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News From The Village Updated Almost Daily

Meet the 2017 Oriental Town Candidates
3 incumbents and 4 newcomers vie for 5 Commissioner seats
October 18, 2017
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9. In the past year, several Special Use Permits (SUPs) have been applied for with most having been granted. With so many of them having been granted, what is ‘special’ about the Special Use Permit? Does the process need to be refined? If so, how?


Gregory Bohmert: Since morality and sincerity cannot be codified and rigidly enforced with a one size fits all document (although governmental agencies always seem to insist on trying) a human review is still needed. This is to see if a certain situation meets the “Spirit” of the law, code or zoning requirements. This is where we try to find out if someone is trying to pull a fast one on the town, or bend to rules a little too far. However, we no longer seem able to trust our public servants or leaders with any discretion or decision making leeway, lest evildoers betray our trust. The fact that many “special use permits” are being issues could actually be because the people who are applying for them are honest and sincere people who are actually attempting to stay within the requirements of the asked for permit. There could be some skullduggery at work; Lord knows I’ve seen some pretty sketchy looking characters on both sides of the fence, at the town hall, especially the guy who worked on the town hall generator. But until they screw-up, or evidence emerges of wrong doing, or we catch them in bed with a Russian, the special use permit review and compliance system is working OK, and they are doing a good job administering it.

Eric Dammeyer: Your question number 9 is a great example of the need for educating the public on how our ordinances and the GMO work. Let me tell you what is “special” about a “Special Use Permit”.

The GMO (Growth Management Ordinances) is what some would call “zoning”. It is designed to make sure that growth in the Town is fair, balanced, and peaceful, with standards that need to be followed when building or changing the lay of the land. For example, when building, there are places where commercial buildings are not permitted and others where it is encouraged. The GMO governs things like “setbacks” being the minimum distance between a new building and the neighbor’s property line or the water. Height limits and parking lot design and so forth are laid out in the GMO.

When a person or a business wants to build, they must have a plan that complies with these rules, so that they will be good neighbors and not wreck our Town. This is where their application for a Special Use Permit comes in. To get approval, they must make a drawing and give specifications that show that their plans will not violate the rules – and we will hold them to it. So, if they come in with a plan that is completely in compliance, their Special Use Permit Application is approved. If their plans violate any of the rules, they don’t. This goes through the Planning Board. Not only does the Town Manager look it over, but all the folks serving on the planning board meet and vote or approve the application, but only if it complies with the rules.

That is why “so many of them have been granted” as your question asked. They are granted because they comply with the rules and are reviewed. What you don’t see are the ones that are turned down. They don’t get approved so there is not hearing on them. They are stopped by the Town Manager, and usually modified into compliance and then sent on for approval. So, the Planning Board and the Town Manager are the filters, whose job it is to protect you all from violators of the rules.

We also need to remember that state law rightly says that if a property owner wants to build or change what is on their land, they have that right, so long as they comply with local laws and ordinances. If their plan and application does comply, their application must be approved, because they also have rights. That is why “so many of them have been granted”.

As to refining the process, the answer once was that it did need to be refined. However, over the past three years, the Town Manager and the Planning Board have in fact refined the application process.

Under my Planning Board Chair term, we have changed the nature of public comment. We have changed it from the way it once was, where public comment was invited after the vote, to where it is now, that public comment is invited before the vote. We recently tabled (put off) a vote on an important issue because of the public comment we received. We decided to re-visit the issues that were raised and incorporated more changes to the proposed GMO revisions, based upon public comment.

Charlie Overcash: Special Use Permits are a valuable tool to the growth of Oriental. The town’s Long Range Goals direct the town to grow in a manner that is favorable to both businesses and community. The SUP process is a tool that anyone can go through to bring attention to a need. That need may or may not be a good thing for Oriental. If it would prove a danger or a provable negative impact, it would not be granted. The process is involved, as it should be, to bring all the facts out. Also, if the terms of the SUP are not followed, the SUP can be revoked. I encourage everyone to read the Long Range Goals that are on the town web site to better understand the driving factors in the growth of Oriental.

Allen Price: The SUP is controlled by state statute. Last year we were considering changing some SUP’s to Land Use Permits (LUP) and people in town were against this because a SUP gives the community an opportunity to comment, challenge and put conditions on the SUP. To have part time rental in R2 & R3 you must have a SUP. Several homes were being rented without a SUP and the town manager contacted realtors and renters to have them obtain a SUP. This is one reason for increase in SUP’s. I agree it is a burden on the neighbors and community to show proof that would reject a SUP but that is the state statue. I will listen to any ideas.

Dianne Simmons: I have spent quite a bit of time poring over the Growth Management Ordinance (GMO) and have read some articles on small town zoning issues. I have come to the conclusion that the procedures needed to keep Special Use Permits “special” can be found in our existing GMO.

A concern I had was that the burden of proof seemed to rest heavily on an opponent to the SUP, but there is a definite and well-described burden of proof on the applicant before the SUP is approved. The provisions found in the section on Permissible Uses are important. I understand that these had not been revised for quite some time, but the Town Planning Board is in the process of revising them at this time.

Another issue relevant to the procedure of granting SUP’s is timely notification to the citizens of the town. With adequate notification, citizens have the time to plan and prepare. I urge everyone to attend Town Board and Planning Board meetings. Show up and make your voice heard.

David White: Our current Special Use Permit (SUP) is a “quasi-judicial” process very much governed by State statutes. We have incorporated all the elements and points the State allows municipalities to use in determining the validity of an SUP request. These elements and points center on public safety, security and health issues, conformity to zoning regulations, adjacent property owners, residential property values and local ordinances. When we conduct an SUP hearing, all those presenting evidence are sworn in, much like a court hearing. The Board then hears the evidence and determines the outcome based upon how our SUP process is delineated in the Growth Management Ordinance (GMO) and evidence presented. If we do decide to consider changes to the SUP process in the GMO, we need to conform to State statutes and conduct an open Public Hearing.

J. Martin Barrow: The entire SUP process should be analyzed to determine if it is providing the desired results. If not, identify its shortcomings and develop a revised SUP consistent with Town goals.

One identified issue with the ‘Special Use Permit” process which has arisen in several of the SUP applications lately, is the burden of evidence sections as it relates to empirical data (often difficult to establish prior to issuance of the permit) and the burden of persuasion. I would like to see some language in the ordinance that gives the Commissioners the latitude to provide ‘weight’ to testimony provided by a citizen even though it is not backed by empirical data.


Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): It is important to give the public, town’s planning board, the town commissioner’s and the person applying an opportunity to prove if there is a problem or not. They do take a lot of time but we have to follow the State Statue. We must have proof of evidence if there is a problem with the SUP.



10. How would you describe Oriental to someone who has never been here?


Eric Dammeyer: Oriental is both laid-back and intriguing. It is a shorts-and-sandals Town, but filled with many interesting people, from all walks of life, from educators to farmers to engineers, to artists and craftsmen, and a whole lot of boaters. Oriental is a Town which reflects the past yet reaches towards a stable and productive future. This is a quiet Town, but one that thrives on its many exciting festivals and activities, drawing people from all over the Eastern seaboard and beyond.

Oriental is my hometown.

Charlie Overcash: Oriental is a charming village with very friendly people. We offer waterfront activities, boating, great restaurants, festivals of all kinds and we are friendly. Oriental is a favorite vacation destination. We are close to many unique attractions such as a fossil museum, a maritime museum, a state port, a royal governor’s palace and many more. We are a hub where you can stay to enjoy our village yet have a wide variety of other interests close by. Oh yes, did I mention that we are friendly?

Allen Price: Have you ever had a dream where you lived in a small waterfront town that has no stoplights? Walk, ride a bike or golf cart to the restaurants, bank, hardware store, deli, shops, post office, grocery store, ice cream/coffee shop, art gallery, museum, churches or the water front? Fish from the town pier? Watch shrimp boats come in and unload their catch? Sail, fish, power boat, kayak, paddle board, be in a play or be in a musical group? Buy shrimp, fish, crabs, oysters and seafood from local fisherman? A town where restaurants, shops, and other businesses are locally owned where the owner is a friend and neighbor? Weekends filled with fun events? Go to the fitness center to work out or play tennis/pickle ball in the park? Take your kids to the beach or park to play? You know your neighbors and they know you. Have a problem and your neighbor will take care of it. A place where you meet a visitor every week and make a new friend. Congratulations you are in Oriental, NC.

Dianne Simmons: I usually tell my friends, relatives and anyone who asks that Oriental is a fishing/sailing village on the River Neuse. It is a center for outdoor life. It’s beautiful, calm and flat – perfect for cycling, kayaking, sailing, birding and walking. We have dramatic sunsets, lovely dawns and friendly people.

I am often asked what one does in Oriental. I have to laugh and say that sometimes it’s hard to say, but that the day goes by so quickly and evening finds me always behind in what I set out to accomplish.

There are good restaurants, (I’m sure I never fail to mention fried-chicken Thursdays at Brantley’s) a charming coffee shop on the harbor, frequent festivals and a top-notch musical society that brings wonderful musicians to town. We have a theater group, an arts council, book clubs, bicycle groups and residents who have a wealth of life and work experiences.

When my nephews were younger boys visiting Oriental from the big city, they called it paradise. I call it home.

David White: Perfect in all ways and no better place to live!!!! Come visit and you will quickly understand the beauty and appeal Oriental has to offer.

J. Martin Barrow: Oriental is a great place to live and visit. We owned a residence in Minnessott Beach since 2003 and enjoyed our time in Pamlico County. We have also enjoyed all Oriental has to offer including the shops, the old theater, waterfront, and restaurants. We always looked forward to events like Croakerfest, the Spirit of Christmas celebration, along with the other festivals and events in Oriental and attended most. When we contemplated where we wanted to spend our retirement, we decided Oriental was the place to be and never looked back. We enjoy our friendly neighbors, merchants, and reasonable governance.

Gregory Bohmert: Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, only on the water.
A place Norman Rockwell would come to learn; how to see all the things- he would later paint.
A place where the earth, water, and the sky join together in the depths your soul.
A place where a gentle river breeze; whispers old sailors’ songs, as it muses your hair into forgotten memories.
A town of festival, of carnival, of music, and of laughter; a place where friendship and worship thrive.
A town that is very easy, to call home.


Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): It is the most beautiful place in the world. It is a wonderful place to live, to retire, to raise your children, and enjoy our Neuse River and surrounding creeks. We are unique because we have sailboats, commercial fishing boats, recreational boats, and small businesses along with people who have retired from all over the Country. I remember when we had 100 people and today the total is over 900. If you come to Oriental you must learn to waive and speak to everyone because we are a friendly town, after all, we are known as the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina”. We all work together by supporting our local churches, community organizations, businesses, festivals, arts, music, and all other events of our community and county.

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Posted Wednesday October 18, 2017 by Allison DeWeese


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