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Town Board Meeting March 2019
Board asks Cycle NC for cooperation, repair contracts to be awarded
March 20, 2019

hree contracts ready to be awarded, two public hearings delayed, and one cycling event up for discussion. Oriental’s Board of Commissioners heard updates on reconstruction efforts and approved several Resolutions, including the upcoming sale of the Dodge Durango that had recently served as a police vehicle for Oriental.

Former Cycle NC director meets to discuss upcoming event
Chuck Hobgood is president of NC Amateur Sports, the hosting organization for Cycle NC, and former director of Cycle NC. He spoke at Tuesday’s meeting about the upcoming Cycle NC event, addressing concerns and issues from the 2017 event.

Hobgood said Cycle NC was begun with NCDOT to promote safe cycling and VisitNC (North Carolina’s visitor information division) to promote the smaller towns of North Carolina. Cycle NC has been in Oriental before. In 2004 the Mountains to the Coast ride ended in Oriental. In 2008, the spring coastal rides started, rotating between three small towns: Washington, Edenton, and Oriental. Cycle NC is slated to return to Oriental in April, 2020.

town hall signManager Miller told Hobgood that for the 2017 event, “overwhelmingly, the businesses were supportive. Overwhelmingly, the residents that were immediately impacted were not.” During the event, she said, Oriental businesses did great. But there were several problems including a fire hydrant (hooked up to a shower truck) that failed and caused flooding in the cyclists’ tent cities, cyclists who parked vehicles in front of mailboxes so residents did not get their mail for days, and open alcohol in the parks and streets. “We were overwhelmed with trash,” Miller added. “Our trash hauler will not pick up anything that is not in a can and we just could not provide enough cans.”

This wasn’t everyone’s experience. During and after the events, TownDock.net has heard from many residents that the group had amazingly little impact for over 1,400 visitors. TownDock reporters have seen more mess left from visiting parties of a few dozen that the 1,400 Cycle NC bicyclists.

Board members and Town Manager Miller asked that Cycle NC take steps to assist the town with the event. Miller suggested the organization rent a dumpster, as is done with Croakerfest, to help with the trash problems. Commissioner Dammeyer asked that Cycle NC volunteers or officials help in the mediation of issues like open containers of alcohol and improved communications between town and the organization. Commissioner White said that the town wants the event, and wants it to work for everyone.

Hobgood responded by saying the amount of cyclists would be limited by the size of the town; Washington had 2000 cyclists, Edenton had 1600, and Oriental – as the smallest town – would have fewer cyclists still. Their staff, he said, were only 14 -15 people and were often out on the route rather than in town. As for the alcohol and behavior issues, Hobgood said they had sent out a mass text message to visitors to refrain from those activities. He also mentioned that Cycle NC had pulled an ABC license for the alcohol served and cyclists were told it had to stay within certain bounds; it was hard to make sure that everyone followed the rules.

“It does happen in other towns,” Hobgood said of the fire hydrant failure, “but the other towns have really, actually kind of thanked us for helping them identify a problem before they actually had to hook up to a fire hydrant for an emergency.”

“Our concern [is] that we are adequately prepared for their arrival,” Miller said. White offered that town could reach out to other property owners in town to help with overcrowding. Commissioners White and Overcash think they can work the issues out with the help of Cycle NC.

Marsha Paplham, head of the Tourism Board, suggested setting up a committee of people from both sides in order to work out the logistics. “We would all like to be a little better prepared to service the people you’ve got coming in.”

Hobgood said Cycle NC needs an answer by mid-April, a date that falls after the next Town Board Meeting. Commissioners reiterated their desire to have the event in Oriental, and that there was much to discuss.

Public Hearings for 604 Shorey Drive postponed
Two public hearings – one for the annexation of 604 Shorey Drive, the second for the zoning of the property – were postponed due to discrepancies between the application and the deed documents.

Town Manager Miller explained that while compiling deed documents, it was found the deeds were inconsistent with themselves, resulting in a 5 acre difference between what was declared and the written documents.

Miller said there are no plat maps of the property and that the acreage is in the process of being surveyed. Town ordinances allow for approximations, but Miller said that 5 acres is not approximate. The public hearings have been continued until the April Town Board Meeting. A new map of the area is expected to be given to the Planning Board for review at their March meeting. If the map is not available, the annexation process will need to begin again in order to be in compliance with town ordinances.

Construction Bids for Hurricane Florence Related Repairs
The Town of Oriental must abide by the bidding rules established by State Regulation, namely that at least three bids must be received for every project before the contract can be awarded. If three bids are not received in the first round, the project must be bid again.

  • Contract to repair waterline at South Ave. The contract did not receive enough bids during the first round. It is out for the second round of bidding. If not enough bids are received (again), the town has the authority to award the contract to “the most responsive, responsible bidder” as determined by state statute. As the bids will be received before the next meeting, Town Manager Miller asked the Board for the authority to award the contract without returning to the Board for approval. The Board approved.
  • Contract to repair the Fishing Pier at Lou Mac Park. This contract is also out for a second round of bids. The pier will be returned to the original design with the exception of changing the concrete hog slat boardwalk into an ADA compliant cement board. The thin tires on bikes and wheelchairs, as well as the legs of some animals, were getting caught in the old design. A locked gate will also be added at the end of the pier to allow for access to a floating dock. All changes will be paid for from the Harbor Waterfronts Committee funds. Town Manager Miller also asked for the authority to award the contract without returning to the Board for approval. The Board approved.
  • Whittaker Point Restoration. The proposal from Quible & Associates of Powells Point, NC has been accepted by Oriental and the NC Coastal Federation to begin the restoration of Whittaker Point. As the contract is under construction, Town Manager Miller asks the Board for the authority to execute it so as to move forward as quickly as possible. The Board approved.

Language added to Ordinance: Town may remove abandoned vessels at dock
Commissioners voted to approve the addition of the following language to Chapter E in the General Ordinances:

“Abandoned vessels or vessels in violation of Chapter E – Town of Oriental Docking Facilities – may be removed and disposed of by the Town at the Owner’s expense.”

Commissioner White said that there is already language that allows for vessels to be left in emergency situations and breakdowns, as long as the town is notified.

White cited a recent incident where a dinghy was tied up to the docks for several weeks and left, and had begun to sink. Residents took it upon themselves to relocate the dinghy elsewhere until the owner returned. In another incident, White says, a sailor tied their vessel to the dinghy dock and returned to Raleigh for several weeks. The town was unable to do anything in that situation other than call ask and the owner to return. This language, White says, allows the town to take action in such cases.

Commissioners approved the addition of the language.

Potential Flood Insurance Increases
There are two issues facing Oriental as regards insurance. The first concerns the community ranking system used in the Pamlico Sound Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, a rank that determines the town’s flood insurance. Last year, the firm hired to determine Oriental’s rank used guidelines from 2007, instead of 2017, and increased Oriental’s rank from 8 to 9 (where 10 is the worst).

In addition to the using the wrong guidelines, the firm also rated Oriental using Pamlico’s building standards, not taking into account Oriental’s building codes in place to deal with flooding. Town Manager Diane Miller asks that residents take a quick survey, as determined by the Department of Environmental Quality, to help reduce the town’s rank, and the amount the town pays in insurance. (The link is at the end of the article.)

The second insurance issue is a request for the Commissioners to send a letter to the state Commissioner of Insurance “to reconsider a request from the insurance industry to raise the insurance rates.” Miller says the proposal is currently for a 17-30% increase in homeowner insurance rates, due to the damage sustained by homes in Florida during the 2018 hurricane season.

In January 2018, the Department of Insurance raised rates on Wind and Hail insurance in Pamlico County by 25%. At that time, Town Manager Miller, residents, and County Commissioners sent letters to the NC Department of Insurance, protesting those increases.

Resolutions for disposal of police vehicle, Arbor Day, and engineering services
Several resolutions were unanimously approved by the Board:
  1. A resolution to sell, by sealed bid, the Dodge Durango that had been serving as the Town of Oriental police vehicle. The Town will take sealed bids from interested buyers until April 8, report the bids on May 7, and award the vehicle on June 4. Funds from the sale will go back into the police fund. Interested buyers may look at the vehicle or take a ride in it (with one of Oriental’s officers as a driver).
  2. Board members passed a resolution declaring Arbor Day in Oriental. This year, Arbor Day is March 23. Members of the Tree Board will hold a tree planting ceremony at 11a in Lupton Park, and a planting and pruning workshop after.
  3. Two resolutions were approved: for engineering to begin on Phase 1 of the Whittaker Point Restoration and for a water survey to be done to determine the depths of the waters surrounding Oriental.

The water survey is the first step towards Oriental gaining jurisdiction over the surrounding water.

Police Report
Officer Nic Blayney said February was a quiet month in town and there wasn’t much to report other than they had taken possession of their new police vehicle. It is white and currently without decals, though it will receive them at a later date.

Town Manager Evaluation
At the end of the meeting, Commissioners and Town Manager Miller retired to a closed session for Manager Miller’s annual evaluation. Upon their return, Commissioner White said “Diane had an excellent review … we are very blessed to have Diane as our Town Manager.” The Board approved a 10% raise for Town Manager Miller.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, April 2 at 7p at Town Hall.
Two Budget Meetings are scheduled for April: Monday, April 10, 8-10a and Monday April 24 8-10a.

Related Information

Posted Wednesday March 20, 2019 by Allison DeWeese

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