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Be an informed citizen; share input when solicited

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Calabash residents and business owners have been fired up lately about the current Unified Development Ordinance being reviewed by Calabash commissioners.

In several public meetings business owners have claimed regulations set forth in the UDO are unfair. There have been complaints about everything from how the document was produced to the details inside it.

The UDO, if approved in its current form, would affect everything from eliminating rooftop signs in the town’s commercial district to requiring more uniform design policies throughout.

There’s been quite a stink made about how the plan would affect existing businesses now and in the future. Residents have had issues with sign details, landscaping and more.

Basically, many business owners aren’t too keen on the town’s government so closely regulating what they can and can’t do with their businesses. They say the regulations will hurt local businesses, and many said they were surprised by the UDO, indicating they never knew there was a process under way to develop one.

According to town commissioner Cecelia Herman the town planning and zoning board started work on the UDO before 2006. Along the way, almost 50 meetings addressed the topic, including many open discussions at planning and zoning board meetings.

That is echoed this week by commissioner Emily DiStasio who, in a letter to the editor, claimed work began in 2006 with the P&Z board and commissioners. When an open house was conducted in 2007, only three people showed up, she said. There were also at least four workshops that allowed public opinion in 2008, DiStasio claims.

Luckily for many of those who have opposed this plan, the town has decided to continue evaluation of the UDO, with input from a public committee. Many times this is not the case.

Many times in government, once proper procedure has been followed, decisions are made based on just that—it’s not often second chances are given.

So how did community members miss out on this one? Some may not have known exactly where to look.

Each week, in section D of The Brunswick Beacon, you’ll find notices of public hearings and other meetings in our “Legal Notices” section. It’s a good place to look if you want to find out what’s going on with local government agencies.

Of course we do our best to keep readers abreast of what’s going on in county and local governments, but you can also keep up-to-date by visiting town government Web sites or stopping by your local town hall.

To find out about more issues with Brunswick County government, check out its Web site at www.brunsco.net. You’ll find out about Shallotte by going to www.townofshallotte.org. Holden Beach information can be found at www.hbtownhall.com. They even have a regular e-mail newsletter you can sign up for to get updates. Calabash’s Web site is www.townofcalabash.net, and Carolina Shores can be found at www.townofcarolinashores.com.

If you live in Ocean Isle Beach, you’ll find what you need to know on www.oibgov.com. Everything you want to know about Sunset Beach is online at www.sunsetbeachnc.gov.