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December Town Board Meeting
Sometimes, not much happens
December 8, 2022

he December Town Board Meeting was brief, lasting just under an hour. Town Commissioners approved the acceptance of grant funds, passed an amendment to the Driveway Ordinance, and received updates on ongoing Town Projects.

Commissioner Allen Price was absent, however there was a quorum. Present at the meeting were Mayor Sally Belangia, Commissioners Charlie Overcash, David White, Sandy Winfrey, and Frank Roe. Town staff attending included Town Manager Diane Miller, Chief Finance Officer Tammy Cox, and Police Officer Bill Wichrowski, as well as 12 members of the public.

town hall signDebbie Slook spoke during public comments to thank both Oriental Officers – Nic Blayney and Bill Wichrowski – and the EMTs and ambulance at Fire Station 19 for quickly responding to an emergency call at her home on Nov 18.

Slook reported the 911 call (which routes to Pamlico County for dispatch) did not go through. Instead she and another caller at the residence were both routed to a recorded message asking the caller to hang up and call 911 in an emergency. They were able to reach a deputy only by going through the phone tree.

After the call finally went out, “first responders were at my house immediately.” Slook said she her family will make a donation to the Dottie Gray Ambulance Fund and the the Oriental Police Department as a way of saying thank you.

Public Hearing for Revised Driveway Ordinance
In June, an amendment was passed to restrict the size of driveways over culverts within the town’s limits. “We were having trouble with culverts plugging up and people not keeping them clear,” said Town Manager Diane Miller.

The June ordinance amendment was adopted to limit the size of the driveway over the culvert, cutting back on expenses involved in cleaning and / or replacing the culverts. “After building [in Oriental] went through the roof,” said Miller, “we realized we may have been a little too restrictive.”

The ordinance now takes into concern that commercial zones may need wider driveways than residential ones, that exceptions are allowed when needed to comply with other clauses in the GMO (General Management Ordinance), grandfathers in non-conforming driveways, and gives the Land Use Administrator leeway to adjust for utilities that might be in the way of construction.

Commissioners passed the amendment unanimously.

Grant monies for AEDs and Financial Resolutions
NC Community Foundation is giving Oriental funds to buy three new AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and cabinets for Oriental’s public buildings, and new pads and batteries for three of the existing units, and training on how to use them. Manager Miller asked for permission to accept the $11,046 grant.

Commissioners unanimously agreed. AEDs are currently in The Bean, Brantley’s, The Silos, M&M’s Café, and The Toucan Grill. The new ones will go into Barcos, The Old Theater, and the building housing The Oriental Deli.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) requires the town to adopt additional requirements to comply with The Green Book and the spending of ARPA funds. These requirements are related to ensuring financial responsibility for government entities receiving federal funds.

The first resolution “coincidently happens to be the update from the 1984 version of the state’s sample financial policy that we have in our books,” said Manager Miller, “this is a base document that we will use when we update our financial policies during the budget season.”

The second resolution is the update to regular financial policies, said Miller.

Commissioners approved the resolutions unanimously.

Planning Board Appointment
The Planning Board recommended Carl Crothers as a replacement for Board member Dr. Willi who has resigned. Crothers attended the most recent planning board meeting, asked several questions about proceedings, and later said he would be willing to join. Crothers has a background as newspaper reporter and editor covering government and politics in several states.

Commissioners approved the appointment unanimously.

Police Report
Officer Bill Wichrowski gave the police report.

Speeding: During public comments, Brett Lushina of Windward Drive said there was a lot of speeding on his road – motorists going 35 in a 25. He also said there was a speeding problem on Ragan Road.

Officer Wichrowski replied he and Officer Blayney had begun issuing citations (tickets) and not just warnings to speeders. They have issued tickets for speeding on Broad Street and Ragan Road. Wichrowski thanked Lushina for the information and said they will focus attention on speeding in those areas.

Holiday Driving: For the upcoming holidays, Officer Wichrowski said if there are residents needing a ride home from a party, to call him and he would provide. He says he would rather drive residents home than have them get a citation or be arrested for DWI. The number for Oriental Police Department is 252-249-0369.

Manager’s Report
Hutson Road is now a wooded lot between Broad Street and the Water Tower. It was once a road connected to Town Road (on the other side of Broad Street). Miller said records show the road was never officially closed, so they are doing so now. The lot will be split in two, and the halves will go to the adjoining properties.
Regional Resilience Portfolio is available for review. This document is produced by RISE (Regions Innovating for Strong Economies & Environment). The purpose of the document is to anticipate regional threats and issues, and reduce their impact by instituting preemptive measures. Miller is concerned with a Copper & Lead Rule Revision, stating it contains unfunded mandates – an order that does not come with the funds to implement it. The mandate will require the town to go onto private property and replace aging pipes between the water meter and the house. “Part of that is to reduce copper and lead positive testing,” said Miller. Though most homes have replaced their pipes, remaining replacements would come at the town’s expense.
$50k bond on the Finance Officer to Increase New state requirements require town to up their bond coverage from $50k on the Finance Officer (Town Manager Diane Miller). The increase in the premium will go up to $359. Miller wanted Commissioners to be aware when budgeting comes around. The new statute states the bond amount must be the greater of either $50,000 or ‘an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of the unit’s annually budgeted funds, up to one million dollars ($1,000,000).’

Committee Reports
Harbor Waterfronts Committee Chair Jim Blackerby reported the board had been repairing or replacing the fender boards along Hodges Street as needed. He also said the Net House (the small house near the public restrooms) was coming along and would hopefully be complete in a few weeks.

Parks and Recreation Board
Chair Bonnie Crosser reported the Parks & Recreations Open House at the Oriental Recreational Park was well attended. There were about 30 children and as many adults. Crosser said there were a large amount of visitors from the county in attendance.

Tourism Board
Chair Marsha Paplham said the Board would not meet until January as their December meeting was too close to the holidays.

Possible Oriental AirBnB Map
Commissioner David White advised Commissioners that he had been approached by Lisa Blinn about adding her AirBnB to the town map. Commissioners discussed the idea of having a map or page on the Town site specifically for lodging, including hotels, motels, B&Bs, AirBnbs, and one-night rentals.

Manager Miller said the biggest issue with AirBnbs and the like was capturing how many were in operation in town. These businesses are to collect 3% tax for the town and give a monthly report on how much the town can expect (the tax helps fund the Tourism Board). AirBnB sends Oriental a single check without any explanation of where the money came from.

Commissioner Frank Roe, liaison to the Tourism Board, said they will take it up at the next meeting and come up with a recommendation for Commissioners.

Dates to Know
Town Hall will be closed from Dec 26 – 28 for the holidays. Trash and Recycling will be picked up on Jan 2. The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, January 10 at 8a. The Quarterly Town Board Workshop will be Thursday, January 26, 2023.

Related Information
December Agenda
November Meeting Minutes
Driveway Ordinance Amendment
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Policies
Planning Board Appointment
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Thursday December 8, 2022 by Allison DeWeese

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