2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: PART ONE

The Town of Kure Beach held a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday morning, February 20th, for a multi-million dollar project to renovate their existing Town Hall, Police and Fire facilities. Members of the Town Council, the architect, contractor and project manager used gold color shovels to break ground. See report below... The Town of Kure Beach held a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday morning, February 20th, for a multi-million dollar project to renovate their existing Town Hall, Police and Fire facilities. Members of the Town Council, the architect, contractor and project manager used gold color shovels to break ground. See report below...

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: PART ONE Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 26 December 2018 03:31

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Each  year  the  Island  Gazette publishes highlights of top stories  from  throughout  the  year.  2018  was  a  busy  year  with  a variety of news stories landing on the front page.

We're   going   to   refresh   your memory  on  some  of   those important headlines.

The  following  is  Part  One  of  a  two-part  look  at  stories  in  2018:

Kure Beach Breaks Ground On Town Hall, Police and Fire Station Project

KURE BEACH, N.C. : February 20th, 2018 - The Town of Kure Beach held a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday February 20th, at 9am at a vacant lot at 117 Settlers Lane adjacent to the existing Town Hall and Police Station.

Representatives of the builder, architect, Town Council and project manager participated in the ceremony wearing hard hats displaying the Town's official Seal and using gold color shovels to break ground on the project. Work actually began a couple of weeks ago when crews began removing some of the interior of the building to begin renovations.

The Town Council unanimously approved a measure last year to begin seeking financing for the $5.5 million dollar project to renovate and expand Town Hall, their Police Station and build a new Fire Station.

The Council voted at their August 17th, 2017, meeting to hire Constructive Building Solutions, LLC, of Wilmington, NC, to serve as project manager for an upcoming project to renovate and expand Town Hall and build a new Fire Station. The total estimated cost of the project is $5.5 million dollars. Constructive Building Solutions will be paid $85,400 for a 12-month time frame with an hourly rate of $125 for "Council requested items over and above the scope of services included in the proposal."

According to Town officials, "The improvement project is expected to begin in November and will require re-location of Administration, Finance, Building, Recreation and Police staffing and closing of the Town Hall and Police Building during construction. Fire personnel will remain in their current location during this time. Completion is expected to take 12 – 18 months. Estimated budget is $3 million for a new Fire Station and $2 million for expansion and renovation" of Town Hall and the Police Station for a total of $5 million.

According to the Town, the current Police, Fire and Town Hall buildings were constructed 20+ plus years ago in the 1990s and have not been expanded since. Staffing has more than doubled over the years. The Fire Department used to consist of mostly volunteers, but now has eight full time employees, plus volunteers.

Statutory requirements regarding retention of documents, police evidence storage, fire required equipment and turn out gear have also increased over the years. This has resulted in inadequate office space for staff, cramped storage space for evidence and document retention.

In a narrative for the project is stated, "Because of the growth of the town as a full time residence and the increase of visitors and demands for services, the subject of space needs was addressed by Town Council in 2016. It was decided that the Town Hall building will be expanded to add new offices for Building Inspections and Recreation staff, an additional conference room, additional document vaults and a larger Council room."

The Police Department building will be updated and expanded into the current attached building used by Fire Personnel. A new Fire station will be constructed on land adjacent to the Town Hall complex. Additionally, the traffic and parking layout will be re-designed to add 48 more parking spaces to accommodate visitors and staff. Town Council expects these improvements will serve the town needs adequately for 25 years or more.

The Town announced the ground breaking ceremony in a press release which stated, "The design includes expanding the Town Hall building to add offices, additional document vaults and a larger Council room. The Town Hall building houses three departments. It also includes renovation of the existing Police building with expansion into the current Fire Station for use by the Police Department. Additionally, a new Fire station is to be constructed on land adjacent to the Town Hall complex, and the traffic and parking layout will be re-designed to add 48 more parking spaces to accommodate residents, visitors and staff."

The Fire and Public Works staff will not move and those facilities will remain open as usual during the project.

The temporary location for Town Hall and Police Department personnel is at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area located approximately two miles south of the current Town Hall site on Fort Fisher Boulevard. Signage will be onsite providing directions to the facility. While the main Town Hall building is closed for renovation and expansion for the next 10-12 months, there will not be a payment drop box available. Payments may be made online on the Town's website at www.townofkurebeach.org  under online payments; by phone at 910-458-8216 with a credit/debit card or mailed to the 117 Settlers Lane address, which will not change during this time.

All council, board and committee meetings will be held at the temporary Town Hall location during renovation and expansion.

Prior to turning the dirt, Mayor Craig Bloszinsky said, "This is not just a glorious monument that we are building. This Town has about 25 to 30 new start permits a year. That may not be a lot to a lot of communities but it's a lot to us. We have 266 remaining open lots and a lot of homes on the front that someday will probably be 4,000 square feet instead of the 1,500 square feet they are today. According to Planning and Zoning we have the ability for 300 plus or more structures on those open lots. That's going to bring people to Town. This is the beginning of infrastructure that we believe is necessary to service this population; our guests as well as our citizens."

The project is nearing completion and should be open soon.


Victim Of Condo Fire In Carolina Beach Identified



CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. : January 11th, 2018 - An extremely sad day in Carolina Beach history. A condo fire Monday morning January 8th, took the life of  69 year old Carolina Beach resident Deborah Ann Reifschneider. 

Carolina Beach Fire Chief Alan Griffin said fire fighters were dispatched shortly before 9am to the Inland Harbor Condominiums at 500 Saint Joseph Street. Griffin said the fire started in one unit and spread to adjacent units. Crews contained the fire within those three units, but eight other units experienced smoke and water damage. The Red Cross is working to provide assistance to residents of the building.

There are 18 units overall in the building. Griffin said there was one fatality, 69 year old Carolina Beach resident Deborah Ann Reifschneider. In addition to the Carolina Beach Fire Department, crews from the Kure Beach, Wilmington, New Hanover County and Leland departments also responded. The State Bureau of Investigation was also at the scene.

Around eight families or couples needed housing and the Pleasure Island Relief Fund set up a gofundme page online at www.gofundme.com/pleasure-island-disaster-relief 100% of the proceeds were used to assist the Inland Harbor Fire victims. Anything left over was used to create a reserve for future incidents and to help the Carolina Beach Fire Dept to continue their fire safety education efforts.

On Thursday, Detective Scott Hettinger explained, "As a result of an autopsy, officials with the Carolina Beach Police Department are releasing the official identification of the deceased individual from the fire at 500 St.Joseph St. on January 8,2018 as, Deborah Ann Reifschneider. Deborah Reifschneider is described as a 69 year old female and a resident of 500 St.Joseph St. Unit 3302, Carolina Beach, N.C. Next of kin has been notified. At this time there are no criminal circumstances resulting in the death of Deborah Reifschneider. The official cause of death is pending and will be determined by the medical examiner’s office. Due to the extent of the fire damage to the building, the fire is being ruled as undetermined with no suspicious circumstances."




Council Takes Action Following Food Truck Lawsuit

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. : August 29th, 2018 - Three food truck owners that operate in Wilmington, NC, announced Tuesday August 21st, they are filing suit against the Town of Carolina Beach challenging an ordinance approved earlier this year that only permits brick and mortar restaurants to operate trucks within Town limits.
On August 28th, the Carolina Beach Town Council discussed the issue during a closed session meeting. Following that closed session, the Council voted to remove the requirement that food truck operators must own a brick and mortar business at a location within Town limits and voted to hold a public hearing at a future date to take public input on the entire food truck ordinance.

The plaintiffs in the case filed on August 21st, in New Hanover County Court are truck owners Michelle Rock, owner of Momma Rock’s Dessert Truck & T’Geaux Boys; Aaron and Monica Cannon,  of A & M’s Red Food Truck; and Harley Bruce, owner of Poor Piggy’s BBQ & Catering.

Justin Pearson, Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice, Florida Office, explained Tuesday during a press conference at the New Hanover County Courthouse the Institute for Justice handles cases across the nation and, "We don't do it for money and we don't charge our clients any money. Instead, we file constitutional challenges around the nation representing individuals who's constitutional rights have been violated."

Pearson said, "The Institute for Justice has had tremendous success over the years. We've been lead council in five United States Supreme Court cases and we won four of them. In fact we have our sixth U.S. Supreme Court argument coming up this fall. One reason why we have been successful is because I.J. made the decision early on to focus on four key areas in constitutional law and become renowned experts in those areas. Those areas are economic liberty, property rights, educational choice and free speech."

He explained, "Today we are here to talk about economic liberty and particularly we are here to talk about the economic liberty rights of food truck owners. The government is not allowed to pick winners and losers in the market place. That choice belongs to customers. It also means that it is unconstitutional for the government to limit food choices to local brick and mortar restaurants. Unfortunately that's exactly what Carolina Beach has done. Carolina Beach has turned the bridge to it's island into a drawbridge that it has pulled up on competition. That's not just wrong, it is unconstitutional. In fact it violates several different provisions in the North Carolina Constitution which is why we filed our lawsuit."

Attorney Johanna Talcott  representing the truck owners explained, "This morning we filed a lawsuit in the New Hanover County Court on behalf of these food truck entrepreneurs against the Town of Carolina Beach. The Town of Carolina Beach is unconstitutionally prohibiting them from operating their trucks in the Town simply because they don't already own restaurants there. Governments may not regulate some businesses out of town simply to protect others from competition."

She explained, "The North Carolina Constitution specifically prohibits this sort of economic protectionism. When the Town began drafting it's food truck ordinance it sought input from local restaurants and their biggest concern was competition, especially from outsider food trucks coming in to the Town from areas like Wilmington and other neighboring Towns. Again, the government is not permitted to pick economic winners and losers. The North Carolina Constitution protects their constitutional right to earn an honest living and compete for customers with their delicious food."

She explained, "They want to operate in Carolina Beach. Customers and property owners want them there. The only thing stopping them is the Town of Carolina Beach and it's unconstitutional prohibition on out of town food trucks."

According to the Institute for Justice in an online release on their website at ij.org, "Michelle Rock has owned and operated her two food trucks in the Wilmington area since 2014; they were among the first on the local scene. Momma Rock’s Dessert Truck focuses on specialized event catering while T’Geaux Boys - a nod to Michelle’s Louisiana roots - operates as a more traditional food truck."

Rock explained during the press conference, "We don't want to compete with anybody, we just want to be able to do the same thing that restaurants are doing. Serve the customers, serve our neighbors, serve the islander's and let it be pleasurable for everybody. It is Pleasure Island by the way. To be cut off and not be able to do that service for the people who want us is disoncerning for us and we just want everybody to have the same rights. We want everybody to be able to come see us as well as a restaurant if they want to and we want to be able to do same thing that everybody else has been allowed to do without the restrictions that are not fair for food truck owners."

The Town's ordinance, Sec. 14-21. - Food trucks, states, "Allowing food truck businesses to operate in Carolina Beach promotes diversification of the town's economy and employment opportunities. Food trucks support the incubxation and growth of entrepreneurial/start-up businesses, (2) North Carolina General Statute 160A-174 grants towns the power to define, prohibit, regulate, acts, omissions, or conditions, detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of its citizens and the peace and dignity of the town through the creation of ordinances."

A "Food truck" is defined as, "A readily movable trailer or motorized wheeled vehicle, currently registered with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, designed and equipped to serve food."

The ordinance states, "(1) All food truck operators shall obtain an annual permit from the town manager or their designee, unless otherwise exempted in this chapter. Permits shall be valid for a calendar year. This permit shall be posted in a visible location on the food truck. (2) Food truck operators shall have the signed approval of the property owner for each location at which the food truck operates. This approval must be made available with the permit application. Any additional sites must be submitted to the town for review/approval prior to being implemented. (3) Food truck vendors shall provide documentation of approval from the health department of the county in which the food truck's associated commissary restaurant is located. (4) Each food truck operator will be subject to an annual regulatory fee that will be assessed to cover the costs associated with regulation of food truck businesses. The amount regulatory fee will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary on an annual basis in the town's rates and fees schedule. A permit will not be issued until this regulatory fee has been paid. (5) The town permit and county health permit must be displayed during the food truck's hours of operation."

The ordinance states:
Food trucks shall be allowed in all nonresidential districts with the following restrictions:
(1) Prior to obtaining approval, the food truck operator shall maintain a eating and drinking establishment for at least one year in the town. The eating and drinking establishment shall be in a building and open at all times when the food truck operates. However, if approved by health department the food truck's hours of operation may extend beyond the hours of the eating and drinking establishment.
(2) The food truck shall be positioned at least one hundred feet from the customer entrance of an existing restaurant during its hours of operation, unless the food truck vendor provides documentation that the restaurant owner supports a closer proximity.
(3) Food trucks shall not occupy parking spaces required to fulfill the minimum requirements of the principal use, unless the hours of operation of the principal use do not coincide with those of the food truck. Parking waiver allowances from chapter 40, zoning, may be applied.
(4) Food trucks shall be located no less than five feet from any fire hydrant, sidewalks, utility boxes, handicap ramps and building entrances. No fire lanes, vehicular access ways, or pedestrian walkways may be obstructed or encroached upon by the food truck.
(5) Food Truck operators are responsible for the property disposal of waste and trash associated with the operation. A trash receptacle shall be provided for customers. Town trash receptacles shall not be used for this purpose. Operators shall remove all waste and trash prior to leaving each location or as needed to maintain the health and safety of the public.
(6) All associated equipment, including trash receptacles and signage, must be within three feet of the food truck.
(7) Temporary connections to potable water are prohibited. All plumbing and electrical connections shall be in accordance with the State Building Code.
(8) No amplified microphones or bullhorns shall be permitted as part of the food truck operation. The noise level from the food truck motor and generator must comply with the town's noise ordinance.
(9) Food trucks shall not be permitted on publicly owned or leased property unless they are part of a town approved special event.
(10) Grease must be contained and disposed of in an approved grease receptacle located at the associated commissary.
(11) Grey water must be contained and disposed of in the sanitary sewer at the associated commissary.
(12) Food trucks must have the following fire extinguisher on board during hours of operation: minimum Class 2A, 10B, and C rated extinguisher. If food preparation involves deep frying, a Class K fire extinguisher must also be on the truck.
All National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards shall be met to include fire extinguishers and fire suppression hood systems shall be maintained.
(13) A food truck vendor shall not operate the food truck as a drive-in window.
(14) Lighting shall be such that minimizes the glare on roadways and surrounding properties.
(15) No signage shall be allowed other than signs permanently attached to the motor vehicle and one temporary sign may be permitted in accordance with the temporary sign standards in chapter 40, zoning.

Suspension and revocation of permit. (1) The permit issued for the food truck business may be revoked if the vendor violates any of the provisions contained in this article. (2) The Town Manager may revoke a permit if he or she determines that the food truck vendor's operations are causing parking, traffic congestion, or litter problems either on or off the property where the use is located or that such use is otherwise creating a danger to the public health or safety. (3) The Town Manager reserves the right to temporarily suspend food truck permits during times of special events in the downtown area.

During the Council's August 28th, meeting the Council discussed the item in closed session. Following that closed session, Mayor Joe Benson made a motion stating, "I'd like to make a motion to adopt ordinance 18-1091 to amend Chapter 14-21 of the Town Code to eliminate section B-1, requiring a food truck operation to maintain an eating and drinking establishment prior to the issuance of an annual permit."

Benson made a second motion stating, "I make a motion that Town staff bring back the food truck ordinance for future consideration to include public comment."

The Council voted unanimously on both motions.

On Wednesday August 29th, Pearson said the Council did the right thing and they will maintain the lawsuit while they wait for Council to hold a public hearing in October regarding the food truck ordinance.

On Wednesday, Michelle Rock commented on Facebook, "FYI, we have to be invited, we can't just show up. That is for ALL of New Hanover County. We have to submit our schedules to our Health Inspector. We can NOT park in the street unless a part of a permitted event. We can NOT park with in 100ft of an existing food source unless part of a permitted event. We get invited, booked, reserved, etc. So until invited, booked or reserved, there is not a permit applied for. As far as the meeting goes, we were working at an event that had been booked months in advance and could not attend last night. Remember not to ASSume things, just ask. We are here to serve tbe public and as an Islander, the public is my neighbor."

Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Keith Bloemendaal, commented, "There were multiple public hearings when crafting this ordinance. FYI, I have been pushing for food trucks harder than anyone in this town, am also Chair of our Planning and Zoning, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth and feel like we should just go back to not allowing them period other than special events on private property. Maybe follow the ASSume advice yourself ;-) As an Islander, I would have addressed the Town before bringing a public lawsuit to my own island, but hey, that's just me. How many times have you set up in KB? (curious)"

Substance Believed To Be Fentanyl Tests Positive As Sugar

NEW HANOVER CTY  : August 28th, 2018 -  In July of this year the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department arrested three people on drug charges including 13 pounds of a substance officials said tested as Fentanyl, a powerful opioid.

The Sheriff's Department indicated it was one of the largest seizures of Fentanyl in North Carolina.

On July 20th, the District Attorney's Office issued a statement saying the State's lab tested the substance and concluded it was not Fentanyl.

The Sheriff's Department hired a private lab to test the substance and the results indicated it was sugar.

On July 20th, District Attorney Ben David explained, "The job of the District Attorney is not to convict at all costs but to be ministers of justice. That commitment requires us to move swiftly to dismiss or modify charges when we become aware of new evidence that calls into question a defendant’s guilt."

David explained, "Earlier this week, Sheriff Ed McMahon and I requested that the State Crime Lab conduct expedited confirmatory testing on a substance that initial tests indicated to be fentanyl. Today, we learned that the substance was not in fact fentanyl. As a result, trafficking and some related charges against Wanda Moore, William McIntire, and Charles Batts were dismissed. In light of this new information, my office requested that the defendants be brought before a district court judge to have their bonds revisited."

Judge Robin Robinson modified the bonds for the three individuals arrested in the case to $10,000 secured. The defendants still have the following pending charges:
Wanda Moore:
‐ Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
‐ Maintain a Vehicle/Dwelling/Place (CS)
‐ Possess Heroin
‐ Possess Marijuana Up to ½ Ounce
Charles Batts:
‐ Possession of Marijuana
‐ Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia  ‐ Possession of Controlled Substance on Prison/Jail Premises
‐ Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
William McIntire:
‐ Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver (PWIMSD) Heroin
‐ Possess Heroin ‐ Maintain a Vehicle/Dwelling/Place (CS)
‐ Possess Marijuana Up to ½ Ounce

The Sheriff's Department received results from a private laboratory - NMS Labs - which indicated the substance is actually sugar. The original field testing kit used by the Sheriff's Department to test for Fentanyl was purchased from Scott Company.

According to Deputy Sheriff, Lieutenant Jerry Brewer, "According to the manufacture of our fentanyl test kits, sugars as well as some other products can produce a false positive.  Sheriff McMahon has changed the policy dealing with fentanyl. No one will be charged with fentanyl until it has come back from our private lab positive for fentanyl."

The three individuals previously had a court date of August 2nd, for the other remaining charges.

Brewer explained Tuesday, "Those charges are still waiting to be prosecuted."

Fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine or heroin and just a particle of the drug in contact with the skin can cause serious illness or death.

Kure Beach Council Adopts New Parking Regulations

KURE BEACH, N.C. : July 4th, 2018 - The Kure Beach Town Council voted to amend regulations governing parking in public right-of-ways during their June 19th, meeting.

The Council has held several discussions on the topic in recent months and held a public hearing on May 15th. The Council ultimately decided in May to research the proposed changes in more detail after hearing feedback from residents expressing concerns the new regulations would present various problems including eliminating parking in front of homes, parking during parties and presenting problems for contractors building new homes or servicing things like Heating and Air units.

On June 27th, Mayor Craig Bloszinsky explained, "Council has started an initiative on parking. Several factors are driving this action: recent issues of autos on street blocking emergency vehicles, county population growth bringing more visitors requiring changes to maintain our community atmosphere, and citizen complaints about random parking."

He explained, "Initially we  published changes and held a public meeting that many attended. Good insight was received to the original proposal and potential problems."

He explained, "The basics are set around the paved Right of Way (ROW) and the unpaved ROW throughout the  entire community. Paved ROW is the street and rules simply state that cars and golf carts can only park in marked spaces. The Police Department, at our direction, will ticket or tow vehicles that do not comply with this rule. If the neighborhood has no marked spaces, there is no street parking. This action ensures that all emergency vehicles have full access to all properties for fire or health or safety issues."

He explained, "The unpaved ROW is the space from the paved street to the end of town ROW in FRONT of your home. Only residents and their guests may park in the unpaved ROW at your home. That means enforcement comes down to the homeowner. Call the Police Department if an unidentified vehicle is parked in front of your home and they will ticket the vehicle."

Bloszinsky said the Town wants to avoid expensive permitting processes so property owners will need to prove ownership  - or that they are a renter - in order for police take action. He explained, "These rules come into effect on July 1.  For the period through July 14, our Police Department will issue warnings and not tickets. After the 14th, tickets will be written."

Bloszinsky noted the Police Department is acting on direction from the Council and, "doing their job to keep parking managed and safe for the community."

He said the intent of the changes is to manage parking on main streets and protect communities from "random parking" in order to allow residents to continue to use space in front of their homes as necessary for family, guests or service providers such as heating and air companies, plumbers and contractors.

Bloszinsky explained, "This is not perfect and is a work in progress. Come the end of season, we as a community, can determine what works and what does not and adjust accordingly."

He explained, "The final piece of work that is before us is adding spaces to the paved ROW where it is practical, remark the Beach Access parking lots for better parking use, define other places to park for public beach access areas that have no parking lot. We welcome input on improvements and ideas for the next revision."

May 15th Public Hearing:
During the May 15th, public hearing Bloszinsky explained, "The proposed amendments clarify the language in the current code on ticketing and payment of fines. Prohibit the parking of vehicles in the right-of-way. Prohibit parking in the street unless it is clearly designated parking spaces. Prohibit parking on Town utility easements. Allow towing for any parking violation. Restrict parking of unattached non-passenger vehicles such as trailers. In residential districts, owners and lessors can park in the front yard setback that they own or lease."

Bloszinsky explained, "The reason we came up with this... is there has been a lot of feedback  on parking in the Town. Parking in the neighborhoods. Parking on 421 in the street. Parking around the beach. And it is incumbent on us to management parking because if we don't manage parking people will park where they wish to."
He explained the effort to clarify the language in the ordinance was led by Councilman Joseph Whitley and said, "This is first attempt to get control of parking for our Town. We may not have it all right. If we need to make adjustments that make sense we will go ahead and make those adjustments. This is for you, us to get control of our parking."

Several people expressed concerns about how enforcing no parking in the right-of-way will reduce parking options for people with limited available parking on their properties. Other people wrote letters to the Council.

Whitley read a letter to the Council from Mario Paparozzi stating they have lived in Kure Beach for about 15 years and, "Over the years we have watched a lack of regulation and enforcement of parking ordinances resulting in potentially serious public safety hazards and negative community aesthetics. These observations are of course increased during the summer months. However, they exist - albeit to a lesser extent year round - as a result other people or individuals who put their personal needs and desires above those of everyone else. We are hoping the Township's new interest in enforcement of parking regulations is not only for the summer season. We live on a narrow cul-de-sac and often have residents vehicles parked in the middle of the street blocking our mailbox and impeding safe egress from our driveway. While it's nice to think that community members can address these type of things informally, the reality is that informal discussions - even with the best of intentions - often result in arguments, given some animosity and the like. Therefore we feel it is essential for neutral bodies with enforcement authority to serve the community by pro actively and uniformly enforcing Township regulations and ordinances."

During the May 15th, public hearing, Whitley said he felt the Town should reform a committee to look at the proposed changes. He said the goal was to have the changes made by Memorial Day weekend, but that obviously wasn't going to happen. He said, "The goal was to get something in place for the season so we could address it in October or November to see how people responded and make changes for the upcoming year."

Councilman David Heglar said, "I agree .We can't rush it and make a big mess."

Heglar asked Police Chief Mike Bowden, "Do you have what you need right now if someone parks on pavement in Kure Beach to do something about it. Do you have something on ordinance right now that if they park blocking someones personal residence in the Town's right-of-way, but not on pavement, that you could do something about it?"

Chief Bowden said yes to both questions.

Heglar said, "Those are the two things I'm worried about. From my perspective, I think for people parking on pavement, that's problem number one and problem number two is, when they park illegally blocking someone's property in the Town right-of-way." He said, "That's what the one person didn't like is well all my friends could park anywhere they wanted to in my neighborhood and they got all these warnings. Well they can't. We've got to stop that."

Council Decides Against Study Of Public, Private Partnership For Downtown Municipal Parking Structure

The Carolina Beach Town Council recently gave the go-ahead to Town Manager Michael Cramer to send out a Request For Proposals to explore development of a downtown mixed-use parking facility in a public-private partnership between the Town and a development company. During their June 12th, meeting the Council decided against moving forward on two proposals and instead explore other alternatives to address parking capacity.

CAROLINA BEACH : June 13th, 2018 - The Carolina Beach Town Council considered two proposals during their June 12th meeting, from consultants and development firms interested in performing a predevelopment study for a proposed mixed-use public/private partnership on Town owed property between Canal Drive, Myrtle Street, Harper Avenue and Carl Winner Ave.

The Council agreed not to move forward with either proposal and instead explore other alternatives to address the need for more public parking.

The Council heard a presentation from Town Manager Michael Cramer during their April, meeting regarding the potential for a public-private partnership with a goal of building a municipal parking deck in the downtown Central Business District.

The Town sent out Requests for Proposals to area companies on May 1st.

During the April meeting Cramer explained, "Back in January during our budget retreat, Council asked that we take a look at doing a public private partnership for a parking deck downtown in our Central Business District."

Cramer said the Town is looking at Town owned parking lots in the downtown area including, "The property that contains the Palms Lot, the Town Hall Lot in that area between Harper Ave, Carl Winner, Myrtle  Avenue and Canal Drive."

Cramer explained, "In looking at that there are several options out there. We've met with a couple of people over the years that have had an interest in doing public private partnerships where they would study, pull together a package, try and find a developer and try and get a mixed use development on that site that would contain public parking."

He explained the mixed use development could include options such as, "Commercial ground floor, residential on the top floor, the middle floors would be parking deck."

Cramer explained a parking study conducted last year by the Town's parking enforcement contractor - SP Plus - suggested the Town will need 300 additional parking spaces within the next three to five years based on increased demand in the downtown area.

He explained, "Looking at that we would want to try and shoot for at least 300 or 350 parking spaces that are public and the rest of the parking spots in the deck could be part of the mixed use development."

Cramer said, "I've talked to several folks that do this and they all do it a little bit differently. There are some that will do all of the up-front cost and hope that they find you a contractor and a developer and then they would get 1.5% of the cost of the project from the developer thus the Town wouldn't have any up-front costs. There are others where you do a little bit of both. You have the up-front costs that could go up to $100,000 for the study and the process to find the developer and then after that they would get 1% of the cost of the development."

He explained, "There are other private companies out there that do commercial real estate deals in the area and they have some experience in going out and finding developers for certain projects. I'm personally not tied into that group of individuals so I don't know if they have municipal experience with that or not."

Cramer provided the  Council with a draft for a Request for Proposals (RFP) during the meeting.

He explained, "We've gotten several different quotes if you like, or proposals from different folks, on the continuum of ranges. My suggestion would be to send this proposal out and try to get it out on the web, Facebook, to the local commercial real estate folks in the area and see what kind of responses we get for these types of services."

Cramer explained, "I've put together a very short time frame and possibly too short. If I was to issue the  RFP May 1st and give them two weeks to get a proposal back, we could select a contractor by June. Have it on the Council agenda to award mid-June at the Council meeting and then start the formal agreement, working on it and starting with the next fiscal year" beginning July 1st.

He explained, "That also puts us in line, that say it turns out that the best company you want to go with is $80,000 up-front, well then I can plug that $80,000 into the budget for next year and work it from July 1st going on."

Cramer said he estimates a time line for completion of one year and stated, "That's generally what I've understood most other folks that do this say it would take and that is do the studies, have it prepared, get ready, go out and start trying to find companies or developers to do the deal. The question is how long will it take to actually find someone to partner with. So it could take longer than that to find someone to partner with."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "Michael I think this is great. I think it's a great jumping off point. At least it's going to get a conversation going to see if we are close to being on the mark."

Councilman Jodan Garza asked, "This is a way of possibly obtaining 300 spots?"

Cramer said, "Yes. With the most attractive return for the Town. Basically we have property, what we don't have is resources to go up. If somebody has the resources to go up and build and have a mixed use development on our property, they gain, we gain, it's a good marriage."

He explained, "Basically the 350 would be the 151 spaces plus about another 150 to get you to the 300 and then a cushion of about 50 spaces."

Shuttleworth said the number of spaces will likely be a negotiating point explaining, "What we are saying is, we have 151. You guys do what ever you want with  the project as long as you give us 350. Now someone's going to come back and say guys I can only get you 285 but I can do this. Someone else will come back and say I'll give you 400 but I need extra height."

Shuttleworth said, "We could find out they come up with an idea we hate or the community hates" but it's a good starting point.

Cramer explained, "That's one of the things that's in the scope of services is that the company has to go out to the public and talk to the public about what they want, what they want to see, things like that and get some community support and buy in for the concept."

Shuttleworth said, "We as a community and as a Council could put some requirements on them, for example, we could say you have to have some kind decorative skin around it. You can't just look at a concrete shell."

According to the UNC School of Government, "A public private project is defined under the new G.S. 143-128.1C as a “capital improvement project undertaken for the benefit of a governmental entity and private developer pursuant to a development contract that includes construction of a public facility or other improvements, including paving, grading, utilities, infrastructure, reconstruction, or repair, and may include both public and private facilities.”[2]  Under the P3 construction delivery method, the unit of government is authorized to acquire, construct, own, lease (as lessor or lessee), and operate a public-private project or facilities within a public-private project, and may make loans or grants for these purposes.  Importantly, the private developer must provide at least 50% of the financing for the total cost of the project.[3]  The Local Government Commission must approve the contract if it involves a capital or operating lease.[4] (Source: https://ced.sog.unc.edu/new-construction-delivery-methods-public-private-partnerships-p3/ )

During the June 12, meeting the Council was presented with two proposals, one from Harmony Hospitality, Inc. and Partners of Virginia Beach, VA and another  from The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the UNC School of Government.

According to Marcia Perritt, Associate Director (Interim), Development Finance Initiative, "Since 2011, DFI has partnered with local governments across North Carolina (as well as in Virginia and South Carolina) to attract private investment into transformative real estate development projects, having now assisted with 123 projects in 79 communities."

DFI proposed a lump sum fee of $96,000.

Harmony Hospitality, Inc. and Partners proposes to use the same team assembled to develop the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront Hotel which opened in 2017.

According to their proposal, "Despite significant logistical challenges, Harmony and its team delivered a quality product to the City of Wilmington and we would like to do the same for the Town of Carolina Beach. Team Harmony believes that it can develop the requested components in an expeditious and cost-effective manner."
Harmony Hospitality offers numerous examples of public private partnership projects they have worked on over the years and in their proposal they state, "In other examples, Harmony used excess land at the DoubleTree Hotel Norfolk Airport and an adjacent unrelated property to construct a new Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel, again without disruption to the hotel’s business."

Harmony Hospitality proposed a lump sum fee of $72,000.

During the Council's June 12th, meeting Cramer said the proposals were good and, "The main difference between the proposals were one, the cost and, two, whether or not the company could take us all the way through the process to a completed project if Council wanted to go that far with it."

He explained, "At this point the recommendation from staff is if Council is interested to move forward in the public/private partnership pre-development study aspect of it, that we have two good proposals to chose from. But if not, then we always have the option to not approve any sort of proposal and try and work through other aspects of parking and our community needs in other ways."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "I'm the one that has pushed Michael for the past six or eight months to try and come up with an RFP for a public/private exploration. My hope was that we would find a consulting firm that would come in and do some designs and some public meetings and get the flavor from the community of what is palatable and what is not. We have a parking study that says we are short parking spaces... and it is debatable on when we are short, where we're short and how we're short. The idea was at some point, as people keep reminding us, we've got 2,000 new homes coming into Riverlights [North of Snow's Cut Bridge] and we are going to see more and more people. How do we adjust that and protect our residential community and our homeowners and our property owners with the demand from people that want to access our beautiful beaches and visit our businesses."

He explained, "I'm personally not interested in spending $60,000 to $80,000 or more to have someone come in and tell us what may or may not be viable. What I was more interested to hear what's palatable to the community.

The majority of people including my wife are deeply opposed to a large structure which I would have to pass everyday."

Shuttleworth said the Town could explore other options such as remote parking areas with shuttle service to the downtown area.

Council member Leann Pierce said Memorial Day weekend was extremely busy and she couldn't find a parking spot downtown adding that, "I think we are looking at a Friday night, Saturday night problem. During the week I don't have a problem finding parking."

Mayor Joe Benson said the proposal would bring another 300 spaces and, "To be clear, I'm not in favor of the parking garage. The informal session I had last week, twelve of the twelve people that met with me were all opposed. Ten months of the year that thing's going to be empty... to say nothing about the aesthetic monstrosity that it would be."

Benson said the Council should explore over ways to address parking capacity at a future workshop meeting.

Winter Storm Brings Snow, Ice To New Hanover County



New Hanover County experienced some cold winter weather bringing ice and snow to the area over night on January 3rd. Temperatures remained in the low teens at night and barely above freezing during the days from January 3rd to January 6th.  A great time to make Snow Angels!

NEW HANOVER CTY, N.C. : January 10th, 2018 - New Hanover County experienced some cold winter weather bringing ice and snow to the area over night on January 3rd. Temperatures remained in the low teens at night and barely above freezing during the days from January 3rd to January 6th.

After a day of rain and an evening of sleet, in the very early morning hours of Thursday, January 4th Pleasure Island slowly began getting covered in snow. Area students who were out of school due to cancellations enjoyed snowball fights, building snowmen and finding anything possible to “Sled” on.  Although Snow’s Cut Bridge never closed several business were affected having to shut down to keep their employees safe from venturing out in icy conditions. Low temps made the white stuff stick around until temperatures finally started to rise Monday.




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