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OIB begins eminent domain action for Causeway Drive property

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By Brian Slattery

OCEAN ISLE BEACH — The Ocean Isle Beach town board voted to take a property by eminent domain to be used for a park.

Mayor Debbie Smith said during the Feb. 11 town board meeting the town has pursued two parcels between Causeway Drive and the Museum of Coastal Carolina for open space and park property.

Smith said the property at Causeway Drive and East Second Street is owned by Bank of America and town officials have been negotiating with the bank to purchase the land.

“We thought we had a purchase agreement,” Smith said.

But the Drapac Group, new owners of Ocean Isle Palms, a development on Ocean Isle Beach Road SW, also began negotiations with the bank to buy the corner property.

Officials said the bank decided to sell the land to the developers instead of the town.

“This hinders the plan for what we plan to do,” Smith said.

Smith said town representatives also met with the developers about the property. Their intent is to build a beach club on the lot, but Smith said they might not need all the property and discussed selling part of it to the town.

Smith said she countered by finding an alternate parcel to offer the developers to use for their club.

“We were disappointed to receive an email that they decided to purchase the property,” Smith said.

To keep to the town plan to create a park or open space on the property, the town commissioners discussed the next step of taking the property by eminent domain.

“I want to let the public know, the mayor had to quiet us down, the more aggressive of us. There was a lot of correspondence with Bank of America. They made promises they haven’t fulfilled,” Mayor Pro Tem Dean Walters said.

Walters requested the board start the procedure for eminent domain of the property.

“Understand, we have to pay them. It is not free,” Walters said.

Smith said the property owner will be paid fair market value for the property.

The board members voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve the action.

“We made a commitment to go forward,” Commissioner Wayne Rowell said.

Town administrator Daisy Ivey said the steps for taking the property by eminent domain begin with the town giving the developer 30 days’ notice before a complaint is filed of a condemnation action.

A declaration of taking is filed in superior court with an estimated sum of just compensation. A memorandum of action is then recorded with the Register of Deeds.

The property owner then has 120 days to file an answer to the town’s complaint.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.