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Abandoned Housing Tabled, Compliance Grant Approved
Nov 2020 Town Board Meeting
November 12, 2020

ovember’s town meeting saw the end of the housing ordinance discussions. The town of Oriental will receive a matching grant to help with ADA compliance and, with help from another grant, will gift the town’s major restaurants with defibrillators.

town hall signAll Commissioners and the Mayor were present. Mayor Sally Belangia, Commissioners Charlie Overcash and Dianne Simmons wore masks. Commissioner Simmons sat at the back of the room.

Abandoned/Dilapidated Housing Ordinance on Indefinite Hold
Commissioners were expected to once again take up the issue of the Abandoned/Dilapidated Housing Ordinance at the evening’s meeting. Commissioner Dianne Simmons raised the issue in July and the board directed the Planning Board to look at crafting and ordinance aimed at dealing with buildings that had fallen into disrepair, posing health and safety issues.

Both the Pamlico County Building Inspector and the town’s attorney were present at different meetings to answer questions from both boards. Planning Board Chairman Dick Flaherty and board member Tom Stone were present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Planning Board Chairman Dick Flaherty.

Before discussion on the issue could begin, Commissioner Martin Barrow moved to rescind the original direction to the Planning Board and to table the issue indefinitely. Commissioners unanimously agreed.

“This is a complex piece of legislation,” Commissioner David White explained, “it has unintended consequences if we do it wrong.” He added that in the past, these situations were successfully handled through talks with the property owners.

Commissioner Simmons added that she brought the issue to the board because several members of the public had brought the issue to her. After she brought it to the board, the board was “left alone” to deal with it. If the issue comes up again, Simmons said she wants to see more citizen interest and involvement.

Commissioners thanked the board for their time and work.

ADA Transition Plan
At October’s meeting, Commissioners directed Town Manager Diane Miller to look into the Eastern Carolina Council to Government’s (ECCOG) offer to solicit a firm to assist with an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Transition Plan. The plan, soon to be a requirement to continue receiving state and federal funds, looks at municipalities to determine ADA compliance.

The Board of Commissioners discuss the ECCOG grant.

ECCOG secured a 50/50 matching grant for the town, of which the town’s portion would be $12,425 to hire an ECCOG contractor to provide the plan. The contractor’s plan would be a turnkey solution, said Miller, including the plan, grievance forms and policies. Miller also solicited a plan from JM Teague Engineering. The cost there was $12,800 and only included the plan.

The deadline to notify the ECCOG of the town’s decision is November 20.

Commissioner Barrow raised concerns at spending the money, citing a provision that in municipalities with less than 50 staff, the town staff could self-evaluate and make their own plan.

Miller said she had seen that and noted that there were things beyond her scope, such as evaluating the town’s website for ADA compliance. When things in town are broken, Miller said, they’re repaired up to ADA standards. But as for creating a plan for the entire town, “I’ll be the first to tell you this is not in my wheelhouse,” she said.

She also said that the literature Barrow sent her about self-evaluating also recommended staff becoming educated in the rules and requirements of the ADA.

The deadline for notify ECCOG is November 20. Barrow said there is still time to evaluate the opportunity of self-evaluation.

Commissioners White, Charlie Overcash, and Simmons disagreed with the town taking on the responsibility. “Going with an entity that wants to do it the way the state and federal governments want you to do it is the way to go,” White said.

White made a motion to hire the firm. Commissioners Overcash and Simmons agreed. Commissioners Price and Barrow opposed. The motion passed 3-2.

Police Report
Officer Bill Wichrowski reported there were no Halloween incidents. He also reported the Police car is repaired and working well. He also reported on the new recycling times at the Oriental Recreation Center, stating he had not encountered any problems and nothing there had been brought to his attention. He ended his report saying he and Officer Nic Blayney found there were two active warrants in the town. Each officer took a case and both were able to take their suspects into custody without issue.

Manger’s Report
Whittaker Point is at 95% completion. Volunteers are needed to help place oyster culch on the point on November 18 from 9a-2p. Volunteers can come for the whole day or part of the day. Bring waders and heavy gloves, or at the least boots. Email your info – name & contact number to manager@townoforiental.com. The rain date will be Nov 20 and lunch is provided. The Town is still waiting to hear if the jetty has been approved.
The Dottie Gray Ambulance fund has given the town 5 automatic defibrillators for 5 restaurants in town: Brantley’s, The Silos, M&M’s Café, The Toucan Grill, and The Bean. Restaurant staff will be trained on how to use the units.
The 2020 census numbers are in showing 51.8% of Oriental residents responded. That is up from 2010 numbers when only 41.1% responded.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, December 1 at 7p.

Related Information
November Meeting Agenda
October Meeting Minutes
Housing Ordinance Discussion
Budget Amendment
ADA Accessibility Plan
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Thursday November 12, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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