Be clear on oceanfront swimming pools issue

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Sunset Beach town leaders are pushing for a change to allow swimming pools on the oceanfront.

The change is on a list of proposed Unified Development Ordinance amendments reviewed by the Sunset Beach Planning Board at its Aug. 7 meeting. The proposal is to add swimming pools as a permitted use in all town zoning districts except mainland business MB2, which could pave the way for a public swimming pool.

Sunset Beach Planning Board Chairwoman Carol Santavicca said the time to allow oceanfront swimming pools has come because septic tanks are no longer on the island.

Considering that septic tanks have been off the island with complete installation of sewer lines more than two years ago, it seems to us the time to consider this issue would have been then, not now. Why, all of a sudden, is this an urgent matter?

Naturally, some island residents are raising legitimate concerns over the impact oceanfront swimming pools could have on the environment and quality of life.

“Septic has nothing to do with not wanting swimming pools on this very tight, highly dense area,” town councilwoman Carol Scott said. She said the majority of people who live on the island and own houses there do not want oceanfront swimming pools.

Santavicca said real estate people are saying the town can get more revenue and tourists if Sunset Beach has oceanfront swimming pools.

It seems, however, one of Sunset Beach’s biggest draws and best qualities is its reputation as a quaint, quiet beach for residents and visitors looking to escape the crowds and tourist traps of other beaches along the East Coast.

Is the Atlantic Ocean too big to serve as a swimming pool for Sunset Beach? Or is it not exclusive enough?

Also beneath the surface of the issue is an undercurrent of distrust, fed by an online advertisement for a planned timeshare home in Palm Cove, a development on the east end of the island previously promoted by Sunset Properties as having an oceanfront pool and spa as if oceanfront swimming pools are a done deal. It is unclear how such an egregious error occurred; Sunset Beach Mayor Ron Watts no longer owns Sunset Properties but was listed as the contact person about the property.

Just because oceanfront swimming pools could soon be allowed in Sunset Beach does not mean they should.

Regardless, action taken by town leaders needs to be transparent and above reproach. This applies to any issues the town faces.

Town leaders will have to decide if making this change is worth it to the people they serve and act accordingly.

Town residents, likewise, must decide if town leaders are acting in their best interest and respond in kind.