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January Town Board Meeting
Who can oppose a permit and where to charge an EV
January 12, 2023

J
anuary’s Town Board Meeting was brief and lacked the town’s Mayor, Sally Belangia. Commissioner David White presided as Mayor Pro Tempore in her stead. The rest of the commissioners were in attendance: Commissioners Charlie Overcash, Alan Price, Sandy Winfrey, and Frank Roe.

Town Manager Diane Miller, Deputy Finance Officer Tammy Cox, and both Police Officers – Officer Nic Blayney and Officer Bill Wichrowski – were present.

town hall signCommissioners heard updates on town projects including road paving and the Net House construction. They also heard from residents asking the town to oppose any boat lifts installed in Oriental Harbor Marina.

No to Boat Lifts… Maybe.
Calvin Fidler lives on S. Water Street between M&M’s Restaurant and Barcos Restaurant. His property overlooks Oriental Harbor Marina. He spoke to Commissioners as a representative for several homeowners with the marina view.

“We’d like to propose that the town of Oriental who owns adjacent land to the marina, which is the Oriental Harbor Village Marina … not be allowed to install boat lifts in the existing slips in the marina.” Though he misspoke, Fidler was asking that the Town oppose the building of boat lifts in Oriental Harbor Marina. The Town does not own Oriental Harbor Marina.

Fidler said he and his girlfriend moved to Oriental in March and purchased their home because of the view of the water and the sailboats. He, and other owners who signed a petition, are arguing that boat lifts would “potentially, absolutely spoil the view.”

He wants the Town to hold meetings about the boat slips and about any permits they approve for boat lifts at the marina.

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Calvin Fidler addresses the Board of Commissioners.

“We’re not just flat out saying no boat lifts – we want to know what’s going on. Are they going to be 3 feet above the existing pylons? If that’s the case, no problem. If they’re going to be 20 feet above the existing pylons – yeah, we’re going to have a problem.”

Fidler said the Town was the only one who could contest any permits.

Town Manager Diane Miller explained the permitting process. “The marina in question has not filed an application yet. They do not file with us [the Town]. We do not permit, or deny a permit, to construct because it’s over the water. That’s a CAMA permit.” The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is the only entity that issues Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permits.

As adjacent owners to the property (the Town owns the small dinghy dock next to the marina), the Town has an opportunity to comment on the construction. “Our input … would not necessarily effect CAMA permitting, or not permitting, the structure.”

The Town Manager also explained that any application for a permit by the marina would have to include plans – which Fidler wanted to see – and the permit and plans would be public as a part of the permitting process. She suggested to Commissioners that the issue be put on the February agenda, if the permit application is filed by then.

Commissioner David White said he will discuss the issue with the Harbor Waterfront Committee, to which he is a Commissioner liaison. He also directed Fidler to go look at the boat lifts at Whittaker Pointe Marina to get an understanding of the scale and unobtrusiveness of the lifts in question.

Public Hearing for Permanent Road Closure
During the December Town Board Meeting, Town Manager Miller reported to Commissioners that there was a street, never open to public use, that had become a wooded lot: Hutson Street. It is off Broad Street across from Town Road (formerly Hutson Street), and though closed in appearance and function, it was never properly (legally) closed by the Town.

The adjacent property owner, Marthina Fulcher, received a grant to have her home reconstructed. She has been unable to use the grant because the title to her property (which includes part of that wooded ‘street’) is not clear.

The owner of the lot on the other side of the street is currently unknown; there is no Tax ID or deed available.

Commissioners agreed to set a Public Hearing for the closure at the February 7 Town Board meeting.

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Hutson Street and adjoining properties on a survey from 2020.
General Ordinance Amendment for Electric Vehicle Parking
Commissioner Allen Price explained to Commissioners and the public that in October, he’d been made aware of an issue with non-electric vehicles parking in front of the Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers at Town Hall, blocking access to the site. Price said he’d begun checking it out on the weekends while walking the dog and noticed it was a recurring problem.

After looking at article sand documents provided by Commissioner Frank Roe, Manager Miller said, “apparently, it’s not us – it’s everybody [having issues] where non-EVs are parking at EV charging stations.” She went on to add that state representatives are currently arguing about legislation regarding the charging of EVs, “it can never hurt for us to add to our parking ordinance.”

Commissioner David White suggested adding that EVs only be allowed to park while charging. Commissioners voted unanimously to amend the town’s Parking Ordinance with the addition of Commissioner White’s language.

The Oriental Police Department can issue tickets for non-electric vehicles that park in EV designated charging spaces, and to ticket EVs parking in those spaces when they are not or are no longer charging.

Town Manager Miller said that since there is not yet a state law about the issue, the County will not respond to issue citations.

Commissioner Price said he’d like to see more EV chargers in town, if there was money for it. (The chargers became available to the town through a grant from Duke Progress Energy.) “Sea Harbour is looking to install one there, and there may be others,” said Miller.

Town Board Workshop Topics
Town Commissioners meet at the end of January to begin discussing projects for the upcoming year. Topics for the meeting (so far) are:

Police progress on speeding issues. Throughout 2022, Police have given updates on speeding in different sections of town backed up by radar data. Officers Wichrowski and Blayney have moved the radar in accordance with reports of speeding in town. Both have noted that speeding occurs more during the tourist season, and is often people who are passing through town. In previous meetings, they’ve also noted that there is a perception issue – a vehicle moving at 35 mph appears faster when standing on the side of the road than when traveling in it. They have been making vehicle stops and have ticketed offenders.
Communications with the public and how to keep the community informed. Currently, the Town has a new website, a social media presence, publishes notices in the Pamlico News, and an email and text / phone list to alert the public of any issues.
Procedures for the Town Manager’s Review. Currently, the review is held in closed session and Commissioners are looking at reviewing the form used for the review.
Four year terms for Commissioners and possibly staggered terms. Currently, Commissioners serve a two year term and are all elected at the same time.

Police Report
Officers Nic Blayney and Bill Wichrowski both attended the meeting.

The report for December showed 5 larcenies for the month, and a total of 13 for the year. Commissioner David White asked if this showed a trend or uptick in crime in the area. In a recent Town Board Meeting, Commissioner Frank Roe expressed concern that there had been an increase in crime in the area.

Officer Blayney replied that there was not a trend. “Two of them [the larcenies] were a mistake. One guy thought his truck had been stolen from the Piggly Wiggly parking lot,” said Blayney. “Turns out, he drove a different vehicle.”

Officer Wichrowski added that one of larcenies was from the Dollar General and “the person was apprehended 20 minutes later.” Wichrowski also said “a lot of times, we’ll get called for a larceny and it goes on the sheet as a larceny – but it turns out, after investigation, not to be…sometimes people think they’ve had something stolen and it turns out they’re not looking in the right place for it.”

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The restored Net House. In addition to new paint and stairs, the door now faces outward and there’s two posts for shade sails to be added later.
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The Net House prior to restoration.
Manager’s Report
Commissioners Price, Roe, and the Town Manager are attending a Legislative Breakfast in Kinston at the end of December with the goal of speaking to the Representatives to get funds to help repair Oriental’s 13 miles of roads and potentially water system distribution lines replacement.
The Town responded to the attorney’s letter for SailCraft Marina in their bid to have a grandfathered lot rezoned for boatyard activities. It is currently grandfathered for storage and parking, not use as a boatyard. Among other points in the letter, the Town states that use as ‘storage and parking’ does not convey use as a ‘boatyard’ as defined in the town’s Growth Management Ordinance. Additionally, an appeal to the initial decision or zoning amendment request (in 2018) was never initiated by the previous or current owners. The Town considers the matter closed. The letter is included in the link for the Manager’s Report below.
The Net House (small building between town dock #2 and the public restrooms) is nearly complete. Though not yet open to the public, Town Hall is now taking business cards and brochures from town businesses with services geared towards visiting sailors.
There is a bid out for paving contractors. The first round of bidding did not garner any responses. As it is now out for a second bid, the town can take anyone who applies for the project. Miller has been working on getting a paving contract for Neuse Drive, which was recently torn up to repair the culverts. When the contractors are in town, they will also take care of repairs on Windward, Mildred, Gilgo, and Ragan roads. In the August Town Board Meeting, Miller said, “We’re not digging up road, we’re going over top. Binder. Asphalt. Done.” However, contractors are refusing to do the more simple work as it doesn’t hold up. The January bid is for a full depth repair, which is also more costly to the town.
The Hodges Street Repair Project now has an engineering firm as hired by the USDA. The Town has had several meetings with Alterra Solutions / Schnabel Engineering and they are in the information gathering stage of the project.
Vandalism at the public restroom along the harbor. One of the brand new toilets installed at the restrooms was broken due to ‘blunt force to the bottom corner of the tank.’ “Whoever did it,” Miller said, “at least turned off the water and threw a bunch of paper towels on the floor.” It happened during the New Year’s Eve holiday. New cameras are going up around the facility when the Net House is complete.

Committee Reports
Parks and Recreation Board did not meet in December as they were helping out with the end of year events.
Tourism Board also did not meet in December. They are working on a rough draft of the visitor’s brochure, and working on visitor’s card to gather information about who visits the town, why, and what they do / don’t like. Advertising is set up with radio ads and with Our State magazine.
Planning Board will review the final draft of the CAMA Land Use Plan at their next meeting, including the addition of updated maps, a glossary, and language surrounding the town’s compliance with CAMA rules. Chair Julie Rahm asked Commissioners to take the next document – the Long Range Plan – to their committees for their input on any goals or achievements they believe need to be included.
Harbor Waterfronts Committee is talking about taking control of the Town of Oriental information and local markers in Active Captain and Navionics – two on-the-water guides used by cruisers. The Town Manager would have control of editing the information. The Tourism Board and The Harbor Waterfronts Board will get together to decide what information would be appropriate for the guides.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting is Tuesday, February 7 at 8a. The Town Board Workshop is Thursday, January 26 at 8a. Town Hall is closed Monday, January 16 for MLK, Jr Day, but trash and recycling will still run.

Related Information
January 2023 Agenda
December Meeting Minutes
Intent to Close Hutson Street
Parking Amendment for Electric Vehicles
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Thursday January 12, 2023 by Allison DeWeese


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