Council Discusses Grant To Purchase 719 Canal Dr. For Water Access

Council Discusses Grant To Purchase 719 Canal Dr. For Water Access Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 26 August 2015 04:00

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council  discussed a proposal at their August 25th, meeting to apply for grant funding for the purchase of 719 Canal Drive to provide access to Myrtle Grove Sound.
The Town already submitted a pre-application in May of this year and were notified by the State they are invited to submit a final application following Town Council approval.
According to the pre-application submitted by the Town earlier this year it states, "The site is a 4,792 square foot waterfront lot located 719 Canal Drive at the western intersection of Canal Drive and Oystershell Lane." The lot is approximately 50 feet of Canal Drive frontage and frontage on the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin (Myrtle Grove Sound).
The application states, "It is vacant but has an existing bulkhead and 25 foot floating  dock with water and electricity in place, and 2 boat slips.
The lot is immediately adjacent to the 25 foot Oystershell Lane street right-of-way (ROW) and a Town [sewer] lift station to the north."
The Town would combine the right-of-way of Oystershell Lane with the 719 property creating 75 feet of functional space for parking and public space. The Oystershell Lane CAMA Public Beach Access is approximately 300 feet east  - two blocks - of the site.
Councilman Shuttleworth said Tuesday August 18th, "I do not support it" and, "I Don't see any compelling reason we need another gazebo, deck, kayak  launch, dingy dock, police boat dock or bathrooms and a few parking spaces 2 blocks from one we already have."
Shuttleworth said, "I can't say I would not support if  it was a 100% grant. We talked about access to the sound some time ago but that was for  access on other side of waterway where public access is extremely limited."
The application filed by the Town earlier this year states, "The project goal is to acquire the waterfront property at 719 Canal Drive to increase public access to Myrtle Grove Sound and the beach. The site location is approximately midway along the two mile "Northend" stretch of beach and sound front between downtown Carolina Beach and the Freeman Park 4-wheel drive area. Only two blocks west of the beach and one block south of the Town's Sandpiper Lane public parking, bath and shower facility and public dinghy dock. The site is ideal for additional public facilities" and, "The Town's new mooring field is also very convenient to the site for transient boaters" that dock in at the mooring field in the yacht basin and come ashore.
The application states, "The Canal Drive and Carolina Beach Avenue North corridors receives heavy vehicle traffic from visitors and locals accessing the beach, sound and Freeman Park. During the busy summer months all of the existing public access parking lots fill up on a regular basis and many visitors are either turned away or park illegally along the narrow streets causing congestion and aggravation for residents and other visitors. While new beach parking is important, the Town is emphasizing development of new facilities for access to the sound. At present the only sound access facilities between downtown and the Northend are the new Sandpiper [Lane] dock and a small public beach at the west end of Florida Avenue. The property at 719 Canal is one of the few remaining undeveloped lots along the sound and is now available at a reasonable price."
According to the application, the Town plans to develop the property to include public parking, enlarging the existing boat dock and adding a gazebo on the dock for shade, viewing and congregating. Picnic tables, benches and landscaping will also be added along with appropriate signs. The Town says the existing dock is in good condition and is already served by water and electric services.
Combining 719 Canal Drive with the Town's right-of-way on Oystershell Lane would allow for nine parking spaces with 75 feet of waterfront frontage.
The pre-application filed in May states, "The asking price for the lot is currently $357,000. The owner has indicated through their listing agent that the price is negotiable and negotiations were in process at the time of submittal."
The Town stated in the pre-application that, "Public access to the ocean is a high priority listed in the Town of Carolina Beach's Land Use Plan" and, "Under Key Planning Issues Impacting Carolina Beach, the Town emphasizes a need to pro-actively resolve the inadequacy of public access."
Also, the application states, "The land use plan lists as a "Town Goal" : Enhance and increase public parking and public access facilities" and contains other language that calls for developing comprehensive policies that provide beach and public trust access opportunities along the shoreline of public trust waters and, "Policies shall address access needs and opportunities, include strategies to develop public access, and identify feasible funding options."
The application states the Town's Harbor Management Plan calls for construction of a dock to serve as a means for boat owners to access the mooring field.
That plan also calls for other amenities including dinghy storage racks, trash disposal, public rest rooms, showers, laundry facilities and a Harbor Master's Office.
The estimated cost in May when the pre-application was submitted is listed as $310,000 for the property with the Town  paying 50% and the grant paying the rest. The Town would pay their share from the General Fund portion of the budget. The current owner of the property is listed as Grant Lattner of Wilmington, NC. The property was listed in 2007 for $900,000 and has been on and off the market at various times since 2007.
Jerry Haire - Project Manager for the Town - explained on July 22nd, "As you know the Harbor Commission recently discussed and made recommendations on good candidate properties for acquisition for enhancing public beach and water access. 719 Canal was selected for this year’s CAMA Access Grant cycle. To date we have submitted the required pre-application and were recently
selected to submit a Final Application in October. The application and commitment for matching
funds will of course have to be considered and approved by Town Council prior to submittal."
The schedule is as follows:
• Pre-application submittal May 29th
• Notice to submit final app. July 5th
• Town Council consideration of grant at September 8th regular meeting
• Final Application deadline October 16th, 2015
• Award announcements  Jan. 2016
• Grant agreement/funding available March-April 2016
According to Mike Lopazanski, Policy and Planning Section Chief with the Division of Coastal Management, explained in a letter to the Town earlier this month, "Twenty-two local governments within the 20 coastal counties submitted pre-applications totaling $2.4 million in grant requests. Approximately $900,000 in grant funding is available."
During the August 25th, meeting Town Manager Michael Cramer said the Town's sewer lift station adjacent to 719 Canal Drive occupies the majority of the 25 foot right-of-way on Oyster Shell Lane and, "We have very little opportunity to get to the back of the property which is where we typically plug in generators... to keep the station running in case of a hurricane or other activities."
He said when replacing equipment, a crane has to be used to access the building and there is no access easement on adjacent properties to access the area surrounding that station.
Mayor Wilcox said years ago when he was serving on Council the Town looked at purchasing a lot in the 800 block of Canal Drive and he supported that, "But we couldn't negotiate a reasonable price on the property." He said, "My gut feeling is this is in the wrong place. 800 block, we have facilities there. If we were going to do something that is where we need to be. We have a dinghy dock there. I drove out there the
other day and took pictures... there's no signage, weeds are grown up, weeds next door are grown up. It looks very uninviting and nobody even knows it is a town facility."
Wilcox said the existing dinghy dock in the 800 block of Canal Drive isn't used because no one knows it is there. There are no signs.
He said most residents don't even know there are public areas along Canal Drive the public can already use. He said, "Until we fix up what we have and get the absolute best use of what we have got, I'm not inclined to buy new property and build new facilities."
Many east-west streets along Canal Drive dead-end at the edge of Myrtle Grove Sound and are open to the public but provide no real access and most appear to be private property.
Councilman Shuttleworth said the one valid reason he heard from the Town Manager was access to the lift station. He said, "If you look at that picture... we've been arbitrarily driving on someone's property and parking because it hasn't been built on."
Shuttleworth said Gil DuBois - Director of Public Utilities - told him, "The solutions he's had in the past,
if that lot sells and a house is built he will have to build an elevated generator platform that would be out there under a cover. His guess is that would be more than $150,000."
Shuttleworth said on a lot that size, a house would have to be built seven and a half feet off the property line and that might help the situation.
Shuttleworth agreed with Wilcox the existing dock in the 800 block has no signs and could be better utilized because it is across from an existing public parking lot and rest room facilities.
Additionally, boats mooring in the waterway can take a dinghy down to the Municipal Marina to come ashore.
He said $150,000 could go a long way toward better utilizing and installing signs at existing access areas. He added, "It would be nice if we had public access on the west side of the harbor. We have no access there while we have some access improved or not on the east side."
Shuttleworth explained, "Other than Gil's issue, legitimately in my opinion, about how to maintain that lift station, I'm not running headlong into getting this done. I'd like to hear from" the Town Attorney, "on that setback. To enforce that as an access easement. Maybe there's some relief we could offer the lot owner if they come in... the primary issue for me was getting our utility guys access to that lift station."
Councilman Gary Doetsch said if work needs to be done on the lift station, the Town can always close Canal Drive in that area in order to make repairs.
 Wilcox said, "My preference would be to... find five or six more street ends that would lend themselves best to good access and then put a plan together where we are going to landscape, put some fencing up, put some seating up, additional parking, great. We would be creating more access in different places and using property that we already own."


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