AS REPORTED IN March by the town, proposed Senate Bill 369 (Sales Tax Fairness Act) was filed in late March by Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow). S369, in its introduced form, would result in the loss of $800,000 or more of annual sales tax revenues for Emerald Isle (the equivalent of approximately 3-4 cents on the town’s tax rate), simply to redistribute sales tax revenues to other North Carolina counties and cities. Carteret County could also experience a loss of up to $4 million from this proposed change. To view the town’s previous release on this critical issue, please visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/CommunityNotice/CommunityNotice%20-%20StateTaxIssue.
Town officials have been working closely with County officials and others to prevent harm from S369. S369 relies solely on population-based distributions of sales tax revenue, and these formulae always shortchange second home and tourism communities like Emerald Isle because these additional residents and visitors are not included in official population estimates used by the state. Fortunately, Sen. Brown has been receptive to the town and the county’s concerns, and has pledged to work with us to identify an appropriate solution. Our General Assembly members, Rep. Pat McElraft and Sen. Norman Sanderson, are also working hard on our behalf. Gov. Pat McCrory has also come out with strong opposition to this bill, and it is believed he would likely veto this bill if it is approved by the General Assembly in its introduced form.
Town Continues Defense Against Legal Claims by Property Owner
The town continues to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by oceanfront property owners Gregory and Diane Nies. Among other claims, the Nies contend that the town has “taken” their oceanfront property on the public trust (flat) beach area and created a road on the beach by requiring (in a 2010 ordinance) that a 20 ft. area of the beach remain free of obstructions. The Nies also contend that the town’s historical practice of permitting beach driving (on the public trust beach area only) during the offseason has caused them harm for which they are entitled compensation.
It is important to note that the 2010 ordinance did not create a road, but rather simply required that 20 ft. area of the public trust beach to be free of obstructions. That requirement applies equally along the entire 12 miles of beach in Emerald Isle. The reason for this requirement was solely to provide an open pathway for emergency vehicles to rescue those in need on the beach strand, including the Nies and their guests. At times, the beach is very crowded, and it can be difficult for emergency vehicles to maneuver quickly and safely.
Additionally, the area included in the 2010 ordinance has absolutely nothing to do with beach driving, as beach driving has been occurring in Emerald Isle since before the town was founded in 1957. The town feels strongly that the public should have the right to access the beach, and recognizes that people of all ages and abilities have different needs for beach access.
The town has great respect for private property rights, and does not seek to harm the Nies or any other oceanfront property owner in any way. The town works diligently to improve the community and enhance property values for our property owners, and to suggest that the Town seeks otherwise is nonsensical. The practical use of the beach strand in Emerald Isle today is the same as it was before the Nies purchased their property, since the Nies purchased their property, and since the 2010 ordinance was adopted.
The town prevailed in Superior Court in August 2014, when Judge Jack Jenkins awarded the town summary judgment. The Nies then filed an appeal in September 2014. The NC Court of Appeals is expected to hear the case later in 2015.
Proposed Bill Promotes Homeowners Insurance Fairness
Proposed Senate Bill 208 and House Bill 182 (Property Insurance Fairness) are currently under consideration by the NC General Assembly, and would be potentially helpful to North Carolina coastal areas, including Emerald Isle. For the text of these bills, please visit www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S208v1.pdf or www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H182v1.pdf.
Emerald Isle homeowners already pay homeowners insurance premiums as much as five times greater than many inland counties, and the premiums are often several thousand dollars per year. The Town and many others have been concerned about this issue for some time, and we are pleased to see these bills introduced, which would do the following:
- Increase public transparency of the rate-setting process,
- Provide authority for the NC Commissioner of Insurance to decrease rates Statewide,
- Reform the “consent to rate” practices used by some insurance companies to charge higher rates than approved,
- Authorize the issuance of “catastrophe bonds”, which should enable overall lower rates than current insurance practices,
- Improve modeling practices used by the insurance industry, and
- Create a Joint Legislative Study Committee on Property Insurance Rate Making to study additional reforms intended to promote fairness.
For a recent local news article from Jacksonville Daily News, please visit
The town will continue to monitor these bills, and we remain hopeful that some version will be approved in this year’s legislative session.
New Welcome Center Under Construction
Construction continues on the new Welcome Center on Hwy 58 at the site of the former Merchants Park. Despite challenging weather conditions, the town’s contractor is making good progress and we remain hopeful for an early or mid-summer opening date. The new Welcome Center is expected to experience much greater visitation due to its location on the island, and also due to its proximity to the “downtown” Emerald Isle area and the Hwy 58 bike path.
Eastern Ocean Access Improvements Nearly Complete
The town’s contractor is nearing completion of significant storm water, parking lot, bathhouse, and walkway improvements at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.
The new improvements are associated with a future new ocean fishing pier, and are funded by state grant funds. The town continues to work toward its long-term goal of a new concrete ocean fishing pier at this location in the future.
Emerald Isle Woods Park Entrance Road Paved
The town’s contractor recently paved the entrance road in Emerald Isle Woods Park in order to create a smoother surface for bicycles to reach the park’s amenities, and also to provide a better park road surface for visitors arriving by car.
The new 0.3 miles of pavement were funded 100% by the town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s fundraising efforts, and this project was the committee’s top priority. The improved road now serves as a “spur” off the Coast Guard Road bicycle path, and we hope this will increase visitation to this beautiful 43-acre nature park.
Weekend/Holiday Parking Fees Begin Saturday, April 18
The town began charging a $10 per vehicle per day parking fee at the Western Ocean Regional Access (near The Islander Suites) and the Eastern Ocean Regional Access (near mile marker 15 on Hwy 58) mid-April. This fee will remain in effect each weekend day and holiday through Sept. 13.
The entire parking fee proceeds support town expenses associated with these two flagship beach access facilities, including property maintenance, utilities, custodial staff, enhanced police presence and lifeguard services. The town is pleased to host thousands of visitors annually to these two facilities.
Taxpayer Parking Permits Available Now
Due to the significant town investment to acquire the land and construct the two regional beach access facilities, town property taxpayers are eligible for two free annual parking permits for the Eastern Ocean Regional Access and Western Ocean Regional Access. The parking permits will be granted only for vehicles registered in the name of the taxpayer, and are not transferable.
Town taxpayers must display the appropriate permit sticker on their windshield in order to avoid the parking fee. To obtain your free parking permit, please visit (7509 Emerald Drive) or call (252-354-3424) the town administration building during normal business hours.
Please note that you will need to bring your vehicle registration(s) with you when applying for your permit. To access a copy of the application, please visit
Beach Equipment Exception Stickers Available Now
Town ordinances prohibit unattended beach equipment from being left on the public trust beach area overnight between 8pm and 8am.
Due to North Carolina property ownership laws, oceanfront property owners between the Ocean Drive “dog-Leg” ramp (3000 block) and The Pointe are eligible for up to two special exception stickers to enable them to leave equipment out overnight if desired. The stickers are for oceanfront owners only and will not be issued to guests. Oceanfront property owners should contact town staff at 252-354-3424 for details. To access a copy of the application, please visit
The town has previously issued special exception stickers to many oceanfront property owners, and previously issued stickers will be honored by town staff enforcing this ordinance during summer 2015.
Extremely High Yard Debris Volumes
The town’s yard debris collection program remains very popular, and with the nicer weather the town is currently experiencing extremely high volumes. Town staff makes a continuous pass through the entire town, visiting all streets, working from east to west. The goal is to complete one entire pass within one week, and then start again on the east side of Emerald Isle, however, collection volumes during this time of year are such that it will likely take two weeks to complete each pass. Please understand that town staff is working as hard as possible to collect all debris in a timely manner, and we often have the collection truck running seven days per week and into the evening hours in an effort to keep up with demand.
During 2014, town staff collected yard debris from nearly 18,000 collection points. This equates to an average of 49 stops every single day of the year. Nearly half (nearly 9,000) of the town’s annual debris collection points occur during the months of April, May, June and July, and this results in a significant strain on town resources at this time of year. Town staff is currently considering new strategies to address this high demand, and may recommend additional resources for the board of commissioners to consider in the FY 15-16 budget.
Thank you for your patience!
New Town Planner Begins Work on April 20
The town is pleased to announce the appointment of Josh Edmondson as the new town planner. Josh began work with the town on April 20, and his office is located in the town administration building (7509 Emerald Drive). Josh previously served in a similar role in Tarboro.
The town will continue to contract with Carteret County for building code inspections, and the he will administer and enforce all town development ordinances. The town planner will continue to be the first stop for any new permit applications, and he will coordinate appropriately with county inspections personnel.
We look forward to having Josh on board with the town!