It's Thursday May 23, 2013
July 20, 2012
I have no idea what the Oriental Town Board has decided about the sale/trade/exchange/ abandonment of the South Avenue property or what the valuation/appraisal of the Avenue A, South Avenue, vs. Chris Fulcher’s property has produced.
I do make note that two of the most used pieces of property in Oriental: the Wildlife boat ramp property given by Mrs. G. P. Midyette (Miss Irma) in 1974 and Lou-Mac Park given by Mattie B. and L.F. McCabe and L. B. Midyett in 1921, were outright gifts, albeit with caveats that they could only be used for public purposes. These are easily accessible, open, and much appreciated properties serving multiple and varied users.
The Town Board relies on property taxes and designated State funds along with water, sewer, and trash pickup fees to provide the legally required operation of the Town. It takes for granted and relies on the citizens of Oriental to provide everything else: the businesses, the committee members, organized groups and individuals who bring visitors and new residents to the Town to enhance the tax base. These are the same citizens whose questions and opinions are dismissed or not valued enough to be addressed, in too many instances.
The South Avenue etc. proposal is one such instance in my opinion. Previous Town Boards in the not too distant past had been very clear that no town R/Ws leading to a water body would be abandoned, examples being between the Cisco and Roe properties and between the Stallings and Stansbury homes and the end of Wall St.
I hope that it is not too late for the Board to consider what the future ramifications of their proposed actions will be and perhaps, if the members are so wedded to their present positions, they will add some protective caveats to their action.
Although I agree with Mr. Kruger’s initial point regarding how valuable his right of way is to him today, I think his conclusion is flawed and based of conjectures about what is going to happen in the future. In any event, when compared to the town’s right of ways, it is like comparing apples to oranges.
The right of way of Avenue A and South Street have little dollar value to the town. Those same right of ways have enormous value to Chris Fulcher. If you simply look at a map of the area, you will plainly see that Chris Fulcher owns all of the land on both sides of those right of ways. If the town abandons them, it will make Mr. Fulcher’s property from the harbor to the Neuse River.
Divided by those right of ways, the majority of that land is relatively undevelopable; having those same right of ways as part of his property give him enormous development opportunities.
I sincerely hope that the Mayor and Town Board have instructed the appraiser they have hired to look at the properties in that way. This is why I find the decision by the Board at the last meeting, given the public’s opposition, to close Avenue A, thus, in effect, giving that land to Chris Fulcher, both questionable and irresponsible.
Who exactly do the Mayor and Town Board serve?
I would like to point out that owning property and owning a “right of way” are not the same thing. As part of the deed to my property on Broad Creek, there exists a “right of way” across my neighbor’s land that allows me to access the property I own outright. My neighbor has no such “right of way,” since he owns the underlying property and needs no one else’s permission to use his own property. But my neighbor is not free to use this part of his property in any way that would prevent me from accessing my property, so my “right of way” restricts how my neighbor can utilize his own property. For example, he cannot install a windmill.
So, what is my “right of way worth” and can I sell it? Good questions. My “right of way” is worth a great deal to me right now, since without it, I would have no way to access my property, except by boat. Never a good option. Can I sell it any way? I suppose, but that would be rather foolish, and to whom else would it have value, save my neighbor, who wants to erect that aforementioned windmill? Now fast forward fifty years to a time when the waters of Broad Creek will have risen three feet, as we are assured they certainly will, and what was once my property will be awash (I, of course, will be dead.) The poor new owner has likely moved far away and no longer uses his “right of way.” The “right of way,” which had once held great value, will have lost its value to the new owner, due to global warming. But my neighbor, who is immortal, still wants to erect that windmill. It would seem like the neighborly thing for the owner of what was once my “right of way” to relinquish his “right of way” to what has become worthless swamp land. He would give up something that has become worthless to himself, but retains some, though not great, value to his neighbor, the actual owner of the property in question.
Swapping a “right of way” for ownership of a parcel of land is not a “land swap” at all. That is a misnomer. Rather, to “swap” a “right of way” for outright land ownership is to trade something ephemeral for something tangible.
Letter to the Editor,
The debate about the “Land Swap” is finally down to where it should have been all along. The merits of the South Avenue Terminus versus the merits of the property offered to the Town of Oriental by Chris Fulcher. After Chris Fulcher bought, from Lacy Henry, all remaining rights to the land at the end of the peninsula , Avenue “A” ceased to serve any public interest. It was originally dedicated to serve a development that was washed away by a hurricane. Lacy Henry owned the only other pieces of property adjacent to Avenue “A”. In his purchase, Mr. Fulcher, also acquired the adjacent rights to the terminus of South Avenue. The difference between the two rights of way is that only the South Avenue terminus has access to the public waters of Raccoon Creek. That is a valid “public interest” that extends beyond the interests of the underlying and adjacent property owners.
What remains is the difference in value. There are two kinds of value to be considered. One value is in dollars. To determine the dollar value of the South Avenue Terminus I can only assume that any appraiser would treat it as a “fee simple” property. That would mean that it would be valued as if the town owned the land underlying our “easement” over that land. It will be an artificial value but will be useful in comparing the two pieces of property. The property Chris Fulcher is offering to donate can be fairly easily appraised as it is all “fee simple” property. The second kind of value is what I consider the most important. That value is based on the difference in the quality of our access to Raccoon Creek, the comparative differences in how the property can be developed to benefit our citizens and the comparative differences in how the property can be leveraged to bring necessary tourism dollars to the town.
I ask our citizens to think about the latter value, read the many letters and commentaries that have been written about this value and come to your own decision. This has been my thought process since the beginning of this deal. I still believe that the “Land Swap” is good for the Town of Oriental.
(Larry Summers is an Oriental Town Commissioner)
No, Carol Small is not the only person who thinks “The Emperor has no clothes!”. The actions at the July 2 meeting were unbelievable.
The Town’s attorney said that requiring an appraisal of the properties was by far the most prudent option for the Board to take.
Commissioner Venturi then made a motion that the sale be postponed until such an independent appraisal was done of the properties in the swap. That motion was passed with yes votes from Venturi, Johnson and Bessette.
Immediately after the vote to appraise the properties involved in the swap — which are the South Street right of way and the Avenue A right of way — Commissioner Summers made a motion that we close, what we think was Avenue A.
I say “what we think was Avenue A” because the motion described the area to be closed by certain boundaries that no one in the room could completely understand. At that point, both Jeff Aydelette and I asked the board to please point out that area being described in the motion, on the map projected on the wall. The Mayor’s answer was we were out of order and refused to offer any further explanation of the area described in the motion.
Immediately after our requests were denied, the Mayor called for a vote, and interestingly both Commissioners Venturi and Bessette voted to close at least 40% of the area they had just voted to have appraised.
Not only did that vote make no common sense at all, but the actions of the Mayor in refusing to clarify the area being closed, goes right back to the objection raised by many — the lack of transparency regarding the transaction.
I would also like to point out that while 10 people spoke for and 10 people spoke against the land swap, four of those who spoke in favor of it are related by marriage to the Town Manager (who negotiated the transaction in the first place) or the Mayor.
When I spoke at the hearing, the first sentence of my letter submitted for the record read “First let me say that it is not my intention to befriend any one of you, but rather to stand up for what I believe to be the best interest of the majority of citizens of Oriental.” That
same sentence applies to this letter.
I must apologize for my rudeness last night but I was so disappointed in the outcome of the meeting. The big bargaining chip in our negotiations was Avenue A. Now that bargaining chip is gone with no gain to the town.
I must be way out on left field with my thinking because so many of the leading townsfolk are for the swap as it stands. And I was surprised that only 70 people signed the petition. Those who spoke for the swap last night were friends who I trust. But, I wonder, am I the little child who is not afraid to say, “The Emperor has no clothes!”?
Why is giving Chris Fulcher the answer to his dreams of conjoining his properties making the whole much more valuable than the parts were before gaining access to Avenue A so important to our commissioners? Why couldn’t that parcel have been held as a bargaining chip to gain more of the property at the end of South Avenue?
I think the plans for the new towndock and facilities are really wonderful. My problem is that we are receiving so little for this plan. There is more property we could have asked for making the plans for bathrooms, docks, etc. more possible. I wonder if the grandiose plans outlined last night will in actuality fit on the parcel we think we are gaining?
Again either I’m way off base, or could I be the one saying, “The Emperor has no clothes!”?
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