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Town Board Meeting March 2020
Bids awarded, SUPs approved, a raise for the Town Manager
March 6, 2020

useday night’s monthly Town Board meeting drew a larger crowd than normal; two substantial municipal projects – the restoration of Whittaker Point and the Whittaker Creek dredge – were to be awarded, and two Special Use Permits were up for approval. Despite the crowd, there were no public comments, and most dispersed after the Commissioners went into closed session to discuss Town Manager Diane Miller’s evaluation and raise.

Bid Awards
Whittaker Point Shoreline Stabilization and Restoration Bid
town hall sign Oriental has approximately $3.3 million in grants for the restoration of Whittaker Point. The grants were written so that granite rock would be brought to the Point by barge. The rock-by-barge option was the preferred method, but it was generating bids that could not be covered by the grants.

To secure competitive bids, an alternate bid was added to the project: bring granite in by road. It would reduce project costs by several hundred thousand dollars and companies without access to a barge could bid on the project.

It also meant Maritime Drive, a road maintained by the town, would need immediate repair due to the weight of tons of granite demolishing the roadway. The grants would not cover the road repair costs – they were not in the original applications – and the town would need to foot the bill.

The bid spread for both travel routes, said Manager Miller, ranged from $1.612 million (rock-by-road) to $4.9 million (rock-by-barge).

The lowest bid for rock-by-barge came in at $1.93 million, the lowest for rock-by-road was $1.612 million. Both bids were from the same company.

Miller asked Commissioners to award the bid to the lowest rock-by-barge bid, Carolina Marine Structures, for $1.93 million. By barge was the preferred method, she said. It wouldn’t demolish Maritime Drive and the grants would cover the expense.

There will still be some staging from land near the Point and Miller said she expected the road will still need repair. “It would not be total destruction and we could do it in parts.”

At the February meeting, the estimate for a total road repair, in the case of a rock-by-road scenario, was approximately $300,000. Miller said there were unused Powell funds of $143,916 and a FEMA reimbursement of $263,000 that could be used to cover the cost.

Commissioner Martin Barrow asked the cost. Miller replied “I’ve got it down to the high two hundred thousand already, it may come down further.”

Commissioner David White asked for a time frame. “This is just a notice to award. Once they sign the contract, they have 180 days [to finish],” said Miller. There only allowable delays are for severe weather (like a hurricane) and the availability of the granite. “And we still think the availability of rock may be an issue,” Miller said.

Miller said leftover funds from the grants would go to spring planting and other projects that could not happen this year. Until the grant funding periods runs out, extra funds could also be used for upland plantings in the middle of the peninsula, after other projects are complete, to further stabilize the point.

The grants come from several sources and have different termination dates. “Most of them [will end] 2021,” said Miller, “for the USDA and NC Department of Agriculture, that’s a 75/25 – USDA is 75% of that, NC Department of Ag is 25% – theirs is out to 2022 because theirs came in so much later.”

The Board unanimously agreed to award to the bid to Carolina Marine Structures.

Whittaker Creek Dredging Bid
Unlike the Whittaker Point Restoration, Whittaker Creek Dredging is about to begin.

“The low bid for Whittaker Creek Dredging is from King Dredging company at $8 a cubic yard,” Miller told the Board. “I would like to request we award the bid to King Dredging.”

King Dredging finished Dredging Pecan Grove Marina in December 2019, and in January, was selected to clear out the Sea Harbour dredge spoil site so it may receive dredge spoils from the Whittaker Creek dredging project. The company kept their barge at Pecan Grove Marina, noting in their bid proposal qualifications they had “suspended all other projects in anticipation of the bid for the project.”

The CAMA issued dredging permit is expected to arrive shortly after March 9, when the comment period permit ends.

Miller said a survey company is in Whittaker Creek, marking the channel in preparation for the dredge. “The day that permit hits my desk, “Miller said, King Dredging “will just turn the equipment on and start.”

The Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to award the bid to King Dredging.

Public Hearings
Village Hardware Special Use Permit
The owners of Village Hardware rent their building on Broad Street, and are seeking a Special Use Permit to build a new hardware store adjacent to their current location. The SUP is concerned only with the potential impact of new store in the mixed use zone and not about constructing the physical building.

There were no public comments against the SUP and no objections from the Commissioners. The SUP passed unanimously.

Oriental Dental Special Use Permit
The owners of Oriental Dental on Hodges Street are seeking to raise their non-conforming building out of the flood zone. Town Manager Diane Miller said the only concern came in via phone call from an adjacent neighbor who could not attend the meeting. She was concerned about workers “traversing her property to get to the project.” Miller said. “I told her that would not happen.”

There were no public comments against the SUP and no objections from the Commissioners. Commissioner David White suggested that “we keep the trucks on your own property as opposed to the neighbors. We add that as a condition of the SUP.” The SUP passed unanimously with the added condition.

Arbor Day Proclamation
Though there is a federally observed Arbor Day, Dr. Bob Miller, Chairman of Oriental’s Tree Board has asked that Oriental celebrate the day on April 4, 2020. The request was approved unanimously.

Manager’s Report
• The Town has an application for an unpaid intern from Auburn University. The intern would spend a few months during the summer learning about public administration in local government. The applicant is the daughter-in-law of Town Manager Miller and is also on active duty with the Army. The Commissioners approved the intern contract.
• FEMA Reimbursement – Received a check for $242,000, 75% of the fixed-cost offer for the repairs to South Ave. Miller said the town will receive the remaining 25% when she finishes getting all the paperwork to FEMA. Miller said the Town spent $285,000 for the repairs, and will receive $323,000 from FEMA. “We used a lot of force labor and a lot of our own equipment.” When filing for reimbursement, the Town was able to factor in town labor and equipment usage hours outside of normal use, accounting for the discrepancy.

Police Report
Officer Bill Wichrowski thanked Melinda Barrow, wife of Commissioner Barrow, for her assistance in applying for a $24,500 grant for computers and software that could “bring Oriental Police Department up to par with the Sheriff’s Office and everyone else, and make our jobs more efficient.”

He reported that the month was quiet otherwise.

Commissioner Comments
Commissioner Barrow asked if there were any updates on the planned bridges along Highway 55 at Stonewall and Alligator Creek. Commissioner Charlie Overcash said he had spoken with County Commissioner Paul Delamar, “He said it’s been effectively shelved right now.”

Closed Session – Town Manager Diane Miller’s Evaluation
The Board of Commissioners went into a closed session to discuss Town Manager Diane Miller’s yearly evaluation. At her evaluation in 2018, Miller had received a raise of 10%.

Miller and the Commissioners returned after nearly 30 minutes and reopened the session. “We voted she would get a 7.5% raise,” said Commissioner David White, “about a $6,000 raise.” Four of the five commissioners were in favor of the raise. Commissioner Barrow dissented. The motion passed.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, April 7 at 7p.
The Board of Commissioners will meet for their annual Budget Retreat on Friday, March 6 at 8a at Town Hall.

Related Information:
March Agenda
February Meeting Minutes
Village Hardware SUP Request
Oriental Dental SUP Request
Arbor Day Proclamation
Whittaker Creek Bid Awards
Police Report
Manager’s Report

Posted Friday March 6, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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