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ONBEAT: Changes occur when town leaders change (cabana) seats

It wasn’t that long ago the town of Carolina Shores pondered banning billboards.

Just nine years ago, in fact, in February 2009, as the town planning and zoning board was adopting a U.S. 17 corridor plan, members agreed billboards had no place along their pristine three-mile stretch of highway under town jurisdiction.

It was also agreed the town didn’t want unsightly signs too close to the roadway or in the right-of-way. They also didn’t like roof signs. Well, who does?

The board was also poised to pull in temporary signs — no scrolling signs or ones with “moving parts,” no neon, no computerization, no bright fluorescent hues and, please, no annoying balloons bobbing in the breeze.

Now, less than a decade later, the town is talking about having its own billboard.

Commissioners have even been pondering the style and font they’ll use on the big roadside sign proclaiming the town to errant-eyed passersby as “The Perfect Place to Call Home.”

How did this “sign of change” come about?

Well, it’s just that — changing times and leadership and attitude toward big ol’ billboards.

Town Administrator Jon Mendenhall said the town plans to make use of an existing billboard that was renovated at Persimmon Road and U.S. 17.

He said the town Economic Development Committee, consisting of town commissioners doing dual duty, wants to market the town, “particularly for Myrtle Beach (S.C.) traffic traveling north,” e.g., potential residents seeking housing options.

For now, the town is pleased to work with the vendor though it would have preferred a permanent sign. But the North Carolina Department of Transportation hasn’t been cooperative on matters including location and removal of vegetation, Mendenhall said.

He said the site for now “fits the town’s overall strategy for marketing, branding and developing a positive image.”

Over across the way on another “Carolina shore” — Sunset Beach, that is — a new regime recently initiated another change raising N.C. sand, aka the banning of commercial cabana activity on the beach.

People have been going bananas over cabanas ever since, to the point we need a new word for “cabana” it’s been (over) used so much.

Now, thanks to this untimely change, people who made arrangements with vendors to have the tents / shading devices / metal-and-canvas apparatuses professionally placed on the beach this summer are hereby advised to “find a kid” to do the work instead.

I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be for people on their way to a seasonal beach house to find some dexterous kid wandering around, especially one who’s been advised not to talk to strangers.

Assuming this enterprising youngster exists, along with expert tent-raising skills, what about paying him/her once they finish this freelance work? Isn’t that a form of commerce on a public beach, too?

Somehow it seems an old-fashioned tent-raising, by those who know how to put them up and take them down for visitors unable to do it themselves, was easier the way it was.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.