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Comment On Fulcher Sandblast/Paint Yard, Take 2
CAMA Official: Public "Shortchanged" By Lack of Notice
July 19, 2017

S
aying the public had been “shortchanged,” an official with the Division of Coastal Management on Tuesday announced a new public comment period regarding Chris Fulcher’s proposed trawler sandblasting/painting operation at the edge of Oriental’s harbor.

The public now has until August 14th to submit comments on whether Fulcher should be granted a CAMA (Coastal Area Management Act) major permit for the project that is being called, Fulcher Point.

As TownDock.net learned and reported last Friday, there had been a public comment period whose deadline was the next day, Saturday, July 15. But the required notification – a paid legal notice that appeared once in the Pamlico News on June 21 – failed to mention that July 15 was the deadline.

fulcher point
Paid legal notice in the Pamlico News (highlighted here in yellow) did not mention the deadline for public comment.

The newspaper’s error had “shortchanged the public’s ability to comment on the project,” said Doug Huggett, manager of Major Permits Section at DCM, “or at least put some confusion out there.” For that reason, the agency has extended the deadline and is now accepting public comments through August 14.

CAMA Is also rectifying another public notice issue, . A CAMA spokeswoman said a CAMA staffer would travel to Oriental Tuesday to physically post a paper on Chris Fulcher’s property notifying the public of the public comment period. CAMA is doing this because it learned that there was no such paper posted at the site as of Saturday.

fulcher point
No sign of a sign at Fulcher lot on the Oriental harbor on Saturday.

According to CAMA’s Brad Connell, Chris Fulcher should have had the manilla sign posted on site “in a conspicuous place” throughout the public comment period. CAMA usually leaves this task to the applicant – in this case, Chris Fulcher – but given the question of whether it was ever posted, CAMA was dispatching an employee from Morehead City to Fulcher’s property on the Oriental harbor to ensure the notice was posted.

fulcher point
Division of Coastal Management says the applicant should have a sign posted on site in a conspicuous place, to let the public know of the chance to comment about the proposed project . None was seen at Fulcher’s lot on Saturday.

(Town Manager Diane Miller has raised the possibility that Fulcher might have posted the sign on a phone pole he subsequently had removed. However, the removal occurred on June 29 – according to Miller – 16 days before the deadline.)

The end result is that the public comment period came and went without the public being aware of the opportunity. CAMA’s Brad Connell says there is one comment from the public in the file.That may well be the Oriental resident who told TownDock he sent a comment to CAMA not knowing when an official comment period started or stopped.

According to the new notices – both on Fulcher’s lot and in a coming edition of the Pamlico News – members of the public who have a comment, are asked to write to:

Braxton C. Davis,
Director, Division of Coastal Management,
400 Commerce Avenue,
Morehead City, N.C. 28557

Doug Huggett, adds that the public may also email their comments to him and others involved in the CAMA permitting process.

Doug.Huggett@ncdenr.gov , Manager, Major Permits & Federal Consistency, Division of Coastal Management Gregg.Bodnar@ncdenr.gov Assistant Major Permits Coordinator, DIvision of Coastal Management Brad.Connell@ncdenr.gov Field Officer for Pamlico County, Division of Coastal Management Braxton.Davis@ncdenr.gov Director, Division of Coastal Management

As TownDock reported Friday, CAMA considered the Fulcher application to be complete as of June 13.
That set three clocks ticking – 75 days in which CAMA aims to make a decision to approve or deny the CAMA Major permit; the public comment period ending July 15 and the 30 days that the adjacent property owner has to comment.

By land, Fulcher has one adjacent neighbor on the harbor – the Town of Oriental. Town officials had been under the impression the application was not complete because they were still reviewing changes Fulcher made to plans that the Town had approved in October.

Town Manager Diane Miller had expressed surprise Friday at the news, saying then that she had not been notified by CAMA. On Monday, however, Miller said she learned that CAMA had sent notice to Town Hall in June, seeking comment from Town as the adjacent property owner.

CAMA has the return receipt that our office signed for the request for response- I thought maybe I had filed it into budget paperwork or something we were working on, but after checking all of those files, it’s nowhere to be seen.

One subject likely to turn up in the public comments is the roof of the building where Fulcher proposes to sandblast and paint trawlers. Fuulcher now proposes it be a retractable roof.

That’s a significant change from last October when the Oriental Town Board granted him a Special Use Permit. One of the conditions for the washdown pad outside the structure, was that that building – which has been without a roof for 15 years – should have a fixed roof and ventilation system.

Officials touted that as a way of protecting the harbor and the public’s health from the sandblast dust and solvent odors that have polluted the air and water when crews have sandblasted Fulcher’s trawlers in the open air (a violation of state law) at his docks. That roof was seen as a way to contain the toxicity.

But the fixed roof was not in Fulcher’s latest plan which his engineer shared with Town Manager Diane MIller in early June as it was being presented to CAMA. The retractable roof Fulcher now proposes has raised concerns that the solvent fumes as well as sandblasted dust from hulls and bottom paint could get out, which Oriental’s prevailing winds would blow toward town.

The Town is currently weighing its stance on that roof switch and what position it will take regarding the CAMA permit Fulcher seeks. Planning Board Chair Eric Dammeyer has encouraged the public to attend and comment at upcoming meetings of the Town and Planning Boards. The public may also comment on this to CAMA – by the new August 14 deadline.

At the moment, CAMA is sticking with August 27 as the 75th-day-target for deciding whether to give Chris Fulcher the environmental permit he needs. (As a courtesy to applicants, DCM aims to rule on permits within 75 days of submitting an application that CAMA deems complete.) August 27 is 75 days out from June 13, when CAMA declared the Fulcher permit was complete.

August 27 is also less than 2 weeks after the August 14 deadline of the new public comment period. CAMA typically allows more time than that so that it can follow up on issues the public may raise. In light of that, as well as the lack of public notice til now and the Town’s contention that the application was not complete, TownDock asked DCM’s Doug Huggett if the agency could take longer. There is the option of adding 75 more days to the process, Huggett says, but that decision wouldn’t be made until the week before August 27.

Posted Wednesday July 19, 2017 by Melinda Penkava


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