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Letters: More Comments on Fulcher Point Boatyard
The town can do something. Like the paint.
August 1, 2017

ecent events in Oriental have the public talking. And writing in. Two letters to the editor speak to very different aspects of the proposed Chris Fulcher boatyard/shipyard. Michael Tigar says there is more the town can & should do, and Joe Mattea likes Fulcher’s red paint:

To the Editor:

Town Dock quotes Planning Board Vice Chair Cecily Lohmar as saying — referring to Chris Fulcher doing sandblasting of boats: “that would not be something, if it’s in the water, we don’t regulate that, or we can’t oversee that.”

Ms. Lohmar is mistaken. The Town has the power to regulate all activity that discharges things — solid, liquid, sand, paintchips — into the waters around Oriental. Moreover, the North Carolina constitution reserves to local government the power to regulate on environmental issues. The legislature cannot override or preempt this power.

When sandblasting occurs and material winds up in the water, that is a misdemeanor and Town and County officials can bring charges. If the discharge amounts to more than 15 pounds, the offense is a low-level felony.

How do we know this? Back in 2013, when that fishing boat sank in the harbor, a team from Duke Law School and UNC came to town and wrote a comprehensive report on these issues. At the time, we sent that report to the Commissioners. I am sure that Dave White and Town Dock still have their copies.

This is an important concern in part because state regulatory personnel have been unable or unwilling to show up promptly, and the Coast Guard defers to the state.

The Town has spent many thousands of dollars to build and maintain facilities that will attract boaters and land-based tourists. Commissioners and others have studied the best ways to make Oriental worthy of the name “sailing capital.” Billy Flockhart has invested in a vehicle to help visiting boaters shop at the Piglet. Allowing one local business to engage in environmentally-questionable activity undermines all of this good effort.

Michael E. Tigar

Let me begin by saying, I’ve never met Chris Fulcher. I have no history with him or his company(s). I wouldn’t know him if I bumped into him on the street. All I know about him and his company(s) is, pretty much, what I’ve read on towndock.net and what folks have told me.

With regard to the proposed project, I understand and can appreciate the concerns that many have about potential environmental issues including noise and traffic on the roads and in the harbor. There is, no doubt, some element of risk…just like there is with almost any commercial establishment. These risks are evaluated and weighed by CAMA and state and federal environmental agencies (i.e. EPA, etc). My sense is that these agencies represent a pretty tough hurdle to overcome. On the other hand, Chris’s company(s) employs locals and he and they do some level of commerce with local businesses. He and his family are citizens of the town.

I know there’s a lot of hard feelings going back to the ‘unfinished roof’ episode. I think that roof and the circumstances related to it have created an unsurmountable negative perception, in many local’s minds. I guess I can appreciate that but, I fear it might be a bit excessive…but, I don’t know.

I’m writing this because there is something else Chris Fulcher does which effects the image of our harbor and the image of the towndock section of the ‘old village’. I think that it deserves mentioning. We all take great pride when friends and family visit… towndock is one of the first places we take people. It concerns me that some may take for granted the ‘look’ of Chris’s fishing boats compared to other fishing trawlers in the harbor… and even in other coastal harbors? Those beautiful red boats ‘pop’… they are beautiful …and, at least from a distance, they look very well maintained. People who come to visit us, often mention them when we’re down in the harbor area. I’ve never visited a small harbor that anything that comes close to comparing.

There’s no legal requirement or law for Chris to keep his boats looking so sharp. He doesn’t have to. I, for one, will take ‘no roof’ with the red boats as compared to a finished roof with no red boats. To my eye, his business adds more to the town, and the harbor area aesthetically than it detracts.

Just my thoughts…

Joe Mattea

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