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Town Board Meeting January 2019
Bidding begins on pier and Whittaker Point projects
January 14, 2019

anuary’s monthly town meeting was short. Commissioners approved a short-term rental Special Use Permit (SUP), set the agenda for the Board’s Quarterly Meeting, and were briefed on the progress of multiple ongoing restoration projects created by Hurricane Florence.

Public Comments
town hall signLisa Thompson, Chair of the Harbor Water Fronts Committee, has asked the town to donate oyster shells. A marked garbage can – oysters only – has been set up near the public restrooms at town dock #2 along the shared fence with Oriental Marina. The more shells the town can collect, Thompson says, the fewer they will have to buy for the Whittaker Point restoration project.

Thompson also said the pump out station near the fuel docks has been shut off and winterized until nighttime temperatures are above freezing.

Larry Summers thanked the Public Works Department for repairing railings on Hodges St. and South Ave. Summers said he was disappointed that no contracts had been awarded for the repairs to the fishing pier, South Ave, and small boat launch, and that asphalt was still in yards along South Ave. He said the town should pay for the removal and not wait on FEMA to pay for it. Additionally, he said, there is no 35 mph sign coming into town from Bayboro.

Summers also wanted to know if there were results from the engineering study on Hodges St. The study was conducted last year with help from a NOAA grant.

Buddy Kelly, who lives on Neuse Dr. and Vandemere St. spoke, asked Commissioners to consider keeping South Ave. blocked off and turning it into a promenade along the river. Residents and emergency vehicles could still access the road, but not through traffic.

Ongoing Town Projects
Town Manager Diane Miller updated Commissioners and answered Summer’s questions about South Ave and other projects related to damage from Hurricane Florence.

Miller said the bids were not in place for some Hurricane related projects because the bidding rules had changed. Other projects required surveys and preparations before work could begin. “We would like to try and get these projects moving in such a way that makes sense – the order of things – to try to minimize the mobilization costs,” she said. “Every time there is a disaster, the process changes… whatever they choose to give us, we are guaranteed a 75% reimbursement on the big projects… so we are trying to make sure we are dotting every i and crossing every t.”

South Ave Town Manager Miller said this “is a stepped project that has to be done in a very specific order because of the damage.” The wall has to be completed first because it holds up the sidewalk and the road. A notice to proceed to begin repairs on the wall was given December 28. Miller says repairs should begin at the end of this week.

The asphalt and gravel is still in place on South Ave because the oldest water lines in Oriental are under that road. Miller said she is working to have equipment in place when the asphalt is moved and the water lines potentially fail; workers will be able to quickly crimp off lines and prevent more damage.

Pier at Lou Mac Park CAMA (NC Department of Coastal Management) permits have been secured to rebuild the fishing pier. “We have located the original design documents and we’re ready to go bid with that,” Miller said.

Whittaker Point Restoration Eight engineering firms responded for the Whittaker Point Restoration project bid. The town and firms went out and physically surveyed the project, finding Hurricane Florence had scalloped the shoreline, taking out up to 20 more feet of land in some areas.

Town Manager Miller, Lisa Thompson, and Dr. Weaver (of the North Carolina Coastal Federation) attended a scoping meeting with the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to get agency feedback on the restoration project. Miller said all environmental agencies at the meeting said a wall of granite was needed instead of the more porous wall structure suggested by the Federation. Agencies at the DEQ meeting advised them “to get the rock in the water as soon as you can.”

Whittaker Creek Dredging Matching money for the dredging grant is up to $79,815.

Public Hearing on Short Term Rental
Town Commissioners unanimously approved the Special Use Permit (SUP) for a short term rental at 807 Midyette. No one brought evidence or spoke against the SUP at the Public Hearing or at the Planning Board Meetings.

Agenda set for Quarterly Meeting
Town Commissioners will have their quarterly meeting on January 31 at 8a in the Large Meeting room at Town Hall. The public is welcome to attend. The topics for the meeting are: abandoned vessels, Whittaker Point restoration, Whittaker Creek dredging, repairs to South Ave and the pier.

Manager’s Report
  • Fiscal year 15/16 audit The town has been working for the last year to get its fiscal year 15/16 audit balanced. The inaccuracies were caused by a problem with the financial software. Town Manager Miller reports that the audit is balanced to the dollar and has been sent for approval. After that, Miller said, the subsequent audits should go quickly.
  • Donation to Police Fund A large donation was made to the Police budget by a private citizen for Officers Blayney and Wichrowski’s repeated assistance.
  • Storm debris pickup There are many large tree root balls left over from downed trees. The town does not have the equipment to move these. Miller expects these will be the last of the storm debris to be picked up. If the county does not pick these up as they pass through, the town will arrange for a private company to collect them.
  • 35 mph sign The Town has been in contact with NC DOT about acquiring a 35 MPH sign, or an ‘Approaching a 35 MPH Zone” sign for Highway 55 traffic entering town from Bayboro. Given the length of time it took DOT to change the speed limit in the area, Town Manager Miller does not expect it to be a quick fix. She said, however, that they are working on it.
Dates to Know
  • The Board of Commissioners will have their Quarterly Meeting on January 31 at 8a.
  • Town Hall will be closed on Monday, February 4.
  • The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, February 5 at 7p.
  • The Planning Board meets Thursday, January 17 at 3p.
Related Information

Posted Monday January 14, 2019 by Allison DeWeese

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