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Letters: Opposition to Boatyard in Whortonsville
Concerns for Brown Creek
February 10, 2023

t Point Marina in Whortonsville, a new boatyard is being proposed. Many neighbors have expressed concerns. Dr Maura McAuliffe wrote in regarding the boat yard (last letter). Others have done the same with the most recent on top.
We read with dismay Dr. Maura McAuliffe’s February 2, 2023 letter regarding the proposed boatyard in Whortonsville. We also are nearby residents on Brown Creek with direct line of sight to Point Marina and this letter was the first and only notification we have received of such proposal. We agree with Dr. McAuliffe’s points that in this residential neighborhood, there is not enough space to accommodate a boatyard and the associated noise and chemical contamination.

As new residents to this area within the last year, we were especially appalled to learn from the letter that Pamlico County does not have zoning laws to prohibit industrialization in residential neighborhood areas. While we enjoy the view across Brown Creek of the marina and yachts, we would not have purchased our home if we had knowledge that a boatyard was contemplated among the existing homes. Therefore, we wish to add the real risk of decreased real estate values in this area, when future buyers hear and view a boatyard in their immediate vicinity. We suspect the majority of these potential buyers will look elsewhere, thus lowering property values.

We sincerely hope that this boatyard proposal is not approved by Pamlico County and that the county institutes industrial zoning laws for the future growth of this community.

Gail and Dave Kenyon
Oriental, NC
February 20, 2023
I think the last two paragraphs spell things out.

This boat yard is a really bad idea I am sure. My question would be where is CAMA and how could they permit such an endeavour?
It doesn’t matter that only one person spoke up. What matters is what they said!    No one questions how dirty a boat yard is. Just take a look. Besides what a bad place for a boatyard (read industrial work and noise).

It is my understanding there are several boat yards around that would love to have investors, qualified boat technicians and all boat business.

Paul Mills
Fairfield Harbour
Blackbeard sailing club
February 12, 2023
I am writing this letter to alert residents of Pamlico County about a proposed boatyard on Old Lupton Road in Merritt [Whortonsville]. The proposal is for a boatyard to sit on about 2.5 acres (less land than many neighboring home sites) sandwiched between houses in a residential community on the bank of Brown Creek. This and adjacent Broad and Coffee Creeks serve as primary fish nurseries, and habitat for fish, crabs, oysters, and otter. A variety of birds including heron, osprey and even Bald Eagles have been seen on Brown Creek. Dolphins teach their pups to fish in its shallow waters, and hunters and fishermen enjoy the variety of ducks and fish the creek life supports.

While I have no objection to responsible marinas operating in such community areas, there are many reasons to oppose this boatyard project. The main one is contamination of the land, air and water with potentially toxic chemicals. This area is often visited by storms and hurricanes that frequently result in 4-10 foot water surges that flood the banks where this proposed boatyard will be built.

There is not enough space to safely conduct a boatyard business at this site. The environmental dangers associated with this project will likely come from several sources: chemicals associated with boat and engine repairs and maintenance, discharge of sewage from visiting boats, storm water runoff from a newly installed boatyard road and parking lot and the physical alteration of the shoreline, wetlands, marsh, and aquatic habitat during the boatyard operation.

The proposed location of the boatyard in Whortonsville.
The boatyard industry is associated with significant amounts of solvents, chemicals and metals in antifouling paint, oils, and other pollutants (probably human carcinogenic compounds) which can potentially seep into the ground water or be washed directly into surface water. There is a concern that neighbors who have well water will have wells contaminated with chemicals spilled into the soil at the boatyard.

Many boat cleaners contain chlorine, ammonia, and phosphates — substances that can harm marsh, plankton, and fish. And small oil spills released from motors contain petroleum hydrocarbons that tend to attach to waterborne sediments that lead to the destruction bottom-dwelling aquatic communities.

Dust from boatyard activities is not insignificant and can lead to chemical air pollution with its subsequent health hazards. Noise pollution in this residential community from power equipment required to repair the boats will not be dissipated on a 2.5 acre spit of land.

The increase in boat traffic will also threaten aquatic vegetation and the wildlife it sustains. The “average” effect of boat traffic is associated with more than 50% loss in vegetation abundance. And a significant increase in boat traffic (as would be associated with the new boatyard) would add more threat to submerged vegetation and coastal marshes. Protection of coastal marsh is essential as it filters and processes nutrients, protects against erosion, and provides important habitat for birds, fish, and shellfish.

Boat-induced wake and turbulence is known to have its largest effect in environments that are naturally wave-sheltered with easily stirred fine sediment bottoms, such as Brown Creek. And there have been several studies demonstrating that significant sediment resuspension arises when boats are operating in waters less than about 8 feet deep – such as that in Brown Creek.

In the spirit of climate justice, instead of industrializing small creeks in our area with businesses that challenge nature, we should instead be assisting nature by building natural infrastructures like living shorelines that provide wildlife habitat, as well as natural resilience to coastal wetlands. We [the author and her family] installed a living shoreline to help protect our marsh from shore erosion and help keep the creek’s natural biosphere in balance. The boating activity and pollutants associated with this boatyard puts our living seawall at grave risk.

The boatyard industry must take special care to manage activities that cause water pollution, and must be strictly regulated to minimize dangers to the environment and human health. This requires in-depth knowledge of the industry and hazards associated with it, as well as years of didactic and experiential education. Before allowing anyone to embark on such a potentially environmentally devastating business Pamlico County should require they prove they have the knowledge and experience to safely run such a business, and then have county resources in place to closely monitor that business and quickly respond to a breach in practice. I do not believe Pamlico County has this in place. What a pity!

So why was this unsuitable spit of 2.5 acres of land sitting between two homes on Brown Creek selected as the site for entry-level boatyard owners (funded by Argentinean investors)? I have two likely explanations: 1) Perhaps the site was intentionally selected knowing that this area does NOT have the resources to effectively regulate and monitor boatyard activities there 2) Perhaps a second reason is that there are no current zoning laws preventing the industrialization of Pamlico County neighborhoods. In both, the leadership in Pamlico Country needs to pay attention to this issue, and stand-up processes required to protect its communities and citizens.

Dr Maura S McAuliffe
LtCol USAF (ret)
Whortonsville, NC February 2, 2023

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