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Town Board Meeting June 2018
Whittaker Point, 2018-19 Budget, and July's meeting moved up
June 11, 2018

une’s Town Board meeting had a packed crowd. Major items on the agenda were the Town Budget for 2018-2019 and an update on the Whittaker Point Restoration Project.

Whittaker Point Restoration Project
town hall sign The Whittaker Point Restoration Project involves the erosion of the spit of land that currently protects Whittaker Creek and parts of South Avenue during high water and heavy storms. Using slides and information from several previous meetings, Town Manager Diane Miller showed the crowd how the shoreline had eroded over several decades. (Those articles, with videos and slides, can be accessed at the links at the end of the article.)

Since first presented in February, there is new information – financial numbers from the County Economic Developer’s office and from the tax rolls. In describing the area that would be affected if Whittaker Point were to vanish, Miller said, “we are talking 3 marinas, 2 boat yards that do the majority of the work here in town, 297 residents – according to the tax rolls – and $92 million worth of property.”

Town Manager Miller and the Board of Commissioners are working with the NC Coastal Federation (NCCF) and the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to find grants at the state and federal levels to help pay for the preservation of Whittaker Point.

The owners of Whittaker Point, Henry Frazer and Ben Hollowell, are offering to deed the land to Oriental for free. Miller says the Town will only accept if they are able secure funding to repair the erosion. Frazer and Hollowell have been unsuccessful securing grants in the past because the land is currently privately held. The town, as a government entity, is believed to have a greater chance of securing grants.

Commissioner White added, “the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] people are telling us to write the grant because we are going to get it.”

There are several solutions being considered, including building a sill and filling it with backfill from the dredging project if those can be coordinated to occur simultaneously. There is also the possibility of creating a living shoreline or oyster bed at the site.

The assembled public mostly voiced support for the project. Some were concerned with how much future maintenance would cost in taxes, the effects bringing rock in would have on the roads, and how the town will fund a deficit if they cannot get the grants.

Miller explained that this was an exploratory phase of the project to determine what the eventual costs would be. She said the purpose of this and future presentations is to create transparency with residents so they are aware of what is going on.

Town Manager Miller is asking residents, tourists, and visitors who use the waterways to write in to the town expressing both their support and their concerns about the project. These letters can be used to supplement grant applications. Residents can also sign a petition at Town Hall supporting the project.

2018-19 Town Operating Budget
Commissioners and the Town Manager reviewed the budget expenses for the upcoming year. There has been no increase in taxes or in water or civil fees.

This year’s budget will fund a new police officer, drainage repairs, new facilities including office furniture, among other expenses.

The water fund will replace some large valves and pipes, as well as the ongoing replacement of water meters.

There is no funding for the Whittaker Point Restoration Project in this year’s budget.

Town Manager Diane Miller notes that rates for Bay River Metro Sewer will increase beginning July 1. Currently the rate is $22 for the first 2,000 gallons. The rate will increase to a flat fee of $23 for the first 1,500 gallons. The full rate schedule, current and effective July 1, is:

  • Current: $22/up to 2,000 gallons
  • Starting July 1: $23/up to 1500 gallons
  • Current: 2001-4999 gal: $9.20/1000 gallons
  • Starting July 1: 1501-4999 gal: $9.00/1000 gallons
  • Current: 5000 gal+: $9.65/1000 gallons
  • Starting July 1: 5000 gal+: &9.85/1000 gallons

Miller said, “Word on the street is that that’s going to continue to go down by 500 [gallons] each year until it does not include anything.”

Contracts Awarded
Two contracts were discussed at the meeting; one for debris removal in case of a natural disaster and one for an engineering survey to bring Oriental into compliance with new legislation.

  • Debris Removal Contract: The Town of Oriental has awarded a contract to Pamlico Tree Care, LLC to be on standby for Phase I Emergency Response and Recovery Services in the event of a natural or man-made catastrophe.
  • Stroud Engineering Contract: House Bill 436 requires impact fees be based on a written analysis by a licensed engineer. Under advice from Oriental’s Lawyer, Oriental suspended their impact fees until the appropriate survey could be completed. The Town has contracted with Stroud Engineering to perform this service.

Road Closing for Urban Gypsies of Florida
Hodges Street will be closed on June 22nd, from 6-630p, from Water St. to the Art Gallery. The Urban Gypsies of Florida will perform on the porch of the Bean.

Planning Board Members reappointed
Stan Aeschelman and Dick Flaherty have been reappointed to the Planning Board by the Board of Commissioners. Aeschelman became chair after Eric Dammeyer was elected to the Board of Commissioners and accepted the post. Dick Flaherty did not respond to the request, however his wife was in the audience and accepted for him.

Terms are for three, two, and one years depending on order of appointment.

Town Board Meeting June 2018
Planning Board term lengths.

Public Comments
Susan King and her husband proposed a change to Ordinance Chapter H. Instead of asking for a leash law, she proposes adding extra wording to the ordinance to rein in dogs that run free and cross property lines. She would like the words “and/or hazard” after the word “nuisance” in Chapter H, Article III, Section 2, paragraph 2.

Town Manager Miller said they would take King’s suggestions and line them up with the revised State Statutes. “If I find there is something that we likely need to change to become consistent, I can bring you [the Board of Commissioners], at your next meeting, a proposal.”

Manager’s Report
  • Storm preparation and recovery documents have been revised and released for the upcoming Hurricane Season. They are available at the end of the article.
  • The Town is still under rabies quarantine.Three rabid raccoons have been removed in the last month.
  • The Town is building and installing steps to the Green Waste Dumpster on Straight Rd to make it easier for residents to access.

Police Report
Officer Nic Blayney reported a small increase in larcenies (4 in total) and an increase in traffic stops. Officer Blayney says the increases are due to warmer weather bringing more people to town.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting had been rescheduled for June 28 at 8AM. This was originally intended as a special meeting, but as the next meeting falls on July 3rd and the Board will be unable to attain a quorum due to absences for the holiday, the meeting has been moved forward.

Harbor Waterfronts Committee meets June 11 at 8a to discuss Whittaker Point Restoration Project applications.

Related Information/Links/Downloads
Articles on Whittaker Point
Two Whittaker Related Projects
Whittaker Point is Eroding
Whittaker Point Erosion: discussion since the Workshop
Whittaker Point Public Hearing Delayed

Documents for the June Town Board Meeting
2018-2019 Budget Ordinance
Town Manager Miller’s Budget Message
June Agenda
Consent Agenda Minutes
Proposed 2018-2019 Budget
Whittaker Point Restoration Project and Frequently Asked Questions, Letter from Pamlico Department of Economic Development
Debris Removal Contract
Budget Amendment
Financial Policy Revision
Road Closing for Event
Review of Stroud Engineering Contract
Manager’s Report
Police Report
Auxiliary Boards Reports

Posted Monday June 11, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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