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A Pro-Fence Public & Harbor Water Paint Pollution
March 2022 Town Board Meeting
March 4, 2022

arch’s Town Board Meeting was packed with residents from the Whittaker Creek area, ready to talk about fencing for the water plant. Board hears about rotting pilings on town dock and the owner of Point Pride Seafood says the Town is responsible for his employees grinding paint into the harbor.

town hall sign There were 23 members of the public in attendance and a full quorum. Mayor Sally Belangia was present, as were Commissioners David White, Charlie Overcash, Allen Price, Sandy Winfrey, and Frank Roe. Also present were Town Manager Diane Miller, Public Works Director Andrew Cox, and Officer Bill Wichrowski.

Public Talks Water Plant Screening
At February’s meeting, Town Manager Miller mentioned she had received a petition requesting a screen or fence of some sort be erected around the Water Plant. As no one was present during the meeting to discuss the petition, the town sent letters to petitioners inviting them to the March meeting to discuss their wants.

A packed room talks to the Board about fencing.

Several residents spoke including Madeline Sutter, David Smith, Gary Leonard, Brett Lushina, and Mark Clardy.

All were in favor of some sort of screening for the Water Plant, which had originally had several wax myrtles shielding the green waste dumpsters from the road.

David Smith brought plans from Whittaker Point resident and architect Walter Vick showing a horizontal fence that could be constructed by Public Works. (He passed it to Commissioners and the Mayor to view.)

The fence design proposed by architect and Whittaker Point Road resident Walter Vick.

Public Works Director said his crew would not be able to get to the fence until after the budget cycle as they were busy with backed up projects.

Resident Mark Clardy stood and asked if the Town could get ask for volunteers to build the structure. “I would be willing to volunteer,” said Clardy.

Commissioner Charlie Overcash said, “So many times I’ve said in our meetings we have so many resources here in town – people with knowledge that can do things. I think we underutilize them and I think it’s great…I’m all for it.”

Several of the same residents also asked the town to address speeding in along Whittaker Point Road, Ragan Road, and Mildred Street.

David Smith hands Mayor Sally Belangia the fence drawing.
Paint chip pollution in harbor
In February, red paint chips were seen swirling in Oriental Harbor in the morning. Town Manager Miller said Officer Nic Blayney was sent out to speak with Chris Fulcher at Point Pride Seafood (on the left side of Oriental Harbor) and collect information. He said he would stop the work.

Later in the day, a drone caught workers at Fulcher’s docks grinding the transom of red fishing trawler Chasity Brook. Another worker employee was using a water hose to try and sink the paint chips into the water. When they noticed the drone, they stopped working.

The Department of Environmental Quality responded by initiating an investigation.

Town Manager Miller said, “I do know the Department of Water Quality is investigating the incident as reported. I also know the violator has blamed us for not allowing the SUP (Special Use Permit) to go through that would have allowed the boats to be put on land to have that work done. The SUP was refused because there was not enough land on the property to make those setbacks and and make those things happen with the amount of land that was there. Same standard that everyone else is held to – you can’t do this operation unless you have X amount of space. He did not have X amount of space.”

Red paint chips in Oriental Harbor, February 12.

In 2016, Fulcher submitted a permit request to the town for a travel lift and boat wash. The travel lift would have extended 100 feet into the harbor.

The SUP was granted on the condition that the roofless building on the Fulcher property be enclosed and have a ventilation system. When updated designs were submitted to the town mid 2017 – the plan for the building had changed; there was now a retractable roof in place of a stationary one.

The public, at a Planning Board meeting for the SUP in July 2017, had concerns about the change. From the article on the July 2017 meeting:

Fulcher has been cited and fined by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for releasing contaminants into the air and harbor waters in the past. Sandblasting and other activities normally associated with boat yard work have been performed on trawlers at his dock, spreading sandblast dust and paint beyond his docks, in effect making the harbor part of his workspace. In one incident, the harbor along Hodges was coated red with paint chips.

Citizens on Wednesday expressed concern that similar violations could occur again if a retractable roof is allowed instead of the fixed roof he originally proposed when he sought the SUP from the Town last fall.

In August of 2017, Town Manager Miller was notified by CAMA that the boatyard plans had been withdrawn. The Board of Commissioners unanimously revoked the SUP at that time as well as a Land Use Permit (LUP) that had also been granted.

As of March 3, a Notice of Violation (NOV) had been issued from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality for the most recent violation. An NOV from the Department of Water Quality is pending. The Notice of Violation can come with a civil penalty up to $25,000, though it is unknown what fines these violations will carry.

Items moved to Town Board Budget Retreat
• The discussion for purchasing a skid steer for Public Works – as opposed to renting it – was tabled until the budget retreat on March 10. • The discussion for the adoption of Rules & Procedures for the Town Board was also tabled until the budget retreat on March 10.

Manager’s Report
• The Restoration of Whittaker Point is now becoming the benchmark for the East Coast of Carolina because of the multiple techniques used to make a living shoreline.
• Website Update is happening soon. During the meeting, Commissioner Roe said he wanted the community board chairpeople involved to make sure the site is a focal point of the town.
• Net House construction has had three bids out and the town received three nos.
• There is work going on to upgrade the water softeners in the Water Plant. Manager Miller says the upgrades will save the town approximately $13k.
• Hodges Street Seawall repair. USDA says the project qualifies for their grant funding. USDA is looking at where the problem is – “what we’re looking at are the anchors up near Marsha’s [Cottage] and up near the fish house are probably what’s bad and pulling away.”

Commissioner’s Comments
Commissioner White said that he noticed rotted wood on the pilings at town dock #1 when the water was low. “We had a diver go down at town dock 1 in November when it was hit by a boat. He noticed that it was 30-50% worth of rotted wood.” He suggests having the Water Harbor Fronts Committee hire a diver to go down and investigate.

Closed Session
The Board went into a closed session to discuss Town Manager Diane Miller’s review.

Upon returning, Commissioner White said “the Board is very pleased with the manager’s performance” and that they will pick up the performance review during the budget.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, April 5 at 8a. The town Board Budget Retreat is March 10 at 8a.

Related Information – Meeting Documents
March Meeting Agenda
February Meeting Minutes
Bike MS Request
Whittaker Point Rd Petition Revision
Rules of Procedure
Equipment Costs
Arbor Day Proclamation
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Minutes

Related Information – Fulcher Point Reports
Large Scale Travel Lift & Boat Wash At Oriental’s Harbor? – 10/3/16
Town Board Special Meeting – Thu Feb 16 2017 – Chris Fulcher CAMA Permit & Supporting Documents
Fulcher’s Plans Dominate Planning Meeting – 07/14/17
Comment On Fulcher Sandblast/Paint Yard, Take 2 – 07/19/21
Packed Meeting Hears Unhappy Public – 07/31/17
Letters: More Comments on Fulcher Point Boatyard – 08/01/17
Town Board Meeting August 2017 – 08/03/17
Paint Chips Color the Harbor – 02/12/22

Posted Friday March 4, 2022 by Allison DeWeese

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