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Town Board Meeting February 2018
Military training, Chinese New Year, Seismic Blasting
February 7, 2018

F
ebruary’s Town Board Meeting revisited several topics examined at the January workshop. Feature items from this month’s agenda included upcoming military exercises in and around Oriental, a resolution opposing seismic blasting that passed 3-1, and further discussions on the Whittaker Point project. town hall sign

Military training operations in and around Oriental
Oriental and surrounding areas will play host to a joint Training Operation from February 13-15, beginning at 5a and ending at 10p each day.

Town Manager Diane Miller, after a meeting with the captain in charge, said there will be at least 10 squadrons in the area. Helicopters will fly below 500 ft. Fixed-wing aircraft has been asked to stay above 1500 ft while over the town. This limit is not in force over the water.

There will be a moving target in the town; Miller suspects it will be a white van. Explaining to the captain that Oriental is a town of golf carts and free-range dogs, the Town Manager made it clear the dogs and golf carts are more important than the moving target evading capture.

Miller also said there will be legacy aircraft in the operation. The 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base, flying F-16s, will be one week shy of the 100th anniversary of their commission and Miller expects they may “show off a bit”.

February 12 – March 1st will see the Navy in and around the waterways of Cherry Point. There will also be live fire training at Bombing Targets (BT) 9 and 11 during this time, continuing until midnight. BT9 is in the Neuse River, however BT 11 is better known as Piney Island and is a restricted area. “Trespassers risk serious injury or death, as well as prosecution for trespassing,” according to an email from Cherry Point’s Communications and Strategy Operations.

Town Board Meeting February 2018
Map showing Bombing Targets 9 and 11, and Oriental where training & drills will take place. Map derived from nautical chart 11548 of the Pamlico Sound.

Festivals: Chinese New Year and Art on the Neuse
Venue change for Art on the Neuse In response to artists’ requests, organizers of Art on the Neuse have moved the annual event to Oriental Harbor Marina parking lot by O’Town. Uneven ground proved challenging to the assembly and stability tents. Organizers have asked for South Water to be closed up to New Street, from 6a to 6p, allowing extra time for setup and removal.

The event will run Mother’s Day Weekend, only on Saturday, May 12th from 10a-4p.

Chinese New Year Festival: Year of the Dog Larry Summers announced to the Board that the Chinese New Year will be celebrated Saturday, February 17th. The Chef from The Great Wall Restaurant in Grantsboro will hold a wok cooking demonstration at the Farmer’s Market on Hodges, from 9 – 11. Local businesses will participate with food or activities. The Dragon will run on Hodges at 2p.

Locks cut at storage facility on Straight Road
Larry Summers also wanted to alert the Board and the public that the storage facility on Straight Rd. had been broken into. He said 10 locks had been cut, including his. Nothing was taken from his unit. He did not know about the other units. The county responded to the incident. Officer Blayney said he would follow up.

Whittaker Point Erosion: discussion since the Workshop
January’s workshop featured a discussion about the effects of the erosion of Whittaker Point, including discussion from Jim Blackerby, a geologist and resident of Oriental, and Dr. Lexia Weaver of the NC Coastal Federation.

Town Manager Miller said Dr. Weaver has forwarded Blackerby’s presentation to other scientists at the Coastal Federation and she is pursuing various grant opportunities on behalf of the Town. Miller also said there are several other discussions yet to be had regarding ownership of the point and funding of the project, including getting the county involved in the reconstruction as they collect taxes from businesses operating along Oriental’s waterfront.

Miller held up an article from BoatUS magazine that detailed how grants, some offering millions of dollars, are helping boating communities rebuild their infrastructures.

Further discussions, after more information has been collected from Dr. Weaver and the current owners of Whittaker Point, have been scheduled for the March 2nd Town Board Retreat.

Resolution opposing seismic blasting passes 3-1
Bill Hines, a volunteer with SoundRivers, brought a resolution before the Board opposing seismic blasting and oil drilling off the North Carolina Coast. As this is a time sensitive issue, he has asked the Board to look over the resolution and pass it, adding it to 135 other NC communities that also oppose the actions. The resolution is to be sent to Governor Cooper, Hines says, to bolster the state’s position opposing the Federal Government’s plan to open formerly off-limits drilling sites in the Atlantic. He said the 135 other resolutions could be found on the NC Coastal Federation’s website.

Commissioner Eric Dammeyer opposed portions of the resolution, citing how they were written. Hines said he wrote the resolution himself, using resolutions submitted by the other 135 NC communities to tailor the resolution to Oriental.

Dammeyer said he found the second paragraph contradictory as it states the impacts of seismic blasting cannot be fully understood, but the resolution also states the impacts will be detrimental to the economy and ecosystem. He asked this to be clarified and that Hines show him the scientific papers showing that seismic blasting and off-shore drilling is detrimental. He refused to vote yes on the measure.

Commissioner Charlie Overcash said the point of the resolution was to show solidarity with other communities in opposing blasting and drilling off the coast. To that end, he would vote for the resolution.

Commissioner David White said that while he opposed seismic blasting, he wasn’t opposed to off-shore drilling. However, he would also vote in favor of the resolution.

Commissioner Dianne Simmons also voted in favor. Commissioner Alan Price was not in attendance.

The resolution passed.

Town Projects: Updates
  • Dog Park waiver to be reconsidered. Commissioner Dammeyer pointed out use of the word ‘indemnify’ in the registration makes a defendant of every citizen who signs the waiver and release, should an incident occur. The draft resolutions have not been passed and will go to the town lawyer for further vetting.

The Board has also said they will not lock the smaller gate into the facility, relying instead on patrons to self-police use of the park.

  • Town Manager Miller responded to a Letter to the Editor on potholes and damage to S. Water St. She said work on S. Water St. began this time last year. When construction ended, Miller said, they waited to see if anything other problems appeared. They did. A catch basin sunk.

Miller said the road will need to be dug up and the basins reconnected. Addressing the suggestion grass be dug out to help redirect the flow of water, Miller said that would not alleviate the problem. Yet curbs and gutters might. At this time, it is only an idea, but Miller says there is nothing to be done right now. Asphalt plants are closed until the weather warms up.

  • NC Treasurer visits and consults on ongoing audit. Town Manager Miller updated the Board on the ongoing attempts to balance the budget. The NC Treasurer visited and came to the same conclusion as Miller: there is a problem with the software and not with their practices. They remain out of budget by $5,500 in the software, but are able to balance to the penny against the bank statements.

Miller said the treasurer agrees that they move ahead to balancing the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The goal is to figure out where, on the back end, the error is. Miller says if they cannot correct the error, they will eventually go with different software.

  • $10,000 Budget Amendment. The Board approved a budget amendment to add $10,000 form Duke Energy back into the accounts used to pay for the Electric Vehicle Charging Station. The total cost of the stations was just over $11,000 for the Town. Miller says the stations have been in use; she’s had to move her vehicle to allow access to visiting cars. The amendment was approved.
  • Fulcher Parking Lot approved. The application met all the Town requirements and recommendations. The private parking lot will go in at 401 South St.
  • Representatives from the US Coast Guard are coming next week to meet with the Town Manager. January’s workshop outlined a plan for the Town and the USCG Response Unit in Atlantic Beach to devise a joint program allowing the Town to tackle small spills in the harbor. This meeting is expected to flesh out that program.
  • March 1st, public to be surveyed about flooding on Hodges St. The NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) will be in town to gather public input on the flooding that occurs on Hodges St and at the Duck Pond. They have already surveyed the Board and the Town. The event will be held at Town Hall, Thursday March 1st, at 5:30p.
  • March 2nd is the Town Board Retreat. It begins at 8a and lasting all day. The Board will hear from the various volunteer Boards and Committees and discuss long-term goals for the Town. The public is invited to attend.

The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, March 6th at 7p.

Related Information

Posted Wednesday February 7, 2018 by Allison DeWeese


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