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Resident says town was 'sneaky' about voting districts

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

CAROLINA SHORES—A Village at Calabash resident claims the town has been less than open about a proposal to do away with the town’s two voting districts.

Walter Goodenough said this week the town did not notify anyone about an April 16 meeting in which commissioners met briefly to approve a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, May 5, to consider the matter.

He said commissioners also scheduled the public hearing on a night when the Village has its POA meeting.

“They’re basically trying to squash anything we have to say,” Goodenough said Monday. “They were sneaky about the meeting last Wednesday.”

As for the May 5 meeting, “they knew there was no way we could attend that [POA] meeting over here if they held that meeting over there,” Goodenough said. “They’re a bunch of lying dirtbags.”

At issue is a proposal to do away with the town’s two voting districts, which presently ensures the Village one commission seat via District 1. The measure was enacted through N.C. House Bill 742 after the Village, consisting of about 400 residents, was involuntarily annexed by the town in July 2003, with Carolina Shores proper and newer developments such as Beacon Townes and The Farm at Brunswick included in the larger District 2.

Commissioners are now leaning toward a single, at-large voting district to encompass all Carolina Shores residents.

But Goodenough said Village residents are concerned about losing their one commission seat if the measure is approved.

He also said town commissioner Tom Puls, who was elected to the District 2 seat last November, has turned his back on the community by speaking in favor of an at-large district.

Puls said Tuesday he can understand Village residents’ concerns.

“I think a lot of the old guard still feels that without [District 1], we’ll never get anybody else on the board,” Puls said.

But new people moving into the community, he said, don’t understand what all the fuss about.

“I don’t think anybody else from Carolina Shores really cares that much one way or the other,” he said.

Puls said he feels strongly House Bill 742 has outlasted its usefulness.

“If you look at the makeup of the board, you’ve got a mayor from Brunswick Townes and a commissioner from The Farm,” Puls said.

Puls said residents are smart enough to make up their own minds about who to vote for.

“They don’t care where they’re from,” he said. “I just think they look at what candidates stand for.”

Puls said he is going to support the change.

“I know people in the Village are unhappy about my support,” he said. “I can’t be everything to everybody.”

Puls said he also has heard from only one person—Village POA president Bill Brennan—who is unhappy about his stance on the issue.

As for Goodenough, “I hope he shows up at the meeting,” Puls said. “I hope he voices his opinion.”

“I don’t know where Tom is coming from,” Goodenough said. “If we lose our representation, it’s going to make it worse for this community.”

Brennan said Tuesday he agrees with Goodenough.

“My feeling is unless we keep it two districts, we have the risk of losing our identity and being treated as a stepchild,” Brennan said.

The distinction with the other communities in Carolina Shores, he said, is they requested annexation into the town. The Village, he said, did not.