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May 17, 2012
Oriental’s Town Board has voted 4-1 to approve the land swap deal on and around the harbor. Warren Johnson voted against the deal.
The voice vote came about an hour in to the 11a meeting which was attended by several dozen residents. 11 spoke, none in favor. A recurring theme was that the town was not getting enough land and water in return for giving up the rights of ways to the end of South Avenue and Avenue A, as well as Neuse Front Street. Some questioned why the town had not had its rights of way appraised for what they would be worth to Chris Fulcher.
Several sailors, including Art Tierney, said the docking area was insufficient for the visiting boats the town hoped to attract. There would be 26 feet on one side of the dock and 22 on the other. Because of a rare waiver in the contract, Chris Fulcher could put pilings right along the riparian property line. One of his trawlers could also occupy that space up to his property line.
To the concerns raised about 22 feet of maneuvering room, Commissioner Larry Summers said, “if you can’t get a boat in there, I’m not so sure about your boating skills.”
The docking was initially touted by deal proponents as a way to improve the town’s reputation among visiting boaters. But in the face of the criticisms of the maneuvering space, Commissioner Summers said today, “If you want a perfect landing place, you go out and pay your money to do that,” at a local marina.
Before the deal can become finalized, the Town will have to formally abandon the rights of way, a process that requires a public hearing and several weeks of public notice about that hearing. The Town Board did not have the language written up in time for this morning’s session, so they recessed until 2p, at which point they may have the document and vote on setting that process in motion.