
Bidding Phase             $9,308     / $2,000    / $11,308    / $9,308      / $2,000
Supervision Phase     $130,386 / $10,000  / $140,386  / $0.0          / $140,386
Total Compensation   $255,990 / $18,500 / $274,490  / $125,604  / $148,886

Previously reported – September 2021
Discussion and Possible Award of Contract for Vacuum Sewer System #2 Upgrade – Leo Green, Green Engineering (Public Works Director Clemmons)

Agenda Packet –

The bid opening for the Lift Station #2 upfit was held at 2:00p.m. on September 9th. There was only one bid submitted. Since three are required, Leo Green will rebid for opening on the 20th of September with the intent to present to the Board at the September 21st regular meeting.

David indicated that the project needed to be rebid. Leo said we still only had one bid from the vendor that did the other lift stations. He attempted to explain the driving forces for the significantly higher price.

Lift Station #4             2018                $1,205,000
Lift Station #3             2019                $1,622,000      @35% increase vs. lift station #4
Lift Station #2             2021                $2,664,000      @64% increase vs. lift station #3

Pat pointed out that we will need to go through another hurricane season before the project is completed. They discussed proceeding versus waiting, some of the variables that needed to be considered are the cost of materials, the cost of borrowing money, the availability of materials, and the potential increase of number of projects because of Federal Infrastructure money. Not saying that we are not going to do the project, but they prefer to hold off proceeding for the time being. They decided to put the project on hold.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Previously reported – October 2022
Discussion and Possible Action on the Upgrading of the Greensboro Street Lift Station – Public Works Director Clemmons

Agenda Packet – pages 28

I am seeking the Board of Commissioners’ approval for Green’s Engineering to advertise for bids on the Greensboro Street Pump Station #2 Upgrade Project.

Chris said he put it out there so they can figure out where we stand. This is one of the Congressional earmarks for $2,669,867 for the Greensboro Street Lift Station #2 Hazard Mitigation Project. The Board approved his request and will have Green Engineering advertise for bids on the Sewer Street Lift Station #2 Project.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Commissioner Kwiatkowski requested that Chris discuss the sewer system issues during the storm event. Chris said despite the raised stations the system doesn’t work when they are under a few feet of water caused by the storm surge. He admitted that there was not a quick fix but has some ideas on things they can do that might help. Pat suggested that they consider elevation of candy canes in low lying areas that are prone to flooding to minimize that water getting into the system.

Update –
Green Engineering has prepared a revised contract for sewer lift station #2 engineering services that needs to be approved by the Board of Commissioners before we can proceed with the request for bids. Mayor Holden pointed out that this is par for the course, and this was not a significant increase. Motion was made to approve the revised contract.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


  • 11.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 22-29, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 7) – Budget and Fiscal Analyst McRainey


    Agenda Packet –
    pages
    51 – 52

    This amendment is to realize the money received for the insurance claim on the Public Works’ truck that was flooded during Hurricane Ian. Approving this amendment will allow the town to move forward with acquiring a replacement truck for the Public Works Department.

    The recommended motion is to  approve  Ordinance  22-29,  An  Ordinance  Amending  Ordinance  22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 7).

    Moved funds of $37,112
    From Revenue account #30.0335.0100 to Expense account#30.0810.7403

    Update –
    Approved a budget amendment to realize the money received for the insurance claim on the Public Works’ truck that was damaged during Hurricane Ian.

    A decision was made – Approved unanimously


  • 12. Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 22-30, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 8) – Budget and Fiscal Analyst McRainey

    Agenda Packet – pages 53 – 54

    This amendment is to encumber funds to the Pier Renovation and Repair line for the minor repairs that took place after hurricane Ian and for any upcoming minor repairs prior to the full renovation.

    The recommended motion is to approve Ordinance 22-30, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance  22-)4, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 8).

    Moved funds of $5,000
    From Revenue account #50.0710.6102 to Expense account#50.0710.6100

    Update –
    Approved a budget amendment to encumber funds for the minor repairs that took place after Hurricane Ian and for any upcoming minor repairs prior to the full renovation project.

  • A decision was made – Approved unanimously

    13.  Discussion and Possible Action on Revising Discharge of Firearms Prohibited; Exceptions, Ordinance 130.01 – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

    Agenda Packet – page 55

    Background: following a presentation by Chief Dixon to HBWPOA on police department responsibilities and general practices, he and I briefly discussed the use of firearms within municipal limits. After separately reviewing the current ordinance 130.01 ( see below) we agreed it could be improved/modernized. Chief Dixon is prepared to bring a proposal for modification to the BOC if the BOC requests it.

    §130.01 DISCHARGE OF FIREARMS PROHIBITED; EXCEPTIONS.
    It shall be unlawful for a person to shoot or project any stone, rock, shot, or other hard substance by means of a slingshot. bean shooter, air rifle, popgun, bow, or other similar contrivance, or to fire any pistol, gun, or other firearms within the town except on archery ranges, firing ranges, or in legally­ established shooting galleries or ranges, or in the discharge of duty by law enforcement officers, provided that the use of firearms in the destruction of rodents, pigeons, squirrels, or similar animals or birds or reptiles that are considered to be a menace to public health or property may be permitted by special permission of the Chief of Police.

    Update –
    They decided that the ordinance as currently written is out of date. The Board directed Chief Dixon to look at revising the ordinance.  Jeremy will bring the revised ordinance to the February regular meeting.

    A decision was made – Approved unanimously


    14.  Discussion and Possible Action on How to Address Concerns with 796 Ocean Boulevard West – Mayor Pro Tem Smith

    Agenda Packet – page 56

    Discussion points:

    • Possibly direct the Town Manager to solicit bids for painting the outside of 796
    • Possibly direct the Town Manager to solicit bids to repair A/C platforms, steps and remove antenna from 796
    • Discuss the possibility of requesting bids from local realtors for possibly providing weekly rental

     

    Previously reported – September 2019
    Ordinance 19-15, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#3)
    .    1) Provide funds for purchase of property at 796 OBW – approved $349,000
       2)
    A significant portion of the cost of acquiring this property is offset by us no longer needing to do additional acoustical engineering.

    Previously reported – January 2022
    The Parks & Rec Master Plan lists a number of options for this facility. The Board is requesting that the Parks & Rec committee prioritizes them and recommend what they envision the building be used for. They would like a response from the committee by the BOC’s scheduled February meeting.

    Previously reported – February 2022
    PRAB Chair John McEntire made the presentation. He addressed the issues as the tasker required them to do. He went through the process that they took and briefly reviewed all considerations. They focused on the potential intended use of the property. They identified and explored several options. The PRAB determined that the property is optimally located to serve as a community center recreational facility as envisioned in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

    Previously reported – November 2022
    Joel homeowner at 798 OBW talked about the condition of 796 OBW a town owned property. He had a slide presentation; the pictures are in the agenda packet. A picture is worth a thousand words, it was an effective way to show how neglected the property is and that it currently is an eyesore. He is simply requesting that the Town of Holden Beach take actions to address the deteriorating conditions there. Commissioner Kwiatkowski reminded everyone that we purchased the building and need to keep it because of noise abatement issues with the adjacent lift station. Regardless of the plans for the building, basic maintenance needs to be performed periodically. Commissioner Dyer said that we need to revisit the master plan and decide what we are doing with that building. The staff is working to get an engineering analysis for the property  done. Christy said we don’t have funds allocated and it doesn’t make sense to spend any more money on the property until we decide what we are doing there. They agreed to clean it up, so it was presentable and not an eyesore without spending any significant funds. The Board asked staff to take care of any maintenance possible while the analysis is being completed .

    Update –
    The Board directed Town Manager Hewett to solicit bids to clean up 796 OBW. Work is to include bids for painting, HVAC platforms and back steps. They also would like to explore renting the property on a weekly basis throughout the summer until a permanent use is determined for the building.

    A decision was made – Approved unanimously

    Only last month, staff said that we don’t have funds allocated and it doesn’t make sense to spend any more money on the property until we decide what we are doing there. No decision has been made yet, but now we are getting estimates to do work there. Not to mention, that we already are in the marina and RV park business, and now we want to do weekly rentals too! What are they mashugana?



  • 15.  Discussion and Possible Direction to Town Manager to Review Information and Suggestions from Holden Beach Citizens on the First Year of Paid Parking and Return Staff Suggestions to the Board of Commissioners for the January Meeting – Mayor Pro Tem Smith

    Agenda Packet – page 57

    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.

    Below are the suggestions received to date:

    • Discuss making possible changes to the way we handle boat trailers with no tags. Possibly make contract
    • Discuss a possible 24-hour limit to authorize rights-of-way paid
    • Discuss possibly having free parking for the 2 festivals and in the area of any permitted
    • Discuss giving each homeowner (not empty lot owners) one free yearly pass and apply before April 1st of each year.
    • Discuss asking for a more detailed breakdown of the 1st year’s revenue. (annual and weekly passes, daily parking, ticket revenue and % of collections)
    • Discuss possibly increasing fees? ($4 per hour, $20 per day, $80 per week and $150 yearly)
    • Discuss possibly changing the paid parking dates of operation. (April 1st – Nov. 30th)
    • Discuss the possibility of having our parking contractor install signage where necessary to reduce confusion. (no parking signs on marsh streets and side streets and all areas where parking is not allowed)
    • Discuss eliminating all unauthorized rights-of-way
    • Discuss the possibility of having the parking contractor and town staff do a street-by-street review of parking and suggest sign


    Update –
    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


  • 16.  Discussion and Possible Action on Resolution 22-09, Resolution Amending the Holden BeachFee Schedule (Recycling) – Town Clerk Finnell

Agenda Packet – pages 58 – 60

We have received the updated fees assessed by GFL Environmental for people who utilize the voluntary curbside recycling program.

The annual 2023 cost for people participating in the program will be $106.88 per bin. This is an  increase from the current rate of $86.37. The fee schedule needs to be amended to reflect the new amount.

Staff recommends the Board approve Resolution 22-09, Resolution Amending the Holden Beach Fee Schedule, if you wish to continue the curbside recycling program.

Update –
The Board amended the fee schedule to reflect the increased rate, from $86.37 to $106.88, for the curbside recycling program.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


17.  Town Manager’s Report

FEMA storm damage repair project (CRP2)
Still awaiting the final inspection for the FEMA beach project. Six hundred thousand dollars ($600k) in eligible project expenses reimbursement is still pending until final inspection is completed. FEMA has just requested us to supply them with some very specific additional information. That request requires us to do a deep dive for the detailed information. Engineering services of Applied Technology & Management will be needed to assist us in providing a response. We still don’t know what the final timeline for reimbursement will be.

Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing/Bike Lane Project

DOT Bike Lane Report Presentation » click here

Previously reported – October 2021
OBW paving/bike path are still on track, but they were some eighteen (18) to twenty-four (24) months off.

Previously reported – July 2022
The NC Department of Transportation has informed the town that due to permitting issues raised during their review of the Ocean Boulevard Repaving/Bike Lane Project, construction will not begin in September as previously planned. Construction is now scheduled to start after the first of the year. The project will still have a completion date of Memorial Day.

Previously reported – October 2022
NCDOT has contacted the Town and informed us that there is an issue in getting the CAMA permit for the resurfacing/bike lane project. It will require additional work to get it reconciled and execute the contract. They are inconclusive on whether the project will happen this spring, though they are still hoping to complete it before Memorial Day. Not what we want to hear but what we have been told.

Previously reported – November 2022
Caitlin did a brief recap for the proposed bike lanes. 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.  They had some issues/challenges with permitting that have been resolved. They successfully got the permit issued on November 9th. In order to do so they agreed to monitor their work for any drainage issues and committed to address them after the project is completed. At the end of this month, they will advertise the project. One month later they will open bids and know what the actual prices for the contract are. At that time, they will decide whether or not to proceed with the project. The date of availability is at the end of January, with a finish date of Memorial Day.

Update –
Not good news. Recently had a conversation with the project engineer Caitlin. Only one (1) bid was received, which was 40% above their estimate. The bid was also above five (5) million dollars, which automatically triggered a review. The result was that the bid was rejected, and they will need to resolicit the bid. It is expected that the project will be pushed off for at least another year. The most likely scenario is that construction won’t start till the end of 2023. The project will then  have a completion date by Memorial Day 2024. Not what we want to hear!
 

796 OBW
Architect David Woods is working on the preparation of renderings for the Board’s consideration. He has already met with Christy and Timbo at the site for their input. It is expected that he will be able to present the plans at the January BOC’s regular meeting.

Pier Grant
Previously reported – July 2022
Based on the BOC’s direction to pursue grant opportunities to assist with the development of the pier properties, the staff submitted a pre-application to the Division of Coastal Management for the development of the 50-foot lot for beach access to include a Hatteras ramp and walkway for a total project cost of $63,535.00. The agency approved the pre-application, and the town has been asked to complete a final application that will come before the BOC in August. As part of the application, a public meeting or hearing is required, and the staff determined that a public hearing would demonstrate the town taking the most formal approach to submission requirements. If awarded the grant, the BOC would still have to choose to accept or decline funds.

Our preliminary request for funding of the Pier Access Improvements Public Beach Access by the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant Program has been reviewed by the Division of Coastal Management (DCM) and we are invited to submit a final application for further consideration in the 2022-23 grant cycle. As part of the application a Public Hearing is required, they scheduled it prior to the next BOC’s meeting.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Previously reported – August 2022
Based on the BOC’s direction to pursue grant opportunities to assist with the development of the pier properties, the staff submitted a pre-application to the Division of Coastal Management for the development of the 50-foot lot for beach access to include a Hatteras ramp and walkway for a total project cost of $63,535.00. The new estimate based on increased costs for construction is $66,985.00. The agency approved the pre-application, and the town has been asked to complete a final application. As part of the application, a public meeting or hearing is required, and the staff determined that a public hearing would demonstrate the town taking the most formal approach to submission requirements. If awarded the grant, the BOC would still have to choose to accept or decline funds. The application is in the packet for the public hearing and for possible action by the board on the agenda.

This application is for the development of the fifty-foot lot west of the pier building for beach access to include a Hatteras ramp and walkway. Commissioner Kwiatkowski recommended that all the parking on the lot be handicapped parking.  The board agreed to move forward with the application.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Update –
CAMA beach access grant for the development of the fifty-foot lot west of the pier building for beach access to include a Hatteras ramp and walkway was approved in the amount of $66,985. We will construct an ADA-compliant wooden walkover to provide easier access to the beach strand. This will require execution of standard contract to acknowledge receipt of the grant.

5 Brunswick waterfront towns receive funding for kayak launches, accessible walkways
Five Brunswick County towns will soon see various improvements and new amenities to their waterways. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality awarded more than $1.7 million to nine local governments across the state to improve public access to coastal beaches and waters for the upcoming fiscal year. These grants were awarded through the department’s coastal management department. Of those funds, more than $775,000 was awarded to Brunswick County localities. Calabash received $250,000 to bring a canoe/kayak access, pier/dock area for fishing and a boardwalk to Calabash Waterfront Park. A picnic pavilion and restrooms will also be constructed. Sunset Beach received an equally sized grant to purchase the Majestic Oak property to be developed in the future to add a fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch and other park amenities. Three localities are using the funding to better support residents and tourists with mobility issues by creating ADA-compliant accesses to their waterways. Southport received $141,000 to fund the construction of an ADA-compliant canoe/kayak launch at the former wastewater treatment plant. Caswell Beach plans to rebuild an ADA-compliant beach access way at the Regional Access site with an $84,620 grant. Holden Beach received just over $50,000 to construct an ADA-compliant wooden walkover to provide easier access to pedestrians at the Holden Beach Pier beach access. In total, Brunswick County localities received $775,859 in funding for these projects. Across the Cape Fear River in New Hanover County, some waterfronts are also set to receive some improvements. Wilmington received more than $50,000 to support the installation of a pedestrian picnic area and a launch for non-motorized boats on Bradley Creek adjacent to the Oleander Drive bridge. More than $130,000 was awarded to Carolina Beach to fund the installation of a new gazebo, walkway and canoe/kayak launch at Starfish Lane. According to the DEQ, funding for the grant program comes from the North Carolina General Assembly. Projects may include walkways, dune crossovers, restrooms, parking areas, piers and more. Land acquisition or urban waterfront revitalization may also be considered for funding.
Read more » click here

PARTF Grant
Previously reported – April 2022
Based on the BOC’s direction to pursue grant opportunities to assist with land acquisition related to the pier properties, staff has prepared a PARTF application (Attachment 1). The application is  land acquisition only in the amount of $500,000. Staff applied for a waiver in the June timeframe of last year which affords the town two application cycles for this grant. Decisions are expected to be reached by the PARTF Commission in last summer/early fall. The Basic Facts and Assurances page requires that the application be approved by the local governing board.

Suggested Motion: Motion to submit a grant application in the amount of $500,000 to the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

Christy did the slide show presentation that was presented yesterday at the Public Input Meeting for the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant project application for the pier property. The Board had concerns about an encumbrance with significant financial penalties if we ever plan to sell the property for any reason. In other words, you are basically giving up the land in perpetuity. They were informed that this restriction is attached to accepting all grants. The decision was made to wait for the report on the engineers report on the pier condition. At that time, they can decide whether to move forward with the grant application next year.

A decision was made – Not Approved (3-2)
Commissioner Brown and Dyer supported the motion

Previously reported – May 2022
Brittany the state coordinator for the PARTF was available by phone to elaborate on questions that were previously answered by Christy, but the Board still had some concerns about. It appeared that the Board were satisfied with her responses.

Pat pointed out that this encumbrance was never mentioned before. The Board should do what they said they were going to do. There was never any discussion about turning this into park land. The public should have an opportunity to weigh in on this decision. Brian passionately stated his position, that they never ever will sell this piece of property it is for the public to enjoy from now on. All of his questions were answered, but still would like some additional clarifications to ensure most of the proposed options are still on the table. He said that they have an obligation to make sure whatever they do doesn’t cost the taxpayers on this island anything. They made commitments and needed to do what they said to make it revenue neutral. He would prefer to have more time to make major decisions like this, but unfortunately they don’t.
A decision was made – Approved (4-1)
Commissioner Kwiatkowski opposed the motion

Update –
We were informed of an administrative requirement to get a second appraisal, which is currently underway.

Federal Budget
David expects the federal budget to be passed this week which includes 3.8 million earmarked for Holden Beach. The three earmarks are as follows: $1,00,000 for the General Reevaluation Report, $2,669,867 for the Greensboro Street Lift Station #2 Hazard Mitigation Project, and $100,000 for the Ocean Boulevard Stormwater Mitigation Project.

Seagull Street
Right Angle the Town’s engineer has certified the final payout to the contractor


In Case You Missed It –


Town Hall Holiday Schedule
Town Hall will be closed December 23rd, 26th, 27th and January 2nd in observance of the holidays.


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.


                  Christmas Lights

Public Works have put up snow flake decorations on the boulevard light poles

Purple street lights are not part of the holiday decorations they are the LED’s failing



Impending Changes to Bonding Requirements for Finance Officers:
Prepare Now For January 1, 2023 and Beyond

Since 2005, the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act (“LGBFCA”) has required finance officers of units of local government and public authorities in North Carolina to provide to their respective entities a “faithful performance bond with sufficient sureties in an amount not less than fifty thousand dollars.”  G.S. § 159-29(a); S.L. 2005-238, Sec. 2.  Due to the General Assembly’s enactment of Section 9.(a) of S.L. 2022-53, that minimum coverage amount will increase as of January 1, 2023 for units of local government and public authorities with “annually budgeted funds” in excess of $500,000.

A new bulletin released today (Local Finance Bulletin #62: Impending Changes to Bonding Requirements for Finance Officers: Prepare Now for January 1, 2023, and Beyond) explains how units of local government and public authorities subject to the LGBFCA should prepare for this change.  This blog post summarizes several key points from the bulletin.

What is a Faithful Performance Bond?
A faithful performance bond is a surety bond that creates obligations between three parties: (1) a principal (e.g., a finance officer), (2) a surety (i.e., the bonding company), and (3) an obligee (e.g., a unit of local government or public authority).  If a finance officer fails to faithfully perform its duties, the surety assumes liability for the principal’s failure to properly perform.  For example, if a finance officer misappropriates public funds, a surety can be liable to the obligee for that loss.

Surety Bonds and Insurance Are Not Legally Equivalent in North Carolina
Surety bonds and insurance policies are not legally equivalent under North Carolina law.  See Gibbs v. Mayo, 591 S.E.2d 905, 916 (N.C. App. 2004) (“In North Carolina, insurance and suretyship are not synonymous terms, but rather involve different functions, relationships, rights, and obligations.”) (internal quotations and citations omitted).  A unit of local government or public authority that only obtains an insurance policy to cover a finance officer’s failure to faithfully perform his or her duties (e.g., through embezzlement) will not comply with G.S. 159-29(a).

From the perspective of a local government or public authority, a faithful performance bond is largely identical to an insurance policy because it protects the local government (labeled the “obligee”) against loss arising from a named risk (i.e., a finance officer’s failure to fulfill its obligations).  But insurance policies and surety bonds bear important legal differences.

First, and perhaps most obviously, whereas an insurance policy typically creates obligations between two parties (i.e., the insurer and the insured), a surety bond creates obligations between three parties (i.e., a principal, surety, and obligee).

Second, whereas an insurer does not seek indemnification or reimbursement from its insured, a surety has a common law right to seek reimbursement from a principal that has failed to fulfill its obligations to an obligee.  For example, if a surety pays a unit of local government for losses arising from a finance officer’s misappropriation of funds, a surety could (and would) seek reimbursement from the finance officer.  In practice, most sureties do not rely solely upon this common law right, and instead typically condition their issuance of a surety bond upon a principal’s execution of an indemnification agreement providing the surety with a broad set of rights (including a right of reimbursement) against the principal.  Finance officers should be aware that they can be personally liable to sureties for losses that a surety incurs under the terms of a faithful performance bond.

What Does S.L. 2022-53, Section 9.(a) Change?
Prior to the enactment of S.L. 2022,53, North Carolina law required governing boards of units of local government and public authorities subject to the LGBFCA to fix the exact coverage amount of a finance officer’s faithful performance bond, subject to a mandatory minimum coverage amount of $50,000.  A board could fix the bond’s amount to require a higher coverage level (with no maximum cap), but many did not.

With the passage of S.L. 2022-53, Section 9.(a), the General Assembly raised the minimum coverage amount for units of local government and public authorities with “annually budgeted funds” exceeding $500,000.  Effective as of January 1, 2023, the governing board of a local government or public authority subject to G.S. 159-29(a) must fix the amount of a finance officer’s faithful performance bond to equal or exceed the greater of (1) $50,000, or (2) an amount equal to 10 percent of the unit or authority’s “annually budgeted funds,” up to a cap of $1,000,000.

Failure to Obtain the Required Bond – Consequences
The revisions to G.S. 159-29(a) make clear that a “person unable to obtain” the required faithful performance bond may not be appointed as finance officer of a unit of local government or public authority subject to the LGBFCA.  In underwriting a surety bond or increasing the coverage level of an existing bond, a bonding company likely will undertake some due diligence to determine whether an individual presents an unacceptable risk of default.  It may ask whether the individual has previously been convicted or accused of a crime, whether the individual has past experience as a finance officer, or other questions related to the individual’s ability to faithfully perform the duties of finance officer. It also may perform a check of the individual’s credit history.  According to several underwriters with whom I have spoken, this credit check is a “soft” check rather than a “hard” check.

If a surety is not satisfied with the responses to these questions or determines that the particular individual poses a high level of risk, it may either decline to issue the bond or instead charge a higher premium to compensate.  The revised version of G.S. 159-29(a) does not mandate that a particular surety provide a bond.  Therefore, if one surety declines to issue a bond, a unit of local government or public authority can seek out another surety.  Ultimately, though, an individual must tender a bond meeting the coverage amounts set forth in S.L. 2022-53, Section 9.(a) in order to serve as a finance officer.

Costs of Obtaining Increased Coverage
Units of local government and public authorities that must obtain an increase in coverage will pay a higher premium.  Pricing is not standardized across the industry and will necessarily differ based upon the particular individual to be bonded.  Anecdotally, finance officers have reported annual premium costs for a $1,000,000 bond that range from $1,500 to $6,000.

Some Finance Officers Not Affected by the New Requirements
S.L. 2022-53 modifies bonding requirements for finance officers of units of local government and public authorities subject to the LGBFCA (e.g., cities, counties, water-and-sewer authorities, sanitary districts, airport authorities, transportation authorities, councils of government, and tourism-development authorities)—but not all local governments are subject to the LGBFCA. For example, local school administrative units are subject to the School Budget and Fiscal Control Act (G.S. 115C, Art. 31) and the financial operations of ABC boards are subject to Article 7 of Chapter 18B of the General Statutes. The General Assembly has not amended the minimum coverage amounts for faithful performance bonds obtained by finance officers of school administrative units or ABC boards.

Implementation and Questions
Please feel free to contact me (ccrews@sog.unc.edu) if you have any questions about the revisions to G.S. 159-29(a) or would like to speak in more detail about Local Finance Bulletin #62.

Read more » click here


Upcoming Events –

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19. Executive Session Pursuant to NC General Statute 143-318.11(a)(3), Consult with the Attorney and NC General Statute 143-318.11(a)(6), Personnel

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, January 17th

     


    .

      • Request for Qualifications (RFQ).     .     1) Block Q
            2) Pier Properties
        .     3) Water Tower
        .     4) Stormwater
        .     5) Sailfish Park
      •  

 


.


    • .

    • Hurricane Season
      For more information » click here.

      Be prepared – have a plan!

 


No matter what a storm outlook is for a given year,
vigilance and preparedness is urged.


Hurricane Season Ends, Marked by Quiet August and Deadly September
The six-month total of 14 named storms was about average. But two late-season hurricanes proved catastrophic in Florida and Puerto Rico.
An erratic North Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end this week, with an average number of storms, a rare quiet spell in August and destructive late-season activity, including the deadliest hurricane to hit the United States in nearly two decades. The six-month season, which officially began on June 1 and ends on Wednesday, had 14 named storms, eight of which strengthened to become hurricanes. Two of these, Fiona and Ian, were major hurricanes, with maximum sustained winds of at least 130 miles an hour. The totals are about average for a hurricane season. Some forecasters had expected an above-average season, although most predicted that the numbers for 2022 would remain below those for 2021, which had 21 named storms, and well below 2020, which set a record with 31. The total of 14 storms was at the low end of predictions by forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who said as late as August that there could be 14 to 20 named storms, including six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major ones. “We were one major hurricane short,” said the administration’s lead hurricane outlook forecaster, Matthew Rosencrans. They were also off in forecasting that the combined intensity of the entire season’s storms, a measure called accumulated cyclone energy, would be higher than it actually was. Mr. Rosencrans said in August that the presence of the climate pattern called La Niña, which is characterized by unusually cool water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, could lead to greater hurricane activity. In the Atlantic during a La Niña there is often less wind shear, and that allows tropical storms and hurricanes to grow stronger. But Mr. Rosencrans said Tuesday that it appeared that there was significant wind shear during the season and especially in August, when no storms fully formed. Normally mid-August is the beginning of peak hurricane season, which lasts until mid-October. The quiet August “was the real forecast surprise of the season,” he said. A lack of moisture at high altitudes in the tropical Atlantic where storms begin their development may have played a role as well, he said. Recent hurricane seasons have been marked by the development of one or more storms before the official start of the season. But this year, for the first time since 2014, there were no storms before June 1. For two months, the season progressed slowly, with only three named storms by the end of July. This is not unusual; ocean waters are cooler and provide less of the energy that fuels storms. Hurricane activity picks up after the summer sun has warmed the ocean. After the August lull, activity accelerated in September, with four hurricanes, including the two major ones. In mid-September, Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. It dumped more than 30 inches of rain on parts of the island, leading to at least 25 deaths and further damaging infrastructure that had yet to be fully repaired after being damaged in Hurricane Maria five years before. Two weeks later, Ian, another Category 4 hurricane, struck Florida with winds as high as 150 m.p.h. Together with rain and wind-driven tidal surges, that led to at least 114 deaths, most of them in the southwestern part of the state. It was Florida’s deadliest storm in nearly a century, and the deadliest in the United States since Katrina killed more than 1,800 people in southern Louisiana in 2005. The season was notable in several other ways. Two storms crossed from the Atlantic basin to the Pacific, traversing Central America. The last time any storm did this was in 2016. “That is quite a rare phenomenon,” Mr. Rosencrans said. And earlier this month, the season’s last storm, Hurricane Nicole, became the first to strike Florida in November in nearly four decades. While at Category 1 it was not as strong Fiona or Ian, it hit in some of the areas severely damaged by Ian just six weeks before.
Read more » click here 



I respectfully submit My Xmas List

These are the items I would most like to see addressed this year.
. 1.
Beach
. a)
Support LWF Inlet waterway maintenance projects, keeping inlet navigable
. b)
Work together on beach protection issues with surrounding communities
. c)
Increase Beach Strand Ordinance Compliance & Enforcement
.

. 2.
Parking
. a)
Develop plans for a promenade on Jordan Boulevard
. b)
Utilize acquired properties for additional parking
. c)
Prohibit right-of-way parking

. 3. Trash Services
. a)
Offer a suite of services
. b)
Charge a user fee for those that want the service
. c)
Make policies both fair and consistent
. d) Town should address noncompliance issues


Lou’s Views –
The views expressed here are simply my opinion based on the facts as I understand them. I have no hidden agenda, no ax to grind, or any political ambition. I’m simply attempting to keep the community informed on what actually is going on here. I just tell it like it is and that is why people read the newsletter. After all it is called “Lou’s Views”! I welcome updates, clarifications or a correction to any fact I have stated which have changed or was inadvertently stated incorrectly.


Website policy –
We have had a number of inquiries about our website policies. We do not have an official policy per se. In general, we do not accept paid ads, associates or links for our website. Approved Vendor List as well as Advertisement – not paid for is based on my personal experience as a homeowner and as a property manager here on Holden Beach. Associates are simply personal friends that have a local business. Links are to websites that provide information that are of public significance. We invite you to share with us anything that you feel our readers would want to know too. We hope you find our website useful.


Request –
We encourage you to pass along this newsletter to anyone else you think would enjoy it. We would like to include other members of the community and are asking for your help in making that happen. To be added to our distribution list send an e-mail to Lousviews.hbpoin@gmail.com or subscribe on our website https://lousviews.com.

Thank you for subscribing!


Disclaimer –
. 1) Not official correspondence from the Town
. 2)
Not affiliated with Holden Beach Property Owners Association (HBPOA)


Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday!


Do you enjoy this newsletter?
Then please forward it to a friend!


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/ 

12 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / December Edition


Calendar of Events –


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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 –


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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.  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


Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule – starting October once a week

Recyclingstarting October every other week


 

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

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



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.



BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, January 17th
.


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


Volunteers needed
The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. If you are interested in serving, please fill out a resume form and submit it to heather@hbtownhall.com.


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


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



Neighborhood Watch –

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


Upon Further Review –


  • Bike Lane
    Property owners along Ocean Boulevard were sent a CAMA notice from the DOT
    .
    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 informed us the cost of the has significantly increased by almost 30%
The good news is that our portion is only an additional $23,000 so far

Previously reported – February 2021
Engineer’s estimate for bike lanes are as follows:
Ocean Boulevard West / 5.00 miles / @$1,208,941
Ocean Boulevard East / 1.15 miles / @$403,972

NCDOT now has adequately funding so the resurfacing program for OBW which is scheduled for the spring of 2022. Bike lanes are being proposed on both sides of the road, which will add five feet on each side. This should be coordinated with resurfacing project that is tentatively scheduled already. Our cost would be $1,612,913 which hopefully at least a portion of would be offset by grants. DOT requested verbal feedback in the next 60 days, indicating whether we want to participate in adding bike lanes to the project.

Previously reported – March 2021
David provided the Board with a memo summarizing the information that he gathered since the last meeting. That memo was not included in the agenda packet. He reviewed the process, timeline, and financing. DOT informed him that if we are interested that we need to stay engaged with them. The public has said that they are in favor of having bike lanes. The project is an improvement worth the expenditure especially if we can get help with the funding through grants. They decided to give the project a green light and have David work to keep moving the project forward. 

Bike Lane Letters (04/21/22)
Town staff contacted the Department of Transportation after numerous homeowners reached out to us concerned that they had not received a letter with information on the upcoming bike lane/paving project. We were advised that only those property owners whose property is adjacent to the proposed bike lane construction where that construction intersects the Ocean Erodible Area of Environmental Concern (jurisdiction of NC Division of Coastal Management) have been sent the certified letter/attachments. This is only a small portion of the project area (approximately 150 properties) so don’t be concerned if you did not receive a letter. Those property owners that have received the certified letter/attachments can follow the instructions in the letter if they would like to contact someone about the project. 

Previously reported – June 2022
Execution of the agreement with DOT is required to construct the Ocean Boulevard Bike Lanes Project this fall in conjunction with the resurfacing of Ocean Boulevard. The project is estimated at $1,722,364 of which 42% or $723,393 is the Town’s share. The remaining 58% or $998,971 is funded by the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS). The Board authorized the execution of the Transportation Improvement Agreement with the Department of Transportation. 

Previously reported – July 2022
The NC Department of Transportation has informed the town that due to permitting issues raised during their review of the Ocean Boulevard Repaving/Bike Lane Project, construction will not begin in September as previously planned. Construction is now scheduled to start after the first of the year. The project will still have a completion date of Memorial Day. 

Previously reported – October 2022
NCDOT has contacted the Town and informed us that there is an issue in getting the CAMA permit for the resurfacing/bike lane project. It will require additional work to get it reconciled and execute the contract. They are inconclusive on whether the project will happen this spring, though they are still hoping to complete it before Memorial Day. Not what we want to hear but what we have been told.

Previously reported – November 2022
Caitlin did a brief recap. 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.  They had some issues/challenges with permitting that have been resolved. Agreed to monitoring work for any drainage issues and will address them after the project is completed. They successfully got the permit issued on November 9th. At the end of this month, they will advertise the project. One month later they will open bids and know what the actual prices for the contract are. At that time, they will decide whether or not to proceed with the project. The date of availability is at the end of January, with a finish date of Memorial Day.

Previously reported – December 2022
Not good news. Only one (1) bid was received, which was 40% above/over their estimate. The bid was also above five (5) million dollars, which automatically triggered a review. The result was the bid was rejected, and they will need to resolicit the bid. It is expected that the project will be pushed off for at least another year. The most likely scenario is that construction won’t start till the end of 2023. The project will then  have a completion date by Memorial Day 2024. Not what we want to hear!


Corrections & Amplifications –


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2023.


Odds & Ends –


Brunswick County selected to improve elections through new national program
The Brunswick County Board of Elections will participate in a national program aimed at improving the election process. The county was named one of 10 centers for election excellence across the country which will make up the inaugural cohort of the Alliance for Election Excellence. The alliance is funded through a collaboration of nonprofit organizations and is a nonpartisan effort that aims to bring together election officials and national experts to improve and innovate US elections. As an inaugural member, the Brunswick County Board of Elections will meet with other elections offices across the country and national experts to improve how elections are conducted. It will also help set standards and expectations for future cohorts of counties participating in the program. The program will run for two years and aims to better the voting process ahead of the 2024 presidential elections. Brunswick County Elections Director Sara LaVere said her office was eager to participate in the program to improve elections locally and across the country. She said in her community, she hopes to find more efficient ways of running elections, like how the office trains poll workers. “I think we run elections really well, I think we do a good job, but I think we also recognize there’s always room for improvement,” LaVere said. “There’s always something else to learn, and I hope that they are confident that us taking the initiative to be part of this – and it’s not just me, it’s my whole team had to sign onto this – that we really want to learn more.” Forsyth County in North Carolina will also participate in the program, along with communities from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. LaVere said she’s already gotten questions from the community about the goals of the program. She wants voters to know the intention is to ensure elections across the country are fair, accurate and efficient. “It’s really just a nonpartisan effort to make elections better, and that’s all it is. It’s not favoring one party or another or voters in big or small jurisdictions, it’s really about every voter and every jurisdiction in the state and in the nation,” LaVere said.
Read more » click here


North Carolina Coastal Federation once again earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a level of consistent financial excellence that only 7% of charities achieve.

Every year, the independent nonprofit ratings agencies Charity Navigator and Candid Guidestar evaluate charities nationwide based on fiscal transparency, accountability, and effectiveness. We are thrilled to announce that the Coastal Federation earned a perfect score of 100% from Charity Navigator this year, and the highest Platinum Rating from Candid Guidestar. Review the details on Charity Navigator and Candid Guidestar.

Mission:
Since its founding in 1982, the North Carolina Coastal Federation has worked with citizens to safeguard the coastal rivers, creeks, sounds and beaches of North Carolina. Headquartered in Newport, North Carolina with offices in Wanchese and Wrightsville Beach, the Coastal Federation works in three key program areas: environmental advocacy; restoring and protecting habitat and water quality; and educating citizens and community leaders. Our vision is for a natural, beautiful, and productive coast that is a great place to live, work and visit. Today the Coastal Federation consists of more than 11,000 supporters, 200 partner organizations, thousands of active volunteers and a 30-member professional staff and is considered one of the most effective coastal conservation groups in the state. The Coastal Federation remains a collaborative, grassroots organization, bringing together traditional and nontraditional organizations, government agencies and businesses to leave a legacy of a healthy coast for future generations.

As a Federation supporter, you can be proud to support an organization earning top marks nationwide. If you are considering making an additional gift during this season of giving, you can be confident that your donation will be put to good use.


Your guide to N.C. oysters, from the salty sea to the half-shell
As fans of local oysters already know, they are a delicacy that can be enjoyed year-round. That being said, it’s a big time for the bivalves. We’re in the middle of N.C. Oyster Week, and the official oyster season (which dictates the harvesting of wild oysters) begins Oct. 15 and ends in March. Look around and you can find oyster events, oyster specials and even oyster collaborations, like an upcoming oyster beer from Wilmington’s Mad Mole Brewing. Oysters are big in the state and poised to become even bigger. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the basics about N.C. oysters.
The Napa Valley of bivalves
In his book “The Essential Oyster: A Salty Appreciation of Taste and Temptation,” author Rowan Jacobsen was the first to tout the relatively untapped potential of the Southeast, even saying that there was something of a renaissance in the industry happening from Virginia to Florida. Since then, those in the industry decided to build on that idea that North Carolina could be a premier spot for oyster growing and harvesting. Initiatives like N.C, Oyster Week (Oct. 10-16) and the Oyster Trail, which highlights businesses such as markets and restaurants that serve oysters and promote the industry, are supported politically and environmentally because oysters work on several fronts. It’s good business, meets customer demand, and is a practice that can be done sustainably to clean and nourish the local waterways. “It’s a win, win, win,” said Chris Matteo, Bayboro-based oyster farmer and president of the N.C. Shellfish Growers Association. “It’s something that actually leaves the estuary better off than when we started.” Jane Harrison, a coastal economist with North Carolina Sea Grant, said oysters have an economic impact of $27 million for the state and provide more than 500 jobs. But goals are in place to reach $100 million and 1,000 jobs by 2030. Even while wild harvest production has been decreasing in recent years and was estimated at around 50,000 bushels last year, preliminary data from 2021 show that farmed oyster production has outpaced it for the first time. Production was around 59,000 bushels, an 111% increase over 2020. “Even a few years ago, a lot of the oysters consumed in North Carolina were imported from other places, but that is changing now,” Matteo said.
Wild and farmed
When you’re talking about oysters on the East Coast, they’re really all the same. Species, that is. The indigenous oyster is called Crassostrea Virginica, and they are known to be briny and savory with minerality. From there, though, there can be a lot of differences. Farmed oysters often have a different chromosome make up that makes them suitable for year-round harvest. Other differences can be a result of the salinity of the water, what algae and plankton the oysters eat, and the movement of the tide. This merroir, a sea-inspired version wine’s terroir, can help explain why Stump Sound oysters are different from those growing in nearby Topsail waters, for example. “They can have a very diverse flavor profile,” Matteo said. “Those grown closer to the Atlantic Ocean have a higher salinity and minerality. Further inland, in waters with a mid-salinity, you see oysters that can be sweet and buttery.” While oyster aquaculture takes place all year long, commercial fisherman must wait until the oyster season begins. Limits and site restriction are in place. But pros like Ana Shellem, of Shell’em Seafood Co., will forage and fill orders for her restaurant clients. She worked in the hospitality industry before she switched careers. Other fishermen sell to markets and distributors, or direct to customers. Breece Gahl accepts bushel pre-orders from his Wrightsville Beach-based Fresh2U Seafood business, for example. Because of a difference in the way they develop and grow, wild oysters are more likely those found in clusters and are the safest to eat raw when collected in the fall and winter months.
All year round
That’s not the case for all local oysters, though. These farmers say they are continually trying to get the message to consumers that mariculture oysters are safe to eat, even in months that don’t end in ‘R.’ “Always. I’m always telling people,” said Matt Schwab of Hold Fast Oyster Co. He’s been in the business about seven years with a farm in New River. At the time, there were only a handful of oyster farmers working in the state. Now, there are more than 75 and the water acreage being farms has increased for a total of more than 2,100 acres in 2021, Harrison said. The new people entering the business sometimes take it on as a second (or third) career or are starting an oyster farm right after completing an aquiculture program at college, Matteo said. Holden Davanzo was a stay-at-home mother and manager at an ice rink before she bought her cousin’s oyster business, Anchored Life Oyster Farm, three years ago. “It was definitely a learning curve,” she said. But now, she goes out on the boat every day to tend her oysters in Stump Sound and New River. “But I love it. I have a new appreciation for the ocean,” she said. “And it’s beautiful. I see dolphins. Sometimes I’m out there and I think ‘This is my office.'” The business is really taking off this year, for her Top-Sea-Turvies and New’d Pirates. Although the oysters are the same species, many farmers name their selections for branding and to let customers know what they’re getting. Schwab, for example, grows a variety he calls Seabirdies especially for Seabird restaurant and chef Dean Neff in downtown Wilmington. The chef and the farmer partnered with Mad Mole Brewing this Oyster Week to make a Seabirdie Oyster Gose, brewed with oysters (shells and meats), bitter orange and spiceberry. Others new to oystering are James and Sarah Rushing Doss, of the newly renamed Rx Chicken & Oyster restaurant in Wilmington. They’re growing their own oysters, named after their dogs, with the help of James Hargrove and Middle Sound Mariculture, for when the restaurant reopens later this year. By the way, the couple also have their commercial fishing and dealer’s licenses, so they can serve fish they catch and spear themselves, including the invasive lionfish. The business isn’t an easy one, Harrison said. Oyster growers and harvesters have to deal with hurricanes and subsequent closures due to water quality concerns, as well as loss of product. She also said that it would cost an estimated $20,000 per acre to start an oyster farm. But it’s encouraging to see a new generation of people entering the business. “There’s definitely a demand,” Harrison said. “People want local seafood.”
Read more » click here


This and That –


Brunswick County Real Estate Firm Announces Affiliation
Holden Beach-based PROACTIVE Real Estate was recently awarded affiliate status in Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and its luxury marketing division, Luxury Portfolio International, according to a news release. Jabin Norris (pictured below), president of PROACTIVE, announced the affiliation in November.

According to the release, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is a global real estate community comprised of 550 real estate companies awarded membership “based on rigorous standards for service and performance. With 4,600 offices and 150,000 sales associates in over 70 countries, these firms represent 1.1 million transactions annually.”  The release also stated that the distinction “ensures that PROACTIVE’s clients are working with exceptional local professionals who also deliver connections to buyers and quality real estate companies across the country and around the world. The company also benefits from LeadingRE’s industry-leading international referral network, award-winning professional development programs and events, professional marketing resources and more.” PROACTIVE Real Estate also earned membership in Luxury Portfolio International, “an exclusive group of LeadingRE companies that hold significant luxury market share and demonstrate a commitment to the high-end.” PROACTIVE Real Estate “has an impeccable reputation in Brunswick County, North Carolina, and we are committed to helping the firm achieve even greater success,” said Paul Boomsma, president and CEO of LeadingRE, in the release. “As a member of LeadingRE and LPI, PROACTIVE combines authentic, local expertise with global connections to the highest quality real estate firms worldwide.”
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From ‘tiny homes’ to planned developments,
here’s how Brunswick can manage massive growth
It’s no secret Brunswick County is among the fastest-growing counties in North Carolina. According to U.S. Census Bureau data released in May, Brunswick County saw a 4.4% increase in population from April 2020 to July 2021, bringing its population to 144,215. It was the second fastest-growing county in the state behind Currituck County, which grew by 4.5% to 29,653 residents. With more and more people flocking to the historic community, where will they live? How will they impact roads? What infrastructure is in place? The Brunswick County Planning Department provides public planning services to the unincorporated areas of the county, handling zoning, subdivision, long-range planning, transportation planning, specialized planning projects and more for areas outside the jurisdiction of other municipalities. Brunswick County Planning Director Kirstie Dixon sat down with the StarNews to discuss planning, development and trends seen across the county.

Brunswick County is growing. How is the county ensuring growth is being accommodated in the short and long terms?
There’s a lot of things going on. Well, first, Brunswick County’s always participated in a lot of planning activities – everything from water and sewer planning to participating with NCDOT on transportation needs and plans, as well as doing our current plan that’s in place right now, which is called the Brunswick County CAMA CORE Land Use Plan. They do strategic planning. There is a current strategic plan in place that’s been updated a number of times over the years. So, there’s a number of items that the county does regularly in anticipation of growth. The schools, for example, do planning regularly – they’ve made a new plan in the last couple of years, as well, since the pandemic. I met with them during the pandemic, so they knew that growth was coming. The state demographic officer has always put us in high growth. So, the amount of growth, we knew about. I think that the recession in 2008 was not accounted for. Now, today, there’s a current water plan in process, there’s a sewer plan in process, the Blueprint Brunswick will also really, really help with accommodating future growth, as well as the state is doing a Comprehensive Transportation Plan, and the schools just did a plan – so there’s a number of things that Brunswick County is doing. Additionally, they do a capital improvement plan, and they do it every year, and it is for approximately five years out. The county invested more than $270 million in utilities prior to fiscal year 2023. Then from fiscal year 2023 and beyond, they have $36.5 million in water and $278.6 million in sewer scheduled. This is all part of their plan; they’re planning. They know that the growth is happening, and they know that they have to accommodate it.

What are some of the biggest challenges Brunswick County faces when it comes to growth?
I think mitigating impacts is the No. 1. We really try to incentivize doing planned developments because that requires more open space, and it requires project boundary buffers. Somebody can come in, per state statutes, and do what’s called a major subdivision and they can subdivide for whatever the zoning district is, but that doesn’t accommodate as much open space and it doesn’t require buffers around the perimeter of the project. So, if you’re an adjacent neighbor, you’re going to have a lot more impacts than if you did a planned development, so we’ve really been trying to incentivize the planned development and it’s really worked. The majority of the projects coming in – I would say 90% – are planned developments, which are much better for the neighbor. It also allows a variety of housing types, and that’s something that our plans really encourage in Brunswick County. We don’t just need single-family and traditional multi-family housing, there’s an array of housing types in between that we are missing.

More people mean more vehicles, more vehicles mean more traffic. What can the county do to mitigate traffic impacts stemming from this growth?
There is a lot of planning happening here. DOT has to control their roads, though. It’s really hard for Brunswick County to say, “There’s too much traffic on this road,” when it’s a DOT road and they say it’s fine. DOT has meetings where new projects get proposed and a Brunswick County staff member in the planning department attends them. That’s where they define the study area: the area to be used for the transportation analysis study, which is a scientific way to say what improvements are needed. The study area is what Brunswick County can influence. They don’t just look at the entrances, they might look at an intersection three miles away because that’s where the impact will be felt. So, they might have to make a turn lane two miles away. So, we participate in that process and the planning items. Brunswick County could do some small-area plans and some connector type transportation plans, they would have to locate funding for it, though. And that’s stuff that we’re investigating.

What are some development trends you’ve seen in the last few years? What could the county expect in the coming years?
If you compare it with 2005-06, which was the last time we had really high growth, a lot of what we saw were larger lots. Now, we’re seeing a lot more smaller homes. Not tiny homes, but smaller homes on smaller lots. And there’s several reasons for that. The first is that a lot of people don’t want to maintain a yard. Eighty percent of the people that relocate and come to Brunswick County are retirees – they, again, aren’t looking for large lots, they’re downsizing. Additionally, we do a lot of clustering and planned developments because it provides more open space. Their open space might not be in their backyard, it’s within their community. It opens the door for walking trails and for pocket parks, pools, other amenities within their development instead of just in their backyard like you would see in developments that happened in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. We see the want and need for small homes, “tiny homes,” but we haven’t seen anyone do it. We get 10 calls a week about it, but we never really see anybody do it. Which is an interesting trend that everybody is talking about nationwide, and our ordinance allows it, but nobody’s done it. I would hope to see that in the coming years. We get hopeful every once in a while, because people ask about it all the time.

The Blueprint Brunswick 2040 plan is nearing completion. What do you hope comes out of the process of building that plan with the community’s input?
A lot of people like a lot of the policies that are in that plan. Having high-quality development was one of the top ones that people identified, also affordable housing. So, we’re reevaluating our ordinances as well as looking at the different policies that help with affordable housing. With affordable housing, you have to look at an array of different ways to help and support it. There isn’t one magical solution to affordable housing.

What are you looking forward to for Brunswick County in 2023?
We have been running one or two people short since December 2019, so I’m really looking forward to being fully staffed so we can actually do some really great things that really impact the community positively. The Blueprint Brunswick is really going to set us up with lots of options for moving forward. I think some ordinance changes and updates are going to be needed. For example, we don’t have an employment or office-institutional zone in our ordinance, so we don’t have any place in the county that’s encouraging those type of uses. We have a lot of activity centers identified within Blueprint Brunswick and changing some of the zoning to mixed use would help draw growth to those areas where there’s already services.
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Why nurturing NC’s native plants might be your yard’s answer to climate change
After a nearly nine-month-long spell of dry weather that had thrown much of Eastern North Carolina into drought, early summer rains helped the region replenish its water supplies. Yet through Monday Wilmington was running more than 15 inches below normal annual rainfall for the year, with less than 0.6 inches recorded in October. That’s prompted the U.S. Drought Monitor to declare the region “abnormally dry,” with most of Duplin County already back in drought. It’s not just the lack of rainfall that’s impacting the region. In June, the National Weather Service office in Wilmington reported that the Port City has set 18 new record temperature highs since 2020 versus five new record lows. As the weather continues to throw the region meteorological curve balls, which many scientists blame on climate change, a small but increasing number of homeowners are wondering if there’s a better way to landscape their yards than with traditional turf and shrubs that might not be as resilient for the drier and hotter climate that’s projected for North Carolina’s future. Yes, experts say. But it takes some planning and engagement on the homeowner’s side. “It’s putting the right plants in the right places,” said Matt Collogan, an agent with the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension. “And it’s about using water in a smart way.” Andy Wood, who owns Habitats Gardens in Hampstead, which takes a nature-based approach to landscaping, agrees. “It can be a little complicated, and you have to use a water-thrifty philosophy as a guiding principle,” he said. “But if you’re willing to put the time in and realize it’s going to take some work, it’s definitely worth it.” For an area blessed with seemingly abundant water supplies, being careful with water might not come across as a major concern to many residents. But Wood and Collogan said looks can be deceiving. While New Hanover County is surrounded by water on three sides, most of that is salty or brackish. And the region’s sandy soils don’t hold moisture well. When the rains don’t come as frequently as they have in the past, as has happened for most of the past year, that leaves homeowners facing a tough decision. Turning on sprinkler systems can help keep lawns and gardens alive, but it can get expensive. A private well is a cheaper option, at least after it’s installed. But either way uses local water supplies which many fear are going to become more stressed in the future as the Cape Fear region’s population continues to grow and development expands ever outward from Wilmington and coastal areas. “When you get down to it it’s a social consciousness question of how we’re using our natural resources that our kids and grandkids are going to rely on,” Wood said. While North Carolina is no stranger to drought, those earlier dry periods were weathered by a state that didn’t have as many people, homes and businesses drawing on its water resources. According to the N.C. State Climate Office, the Tar Heel State has had eight periods in which drought has persisted for at least 23 weeks this century, including the 2021-22 drought that ended earlier this year. Three of those seven droughts lasted a year or more, including the 1999-2002 and 2007-2009 droughts. North Carolina’s population in 2000 was just over 8 million. It is estimated to be 10.7 million today, according to the latest U.S. Census figure. Projections estimate the state will be home to nearly 14 million people by 2050.

Go native
Both Collogan and Wood said one easy way to reduce a yard’s water needs is to go native when picking the shrubs, trees and even turf − if you decide to have grass. “We have 1,500 different kinds of native plant in Southeastern North Carolina, so there’s no shortage to choose from,” Wood said. Not only will they likely require less water, at least after they’re established, but they will also better reflect the local environment and provide habitat for native fauna. “We’re turning into Generica,” Wood said, alluding to the propensity of developers and homeowners to often use the same types of trees and shrubs no matter where they are in the country. “It’s like Anyplace USA.” Recognizing the ecological value of going local, Gov. Roy Cooper declared last week as “Native Plants Week” in North Carolina. The proclamation noted that “gardens and landscapes composed of North Carolina’s native plants require less water and little or no fertilizers, soil amendments or pesticides.” Collogan said that while native vegetation is designed to better handle the local conditions, climate change is likely to increase pressure on them with warmer temperatures and longer dry spells. That could make plants that are native to South Carolina or Georgia’s coastal plain a good option for local landscaping. “North Carolina is the new North Florida or Georgia, September is the new August, and we need to get used to that,” Wood said.     

 The New Hanover County Arboretum has a native plant garden that is open to the public. For more information on the garden or native plants in general, go to https://arboretum.nhcgov.com or call 910-798-7660.
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Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


Christmas Trees Recycling
Christmas trees can be recycled to help build sand dunes on the beach. It is a way to build more protection on the shore by using them as a natural and biodegradable sand fencing. The trees are positioned facing downward at a 45-degree angle. Once the trees are laid down, they are left completely exposed except for the tips, which are covered in sand. The needles of the branches catch the sand, and it starts to accumulate until gradually the sand will bury the tree and build up the dunes around them. As the tree biodegrades, it provides nutrients to the other plants and organisms around it.


Hot Button Issues

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


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


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Flood Insurance Program
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 23, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2023.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2023.


 

GenX
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  • Homeowners Insurance

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  • Hurricane Season
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Hurricane Season Ends, Marked by Quiet August and Deadly September
The six-month total of 14 named storms was about average. But two late-season hurricanes proved catastrophic in Florida and Puerto Rico.
An erratic North Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end this week, with an average number of storms, a rare quiet spell in August and destructive late-season activity, including the deadliest hurricane to hit the United States in nearly two decades. The six-month season, which officially began on June 1 and ends on Wednesday, had 14 named storms, eight of which strengthened to become hurricanes. Two of these, Fiona and Ian, were major hurricanes, with maximum sustained winds of at least 130 miles an hour. The totals are about average for a hurricane season. Some forecasters had expected an above-average season, although most predicted that the numbers for 2022 would remain below those for 2021, which had 21 named storms, and well below 2020, which set a record with 31. The total of 14 storms was at the low end of predictions by forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who said as late as August that there could be 14 to 20 named storms, including six to 10 hurricanes and three to five major ones. “We were one major hurricane short,” said the administration’s lead hurricane outlook forecaster, Matthew Rosencrans. They were also off in forecasting that the combined intensity of the entire season’s storms, a measure called accumulated cyclone energy, would be higher than it actually was. Mr. Rosencrans said in August that the presence of the climate pattern called La Niña, which is characterized by unusually cool water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, could lead to greater hurricane activity. In the Atlantic during a La Niña there is often less wind shear, and that allows tropical storms and hurricanes to grow stronger. But Mr. Rosencrans said Tuesday that it appeared that there was significant wind shear during the season and especially in August, when no storms fully formed. Normally mid-August is the beginning of peak hurricane season, which lasts until mid-October. The quiet August “was the real forecast surprise of the season,” he said. A lack of moisture at high altitudes in the tropical Atlantic where storms begin their development may have played a role as well, he said. Recent hurricane seasons have been marked by the development of one or more storms before the official start of the season. But this year, for the first time since 2014, there were no storms before June 1. For two months, the season progressed slowly, with only three named storms by the end of July. This is not unusual; ocean waters are cooler and provide less of the energy that fuels storms. Hurricane activity picks up after the summer sun has warmed the ocean. After the August lull, activity accelerated in September, with four hurricanes, including the two major ones. In mid-September, Fiona slammed into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm. It dumped more than 30 inches of rain on parts of the island, leading to at least 25 deaths and further damaging infrastructure that had yet to be fully repaired after being damaged in Hurricane Maria five years before. Two weeks later, Ian, another Category 4 hurricane, struck Florida with winds as high as 150 m.p.h. Together with rain and wind-driven tidal surges, that led to at least 114 deaths, most of them in the southwestern part of the state. It was Florida’s deadliest storm in nearly a century, and the deadliest in the United States since Katrina killed more than 1,800 people in southern Louisiana in 2005. The season was notable in several other ways. Two storms crossed from the Atlantic basin to the Pacific, traversing Central America. The last time any storm did this was in 2016. “That is quite a rare phenomenon,” Mr. Rosencrans said. And earlier this month, the season’s last storm, Hurricane Nicole, became the first to strike Florida in November in nearly four decades. While at Category 1 it was not as strong Fiona or Ian, it hit in some of the areas severely damaged by Ian just six weeks before.
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Inlet Hazard Areas

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Process of updating inlet hazard area rules to be continued
The long-drawn process of updating maps at coastal inlets and building rules within those areas will stretch well into the New Year. Proposed updates to the state’s inlet hazard areas, or IHAs, will be tweaked again and up for discussion at the state Coastal Resources Commission’s February 2023 meeting. If the commission at that time approves rule amendments proposed by Division of Coastal Management staff, it will kick off another round of the state rulemaking process, giving everyone from property owners to developers more time to express their opinions on the matter. IHAs were established at developed inlets along the state’s coast more than 40 years ago to tighten building rules in these areas where shorelines are especially vulnerable to erosion and flooding. “So, because they’re the most dynamic places we have on the coast, that’s where we typically see our erosion hotspots, that’s where we end up with sandbags and emergency orders and long-term impacts to inland habitats and beach uses and economic impacts. Those are the most hazardous spots,” Division Director Braxton Davis said at the commission’s Nov. 17 meeting. IHAs are designed to control density and structure size at inlets. Commission members during their September meeting unanimously approved updated maps and rules for these areas, wrapping up decades of discussions on how to best predict inlet erosion and accretion rates. But shortly after that mid-September meeting, division staff discovered that the way the new rule was written cut out an exception that would allow homes of up to 2,000 square feet to be built in areas where the new erosion rate-based setbacks in the IHAs would prevent construction of new houses. The division later that month withdrew the updated rules from the Rules Review Commission, which reviews and approves rules adopted by state agencies. The division hosted a series of workshops in late 2019 through early 2020 in communities that will be affected by the rule updates and extended the public comment period for the proposed amended rules. Property owners, developers and town officials continue to raise concerns about some of the proposed amendments and the map updates. Davis told commission members that most of the letters he had read were from property owners whose lots were in an IHA and who worried that they would not be able to rebuild their homes if destroyed or damaged more than 50% by storms, fire or other causes. “And that is just not the way that rule reads,” he said. “In fact, all of the existing homes would be grandfathered under the rules the same way that they’re grandfathered across the entire oceanfront in North Carolina.” However, there are restrictions to rebuilding. “You have to have at least 60 feet of distance between the oceanfront vegetation line and where the structure is,” Davis said. “You can’t expand the footprint and so there’s some conditions.” North Carolina has 19 active inlets. Ten of those are developed, including Tubbs, Shallotte and Lockwood Folly in Brunswick County; Carolina Beach, Masonboro, Mason and Rich in New Hanover County; New Topsail and New River in Pender County; and Bogue Inlet in Carteret County. Hundreds of acres at those inlets are designed IHAs. At least some Ocean Isle Beach property owners are pushing back on the proposed map for Shallotte Inlet, arguing that erosion at the island’s east end is being curtailed by the terminal groin built there last spring. The terminal groin, a wall-like structure made of rocks placed perpendicular to the shore at inlets to reduce erosion, was built well after the proposed updated maps were recommended for the commission’s approval. Steve Johnson lives at Ocean Isle’s east end. He was one of a handful of people who spoke during the commission’s meeting earlier this month in Beaufort about the proposed IHA rule amendments and updated maps. “The current plan was designed in 2019,” he said. “It is 2022, three years later. We’re not talking about the current state of reality on any design, specifically Ocean Isle. Why in the world would we implement rules on something that is not current reality.” Ocean Isle property owner Cherri Cheek agreed. “The map created several years ago affects many homes and properties on Ocean Isle Beach,” she said. “Studies for creating these maps need to be performed in the present and take into consideration our present-day beach renourishment and the completion of the terminal groin before causing the property rights of our citizens to be in danger. The map does not change the dynamics of nature, but it does take away the property rights of our tax paying citizens. The tax repercussions to our town and our county are huge.” Ocean Isle Beach Assistant Town Administrator Justin Whiteside said that adding another 152 acres of property in the existing IHA would exceed the $1 million impact threshold set by the state. The state’s goal is to update the IHAs every five years.
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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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Public comment period opens on draft offshore wind areas
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday announced that a 30-day public comment period has begun on eight draft offshore wind energy areas, including off the North Carolina coast. BOEM said it will hold virtual public meetings to engage the fishing community and environmental organizations to gather more information on the proposed areas and discuss next steps. The proposed areas cover about 1.7 million acres off North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The distances to their closest points range from about 19 to 77 nautical miles offshore. “As BOEM moves forward to identify wind energy areas in the central Atlantic, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including early engagement with Tribal governments, state and federal agencies and ocean users,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton in a statement. “We want to gather as much information and traditional knowledge as possible to help us identify Wind Energy Areas — the offshore areas that are most suitable for commercial wind energy activities while having the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts.” Environmental and energy advocates praised the announcement. “Today’s announcement lays the groundwork for additional offshore wind development in the Atlantic, which will help lower energy costs, create jobs, and fight climate change. Unlike dirty and dangerous offshore drilling that pollutes our waters, worsens the climate crisis, and harms frontline communities, offshore wind can support a just and equitable transition away from the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis,″ said Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins in a statement. “With growing offshore wind opportunities, the states along the Central Atlantic coast have a chance to become part of the next wave of offshore wind hubs. While these states will clearly benefit tremendously from jobs and investment associated with offshore wind development, the benefits will stretch across our nation,” said National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito in a statement. Federal officials said the process to identify the potential offshore locations considered areas that appear most suitable for renewable energy development. BOEM said it collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to use an ocean planning model that seeks to minimize conflicts. The eight areas were carved out of the original 3.9 million acres that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in April. Officials said the final areas may be further changed based on feedback from government partners, ocean users and stakeholders. BOEM seeks comment on potential conflicts, including with a potential U.S. Coast Guard “fairway” for transiting vessels, commercial fishing, a NASA danger zone, and marine habitat areas. BOEM said it intends to further explore the areas with the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, NASA and other ocean users, such as the fishing industry, to collect additional information that should be considered before finalizing the wind energy areas.

Meetings have been set for the following dates:

To comment on the draft wind energy areas, visit regulations.gov and search for docket number BOEM-2022-0072. BOEM will accept comments through 11:59 p.m. Dec. 16.

For more information visit:
https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/central-atlantic.

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Draft wind energy areas off NC coast may be downsized
Proposed central East Coast offshore wind energy areas, including two off the northern North Carolina coast, may be scaled back in size by the time they are finalized early next year. Sea scallop fishing, a NASA danger zone, a proposed shipping safety fairway, and marine habitat could further trim eight draft wind energy areas, or WEAs, the federal government is eyeing offshore from Delaware south to Cape Hatteras. These areas encompass about 1.7 million acres, a little less than half of the original 3.9 million acres the Interior Department identified as potential wind energy areas. Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, opened a 30-day public comment period on the draft WEAs, including one area located about 28 miles offshore of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina and one about 50 miles from those coasts. BOEM hosted two virtual meetings last week, giving members of the fishing community and environmental organizations an opportunity to ask questions about and comment on the draft WEAs. Among some of the concerns raised during the meetings were potential impacts to Atlantic sea scallop fishing off Delaware’s coast and recreational fishing vessel businesses, possible effects on deep sea coral, and impacts to shorebirds and endangered right whales. One participant suggested BOEM include exclusion zones for right whales. “If these right whales are gone, that’s it. They’re gone forever,” he said. A representative with the Maryland Climate Action Network encouraged BOEM officials to move forward with examining the potential for wind development within secondary areas, where conflicts may exist, of the draft WEAs. In order to reach the country’s clean energy goals, we’re going to need as many acres as possible for offshore wind development, she said. Capt. Cane Faircloth, a resident of Brunswick County and president of the North Carolina For-Hire Captain’s Association, asked BOEM to take into consideration potential impacts to fishermen who hold operator of uninspected passenger vessels licenses. Operator of uninspected passenger vessel licenses, also called OUPVs or six-packs, allow recreational charter fishermen to carry as many as six passengers as far as 100 miles offshore. These licenses are the most popular issued by the Coast Guard. Peggy Schultz, a representative of Coalition POWER, which stands for People for Offshore Wind Energy Resources, out of Delaware, asked about the viability of deep-water offshore wind farms and whether floating turbines are in the planning stages in the U.S. “We really don’t know,” BOEM’s David MacDuffee, chief, projects and coordination branch said. “It really is a big question for BOEM on how viable these areas are.” He said floating turbines have been deployed in waters in other areas of the world, but that the technology is still new. Bridgette Duplantis, BOEM’s central Atlantic team lead, said companies that have indicated an interest in the proposed deep-water sites have said they expect a “longer timeline” for technology to be developed for areas farther offshore. BOEM says it will collect additional information about activities in the draft WEAs with the Department of Defense, U.S. Coast Guard, NASA and other ocean users, including the fishing industry before finalizing the areas. Once the final central Atlantic Ocean WEAs are selected, those areas will be environmentally assessed through the National Environmental Policy Act process. The final WEAs are expected to be published in the first quarter of 2023. The first lease sale is expected to occur about a year later, according to BOEM officials. Those lease sales will expand the wind energy footprint offshore of North Carolina. Plans are underway for a 2.5-gigawatt wind farm off Kitty Hawk. Avangrid, the company that won the lease sale of that WEA, has indicated construction could start in 2026 and eventually power as many as 700,000 homes. And, in May, Duke Energy and French company TotalEnergies won leases for sites south of Bald Head Island to the tune of more than $300 million. Energy produced at those sites could eventually power up to 500,000 homes. Development of these wind farms will help North Carolina close in on Gov. Roy Cooper’s goal for offshore wind to generate 2.8 gigawatts by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040, which would power some 2 million homes. BOEM is accepting comments on the draft WEAs through 11:59 p.m. Dec. 16. Comments may be made by visiting regulations.gov, docket number BOEM-2022-0072.
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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.
///// December 2022
Name:            Lucca Italian Chop House
Cuisine:         Italian
Location:      4924 Main Street, Shallotte NC
Contact:        910.754.2334 /
https://www.luccachophouse.com/
Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:               Inexpensive <=20 / Moderate <=26 / Expensive <=35 / Exorbitant <=60
Rating:          Two Stars
Angelo’s which is permanently closed has rebranded and are now operating as Lucca Italian Chop House. It’s really like there are two restaurants that are both operating under one roof. The Italian menu prices are inexpensive, serving a wide variety of pizzas, pastas, and traditional Italian dishes. Unfortunately, they no longer have a brick oven. The steakhouse menu prices are exorbitant , meats are cooked in an 1800-degree Southbend Broilers. Dining is in a casual relaxed atmosphere with a menu that offers something for everyone. That works for the Italian menu , but not so much for the steakhouse menu which has prices of an upscale restaurant, and they just aren’t one.
I’m sorry to say that it was simply not up to our expectations, we were disappointed.


Editor’s note –
After our pandemic hiatus we discovered that the old price guidelines were obsolete
All of our previous restaurant reviews have been updated with current menu prices


Dining Guide – Guests

Dining Guide – Local

Restaurant Reviews – North

Restaurant Reviews – South


Digital Tip Jars:
New tipping trend has customers sweating it out at checkout counter

A new checkout trend is sweeping across America, making for an increasingly awkward experience: digital tip jars. You order a coffee, an ice cream, a salad or a slice of pizza and pay with your credit card or phone. Then, an employee standing behind the counter spins around a touch screen and slides it in front of you. The screen has a few suggested tip amounts — usually 10%, 15% or 20%. There’s also often an option to leave a custom tip or no tip at all. The worker is directly across from you. Other customers are standing behind, waiting impatiently and looking over your shoulder to see how much you tip. And you must make a decision in seconds. Oh lord, the stress. Customers and workers today are confronted with a radically different tipping culture compared to just a few years ago – without any clear norms. Although consumers are accustomed to tipping waiters, bartenders and other service workers, tipping a barista or cashier may be a new phenomenon for many shoppers. It’s being driven in large part by changes in technology that have enabled business owners to more easily shift the costs of compensating workers directly to customers. “I don’t know how much you’re supposed to tip, and I study this,” said Michael Lynn, a professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell University and one of the leading researchers on US tipping habits. Adding to the changing dynamics, customers were encouraged to tip generously during the pandemic to help keep restaurants and stores afloat, raising expectations. Total tips for full-service restaurants were up 25% during the latest quarter compared to a year ago, while tips at quick-service restaurants were up 17%, according to data from Square. The shift to digital payments also accelerated during the pandemic, leading stores to replace old-fashioned cash tip jars with tablet touch screens. But these screens and the procedures for digital tipping have proven more intrusive than a low-pressure cash tip jar with a few bucks in it. Customers are overwhelmed by the number of places where they now have the option to tip and feel pressure about whether to add a gratuity and for how much. Some people deliberately walk away from the screen without doing anything to avoid making a decision, say etiquette experts who study tipping culture and consumer behavior. Tipping can be an emotionally charged decision. Attitudes towards tipping in these new settings vary widely. Some customers tip no matter what. Others feel guilty if they don’t tip or embarrassed if their tip is stingy. And others eschew tipping for a $5 iced coffee, saying the price is already high enough. “The American public feels like tipping is out of control because they’re experiencing it in places they’re not used to,” said Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute and its namesake’s great-great-granddaughter. “Moments where tipping isn’t expected makes people less generous and uncomfortable.” Starbucks has rolled out tipping this year as an option for customers paying with credit and with debit cards. Some Starbucks baristas told CNN that the tips are adding extra money to their paychecks, but customers shouldn’t feel obligated to tip every time. One barista in Washington State said that he understands if a customer doesn’t tip for a drip coffee order. But if he makes a customized drink after spending time talking to the customer about exactly how it should be made, “it does make me a little bit disappointed if I don’t receive a tip.” “If someone can afford Starbucks every day, they can afford to tip on at least a few of those trips,” added the employee, who spoke under the condition of anonymity.
“Un-American”
The option to tip is seemingly everywhere today, but the practice has a troubled history in the United States. Tipping spread after the Civil War as an exploitative measure to keep down wages of
newly freed slaves in service occupations. Pullman was the most notable for its tipping policies. The railroad company hired thousands of Black porters but paid them low wages and forced them to rely on tips to make a living. Critics of tipping argued that it created an imbalance between customers and workers, and several states passed laws in the early 1900s to ban the practice. In “The Itching Palm,” a 1916 diatribe on tipping in America, writer William Scott said that tipping was “un-American” and argued that “the relation of a man giving a tip and a man accepting it is as undemocratic as the relation of master and slave.” But tipping service workers was essentially built into law by the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which created the federal minimum wage that excluded restaurant and hospitality workers. This allowed the tipping system to proliferate in these industries. In 1966, Congress created a “subminimum” wage for tipped workers. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees has stood at $2.13 per hour – lower than the $7.25 federal minimum – since 1991, although many states require higher base wages for tipped employees. If a server’s tips don’t add up to the federal minimum, the law says that the employer must make up the difference. But this doesn’t always happen. Wage theft and other wage violations are common in the service industry. The Department of Labor considers any employee working in a job that “customarily and regularly” receives more than $30 a month in tips as eligible to be classified as a tipped worker. Experts estimate there are more than five million tipped workers in the United States.
Tips on tipping

Just how much to tip is entirely subjective and varies across industries, and the link between the quality of service and the tip amount is surprisingly weak, Lynn from Cornell said. He theorized that a 15% to 20% tip at restaurants became standard because of a cycle of competition among customers. Many people tip to gain social approval or with the expectation of better service. As tip levels increase, other customers start tipping more to avoid any losses in status or risk poorer service. The gig economy has also changed tipping norms. An MIT study released in 2019 found that customers are less likely to tip when workers have autonomy over whether and when to work. Nearly 60% of Uber customers never tip, while only about 1% always tip, a 2019 University of Chicago study found. What makes it confusing, Lynn said, is that “there’s no central authority that establishes tipping norms. They come from the bottom up. Ultimately, it’s what people do that helps establish what other people should do.” You should almost always tip workers earning the subminimum wage such as restaurant servers and bartenders, say advocates and tipping experts. When given the option to tip in places where workers make an hourly wage, such as Starbucks baristas, customers should use their discretion and remove any guilt from their decision, etiquette experts say. Tips help these workers supplement their income and are always encouraged, but it’s okay to say no. Etiquette experts recommend that customers approach the touch screen option the same way they would a tip jar. If they leave change or a small cash tip in the jar, do so when prompted on the screen. “A 10% tip for takeaway food is a really common amount. We also see change or a single dollar per order,” said Lizzie Post. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask the worker if the store has a suggested tip amount. Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, which advocates to end subminimum wage policies, encourages customers to tip. But tips should never count against service workers’ wages, and customers must demand that businesses pay workers a full wage, she said. “We’ve got to tip, but it’s got to be combined with telling employers that tips have to be on top, not instead of, a full minimum wage,” she said.
Read more » click here


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 Thursday Murder Club
by Richard Osman
It  is a compelling whodunit, a murder mystery set in an upscale retirement village in the English countryside.  A droll tale of four septuagenarians who meet weekly to discuss cold case files, attempting to solve the crimes the police could not. When a local developer is found dead, the amateur sleuths of the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. 


The Man Who Died Twice
by Richard Osman
In this sequel the plot revolves around a quartet of crime-solving friends that are once again on the trail of a killer. A letter from a secret agent who is supposed to be dead plunges the club into a dangerous case that involves millions in diamonds and a mobster who takes no prisoners. Bodies quickly start to pile up as the foursome works to solve the mystery and find the missing diamonds. Realizing that all is not as it seems, they embark on a convoluted hunt for the diamonds. A quirky murder mystery that soon will be a major motion picture from Steven Spielberg at Amblin Entertainment. 

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman
This is the third entry in the bestselling series of cozy crime novels featuring the Thursday Mystery Club. Once again, the four septuagenarian members of the club try to defrost a cold case that has confounded the police. This time their investigation centers on the disappearance of a television journalist a decade earlier who was investigating a money-laundering scheme. Osman concocts a satisfyingly whodunit that contains several twists and turns that play out brilliantly in this installment. This book is as delightful as the others, it is quite entertaining.


  • .That’s it for this newsletter

    See you next month


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11 – Town Meeting

Lou’s Views

“Unofficial” Minutes & Comments


BOC’s Special Meeting 11/08/22

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet » click here 

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Discussion and Possible Action on Pier Property and Block Q Initial Proposals from Selected Engineering Firms – Commissioners Murdock and Kwiatkowski
  a. Ordinance 22-23, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues                 and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 2
  b. Ordinance 22-24, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and        Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 3

Agenda Packet – pages 3 – 10


1a.
During our onsite visit, the scope of work for Block Q will be defined in phases and will be divided up by the extent of cost of each phase of construction. The phases discussed will be as follows:

    • Phase 1 – Overall Masterplan of Block Q (this phase will include researching the Local and Government regulations that will impact the design and construction of this area, a site plan showing the proposed layout of the parking area and new ADA and NCSBC compliant restrooms and a rendering of the site.
    • Phase II – Provide design and permit drawings to close a portion Carolina Avenue designated as Tract 1 on the survey from Coastal geomatics, dated 07-06-2022 (approximately 12,215 square feet of roadway). This phase will include a TIA (Traffic Impact Analysis) study of this area.
    • Phase Ill – This phase will consist of a complete set construction and bid documents for Block Q that will be derived by :1 determined scope of work by the Board of Commissioners after reviewing Phase I (Overall Masterplan) and the  potential  cost  of work for construction

Pinnacle Architecture, P.A. fee proposal for Architectural and Engineering design of the proposed Phases listed above are as follows:

    • Phase I Overall Masterplan – Proposed Design Fee                      $20,000
    • Phase II Road Closure -Proposed Design fee                                  $18,000
    • Phase III Construction and Bid documents                                    To Be Determined

Budget Amendment – Block Q
The attached budget amendment in the amount of $38,000 is a necessary preaudit component of the Pinnacle /Block Q contract consideration. A new budget expense line item is proposed to be established titled Block Q Professional Services and funded via a revenue appropriation of BPART Fund Balance.

Suggested Motion: Approval of Budget Amendment

Moved funds of $38,000
From Revenue account #50.0399.0000 to Expense account#50.0710.6003

Previously reported – October 2022
The Board selected the following firms:
Pier / Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects
Block Q / Pinnacle Architecture         
David will request a proposal from each firm with contract terms
The next step would be to enter in a contractual agreement with them

Update –
Randy the representative from Pinnacle addressed the BOC’s questions. The first two (2) phases are dependent on the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) study. Expects it will take approximately three (3) to four (4) weeks to get that done and  creating the documents will take approximately two (2) to three (3) months. The motion was made to approve the proposal and the budget amendment  as submitted to the Board.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


1b.
We understand this project to be a master-planning drawing of the existing pier facility and conceptually illustrate proposed future building and site improvements. We will begin to identify steps needed as far as permitting and testing to prepare future designs for the pier and building.

The existing pier will be renovated. We understand the extremely deficient existing pier house will be modified to re-open and serve the pier once it is renovated.

A detailed property survey will be needed prior to creating the site master plan drawing.

The master plan site plan drawing will incorporate but not be limited to the following.
Future work will be noted or shown conceptually:

      1. Renovate existing fishing pier with a new wood ADA ramp
      2. Renovate existing pier house
        • Keep work under 50% of the appraised
        • Begin to identify phases that keep the work under 50%.
        • Incorporate exterior restrooms within the existing building.
        • Potential outdoor decks adjacent to existing pier
      3. Show an emergency vehicle cross over onto the beach strand from the pier parking area,
      4. Study the existing parking to maximize layout for the renovated
      5. Study camper parking layout for optimized efficiency and camping
      6. Showers to be located near the exterior accessed restrooms with the existing

A listing of site, pier and building improvements. We will also identify all known permits and testing that will need to occur in future design phases.

Budget Amendment – Pier
The attached budget amendment in the amount of $35,000 implements previous board direction to refine line-item expenses to detail developmental costs of the pier properties more succinctly. Approval will be necessary to satisfy the pre-audit requirements associated with the Bowman Murray Hemingway contract expenses in addition to providing for an additional survey, the facility’s operational expenses to date, and those expected to occur through the end of the FY.

Suggested Motion: Approval of budget amendment and authorize town manager to execute contract.

Moved funds of $35,000
From Revenue account #50.0710.6100
to Expense account#50.0710.6103 & #50.0710.6104

Previously reported – October 2022
The Board selected the following firms:
Pier / Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects     
Block Q / Pinnacle Architecture
David will request a proposal from each firm with contract terms
The next step would be to enter in a contractual agreement with them

Work Session with Firm Selected for Pier Project
Previously the Board selected Bowman Murray Hemingway Architects for the pier project. Chip a representative of the firm was present to discuss the Request for Qualifications (RFQ). He wanted to gather information so that the firm can make a proposal to the Board. In other words, he wanted to know what would they like to do with the property. Commissioner Kwiatkowski attempted to walk him through what they have discussed and considered so far. Commissioner Murdock went into a little more detail about some potential options for the property. Planning & Inspections Director Tim Evans went over the regulations that would apply to the building renovations. The architectural firm plans to have a dialogue with Timbo to make sure they understand all the potential regulations and restrictions that affect what they can do there. The firm will submit a proposal to develop a conceptual site plan for the Board to consider.

Update –
Chip the representative from BMH addressed the BOC’s questions. A detailed property survey will be needed prior to creating the site master plan drawing. From the time they get the survey it will take them approximately two (2) months to develop a master site plan. The discussion was primarily about budget restraints of what they can do and short term vs. long term plan of action there. The motion was made to approve the proposal and the budget amendment  as submitted to the Board.

 A decision was made – Approved unanimously

2.   Status of Stormwater and Water Tower Request for Qualifications Preparations and Agreement on Desired Timeframe for Board Review of Drafts – Commissioners Murdock and Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – pages 11 – 21

THB Request for Qualifications Stormwater Management & Consulting Services
The Town of Holden Beach invites qualified professional engineering firms (PEF) to submit sealed proposals for qualifications to provide stormwater management policy and planning, infrastructure management and design, and consulting.

Request for Qualifications
The Town of Holden Beach (Town) is seeking Request for Qualifications (RFQs) from professional stormwater planning firms to lead and facilitate the development of a comprehensive Stormwater Feasibility Study, Cost of Service and Rate Study associated with a stormwater management plan for the Town.

Update –
Town staff benchmarked off the Surf City RFQ which was successful in getting a number of proposals. The motion was to approve with some modifications that were discussed. Board requested that the RFQ should be sent out as soon as they can.

 A decision was made – Approved unanimously


BOC’s Regular Meeting 11/15/22

Board of Commissioners’ Agenda Packet click here

Audio Recording » click here


1.   Annual Monitoring Report – Fran Way, Applied Technology Management (Assistant Town Manager Ferguson)

Agenda Packet – page 12

Fran Way, our coastal consultant engineer with Applied Technology Management, will present the results from the yearly monitoring of the shoreline. Surveys were conducted in the spring and the firm has been analyzing results to evaluate shoreline changes over the past year.

Previously reported – November 2021
The Town participates in annual beach monitoring to maintain a healthy beach and dune system and to keep our engineered beach status. These reports are also instrumental in serving as a baseline account of sand volume as compared to post-storm surveys. Mr. Fran Way with ATM is here to present data from the annual report and highlight changes since last year.

Applied Technology Management
ATM is a coastal engineering firm hired by the town to do the following:

    • Annual monitoring, data collection and reporting
    • Assess sand erosion
    • Evaluate nourishment
    • FEMA projects cost reimbursement support
    • Meet government regulatory permitting conditions

Annual monitoring has been occurring since 2001.

We have an engineered beach –
which means it has been nourished and is being monitored.

Update –
Fran Way presented the annual beach monitoring report. They have completed the annual survey of the beach strand. The last two (2) storm events were not included in this report. Primarily they make sure the beach is healthy. Most sections of the beach strand are stable and had accretion compared to baseline conditions comparison. Beach equilibration has occurred, projects are designed to include a volume of sand that the waves and currents will transport offshore to fill in the lower parts of the beach profile. Some of the sand lost off shore has been come back in to the system. Ongoing beach management activity has made the beach strand wider and healthier than it was twenty years ago.

 Ongoing Beach Management Activities

      • USACE 50-year study
      • FEMA coordination
      • LWFIX & Bend-Winder
      • West end analysis
      • LWF Outer Channel Dredging/Navigation

Fran was wandering around during the presentation; the audio was going in and out so you could not hear everything that he said. Speakers need to talk into the microphone in order for us to hear what they are saying. Which part don’t they get?


2.   Presentation of Fiscal Year 2021 – 2022 Audit Results – Elsa Watts, Martin Starnes and Associates (Town Manager Hewett)

Agenda Packet – separate packet

Audit Report » click here

Audit Report Presentation » click here

Financial Highlights

    • The assets and deferred outflows of resources of the Town of Holden Beach exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at the close of the fiscal year by $33,701,211 (net position).
    • The government’s total net position increased by $575,818, primarily due to an increase in the governmental activities of $558,562 and increases in the business-type activities of $17,256.
    • As of the close of the current fiscal year, the Town of Holden Beach’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $40,486,383, an increase of $26,618,439 in comparison with the prior year. Of this amount, $3,761,091 is available for spending at the government’s discretion.
    • At the end of the current fiscal year, unassigned fund balance for the General Fund was $3,761,091, or 83%, of total General Fund expenditures for the fiscal year.

Update –
Auditor’s report for fiscal year 2021 – 2022 audit was presented by Elsa the project manager. The audit was submitted to the Local Government Commission timely and approved with no changes. The auditor Martin Starnes was able to render an unmodified/clean opinion; which is the best possible opinion that you can receive. The good news is that Revenues continue to exceed Expenditures.


3.   Audit Committee Message to the Board of Commissioners on the External Audit for the Year Ending June 30, 2022 – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – pages 13 – 15

The independent auditor’s report presents the audit of the financial statements of the governmental activities, the business type activities and each major fund of the Town of Holden Beach as of and for the year ending June 30,2022. In addition, audits of the Town’s compliance with federal and state requirements for programs funded by grants were performed.

In the auditor’s opinion, the individual fund financial statements, budgetary schedules, and other schedules are fairly stated, in all material respects, in relation to the basic financial statements as a whole. No material or significant deficiencies identified with respect to internal controls over financial reporting were found.

For both Federal and State awards, the were no audit findings required to be reported under either federal or state regulations, nor were any material or significant deficiencies identified with respect to internal controls.

The Town’s financial department is to be commended for its diligence and attention to detail in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, which has resulted in no findings of concern in any of the financial statements or internal controls audited as summarized below.

Audit Committee Report » click here

Update –
The Audit Committee reviewed the audit and submitted the message for the public that is in the agenda packet which is an overview of the salient points. Commissioner Kwiatkowski complemented our staff on having a clean audit.


4.   Audit Committee Recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to Authorize the Town Manager to Issue a Request for Proposals as Soon as Practicable for Contracting with an External Audit Firm – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 16

The 3-year contract with the current external audit firm is expiring. With the heavy workload being experienced by external audit firms, it is important to move quickly to secure a firm for the upcoming 3 years.

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski stated it is usual and customary to change audit firms after a three-year contract. The Audit committee recommends that the BOC’s authorize the Town Manager to put out Request for Proposals as soon as practical. The Board instructed the Town Manager to issue RFP for an external audit firm.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously


5.   Department of Transportation Ocean Boulevard Resurfacing/Bike Path Construction Update – Caitlin Marks (Town Manager Hewett)

Agenda Packet – background information was not provided

Previously reported – October 2021
OBW paving/bike path are still on track, but they were some eighteen (18) to twenty-four (24) months off.

Previously reported – July 2022
The NC Department of Transportation has informed the town that due to permitting issues raised during their review of the Ocean Boulevard Repaving/Bike Lane Project, construction will not begin in September as previously planned. Construction is now scheduled to start after the first of the year. The project will still have a completion date of Memorial Day.

Previously reported – October 2022
NCDOT has contacted the Town and informed us that there is an issue in getting the CAMA permit for the resurfacing/bike lane project. It will require additional work to get it reconciled and execute the contract. They are inconclusive on whether the project will happen this spring, though they are still hoping to complete it before Memorial Day. Not what we want to hear but what we have been told.

Update –
Caitlin did a brief recap for the proposed bike lanes. 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.  They had some issues/challenges with permitting that have been resolved. They successfully got the permit issued on November 9th. In order to do so they agreed to monitor their work for any drainage issues and committed to address them after the project is completed. At the end of this month, they will advertise the project. One month later they will open bids and know what the actual prices for the contract are. At that time, they will decide whether or not to proceed with the project. The date of availability is at the end of January, with a finish date of Memorial Day.


6.   Discussion and Possible Action on the North Side Right-of-Way After Bike Lane Construction – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 17

Bike lane construction on Ocean Blvd is projected to use approximately 3 ft of the current semi vegetated area between the road’s edge and the sidewalk. I have received questions from a few citizens on what is being planned to “fill in” the empty space between the edge of the bike lane and the sidewalk as well as whether some sidewalk modifications might be needed/warranted in areas already subject to significant flooding.

Specifically:

      1. Is it DOT or the Town that will designate what “landscape material” will be used to fill in area between bike lane edge and the sidewalk?
      2. If DOT, do we know what is planned?
      3. If THB, has Staff considered possibilities and preferences?
      4. Is there an approved NC DOT pervious sidewalk option that would provide better drainage and if so could it be beneficial to replace existing sidewalk in areas already subject to flooding?

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski asked Caitlin to respond since they were here at the meeting. The gap will stay what it is now, whatever vegetation grows there. Currently they do not have any pervious material for either the sidewalks or the bike lanes.


7.  Police Report – Chief Jeremy Dixon

Agenda Packet – pages 18 – 23

Police Report » click here


Police Patch
Jeremy reviewed the actions that were taken by them last month

Business as usual for this time of the year


Otto Connect issued 2,311 parking citations for this season with 64,000 vehicles that parked here. The infraction rate was just 3.5%, which is low compared to other towns with paid parking.

The speed limit on Ocean Boulevard did not change this year and it has not been an issue thus far

Chief Dixon recognized the Merchants Association that raised funds of $11,000 for body cameras for the Police Department

Public Service Announcement
Next major event is Run Holden Beach from 7:00am to 12:00pm on Saturday, December 10th. Expect traffic delays, plan accordingly.

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

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.


Neighborhood Watch

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

8.   Inspections Department Report – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 24 – 26

Inspections Report » click here

Update –
Timbo briefly reviewed department activity last month. The department hosted a contractors information seminar that had over seventy (70) contractors that attended this meeting. Timbo congratulated Carey Redwine our new Inspector since she has completed a number of required hurdles and has now obtained a Level 1 certification.


9.  Discussion and Possible Action on the Planning & Zoning Board’s Response to the Board’s Tasker Concerning Frontal Dunes (Code of Ordinances Section 94.03 Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations) – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 27 – 50 which is too large to include here

Frontal Dune Policies

Holden Beach Code of Ordinances Submitted by the Planning & Zoning Board
.   a) 94.03, Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations

Town would like walkways to go over newly created dunes.
.       * Currently there is no requirement to build any walkways

Most walkways are not in compliance including the towns.
.    1) Walkways are supposed to go over the frontal dune, the one closest to the water
.       a) The goal is to minimize people walking across the dunes
.       b) Ordinance has $500 fine for walking on dunes – no citations have been issued

Significant cost to oceanfront property owners.
.     *
No easy or inexpensive solution

Complicating the issue:
.    1)
the situation varies based on location on the island
.    2)
sand and dunes are constantly shifting

It does not make sense to continue to spend money to put sand on the beach strand and then not address this issue.  All agreed we need to protect the dunes, now we need to figure out how we can do that.

Proposed three possible solutions:
.   1) Change ordinance
.   2) Change definition of frontal dune
.   3) Require portable board and chain paths 

Previously reported – June 2022
Discussion and Possible Action to Request that the Planning & Zoning Board Evaluate andPropose any Appropriate Changes to Ordinance §94.03, Frontal Dune Policy and Regulations, in Particular §94.03(C)(2) Regarding Walkway Policies that Limit Construction South of the Frontal Dune as Defined in §94.03(A) With the Exception of Property Owners with Lots that Have More Than 300 Feet from the Seaward Toe of the Frontal Dune to the Last Line of Natural Stable Vegetation and Also Advise the Board on the Suitability of Moving Portions of 94.03 to Chapter 157: Zoning Code – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – pages 178 – 181

At the request of a resident, I have looked at the 1100 block dunes where the concern was raised about walkway restrictions keeping some homeowners from easily accessing the strand across multiple dunes although it is less than 300 ft as stipulated in the current ordinance 94.03, the distance and secondary dune sizes are not insignificant). I think ordinance 94.03 could benefit from a Planning and Zoning Board evaluation and possible suggestions for changes, particularly regarding walkway policies, taking into consideration what some other beach towns are doing. Feedback from P&Z at or before the October BOCM would be an appropriate timeframe. If the Board agrees, an appropriate action would be a motion for P&Z to evaluate and as appropriate propose improvements to ordinance 94.03, with particular attention to walkway restrictions, and also advise the BOCM whether Chapter 94.03 or portions thereof should be moved to Chapter 157 at or before the October BOCM.

 They decided it could benefit from a Planning and Zoning Board evaluation and possible recommendations for any appropriate changes to the Ordinance. It was suggested that they should benchmark off of some of the surrounding island communities. Timbo recommended that a portion of the Ordinance should be moved to Chapter 157. A response was requested at or before the October BOCM. 

Previously reported – October 2022
Discussion and Possible Action on the Planning & Zoning Board’s Response to the Board’s Tasker Concerning Frontal Dunes (Code of Ordinances Section 94.03 Frontal Dune Policies and Regulations) – Inspections Director Evans

Agenda Packet – pages 25 – 27

Subject: Amendments to 94.03 specifically exceptions to walkways with over 300 feet to the last line of Natural Stable Vegetation.

The Board tasked the Planning Board with review of the 94.03, The TOHBPB reviewed and discussed Ordinance 94.03 and asked the staff to return  with options, Planning staff presented  5 options to the Planning Board at the next scheduled meeting. The Planning Board advertised the proposed changes to the public and then voted to send the approved changes forward to the Board.

Note: Town staff supports these changes.

The Planning & Zoning Board voted unanimously on September 27, 2022 to send forward option 5 (see attached), to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

Staff recommended changes to remain in 94.03

Staff input: Assistant Town Manager Christy Ferguson, Development service Officer Rhonda Wooten, Planning and Inspections Director Timothy Evans, and Public Works Director Chris Clemmons

§94.03 FRONTAL DUNE POLICIES AND REGULATIONS

 (2)   Frontal dune policy and restrictions.

         (a)   Whenever property owners elect to construct a walkway across the frontal dune on their property, to provide pedestrian access to the beach strand, the following specifications shall apply. (Note: the same criteria applies when property owners seek to apply for town approval of an encroachment agreement to construct a walkway over public property adjacent to their residence.)

    1. The walkway shall be constructed only of building materials approved by the North Carolina State Building Code North Carolina Building Code. The walking passageway shall be no wider than four feet. The underside of the walkway across the frontal dune shall be a minimum of 18 inches and a maximum of 36 inches above the crest of the sand. Exception: Town owned CAMA accessways may utilize a six-foot walkway.
    2. The first step down to the beach strand shall be placed no farther seaward than the beginning of the downward slope of the dune, or the existing line of escarpment determined by averaging the downward slope or escarpment line for the property in question and those properties directly adjacent.
    3. Steps shall be of open tread construction with a maximum riser height of eight and one-quarter inches and a minimum tread depth of nine inches and shall meet the requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code North Carolina Residential Building Code.
    4. In accordance with North Carolina State Division of Coastal Management’s enforcement of the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA), the walkway access to the beach strand over the frontal dune shall be conclusively presumed to entail negligible alteration of the dune. The walkway shall be raised on posts or pilings a minimum of two feet and a maximum of five feet depth into the dune. In no case shall the walkway be permitted if it will, in the opinion of the Local CAMA Permit Officer, diminish the dune’s capacity as a protective barrier against flooding and erosion.
    5. Except for handicap ramps, steps from the walkway to the beach strand shall be placed only perpendicular to the frontal dune line.
    6. No structure other than the one four-foot-wide wooden walkway shall be located south of the landward toe of the frontal dune. This applies to decks, gazebos, sitting areas and other additions that a property owner may desire to make to the allowed walkway. Structures (other than the four-foot walkway) that exist when this section is adopted may remain in place temporarily; however, all such structures must be removed no later than December 31, 2003, in order to be in compliance with this section. A building permit is required if there are any repairs needed to walkway load bearing surfaces, such as supporting posts. Adding additional lengths to supporting posts shall constitute a repair. Exception: town-owned CAMA accessways may utilize a six-foot walkway. Exception: property owners with lots that have more than 300 feet from the seaward toe of the frontal dune to the last line of natural stable vegetation, as determined by the local CAMA officer, may install a single walkway with a maximum width of four feet; the walkway shall be a minimum of three feet high with a maximum height not to exceed four feet; and shall terminate at the last line of natural stable vegetation. Walkways shall be permitted and built-in accordance with all federal, state and local building requirements. Exception: swimming pools may be located south of the town’s designated frontal dune; placement of pools and decking shall not extend more than 50 feet from the established seaward toe of designated frontal dune. This exception only applies when the CAMA dune is more seaward than the town’s frontal dune. 

Timbo reported that they considered five (5) options and selected this one. Text was amended and there were no substantial changes proposed. Commissioner Kwiatkowski asked him for more information on the Planning & Zoning Board’s response to the Board’s tasker. She didn’t just want their recommendation but also wanted to see how they came to that conclusion. By Board consensus they asked him to come back with support information for their position. He agreed to provide more information at the next scheduled meeting.

No decision was made – No action taken


It was my understanding that  they were supposed to be reviewing allowing walkways that were less than 300 feet as stipulated in the current ordinance. The proposed ordinance does not appear to address this issue. 

Update –
Timbo stated that he was asked to bring this back with support information for their position. He provided the information which is included in the agenda packet. Bottomline is that they considered five (5) options and selected this one. He said that it seems that the general consensus including CAMA on protecting the beach strand is that they believe it is better not to have these structures going out to the frontal dunes. He thinks that the original concern was that people were cutting pathways through the dunes. He asked the question: Which is better to have people walk through the dunes or walkways that go all the way out. Apparently the staff and the Planning & Zoning Board feel not having walkways is better. They decided to put it on the next regular meeting agenda to consider adopting the text changes.


10.  Condition and Safety Issues with Town-Owned Property at 796 Ocean Boulevard West – Joel Ehle, Homeowner 798 Ocean Boulevard West (Mayor Holden)

Agenda Packet – pages 51 – 72 which is too large to include here

My name is Joel Ehle. My parents built their dream home at 798 OBW in 1983. Our family has come to Holden Beach and “Double Happiness” every year since. We now have four generations of Ehle’s regularly coming to Holden Beach and Double Happiness.

I would have liked to have come and make a presentation in person at the June 15th meeting, but I live in Texas and have just returned from two weeks at Double Happiness. Therefore, I am asking my letter to be read into the record for the meeting and for the Town of Holden Beach to take quick actions to address the deteriorating conditions of 796 Ocean Blvd West, formally Sandy Side and more recently Two Views.

Since the City began using 796 OBW as a base for the construction of the new pump station, it does not appear any basic maintenance  has been done on the exterior  of the house.  Screens are torn and flapping in  the wind, green mold and mildew is prevalent  on the siding, the siding is fading and in need   of replacing or repainting, the AC stands are in disrepair, the ACs leaning and rusting, the painted trim is peeling, and bare wood exposed with rusted nail stains, and there has been an antenna installed at the back of the house and a wire strung from the antenna to a connection point on the side of the house.

That is a verbal picture of what we, our guests, and our renter see first as the start up the stairs to our home.

Without quick and decisive action on the part of the Town, 796 OBW will continue to deteriorate and be not just an eyesore, but a safety hazard. It will also be a detriment to the reviews and returning guest rentals for Double Happiness.

My request is for the Town of Holden Beach to allocate funds to bring this property up to a common standard of maintenance and appearance and to complete the repairs as soon as possible.

I am attaching pictures of 796 OBW so that the Mayor, Commissioners, and the City Manager can see for themselves how this house has fallen into major disrepair.

Why am I here – What is my ask?

    • June 8, 2021, Letter to the Board of Commissioners (attached in Appendix)
    • Letter was included in the June 15, 2021, Commissioner’s Meeting Packet
    • Letter stated, “My request is for  the  Town of Holden Beach to  allocate funds to bring this property up to a common standard of maintenance and appearance and to complete the repairs as soon as “
    • Fast Forward almost 18-Months to this evening:
        • No response from the Board of Commissioners
        • Nothing of substance has been done to maintain 796 OBW
        • Building is continuing to deteriorate
        • Lawn/ Lot overgrowth and lack of proper maintenance continue
        • Property continues to be a health and safety hazard
        • Breeding ground for rodents, snakes, and other pests
        • My family and my guests must look at this eyesore
    • This time, I am here in person to make the
    • Please, please, please take responsibility for the proper maintenance of 796 OBW
        • Prep, Prime, and Paint exterior surfaces
        • Repair/ Replace damaged wood
        • Remove or replace exterior rusting HAVC units
        • Remove or replace exterior HAVC stands
        • Clear overgrowth in landscape
        • Clear trash and storm damage materials from lot
        • Remove TV Antenna and wire hanging from back of building
        • Remove or replace torn screens

Previously reported – September 2019
Ordinance 19-15, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance (#3)

    1. Provide funds for purchase of property at 796 OBW – approved $349,000
    2. A significant portion of the cost of acquiring this property is offset by us no longer needing to do additional acoustical engineering.

Previously reported – January 2020
We need to determine what we will do with the building. The first step is deciding how you want to use the property. Pat’s position is that we need to keep the building because of noise abatement issues. The board wanted to hand this off to the Parks & Recreation Committee for them to develop some potential uses.

Previously reported – February 2020
Most of the discussion was over what the next step should be. It can be characterized as: which comes first the chicken or the egg? The choice between sending it to the Parks & Rec Board or sending it to Timbo in the Planning & Inspections Department. Between us, this is the same exact discussion we had last month but here we are again. By sending it to the Planning Department first, the thinking is that it will help to narrow down the parameters of what we can do there. Once we know what we can do then we can discuss what we would prefer to do. Consensus was to send it to Timbo now and hold off on tasking Parks & Rec Board.

Tax records has the building value at $186,710
The
50% rule means most you can spend renovating is $93,355

Previously reported – September 2020
We still have no game plan for what we will do with this property that was purchased one (1) year ago.

Previously reported – November 2021
In the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan potential use of 796 OBW as a community recreation resource is highlighted (page 38) with several options for community use, and a proposed budget with no specifics is given (150K in 23/24). In addition, when the property was purchased, the board and staff brainstormed possible uses.

It would be beneficial for the Board to have input from the Parks and Rec Committee on how they envision using 796 OBW in advance of our budgeting for FY 22/23. A list of the top 2 or 3 more complete. Using descriptions with an estimated time needed to upgrade/renovate and estimated total costs for each by the February 2022 BOCM would be helpful to the Board.

THB Parks & Recreation Master Plan / 796 Ocean Boulevard

    • Consider reuse of this structure as a community recreation resource
    • Bathhouse (restrooms/showers)
    • Classroom or exhibit space
    • Rentable meeting space (with kitchen)
    • Improve parking layout
    • Improve accessibility ADA

Previously reported – January 2022
The Parks & Rec Master Plan lists a number of options for this facility. The Board is requesting that the Parks & Rec committee prioritizes them and recommend what they envision the building be used for. They would like a response from the committee by the BOC’s scheduled February meeting.

Previously reported – February 2022
PRAB Chair John McEntire made the presentation. He addressed the issues as the tasker required them to do. He went through the process that they took and briefly reviewed all considerations. They focused on the potential intended use of the property. They identified and explored several options. The PRAB determined that the property is optimally located to serve as a community center recreational facility as envisioned in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.

Update –
Joel homeowner at 798 OBW talked about the condition of 796 OBW a town owned property. He had a slide presentation; the pictures are in the agenda packet. A picture is worth a thousand words, it was an effective way to show how neglected the property is and that it currently is an eyesore. He is simply requesting that the Town of Holden Beach take actions to address the deteriorating conditions there. Commissioner Kwiatkowski reminded everyone that we purchased the building and need to keep it because of noise abatement issues with the adjacent lift station. Regardless of the plans for the building, basic maintenance needs to be performed periodically. Commissioner Dyer said that we need to revisit the master plan and decide what we are doing with that building. The staff is working to get an engineering analysis for the property  done. Christy said we don’t have funds allocated and it doesn’t make sense to spend any more money on the property until we decide what we are doing there. They agreed to clean it up, so it was presentable and not an eyesore without spending any significant funds. The Board asked staff to take care of any maintenance possible while the analysis is being completed .


11.  Ian After Action Report – Town Manager Hewett

Agenda Packet – pages 73 – 86 which is too large to include here

Hurricane Ian After Action Report Presentation » click here

Previously reported – October 2022
David gave a brief report, his subjective opinion, as to how our beach strand held up during the storm event. There was very little damage during Hurricane Ian to the engineered portion of the beach.  He estimates that it will take approximately $300,000 to bring sand fencing and plantings to as before condition. Recognized that the west end did get hit hard with damage to walkways, dunes and vegetation there. They do not intend to survey either to quantify or qualify any sand loss since no funds are available. Beach equilibration has occurred.

Update –
David had a slide presentation called Quick Rinse to review and evaluate: Expectations, Reality, Outcomes, Review Operations Procedures. The storm event was forecasted as a low-grade Category 1 hurricane, which gave us a false sense of security. He estimated the damage to be in the eight (8) million-dollar range not including any damages to the beach strand. D
espite the raised stations the system doesn’t work when they are under a few feet of water caused by the storm surge.


12.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Ward and Smith, P.A. Engagement Letter – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson
a. Ordinance 22-25, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 4)

Agenda Packet – pages 87 – 91

Ward and Smith, P.A. in conjunction with the Ferguson Group represents the town in advocacy matters at the federal level as related to beach renourishment, Lockwood Folly Inlet maintenance, and dredge material disposal sites . Their contract also includes three additional areas to be determined based on town needs. We received their contract for 2023 (attachment 2) and the monthly retainer will be $9,225 per month, plus out-of-pocket expenses that typically total approximately $2,000 per month for The Ferguson Group. Approval of the contract would require a budget amendment (attachment 1), to increase BPART Professional Services expenses by $44,900 funded by a Fund Balance Appropriated increase of $44,900. The remainder of the contract will be executed through existing funds in the Canal Dredging Budget specific to the item on dredge material disposal sites .

Suggested Motion: Approval of Ward and Smith contract for 2023 and associated budget amendment, including directing the manager to execute the contract.

Previously reported – December 2020
The retainer for their services is $7,975 per month or a minimum of $95,700 annually. Retainer is the minimum it will cost us. Ferguson Group services are billed separately. Additionally, we are billed monthly for all kinds of additional charges. The agreement with Ward and Smith is for an annual total estimated advocacy cost of $119,700.

Previously reported – December 2021
The retainer for services will be $9,225 per month. Unless either of us terminates this engagement, this retainer will remain in place from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. Out -of-pocket expenses and costs relating to our representation are not included in the monthly fee but will be billed separately as incurred. Our work under this new contract will commence after we receive authorization from you. The monthly retainer in any event will be the minimal fee for our services rendered during any portion of the month for which is paid.

The retainer for their services is $9,225 per month or a minimum of $110,700 annually. Retainer is the minimum it will cost us. This is a 15.6% increase over last year’s retainer fee.

Update –
Our lobbyist Mike McIntyre with Ward & Smith in conjunction with the Ferguson Group represents the town in advocacy matters at the federal level as it is related to beach renourishment. The agreement with Ward and Smith is for an annual total estimated advocacy cost of $134,700. A motion was made for approval of the contract and associated budget amendment.

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


13.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 22-26, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (Amendment No. 5) – Assistant Town Manager Ferguson

Agenda Packet – pages 92 – 93

The attached budget amendment recognizes the CAMA grant funds for the pier acquisition that were previously accepted through contract by the board. The funds in the amount $166,484 will be placed in a line titled CAMA Grants-Pier and will result in a decrease to the accommodations tax line in the same amount. Since the decrease in occupancy tax revenue will result in a $27,448 decrease in remittance to the county, a corresponding decrease in fund balance appropriated will be used to equalize revenues and expenses.

Suggested Motion: Approval of Budget Amendment

Moved funds of $27,448
From Revenue account #50.0399.0000 to Expense account#50.0410.0000

Update –
Housekeeping item, motion was approved as submitted

A decision was made – Approved unanimously 


  • 14.  Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance 22-27, An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 22-14, The Revenues and Appropriations Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023 (AmendmentNo. 6) – Budget and Fiscal Analyst McRainey

Agenda Packet – pages 94 – 95

This amendment adds interest accounts for the town’s various debt services. Adding these accounts was suggested by the auditor to streamline end of year entries and financial statement preparation. This amendment will also aid in the implementation of the town’s new debt tracking software .

The recommended motion: is to approve Ordinance 22-27

 Update –
The amendment adds interest accounts at the auditor’s recommendation. Housekeeping item, motion was approved as submitted.

  • A decision was made – Approved unanimously

    15.  Discussion and Possible Action on Sewer Station Planning – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

    Agenda Packet – page 96

    Several months ago, the Town Manager indicated there were issues at Station 1 that might require work to be done. What is the status of the evaluation and is additional capital budget going to be required in the upcoming 18 months to perform repairs/upgrades.

    Some citizens have had questions regarding the resiliency of our sewer system given the recent impact of Hurricane Ian. The 2017 McGill sewer system report suggests an option for lift station construction that would improve flood resistance (option 3).

    Questions I have received follow (current program engineer’s opinion could be useful)

      • Would option 3 have prevented the Ian shutdown?
      • If yes, should lift station 2 be built to option 3 and
      • If yes, should planning put in place to remediate stations 3 and 4?

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski posed the questions on sewer station planning and Chris Clemmons the Public Works Director responded. We were informed that the issues at sewer station #1 have been resolved. The bottom line is that the options referenced in the McGill report are unnecessary and we would be spending money that will not fix the issues we had this time. Chris stated again that the system doesn’t work when they are under a few feet of water.


16.  Request for Staff for Expanded Financial Reporting of Professional Services and Recently Purchased Pier Projects – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 97

The BOC requested details on professional service expenses and the creation of a pier project plan (Block Q should be done as well) with cost categories to be able to follow revenues and expenses by categories. Professional service costs have reached a % of budget where details are warranted, and the pier project is showing first changes, so it is an appropriate time to add line items and begin categorization of expenses.

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski reminded staff that the Board asked for this during the budget process.


17.  Request for Owner Input on Retaining Rights-of-Way Parking in Non-Designated Parking Areas Outside Paid Parking Hours During Season and in Offseason Months Next Year – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 98

The BOC decided to allow ROW parking outside designated paid parking times after some residents indicated they did not realize when answering a survey question on disallowing parking in the ROW that it would be illegal for owners and their guests to park in ROW adjacent to their homes. Before proceeding with trying to come up with possible solutions for owners, I would like to understand whether a significant number of owners on impacted residential streets (not OB, not in gated communities) believe they want/need ROW parking ln their vicinity.

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski wanted to revisit rights-of-way parking since there was some misunderstanding by the public. She is questioning whether the public is satisfied with what we have. But if there are concerns the Board needs to know about them. Commissioner Smith intends to meet with stakeholders sometime around the end of the year and review and discuss lessons learned. So, the request from the Board is that now is the time to tell them if they were adversely impacted as the ordinance is written.

 


KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

 

.

Generally speaking, a right-of-way is an easement. So, the town does not own the property in the public right-of-way, just the right to use the land. Typically, property owners can use the right-of-way as they can the rest of their property, but subject to the possibility of it being utilized at some point in the future. I totally get that. It’s that the public is entitled to park in the rights-of-way that I’m really struggling with. So let me get this straight, you spend big bucks to landscape your property and put in an irrigation system, but the public can park on your property trashing your landscaping and irrigation system. In what universe does this make any sense? Seriously, am I the only one that questions why we allow cars to park in the rights-of-way anywhere on the island? The original intent of the Parking Committee was to eliminate all rights-of-way parking. However, not allowing any parking in the rights-of-way creates its own set of problems. Commissioner Murdock said at one of the BOC’s meetings that most property owners do not want people parking in their yard, we need to eliminate parking in the rights-of-way. We need to find a solution to the parking problem, an alternative to rights-of-way parking by providing a reasonable number of parking spots. As for all ordinance considerations, it is important that any definitions and conditions are clear to help owners avoid inadvertent errors and enable enforcement. In other words, it needs to be standardized, and easily understood by the public. Just so you know, the public can legally park their vehicles in the rights-of-way excluding regulated areas listed in the ordinance at this time of the year. I am the editor of the newsletter, and it was news to me. 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 park in the  rights-of-way. Parking should only be in designated parking spaces whether its paid parking or not, plain and simple.

I encourage you to send an email, whether for or against, to heather@hbtownhall.com.


18.  Request for Staff for Status of Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Study Information Request to the Corps of Engineers – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

Agenda Packet – page 99

Request to Staff for Status of CSDR Study Information Request to ACE (minutes of year 1 meetings, further cost details by month), discussion and action as needed.

Update –
Commissioner Kwiatkowski stated we are entitled to receive this information. David said we had not received the information that was requested. Pat asked David to follow up on their original request for information.


  • 19.  Town Manager’s Report

FEMA storm damage repair project (CRP2)
THB has requested formal project closeout. $600k in eligible project expenses reimbursement is still pending until final inspection is completed.

Tax Values
The County tax administrator has informed us that the tax values on Holden Beach are up approximately 65%. A revenue neutral tax rate is the rate decrease that is necessary to generate the same amount of revenue, based on increased property values that will be established by the County property revaluation this year.  Town Manager Hewett responded that based on the increased property values we would need to change our tax rate from 20 cents to 11 cents per $100 of property valuation in order to have a revenue neutral tax rate. The caveat is that this number was just a ballpark figure and he doesn’t have exact figures at this time.

Paid Parking
Done for the year, the revenue from the first season is $455,000

Planning & Inspections Director Tim Evans
Timbo was congratulated for his workshop and other activities.  He has been the subject of two investigations, and both have been dismissed. The Town Manager thanked him for his work. 

General Federation of Women’s Club (GFWC)
Thank you to the GFWC of Holden Beach for their hard work and accomplishment of placing a little free library in Sailfish Park. Club members created a design, and asked members’ husbands to help build and paint a beautiful addition to our park. GFWC’s have been instrumental to little free libraries across the country. Thank you for your contribution to our community!

 Visit our Facebook page to see pictures from the ceremony.


In Case You Missed It –


Town of Holden Beach Newsletter (11/10/22)
Veterans Day Proclamation
Happy Veterans Day to our soldiers, both past and present. We appreciate all of the dedicated veterans who have served our great nation. Click here to read a proclamation issued by Mayor Holden honoring our veterans.


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On September 30, 2022, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to December 16, 2022.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on December 16, 2022


                  Christmas Lights

Public Works have put up snow flake decorations on the boulevard light poles

Purple street lights are not part of the holiday decorations they are the LED’s failing



Upcoming Events –


Turkey Trot
The Town of Holden Beach will hold its eighth annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, November 24th at 8 a.m. All individuals interested in participating should call 910.842.6488 to register. Please bring a canned food item to donate to the local food pantry.


Tree Lighting
Come one, Come all!
The Town of Holden Beach will hold its fourteenth annual Tree Lighting annual tree lighting ceremony on Thursday, December 1st at 6 pm, entertainment starts at 5:15pm.

Merry Twistmas!
We will have two contests this year. Bring your best Twist moves for our Merry Twistmas Contest and get dressed up for our Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.


Sandy Paws Dog Parade
Join us on Saturday, December 2nd at 10:00 am outside the Town Hall Public Assembly for our annual Sandy Paws Dog Parade. This will be a short walk to the Pavilion where you can have you dog’s picture taken with Santa.


 

Run Holden Beach
The eighth annual Run Holden Beach event is scheduled on Saturday, December 10th.


The Chapel Choir’s Christmas Musical Performance
The Holden Beach Choir is preparing for its second Christmas concert with a live orchestra. On Sunday December 11th at 7:00 pm, the choir will present the musical I Have Seen the Light, accompanied by a Chamber Orchestra composed of strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. It is going to be a beautiful evening of Christmas music you will not want to miss. Mark your calendars now for this very special Christmas concert. It will be the highlight of your holiday season.


20. Executive Session Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a)(3), To Consult with the Town Attorney  – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

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, December 20th

     


    .

      • Request for Qualifications (RFQ).     .     1) Block Q
            2) Pier Properties
        .     3) Water Tower
        .     4) Stormwater

 


.
I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family and friends

and all of the memories that make you thankful!

November 24, 2022


    • .

    • Hurricane Season
      For more information » click here.

      Be prepared – have a plan!

No matter what a storm outlook is for a given year,
vigilance and preparedness is urged.


How Rare Are November Hurricanes?
November hurricanes and tropical storms such as Nicole are relatively rare, but they can—and do—form
November weather in most of North America is synonymous with chilly breezes rustling through red, yellow and orange leaves as fall edges closer to winter. It’s generally not a time people associate with destructive tropical cyclones churning toward the U.S.—but that’s exactly what is happening as Tropical Storm Nicole bears down on Florida, where it is expected to make landfall as a hurricane. Though such tropical systems are less common at this time of year, the official Atlantic hurricane season actually lasts through November 30. And storms can form even after that point, as notably happened during the blockbuster 2005 season when Tropical Storm Zeta shockingly formed on December 20 and lasted until January 6. Hurricane season, which begins on June 1, brackets the time of year when atmospheric and ocean conditions are most suitable for storm formation. The season peaks sharply from the end of August through early October, when ocean warmth at end of summer coincides with wind conditions that are generally more favorable to storm formation. Storm activity “starts to decline pretty quickly once November 1 hits,” says Jill Trepanier, a hurricane researcher at Louisiana State University. That drop means November is also “the quietest month from the perspective of U.S. landfall activity,” says Ryan Truchelut, a meteorologist and co-founder of WeatherTiger, a private weather-forecasting group. Only 10 tropical storms and three hurricanes have struck the U.S. during November going back to 1851, he says, so on average such a landfall would happen about every 10 to 15 years. There are some years that are true outliers. Three November storms, one of them a hurricane, formed in 2005. More recently, “November was crazy in 2020,” Truchelut says, thanks to exceptionally warm waters in the Caribbean. Hurricane Eta hit Nicaragua as a category 4 storm, followed two weeks later by another category 4 hurricane, Iota. Any storms that do form in November tend to be weaker for the same reasons they are somewhat rare. As fall progresses, solar energy shifts from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere and more northerly latitudes rapidly cool down, Trepanier explains. This creates a big contrast with the lingering warmth farther south, strengthening the polar jet stream—which then sends incursions of cold air southward. These incursions increase a feature called wind shear (when winds vary in speed and direction at different levels of the atmosphere), and that in turn disrupts the convection at the core of tropical systems that powers them. Though Nicole will probably be relatively weak in terms of wind speed, its winds cover a large area and are thus expected to bring storm surge to the entire east coast of Florida. This happens to coincide with a period of higher-than-normal high tides, which will amplify surge amounts. Historically, any November storms that do hit the U.S. have tended to strike Florida because they most commonly form in the nearby western Caribbean, Truchelut says. The most recent November hurricane to hit the state was Kate, which struck the Florida panhandle on November 22, 1985, as a category 2 storm. Nicole will set the record for the latest in the season that a storm has hit the state’s east coast. The previous record holder was the Yankee Hurricane, which made landfall near Miami Beach on November 4, 1935 (this was before meteorologists began giving official names to hurricanes and tropical storms). Having a late-season threat from Nicole so relatively soon after Eta hit the state as a tropical storm in 2020—twice—raises the question of whether late-season storms will become more frequent as climate change brings warmer ocean waters, Truchelut says. A study he co-authored, published earlier this year in Nature Communications, looked for statistical evidence that the hurricane season might be growing longer at both ends. Though this research found strong evidence that the season is starting earlier, that evidence was weak for the end of the season. It is possible there is a trend that simply cannot yet be detected, he notes, because “it’s hard to get a trend for rare events.” Nicole also underscores the lesson that people living in hurricane-prone areas need to keep paying attention and be prepared to act on forecasts, even after the peak of the season has passed, Trepanier says. “Driving home that point is important.”
Read more » click here


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