Offshore Energy No Longer Considered for 2017-2022 Plan
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT recently announced that the Atlantic outer continental shelf is no longer included in the 2017-2022 program for offshore energy development, and thus no lease sales will be conducted off the North Carolina coast anytime soon. This decision means that offshore energy lease sales will likely not be considered again until the development of the 2022-2027 program (4-5 years from now). The board of commissioners had previously formally expressed its opposition to offshore oil and gas development off the North Carolina coast, and the town is pleased with this decision.
May is Deck Safety Month!
To help promote greater awareness of deck safety issues, the month of May is designated as Deck Safety Month. The North American Deck and Railing Association has been assisting the town with various deck safety initiatives in recent months, and their website includes a great deal of helpful information – www.nadra.org/consumers/deck_safety_month.
The town continues to encourage all property owners (permanent homes, second homes, condominium units and vacation rental units) to properly maintain decks, complete periodic inspections and correct any deficiencies promptly. Town staff is happy to help our property owners, and there are numerous quality general contractors in and around Emerald Isle who can offer assistance.
New CRC Rule in Effect, Aids Oceanfront Structures
A new CRC rule removes the 2,500 square foot size limit for structures in the static line exception area in eastern Emerald Isle, and essentially implements a 5,000 square foot size limit. This change restores conforming status to all Ocean Reef condominium buildings that previously could only be reconstructed up to 2,500 square feet (the existing buildings are approximately 4,400 sq. ft.). As long as the first line of natural, stable vegetation remains at least 60 feet seaward, these condominium units are again considered conforming. The rule change also benefits existing oceanfront homes between the Indian Beach town line and the Ocean Drive “dog-leg”, and these homes are now eligible to be reconstructed as large as 5,000 square feet.
A new CRC rule establishing a “development line” option is also now effective. This rule allows a local government, with state approval, to establish what is essentially “a line in the sand” beyond which no oceanfront development could occur. In Emerald Isle, it is likely that any new “development line” would be located just slightly seaward of the existing row of oceanfront homes in eastern Emerald Isle. Development would still be required to meet a 60 foot setback from the first line of stable, natural vegetation, so the end result is likely not any different than the town’s static line exception (with the elimination of the 2,500 square foot limit), however, it may be easier to administer in the future and perhaps less complicated for our oceanfront property owners. Town staff will be exploring the pros/cons of implementing a “development line” in the coming months.
Construction Underway at Senator Jean Preston Memorial Park
The board of commissioners recently awarded construction contracts for a new, all-inclusive playground and a new elevated wooden walkway at the Sen. Jean Preston Memorial Park. Work is currently underway, and is expected to be complete in May. A grand opening ceremony is planned for May 25, which would have been the late Sen. Preston’s 81st birthday.
Work will also soon begin on a new parking lot and attractive landscaping at the new park. The town is fortunate to have significant donations from several area companies to complete this work, including SunLand Builders, Task Contracting, Yardworks, and Sewell Turf Grass. The town greatly appreciates their assistance!
Follow the Town’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan/Land Use Plan Online
Work continues on the development of the town’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan/Land Use Plan update. A special website for the planning effort allows our residents, property owners and visitors to follow the progress and offer input into the development of the plan, and can be viewed at a link from www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ or directly at http://www.planei.org. The special website will include all information associated with the new plan, including meeting dates, meeting minutes, draft policies and maps, and more. The town will be conducting an online survey in the coming months, and we urge everyone who cares about the future of Emerald Isle to participate. More details will be provided in future editions of Emerald Tidings.
New Temporary Sign Rules for Nonprofit Events
In an effort to balance the town’s strong desire to support the numerous nonprofit events in and around Emerald Isle with the town’s aesthetic goals and consistency with business sign rules, the board of commissioners recently adopted new temporary sign rules for nonprofit events.
A total of 8 temporary signs are allowed in the Hwy 58 right-of-way for each nonprofit event, with 3 signs up to 24 square feet in size and five signs up to 6 square feet. The signs must be neatly prepared (or professionally fabricated), and must be made of a rigid material (i.e., wood, plastic, aluminum, etc.; no banners are permitted). Signs can be placed up to 30 days prior to the nonprofit event.
For more information, please contact town staff at 252-354-3424. The new ordinance can also be viewed at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/Memo-03-08-2016-Item11 .
New Downtown Lights in Place, New Wayfinding Signs On the Way
The town’s contractor recently completed the installation of new decorative street lights along the bicycle path and sidewalk between the Welcome Center and the town government complex, providing additional night-time lighting and improved aesthetics in the downtown area.
The town will also be installing new “wayfinding” signs throughout the Town in April in an effort to provide helpful directional information to key destinations for our visitors, and also to enhance aesthetics. The new signs feature the new Emerald Isle logo and our tag line “Nice Matters.”
2016 St. Patrick’s Festival Was Biggest Ever!
The town was blessed with great weather and the biggest crowd ever for the 2016 St. Patrick’s Festival held on March 12! Photos of the 25th annual event can be viewed at www.emeraldisle-nc.org/photos-from-the-25th-ei-st-patricks-festival.
Special thanks to all of our sponsors, including title sponsor Transportation Impact, the Emerald Isle Business Association and the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Dept. staff (under the leadership of Director Alesia Sanderson) for putting on another great event!
Understanding Sharks off the North Carolina Coast
The ocean is the natural habitat of sharks and other marine life, and sharks have always been present in the ocean all along North Carolina’s beaches, including Emerald Isle. Fortunately, shark attacks are extremely rare, and an individual has a much greater chance of being struck by lightning.
Although the risk of a shark attack is very small, you can help prevent attacks by avoiding swimming near areas where people are fishing, staying out or the water if you are bleeding, by swimming in groups, and by refraining from wearing jewelry or brightly colored clothing in the water. NC Sea Grant, a research and public education institution affiliated with several North Carolina universities, offers excellent information about sharks in North Carolina at ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/sharks.
Food Vendors at Eastern Access and Western Access this Summer
For the first time, the town will allow Emerald-Isle based food vendors to operate at the town’s two regional beach access facilities. Beginning in May, patrons of these two facilities will be able to choose from offerings from Jackie’s American Grille, Flipperz, Emerald Isle Wine Market, Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen and Sweet Spot. These businesses will rotate through each facility, with one “meal” vendor and one “dessert” vendor operating at each location on select days this summer.
The town is implementing this program for the convenience of patrons of the regional beach accesses, to provide additional business opportunities for Emerald Isle businesses, and to generate additional revenue for future improvements at these popular facilities. Enjoy!
Beach Parking Fees in Effect
The town began charging a $10 daily parking fee at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access and Western Ocean Regional Access on Saturday, April 16, and will continue collecting fees on each weekend day and holiday through Sunday, Sept. 11. Parking is free at both facilities on all weekdays throughout the summer.
Emerald Isle residents and taxpayers are eligible for free seasonal parking permits for these two facilities. Parking permits can be obtained at the Town Administration Building during normal business hours. The Town does not offer seasonal parking permits to non-residents and non-taxpayers.