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April Town Board Meeting
Rezoning public hearing set
April 5, 2023

pril’s Board of Commissioners meeting took under an hour. Seven residents were present, as were Commissioners David White, Charlie Overcash, Allen Price, Sandy Winfrey, Frank Roe, and Mayor Sally Belangia.

Town Manager Diane Miller, Deputy Finance Officer Tammy Cox, and Officer Bill Wichrowski also attended.

Asking for Repairs to S. Water Street
Keith Smith of S. Water Street was the only person to speak during public comments. He’s been at the last couple of meetings, always speaking about the need for repairs to S. Water Street.

town hall sign “I’m here just to remind you that we have something that we need fixing,’ he said to the Board. “My understanding is that we have money set aside to fix some other streets. I do believe that a neutral observer could look at those other streets, and look at my street, and not come to the conclusion that those other streets are more in need of repair than my street.”

Town Manager Diane Miller said she had an update for Smith. The repairs to S. Water Street are nearly as expensive as the repairs that are already scheduled for five other streets in town. For that reason, Miller said she is looking at two different avenues to find the money.

“I have put in a grant application to NC Department of Public Safety. That has flood mitigation funds for the engineering – nobody will touch that road without engineering,” she told Smith.

Town Manager Diane Miller updates Keith Smith on the status of funds to repair his street.

“So I’ve put into them for the engineering funds, which is about $40-$50 thousand. And then started conversations with [The Golden Leaf Foundation] for the actual construction money, which is somewhere around $200k; their limit is $250k. So – progress – but grant applications take some time to get through the hoops.”

Manager Miller said she heard back from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), asking how the road was used. She sent them pictures and explained it’s an alternate route when Hodges Street is underwater. “So that is going through its hoops in DPS.”

“Ok,” said Smith. “I appreciate it. I’ll come by and say hi sometime. Thank you for your time.”

Public Hearing Set for Rezoning Request
Commissioners set a public hearing for the request to rezone 1216 Lupton Street from an R1 (the most restrictive zone) to an MU (the least restrictive). The lot is adjacent to SailCraft Services Boatyard and a residential area. SailCraft owns the lot and is seeking to rezone it to allow full boatyard services there. The Planning Board is reviewing the request.

Town Manager Miller said the Planning Board’s last meeting was well attended. As a result, “they have a pile of public information, and they have to sift through that at their next meeting. Then they will forward to you [Commissioners], for the public hearing, a statement of consistency.”

The public hearing is set for the next Town Board Meeting on May 2.

Commissioner Frank Roe requested the presence of the Town’s attorney at either the public hearing or the next Planning Board meeting “in case there’s any issues or doubt, we can make sure we’re well informed.”

Harbor Waterfront Committee Appointee
There’s been a new addition to the harbor WaterFronts Committee. It is Jenny Jones, the dockmaster at Sea Harbour Yacht Club.

Jones replaces Pat Nocera, who was appointed in June 2022.

Commissioners approved the appointment.

Local Water Supply Plan & Water Shortage Response Plans
Local Water Supply Plan Every year, the Town must approve the Local Water Supply Plan. “Oriental receives assistance from the North Carolina Rural Water Association,” Manager Miller told the Board, “to make sure that everything is up to date and all our numbers are correct in that plan.”

Everything and numbers here refers to the operations of the water plant and numbers regarding water loss, salt, chemicals, water testing, etc.

The only changes from last year’s plan, she said, are the dates.

Water Shortage Response Plan This plan must be approved every five years. It was last done in 2018.

The plan outlines the steps the town may take to conserve water “when the water table in the aquifer gets low, or we have drought,” said Miller. Chapter K of the General Ordinances outlines all the steps.

Commissioners moved to accept and sign both plans.

Recent Town Water Leak Commissioner David White asked about the water leak in March that caused all water in town to be shut off. “That recent water leak we had – [was that] 175,000 gallons?” he asked Manager Miller.

Workers for Duke Energy ruptured a water line on Town Road in March.

“Yes, and that was an estimate. He [Public Works Director Andrew Cox] hasn’t pulled all the numbers yet… so that’s almost the whole tank.”

Miller said the shut off valves have been paved over by NC Department of Transportation. However, “even if we had valves to shut things off, we probably would have needed to shut [the water] off at the tower anyway because it got so close to empty.”

Miller said previously that Duke is responsible for the cost of repairs.

Town Issues Response for Audit Tardiness
Oriental submitted their Fiscal Year audit to the state late. The tardiness was a result of software issues, Miller said. Because of this, Oriental was placed on the Local Government Commission’s Unit Assistance List and was being monitored.

Mayor Belangia and Commissioners had to provide a letter to the state indicating what had happened and the steps taken to mitigate it in coming years.

With the software issue resolved, Miller said, there should be no such issues in the future.

All agreed to sign the letter and send it.

Police Report
Officer Bill Wichrowski gave the police report.

He noted the four arrests in March, saying, it’s “not anything to worry about. These things happen in bumps and grooves.” The one larceny was a shoplifting at Dollar General.

Wichrowski said they are preparing for the larger events coming to town this month, specifically CycleNC and the Oriental In-Water Boat Show.

Commissioners David White and Sandy Winfrey, with Mayor Sally Belangia (center).
Manager’s Report
• The drainage contractor will be in town after the completion of his current project. Public Works found that Spectrum installed poles in the bottom of several ditches, creating drainage issues. Miller said Spectrum has been contacted to relocate those poles.
• The Electric Vehicle Charger in front of Town Hall will be replaced. It is under warranty and the last fix from the company didn’t work.
• The J.D. Sargent Boat House (formerly called the Net House) is open. It has wifi, an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), phone chargers, and is open 24/7. Manager Miller thanked Nautical Wheelers for their donation of two Adirondack chairs.
• Oriental’s Consumer Confidence Report is out and is posted to the town website for viewing.
• Miller says to be aware of the wildlife as spring comes on. And maybe not to walk small dogs near the water (it’s alligator breeding season).
•If residents would like to donate a chair in memoriam for a loved one at Lou Mac Park, they can contact Town Hall. The town is looking to replace or even add chairs to the park.

Auxiliary Boards
Parks & Recreation Board: Bonnie Crosser spoke. She asked Public Works to power wash the equipment and pavilions in the parks if they have time. Crosser and Vicki Rasmussen attended a 2-day grant writing class and are looking into grants. The Board is also helping to support CycleNC.

Planning Board: Julie Rahm explained the Board is working on the Comprehensive Plan and the Comprehensive Land Survey. The survey itself garnered over 200 responses. The Planning Board is also working on the rezoning request. State Law 160D is getting an update regarding workforce housing. The Board will need to go through the GMO and make sure it is up to date with the new additions.

Commissioners went into a closed session after the Auxiliary Board reports.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, May 2 at 8a. Town Hall will be short staffed on Good Friday, April 7. The Town Board Budget Meeting is Wednesday, April 12 at 9a in the large meeting room. Arbor Day is Saturday, April 8 at 11a at the JD Sargent Boat House near town dock #2.

Related Information
April Meeting Agenda
March Meeting Minutes
Rezoning Request to set Public Hearing
Harbor Waterfronts Committee Board Appointment
Local Water Supply Plan and Water Shortage Response Plan
Response to NC Local Government Commission regarding Town Audit
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Wednesday April 5, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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