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SUNSET BEACH — Loud voices and table-pounding ensued as Sunset Beach Town Council debated the status of Jaguar’s Lair at Monday night’s monthly meeting.
While Mayor Rich Cerrato said property owners still can’t get mortgages and construction loans to build, other council members defended the progress that has been made on infrastructure work.
Town council members Lou DeVita and Karen Joseph, who serves on the committee that has been meeting with developer Coastal Companies, said work on section 1 in the development is to be finished by the end of the year.
When Cerrato asked DeVita why he gets so angry, DeVita responded, “Because you’re so thick.”
Cerrato said property owners have been waiting for six or seven years to build.
DeVita responded loudly that is not the town’s fault. He said if the town calls in the bonds, “We’d be in court and no work would be done.”
Cerrato charged, “This whole process is morally bankrupt. This is all pre-arranged.”
Joseph told Cerrato to give up his gavel if he continued speaking.
Fellow council member Mike Williams then pounded the council-chambers dais with his fist, stressing there has never been anything pre-arranged.
As Cerrato smiled, Williams continued, “You can laugh all you want to; you sit there and do your politics. Don’t do it to us.”
Town councilwoman Carol Scott said the tolling agreement the town entered into last year with Coastal Companies set a “clean date” for work to be done.
She also told property owners, “We can get all the infrastructure done. It doesn’t mean the developer is going to give you what you bought lots for in the first place, which is a premier golf community. Any agreements wouldn’t have covered those amenities anyway.”
Joseph said Jaguar’s Lair will have a “complete, entire course of asphalt laid” in section by Dec. 31.
“Carol is correct,” she said. “In case anyone doesn’t understand this, the bonds only cover the infrastructure. So if this town calls the bonds we will then spend two to three years in court, and then we will become what I call the general contractor.”
She said that would require the “$3 million plus” in bond money to be applied to remaining infrastructure or “as far as it will go.”
She said she responded to many people over the weekend.
“I said, yes, this town understands the pain and frustration and we’re doing everything we can do,” she said.
She then asked Cerrato to shut up and stop interrupting so she could finish speaking.
She said she wished Jaguar’s Lair were part of Sunset Beach, but as property owners know it is only in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
“We do not collect tax dollars from any part of Jaguar’s Lair,” Joseph said. “I wish we did. Maybe we would have more clout.”
She said the status of other communities initiated by Coastal Companies’ head Mark Saunders have nothing to do with Sunset Beach.
“I only care about Jaguar’s Lair,” she said. “We are working toward getting things done in Jaguar’s Lair.”
During public comment, Jaguar’s Lair property owner Monte Simpson urged council to involve property owners in the process and ongoing meetings between the town and Coastal Companies’ representatives.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, council was to convene at a special meeting. On the agenda was consideration of approval of a subdivision improvements agreement on lots in Ocean Ridge Plantation Phase VI, Sections 2A (lots 1-40) and 2B (lots 41-95) in Jaguar’s Lair.
Council also met with N.C. Department of Transportation officials about the proposed roundabout on Sunset Boulevard North at the base of the high-rise bridge.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.