I’ve tried to keep track of the numerous questions that have arisen for which I didn’t have ready answers. Today’s Council Work Session and Council Meeting provided an opportunity to get many of them answered. There are two groups of comments tonight: Hurricane Florence related, and Village Updates discussed at today’s Council Work Session and Meeting.
HURRICANE FLORENCE-RELATED UPDATES
This is still all being worked out. Essentially, ensuring that removal of carts is covered by FEMA is one topic. If not, how can however many carts that were inundated most effectively, economically, and environmentally sensitively be removed from the island. There may be a resale market for some types of carts; scavenging these carts will limit or eliminate their resale value. So, please, until instructions are given, please hold onto your dead carts, and do not scavenge them for parts. Some carts that were left along roadsides have been collected by “pickers.” As you all know, broken down carts are indistinguishable from permanently dead carts. We do not want your roadside cart accidentally towed to the cart graveyard or be taken by pickers. Instructions for marking truly dead carts will be provided.
The Million Dollar Part (needed to restore power)
Duke Energy is in the process of installing a new power line parallel to the faulty line from Bay Tree Trail to Timbercreek, the “hub,” if you will, of island power to the sewer system. This effort is ongoing.
Long-term Plan for Mosquito Control
The Village is continuing with its excellent program of mosquito control implemented after Hurricane Joachin in 2015. This includes putting minnows in “ponds” of standing water, adding small amounts of vegetable oil to smaller ponds to keep mosquitos from breeding in them, and having mosquito “donuts” or “biscuits” available for property owners to put on their lots where standing water is present. Please go to Public Works if you have standing water on your property that might provide a nursery for mosquito breeding.
The Village continues to support Hope Harbor Home by shipping gently used island goods to this domestic violence shelter and support group. It is preferred that you drop off your items at Public Works. When you get there, seek assistance to get your items placed in the proper container and to get a receipt. If you have a large item, you can submit an “Island Resident Service Request” at the Village’s web page at villagebhi.org. For a $50 fee, Public Works staff will help you move one item (not a houseful!) (As I mentioned previously, this service was abused in the past, resulting in bodily injury to an island employee. Ergo, the fee and the limit of one item.)
Approvals for Tree Removal
Please document by taking pictures of trees that have fallen down and trees that have landed on homes, before removing them. Permission to remove them is not needed. For other trees on your lot that have been severely damaged by Hurricane Florence, please contact Karen Mosteller, Bald Head Association Architectural Review Committee (ARC) coordinator (457-4676) OR Stephen Boyett (457-9700), Village Building Inspector, to obtain approval BEFORE removing the trees. Because of the numbers of affected trees, Karen and Stephen have been working together to facilitate the approvals process. (Usually approvals from both are required.) Trees on BHA common area require BHA permission for removal.
“Private” Pumping of Water from Your Lot
Please consult with Stephen Boyett, Village Building Inspector, before pumping water off your property. This is to ensure that water is not adversely impacting others’ property and is being pumped effectively in the best direction. Water should not be pumped on BHA Common Area without BHA permission.
Providing an opportunity for homeowners to address their comments about the island’s Hurricane Florence response was discussed at both the morning Work Session and the afternoon Council Meeting. Some residents attended both meetings. This morning’s end result was to have a Town Hall sometime after the holidays to allow staff to prepare and disseminate a Power Point presentation of progress through dated pictures to show the magnitude of the task. “Seeing” what was involved may alleviate some owners’ concerns.
This afternoon it was suggested that a Task Force be appointed to report to Council. Several property owners, many of whom are permanent residents, shared their concerns today. Many do not want to wait until after the holidays when the island has mostly returned to normal and the issues causing frustration are forgotten. Everyone in attendance was complimentary of the work staff has done to get the island to the condition it is today. Variations from emergency procedures that appeared to favor some owners and businesses over others were the dominant subject of concern this afternoon. Homeowners of primary and second residences that do not rent or are hybrids of seasonal rentals with significant three-season-owner occupancy, stated that their interests were not considered or represented in access decisions.
The end result is that Council and staff will take all the ideas under advisement. Personally, I believe that a Town Hall – soon – should be held. This should be broadcast live electronically to those who are off island and allow for their input. After giving it more thought this afternoon on my drive to Durham, I think that an independent task force should be appointed. There are several excellent local leaders who have helped with difficult situations in the past who have the experience and governmental knowledge to provide this valuable service to Bald Head Island. The goal is to improve procedures, processes, standards, and ordinances for future emergencies. It bears saying again: our procedures are only as good as our last worst event. Also, we all know that no matter how well thought out any plan is, deviations and flexibility are ALWAYS necessary.
VILLAGE UPDATES from today’s Council meetings
Beach Re-nourishment/Textile Groin Replacements
Prior to Hurricane Florence these projects had been carefully managed, coordinated and scheduled to begin in mid-November. Florence put a few wrenches in the works of the finely-tuned orchestration of the project. Meetings will be held next week with the various contractors to re-work the schedule.
Paving of Lighthouse Wynd, a section of Edward Teach Extension and a few other smaller areas was scheduled to occur in October. With the high demand for barge access resulting from Florence, the paving is being rescheduled in November.
Nano-Brewery and the Village Zoning Ordinance
Last spring the Planning Board presented its recommendation to Council for the addition of a nano-brewery to the zoning ordinance. Council voted 4-1 against making the change. Some technical steps in the process were incomplete, so Council returned the issue to the Planning Board for follow-up and clarification. The Planning Board met and has written language for the Village zoning ordinance to accommodate a nano-brewery as a conditional use in commercial zones PD-2C and PD-3C. Today Council set the public hearing for the November 16th Council Meeting for the potential zoning ordinance change. After the public hearing (not sure if one or two hearings are required), Council will formally vote on whether to change the ordinance. Should the Council vote in favor, any conditional use application will have to go before the Board of Adjustment for approval. Should a Council majority vote “no,” the zoning ordinance will remain unchanged.
I have tried to remain neutral on everything Florence related, but chose to share comments from this afternoon’s Council meeting. I’ve been promising a post mortem where everyone can have their say. It would help me to know what YOU want and when you want it. It is my genuine and sincere hope that this be a productive effort to guide future emergency plans – NOT a gripe session. (And NO ONE likes griping on BHB even though it is a closed group consisting only of property owners.) Your thoughtful input is appreciated.
I am going to the State Fair with my grandsons tomorrow and will be happily diverted from my daily BHB post.
Have a great weekend!! (And good luck on the lottery!!!)