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SUNSET BEACH—Town council has set a public hearing for its Jan. 7 meeting to consider a construction moratorium along a mostly undeveloped canal.
The canal is along North Shore Extension on the northeast side of the island that feeds into Tubbs Inlet.
Adjacent property owners are also supposed to be notified.
Consideration is the result of a request by property owner Sammy Varnam, who seeks to have the town implement a pier-head alignment ordinance that he and fellow property owner Ed Gore said is crucial to keeping the channel open and accessible.
Though adjacent property owners questioned the request at a town council workshop Tuesday morning, by the end of the discussion they said their concerns had been clarified.
Holley Snider, field officer with the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, pointed out the site on maps at Tuesday’s workshop. Now that sewer has been installed, Snider said it would be beneficial for the town to have an ordinance establishing a setback off the channel “before people start coming in and developing these lots.”
Town councilwoman Carol Scott was concerned about dredging, which she said would be done at the expense of adjacent landowners on island “fish streets”—Cobia, Marlin, Sailfish and Dolphin.
“I can’t guarantee what you guys are going to do on East North Shore because you’re the ones who own all the property,” she said to Varnam and Gore.
Fellow council member Lou DeVita said one approach might be for the town to create a tax district for waterfront properties, to collect money and ensure “boats come and go safely.”
Town administrator Gary Parker said he has been advised by town attorney Michael Isenberg that all the town would have to do is ask the state legislature to add the town to a house bill imposing a canal-dredging district.
“You can build up capital reserve for dredging, and [council] can set a fee for people on the canal who benefit from the project,” Parker said.
Town councilwoman Karen Joseph said while she favors public input, “in the end, it’s our responsibility to make the best decision for the people of Sunset Beach. I do not think it’s in the best interest of property owners or the town to drag this out.”
Joseph said Snider is the professional.
“I have to take the best advice,” Joseph said.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email email@example.com.