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Town Board Meeting November
Cycle share may be coming, Hodges Street flooding reviewed
November 15, 2022

ovember’s meeting of Town Commissioners had a full quorum. Seventeen residents were in the audience.

town hall sign Mayor Sally Belangia, Commissioners David White, Charlie Overcash, Allen Price, Frank Roe, and Sandy Winfrey were present as was Town Manager Diane Miller, Chief Finance Officer Tammi Cox, and Officer Nic Blayney.

Commissioners heard public comments about a the uses of a grandfathered lot, set a public hearing for a change to the GMO, and discussed which funds and / or auxiliary boards should pay for project budget shortfalls.

Sailcraft Requests More Uses for Grandfathered Residential Lot
Neil Whitford, attorney for Sailcraft Services, also known as M&J Marine, spoke during public comments. The owners of SailCraft, Mike and Jennifer Pawlikowski, were in attendance with him.

In early 2018, during the negotiation and sale of SailCraft Services to the Pawlikowskis, a request was made to rezone a neighboring residential lot into a mixed use lot. The lot was part of the parcel transferred in the sale, but the rezoning request was rejected. The lot had been used as an employee parking lot and to store boats on jack stands.

Attorney Michael Clayton speaks to the Board on behalf of SailCraft Services. Owners Mike and Jennifer Pawlikowski are in the audience.

At that time, Commissioners said they would grandfather in the storage and parking uses for the lot, but not for boat work such as repairs, painting, grinding, or other maintenance. To secure the grandfathered status from the Town, then owner Alan Arnfast had to remove a temporary structure that had been on site.

When the initial rezoning request was made, residents in the neighborhood asked that the lot not be rezoned, but kept as a storage / parking lot.

Whitford maintained that the lot had been used for boat work in addition to storage and parking during the long history of the yard’s existence (approximately 50 years). He also said his clients had not been properly notified of the Planning Board meeting where the issue was discussed.

Whitford asked the commissioners to grandfather in the lot for boat repair work, saying if the two parties could not come to an amicable resolution, “this will likely end up in a quasi-judicial proceeding before the Board of Adjustment. Then it’s expensive for everyone.”

In his letter to the town, prior to the meeting, Whitford stated:

“At a minimum, I ask that you not bother them again with any threat of enforcement action. There is a curious statute that allows an individual successfully challenging a municipal action to recover attorneys’ fees in certain situations. I am confident we can prove the repair and servicing work on 1216 Lupton to be grandfathered and thus we will be successful challenging any enforcement action the Town may take.”

His letter also contained letters from 10 SailCraft clients and others stating the lot had been used for boat work, and that SailCraft should be allowed to use the lot for repair work.

Commissioners had no questions for Whitford or his clients. No action was taken for or against.

Coastal Cycle Share
Steven & Maureen Clayton own Coastal Cycle Share, a bike sharing business that launched in New Bern in October. They are looking to expand to Oriental to host bicycles at several marinas.

Clayton said the bikes are bluetooth connected, and would be accessed by phone. Storing the bikes on private property would not present a zoning issue, said Town Manager Diane Miller.

Michael Clayton explains to the Board about Coastal Cycle Share.

Commissioner Charlie Overcash raised a concern. “Several years ago we were approached by electric scooters,” he said. The board found that towns that had allowed the scooters soon regretted it; the scooters were left unattended all over the city. “How do you address that?”

“Once you unlock the bike,” Clayton said, “you’re responsible until that bike is back at the docking station.” Users of the bikes must use a card to pay for the bike. They continue to be charged for the rental until the bike is back at the docking station.

Commissioners had no further questions, though they did request more information from Clayton.

Public Hearing to be Set for Driveway Ordinance.
Town Manager Miller explained to Commissioners that the Planning Board has been working on an ordinance to regulate the size of driveways, “to adjust it from what may have been too restrictive.” The other purpose was to limit the size of driveways over culverts, “and the space that goes over water / sewer / electrical lines, and the cost [to the town] to do all that.”

Commissioners agreed to set the public hearing for the December Town Board Meeting on Dec 6.

Budget Amendments and Future Costs
Two budget amendments were presented to the Board. The first was due to cost increases of materials and unexpectedly having to remove several mature trees for the Neuse Beach Drainage project for $10,085. The second was for a $500 donation to the Tree Board.

Commissioner Frank Roe asked the Board to consider “a buffer plus ten percent to allow for it to be overspent like this.” Manager Miller replied the contracts usually have that contingency (like the Whittaker Point Restoration Project), but this contract did not have that language.

Roe also asked the funds “come in the same percentages from the Harbor Waterfront and General Funds.” Commissioner David White responded that it could be something done for future projects, but that the Harbor Waterfronts Committee had already paid for the pipes up front, a total of approximately $3,600.

Commissioners Price, Winfrey, Overcash, and White voted to adopt the budget amendments as is. Commissioner Roe voted against.

Police Report
Officer Nic Blayney opened his report discussing the armed robbery at Oriental Dollar General.

“Since Dollar General was not annexed into town like the Piggly Wiggly was, we did not take primary on that investigation. However, Officer Wichrowski and myself were very much involved in the process.” Blayney said he could not give details as it is an active and ongoing case.

Two suspects have been arrested and charged.

Officer Blayney says he triggered two business alarms while he was doing business checks – the front doors were never locked. “Being in a small town with a very low crime rate, it’s easy to become complacent,” he said. Blayney called the owners to alert them and secured the doors before leaving.

Chief of Police Certificates Earned
Officers Blayney and Wichrowski have earned their Advanced Law Enforcement Certificates. “This is the certificate that all chiefs have to have,” said Miller. “They have passed all the requirements to be Chief of Police.”

There will be a presentation of the certificates for both officers at a later date.

Trash Dumping
A resident photographed an unknown person dumping trash at the town beach trash bins. The county does not require trash pickup and county residents occasionally drive into town to dump their trash. There is a $500 fine for doing so.

Rising trash costs are an issue for the town. Commissioners advise the public not to approach anyone dumping trash, but to take a picture of the offender and their vehicle license plate. Send the info to the Town Manager or either officer to investigate.

Commissioners listen to the Auxiliary Board reports.
Manager’s Report
• The Neuse Beach Drainage Project is complete. Neuse Drive connecting Ragan Road to Vandemere Rd is again open. The road was closed in order to replace damaged culvert pipes below.
• Manager Miller met with paving contractors to get estimates for how much asphalt is needed for street repairs and projects. A request for proposals for the projects will go out before the end of the year.
• The Net House Project – the restoration of the building at town dock #2 – was delayed (due to the installation of scales at the landfill). The project has since begun. Much of the house was lost to rot, however builders saved what pieces they could.

Hodges Street Flooding Assessment Town Manager Miller met with representatives from the USDA to assess the need for a grant to help repair Hodges Street. “The sidewalk is separating from the seawall,” she said. “The road is alligatored and erupting, so we have both displacement and eruptions in the same road.”

Hodges Street was constructed over Raccoon Creek – the land did not exist prior. Because of the flooding and deterioration issues, the USDA granted the Town ‘some planning funds.’

Miller met with a geologist, two civil engineers, and a soil & water conservationist to inspect the problem. Because they arrived on a day when there were northeast winds, said Miller, “they saw the speed with which it [Hodges Street] goes under and how easily it goes under.”

Miller said the information from the visit goes to the USDA management team and that the project is moving forward.

Committee Reports
Parks & Recreation Committee Bonnie Crosser announced the Oriental Recreation Park Open House for Nov 12. Parks and Rec will take over the Luminaries for Spirit of Christmas.

Tourism Board Marsha Paplham said advertising for the coming year is all in place. The committee is working on redoing the brochure from a map into a card stock with QR code that would take them to a map of the town.

Harbor Waterfronts Committee Jim Blackerby said the committee has been working through their project list, including getting a kayak rack near the beach.

Planning Board Julie Rahm said the Board continue to work through the CAMA Land Use Plan and making it consistent through the different revisions.

Commissioner Comments
Commissioner Allen Price asked about the electric vehicle charger at Town Hall; it has been down for service for months. “We have a ticket in with Charge Point,” said Miller, “but they are notoriously long with getting to us. And here’s part of the issue – some cars can still charge with it.”

“Is there anyway Duke has more money for us getting more chargers, or getting a rapid charger?” Miller told Price she would look into it. “We specifically requested longer time chargers because it was a tourist activity to keep people in town longer. There is new evidence out that quick chargers deteriorate the battery faster,” she said. The chargers were part of the Coal Ash Settlement from Duke Energy.

Commissioner White brought up the Town Manager’s upcoming performance review. He said he would send out the information and Commissioners could discuss it at the next meeting.

Commissioner Roe requests the town publishes all open auxiliary board positions on the town site. Roe also asks for more comprehensive report “of what’s going on … in light of what’s going on around town.” Roe is referring to the incident at the Dollar General. “Just a one time discussion,” he said.

“The good news is while we have those bad things happening, we also have people leaving their doors unlocked,” Miller said. “And we’re coming into the season where you’re getting a [safety] update from police coming into the Holiday Season.”

Roe replied that was what he was looking for, “so the town will know.”

Commissioner Sandy Winfrey motioned to adjourn the meeting.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, December 6 at 8a. Town Hall will be closed for Thanksgiving on November 24 & 25.

Related Links
• November Agenda
• Letter from Attorney Neil Whitford to Town
October Minutes
Public Hearing Request
• Budget Amendment
Police Report
Manager report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Tuesday November 15, 2022 by Allison DeWeese

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