Helicopter Tours Impede Residents, Visitors Enjoyment Of Island

By / Letters to the Editor / Wednesday, 07 September 2016 04:00

Dear Mr. Cramer and Members of the Council,
In light of the recent petition by High Tide to conduct helicopter tours, I am again writing to express the extreme concern my family has with regard to this activity. We are permanent residents in the Oceana neighborhood located on the north end of the Island, and we also own a vacation rental property on Canal Drive.  Given that our homes are close to the flight plan proposed by High Tide (i.e., the front yard of our home is the ICW overlooking Snows Cut and our rental unit is one block from the beach), we believe we would be subjected to the same helicopter noise disturbances we experienced last Labor Day.  In addition, we often entertain out of town guests during summer holiday weekends, and we depend on the income from our out of town renters at the Canal Drive unit.  We are concerned that the frequent noise disruptions will impede the pleasure our guests normally experience during their visits to our Pleasure Island homes.   
In her presentation to the Council in May, Ms. Ward claimed that the helicopter tours would "attract Wilmington locals and visitors, retain CB patrons in CB instead of Southport, enhance the overall CB experience for visitors and increase revenues for local businesses".  And in her petition to the Town, she asserts the noise levels from her R44 and R22 helicopters are less than some lawn mowers and watercraft. We question the basis for these assertions.  Has a market research study been completed by a reputable, unbiased, third-party firm that supports them?   If not, we recommend one be done before you make a decision on an operation so negatively viewed by your constituents.  Below are some points we would ask that you consider in such a study or in making your final determination on the High Tide petition:
1. How many visitors/residents are likely to take advantage of the helicopter tours?
2. What is the real environmental impact of the tours and the affect on visitor/resident's positive perceptions and enjoyment of our Island?
3. What would be the economic impact of Numbers 1 & 2 above; to include the affect low-flying aircraft tours will have on resident/visitors decisions to invest and spend here?
4. Who would benefit and who would lose by adding these tours?
5. How likely is High Tide to want to expand operations beyond the requested 3 Sundays per year, and how soon would such an expansion request occur? What would be the environmental and economic impact of such an expansion?  How would the Town respond?
6. What is the likelihood other tour companies will attempt to enter this market if High Tide is approved for this activity?
7. Would approval of High Tide's petition set a precedent that prevents or minimizes the Town's ability to deny similar petitions from other entrants?
8. How have other beach communities handled these types of business proposals and the concerns of their residents?
You may note we did not include the Mayor in this email.  That was intentional.  Given his relationship to the owner of High Tide and the conflict of interest such a relationship infers, we believe the Mayor should recuse himself from any discussions, deliberations or decisions relative to the petition.  To do otherwise gives the perception of a misuse of office for self-benefit or the benefit of those close to him.  
Please know we appreciate all the hard work and dedication demonstrated by the Council (including the Mayor) and the Town Administration towards making our community great.  We beg you take a stand on businesses like High Tide that do not further that goal or otherwise impede residents'/visitors' enjoyment of our wonderful  island.    
Regards,
Cathy and Steve Casey,
Carolina Beach, NC

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