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Town Board Meeting August 2017
Officer Sworn in, Permits Revoked, Alcohol Sales on Sunday
August 3, 2017

ugust’s Town Meeting began with Nic Blayney escorting Commissioner Sandy Winfrey into the hall in handcuffs, ensuring he attended the meeting. The meeting, which would include the revocation of two contested permits, began with a laugh.

Nic Blayney Sworn In as Oriental’s Officer
town hall signBlayney, a native of Oriental, was sworn in by Town Manager Diane Miller Tuesday evening. Family and friends, including former co-workers from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office were present to observe the ceremony. August 2nd was Blayney’s first official day as Oriental’s police officer but he’d spent the two weeks prior to his swearing in as an employee of the Oriental Police Department tackling the administrative duties of his new office. Officer Blayney later delivered the Police report for Oriental, stating the numbers pulled for the town also include the surrounding areas and are not indicative of the activity within Town limits. The police report is included in the links below.

Fulcher Point SUP and LUP Revoked
At 3:30 on August 1st, Doug Huggett with CAMA notified Town Manager Miller the Fulcher Point Boatyard has been withdrawn. Mr. Huggett assured Miller, “we would be starting from ground zero with any new project that comes along with all it’s accompanying distribution of portions of the project to the proper agencies to vet it.” Miller recommends that all public comments and papers pertaining to the project be retained in case a new or similar project comes along. CAMA will be doing the same. Their concerns echoed the concerns of the public. The Board agreed to retain the papers and unanimously agreed to revoke the SUP. Miller, as the issuing authority of the LUP, revoked it herself.

Town Manager Miller says it was partially a communication issue. The engineer had not received the paperwork from the Town containing the SUP conditions.

Commissioner White commended Town Manager Miller on her handling of the project and of the communications between the Town and CAMA. “I would like to thank Diane because we actually held to our guns on what we put in the SUP and the conditions. Which, by the way, we applied those same conditions to another boat lift and wash that came through.” White noted that Mr. Fulcher went to the Town Board initially and agreed to the terms imposed by the SUP. “We can also say to ourselves that maybe we need to change some of the stuff in the GMO or take off some things.”

Bob Arrington and Mac Ernest, both critics of the project, also thanked Town Manager Miller and the Town Board for their hard work. Ernest said, “I appreciate what Diane was doing to dot her i’s and cross her t’s … I also appreciate that the town is looking at the harbor as an MU1 designation which is more restrictive than MU.”

Gary Ramsey stated he had no problems with Chris Fulcher himself and asked if there could be a moratorium on construction in the harbor until an impact study could be performed or the Town Board could put restrictions in place to protect the harbor.

Alcohol to be served on Sundays beginning at 10 am
The Brunch Bill, marketed with the hashtag #freethemimosa, allowing Sunday sales of alcohol beginning at 10am also passed unanimously. Though the Town approved, the county is unlikely to follow suit. The Piggly Wiggly, which is not annexed into Oriental, will still to adhere to county rules. The town attorney has drafted language to add to the ordinance regarding Disorderly Conduct, Public Nuisances, and Alcohol Regulations. The new language brings the ordinance in line with state statutes and adds language allowing the sale of alcohol beginning at 10 am on Sunday for properly permitted businesses within town limits.

Dutton SUP Runs Into a Platting Problem
Steve Dutton is requesting an SUP on Seahorse Landing Rd. On the original plat it is marked as a private road and does not belong to the town. As Seahorse Landing Rd. was never dedicated to the town, the application is not in compliance with the GMO and the SUP cannot be granted. Per Town Manager Miller, Mr. Dutton is contacting other owners in the development to notify them. All owners in the development will need to agree to dedicate the road to the town before permits can be granted for construction or modifications on any of the properties in the development.

Grants Awarded, Amended, and Soon to be Distributed
Flooding on Hodges Street
North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) has granted the Town of Oriental $15,000 to conduct a study on the flooding on Hodges Street. An additional $1,950 was also awarded. Miller made a request to the Board that the additional money be used to gather public information on what works and what doesn’t, and what are the biggest flooding issues in town.

Dredging of Whittaker Creek
Funds totaling $218,744.00 have been awarded for the Whittaker Creek Dredging Project. As noted before, this money is held in trust by the Town of Oriental and is to be administered for the project.

Sea Harbor and the Pierce Creek Dredging Project
The Board approved a revised resolution for the Pierce Creek Dredging Project. The original resolution did not include the monetary amounts and will need to be resubmitted.

Current Agenda Items
Board Appointments Approved
The Town Board approved the following appointments:
The Board of Adjustments: Reappointed Warren Johnson, Bill Marlowe, and Ken Small. Appointed Beth Michne to Paul Olsen’s vacated seat.
The Planning Board: Reappointed Eric Dammeyer, Cecily Lohmar, Bonnie Knapp.

Budget Amendment
The Town Board approves an item that should have been in the original budget amendment. Town Manager Miller asked to move $3,300 to pay the software company for the software for the water plant. The Board approved.

Wildlife Ramp Fence Needs Fixing
Grace Evans reports the fence between her property and the wildlife ramp is damaged, having been backed into on two separate occasions. Miller said that the propert authorities have been notified and the fence will be fixed. It is the property of the State Wildlife Resources Commission and not of Grace Evans.

News and Updates: Past and Ongoing Agenda Items
Pickleball Lines Draw Players
The tennis courts have been repaired and yellow lines for Pickleball have been added to the tennis courts. Town Manager Miller drove by the courts at 7:55 am on Monday morning to find a Pickleball game already in progress. A line of lawn chairs held players waiting for their turn.

Croakerfest “Denies Family Legacy”, Gives Fireworks to Everyone
Regarding Croakerfest, there was only one complaint about the bridge closing. Town Manager Miller said she was accused of “denying a legacy” by not allowing a family to sit and watch fireworks from the bridge. Other attendees reported the fireworks could be clearly seen from anywhere, including from a boat anchored as far away as Bay River.

“Quiet Hours” At Town Hall
Town Manager Miller says the quiet hours instituted in July have allowed Town Hall staff to get more work done. Initially instituted as a test case, Miller requests they remain in force. For the public, “quiet hours” mean that Town Hall now closes at 4p (instead of 5p) Monday through Thursday. Friday’s Town Hall closes at 3p.

Town Manager Answers Questions from Previous Meetings
Jennifer Roe had asked if a survey detailing the the busiest hours at Town Hall had been completed to ensure the Town was not inconveniencing citizens by closing early. She also wanted to know how we compared to other counties in poverty and income. Miller provided the answers as follows: 50% plus payments were received between 12-3 with the average time of the last payment being at 2:45 pm. Only 0.05% of the payments were made online, overnight, or in the dropbox.

Compared to neighboring towns and counties, including Beaufort, Craven, Carteret, Duplin, Green, and Jones, Oriental’s poverty rate is 17.9%. Only Craven and Carteret have lower rates. Oriental’s median income is at $43,097. Again, only Craven and Carteret have higher medians. Craven is only $800 higher.

Grace Evans had asked about the solar heating and cooling systems in the Town Hall. Town Manager Miller was able to provide more specifics. The solar system was not meant to replace the current system and would not be able to fully defrost the sidewalks in freezing weather, it was just meant as an assist. The system would be able to warm the cement floors on freezing days. The only way it can be used as a cooling system would be on hot days, and only then to cool the almost unused attic space. The Town now has specific instructions on how to run the system when colder weather returns.

Signal Flare Instructions This Sat 8/5
This weekend, Jim Nixon will be conducting signal flare demonstrations for the Neuse Sailing Association and the Sailing Club of Oriental. The demonstrations will take place during the day and soon after sunset.

Vandalism at Public Bathrooms
The public bathrooms at South Street may soon be locked overnight. There is evidence of the men’s bathroom having been used as a bar and barber shop on the weekends. The Town is pulling video from nearby cameras to assist in the investigation.

Manager’s Report: State Changes in Laws/Ordinances
There have been many changes in state laws and legislation that may have an impact on the Town. The majority of these do not go into effect until October 1st. Town Manager Miller gave the report.
  • The Brunch Bill, passed by the Town of Oriental, covers permit holders but not ABC stores.

  • Municipalities now have the option to use an online public notice system.
  • The Iran Divestment Act requires the Town to have each vendor that is paid more than $1,000 to sign a document saying they do not do business with Iran. In a separate piece of legislation, the Town is not allowed to do business with any company that boycotts economic exchange with Israel. As of Oct. 1, the Town will not be required to get certification, but they still have to ask.
  • The reporting requirements for waste water spills during storms has been relaxed.
  • Liability caps for hog farms have been reduced.
  • The plastic bag ban has been repealed in all counties that had adopted it.
  • There is a change in the adherence to zoning plan. Currently, when the Town approves a GMO amendment, there has to be a statement in there that says “in accordance with long-range planning”. The Board now has 3 choices: 1. Yes, it is in compliance with long-range plans, and amendment is approved. 2. The amendment is rejected because it’s inconsistent with long-range plans, 3. The amendment is approved, but it is inconsistent with long-range plans. If the third option is triggered, it will automatically change the long-range plans.
  • Change in zoning violation statute of limitations. Once a violation is known, the Town has 5 years to fix it instead of 7.
  • The small cell tower bill passed. It does allow the Town the right to review for mini cell towers in commercial areas, but not in residential areas.
  • The election board makeup is changing from an odd number of members to an even number. There still needs to be a majority vote to pass. Empty seats where members have dropped off or resigned cannot be reappointed until litigation against the governor, alleging gerrymandering, is ended.
  • The trend of local elections is moving toward the same year cycle as the main elections. Whoever is elected this year will serve a two year term. In the next election cycle, the candidates may serve a three year term.
  • It is now easier to obtain a permit to dig your own drinking water well.
  • State veterinary rules are coming in line with the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine’s recommendations. If an animal bites and does not have proof of vaccination, they are no longer immediately euthanized. If the animal has a vaccination in their history, they are confined to the owner’s home instead of being in isolation for 60 days. If there is no proof of vaccination, veterinarians will do blood tests to determine if there are antibodies present.

The next Town Board Meeting will be on September 5th, 2017.

Related Information

Posted Thursday August 3, 2017 by Allison DeWeese

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