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Forgive And Forget, Or Collect?
Ocean Isle Board Has To Decide
BY SUSAN USHER
Ocean Isle Commissioners gave themselves
another month Tuesday to decide whether to get
what's due the town or to forgive and forget.
It may sound like the story line of a TV soap
opera, but it's actually a cable television contract
Four years ago the board signed a contract
with Vision Cable of Wilmington that provided
for payment to the town of the maximum fran
chise fee allowed by law, 5 percent, instead or' the
3 percent it had been receiving.
Vision Cable agreed to the contract, but failed
to collect the 2 percent increase from its cus
tomers as allowed by law or to pay it to the
town ? a sum of approximately $20,000 over a
Though still liable for the money due the
town. Vision Cable cannot legally collect the
money retroactively from its customers. However,
if Ocean Isle keeps the same contract, Vision
Cable would amend its billing of local customers
to collect the difference in the future.
Up to commissioners to decide are two ques
tions: whether to seek payment of the franchise
fee owed under the existing contract; and whether
to keep the contract rate at 5 percent and see local
bills increase by about SS each a year, or set it at
3 percent. After lengthy discussion, they weren't
ready to decide either question Tuesday.
Commissioner Kendall Suh said he thought it
would be "impolite, at the least" of the board to
collect the franchise fees owed for the past four
years unless it plans to keep the rate at S percent.
He advocated forgiveness of the debt and a 3 per
Commissioner Ken Proctor advocated collect
ing 5 percent and maintaining that rate. "We have
a contract that says 5 percent," he said. "I think
we should collect the money due the town."
"I wonder what would happen if the town en
tered into a contract and owed somebody mon
"We have a contract
that says 5 percent. . .
I think we should
collect the money f
due the town. "
? Ken Proctor,
ey?" Town Attorney Elva Jess inquired.
"But we're more ethical than some of the peo
ple we deal with," said Suh.
The board tabled a decision until its
Let DOT Handle It
It's the N.C Dept. of Transportation job to
handle a request for abandonment of a road that's
still part of the state system, not the town's, com
Mrs. Ernest Holden and family have asked
DOT to abandon and close S.R. 1271, the section
of old N.C. 904 leading to the bridge, from
Culpepper Street to the waterway. DOT, in turn,
asked the town to take over the road, which
would put the request for abandonment before the
board of commissioners.
While relaying their interest to DOT in main
taining water and sewer line easements along the
property, commissioners decided to leave the fu
ture of the state road ? and the cost of any aban
donment and road closing proceedings ? in
? appointed Joe Johnson, a local architect, to
a second term on the town planning board, with
the understanding he will be moving back into
town after Labor Day. Johnson sold his Ocean
Isle home in June.
? nominated Joe Johnson for a second two
year term on the Coastal Resourcess Advisory
? directed the street department to monitor
driveway damage from turn-arounds at street ends
after receiving a request from James H. Mussel
white to replace his gravel drive with concrete.
Town ordinances no longer allow impervious- sur
face drives because it increases stormwater run
off into the streets. In some cases it may also vio
late CAMA regulations regarding the lot area that
can be covered by impervious materials.
? authorized Town Attorney Elva Jess and the
town finance officer to enforce a town ordinance
that requires connection to the town sewer system
and payment of assessment and tap-on fees. With
second installment payments due on assessment
in October, 14 first installments have not been
paid. Seven tap-on fees have not been paid.
Property owners had 60 days after notification in
which to connect to the system.
? added three additional streets, Cumberland,
Goldsboro and Lee, to an application to the state
to extend water lines.
? heard from Building Inspector Druied
Roberson that during July four permits were is
sued in the extraterritorial area for construction
valued at $178,003, and SO permits issued in
town for construction valued at $777,750.
? set the board's first quarterly evening work
shop session for Monday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at
town hall, with Commissioner Bill Benton in
charge. The meetings have been scheduled in re
sponse to complaints that daytime meetings are
difficult for working people to attend.
? met with Jess in closed session to discuss
the ongoing investigation of easements for public
Ocean Isle Wants Condo POAs To Decide
Where To Put Elevated Heating/Air Units
BY SUSAN USHER
Trying to get beating and air con
ditioning units above high water is
getting the town of Ocean Isle
Beach into hot water with some
property owners and tenants.
To keep the 10 percent discount
on federal flood insurance premiums
now enjoyed by Ocean Isle Beach
homeowners after Oct 1, the town
has to assure that when any heating,
ventilation and air conditioning
(HVAC) unit is replaced, it is locat
ed in an area not subject to flooding.
In most instances that's not a ma
jor problem. For older multi-level
condominium projects with little
room to maneuver, finding suitable
space can be a challenge. So far,
when faced with rental units full of
hot, angry vacationers, the town has
been as flexible as possible, allow
ing emergency installation of units
in their old locations, with the un
derstanding the units would be
But time is running out and the
units are staying put.
Under the flood insurance pro
gram's community rating system
(CRS). coastal towns like Ocean Isle
Beach can voluntarily take specified
steps to reduce the risk of flood-re
lated losses within the town, and
save homeowners money on their
federally-subsidized insurance pre
miums. The town's recertification
paperwork, showing what's been
done, is due Oct. 1.
One of those steps towns can take
is to reduce any history of repetitive
losses, or losses involving the same
property that happen over and over
Under the community rating sys
tem, the town had to come up with a
plan to reduce those losses or no
longer qualify for the 10 percent dis
count. Roberson isn't certain of the
current value of the discount, but
said that three years ago a S percent
discount rate saved property owners
a total of $36,000 in premium costs.
"Most of our repetitive loss
claims, 80 percent to 90 percent,
were HVAC units." said Building
Inspector Druied Roberson. Most1
were damaged by floodwaters either
during a hurricane or a winter storm.
For years, all across the southeast
Fayetteville Man Dies
In Boating Accident
A water-skiing trip ended in
tragedy Monday night when a
Cumberland County man was killed
in a boating accident in the Intra
coastal Waterway near Sunset Har
Johnny Hister Gray, 23, of Fay
etteville, died when he was struck
by an outboard motor propeller, said
Sgt. Milton McLean of the N.C.
Wildlife Resources Commission.
The accident happened around 8
p.m. Monday about a quarter-mile
east of the Wildlife Resources Com
mission public boat ramp at Sunset
Harbor, McLean said.
Gray was ooe of three people
aboard a 1993 model 18-foot Stratos
bass fishing boat equipped with a
150- horsepower outboard motor.
McLean said the group was water
skiing and it was Gray's turn. The
boat was circling to the left when
Gray jumped off the right side of the
vessel into the water.
The rear of the boat swung
around the Gray was hit by the pro
peller. The prop hit him in the
stomach and chest area and that was
the cause of death," McLean said.
The operator of the boat, 32-year
old David Kent Swideraki of Wade,
has been charged with operating un
der the influence of an impairitant
substance. McLean said Swiderski
had been drinking alcohol.
"The investigation has not been
completed yet," McLean said.
There's a possibility that other
charges such as manslaughter could
McLean said he is assisting the
primary investigating officer. Bill
Lester of Southport.
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cm coastal area, state officials al
lowed HVAC units to be installed at
or near ground level. In 1985, the
federal flood insurance program
stopped the practice, saying the units
had to be installed above base flood
elevation. However, federal flood in
surance continued to cover the units
installed below that level since they
were so prevalent, said Roberson.
Ocean Isle changed its zoning or
dinance to require that when an
HVAC unit is replaced, it be located
at or above base flood elevation Or
the first finished floor, whichever is
lower. The regulation also allows the
units to be placed in front or back
yards as well as a side yard.
"But since then the condominum
associations haven't established
policies on where to place the
HVAC units when they are replaced
and that has caused some prob
lems," said Roberson.
"If it's a three-story, 50- unit con
dominium building and my unit is
on the first floor, I don't want the
HVAC system for my unit and the
neighbors' above me outside my
door." said Commissioner Debbie
A proposal recommended by the
planning board calls for the town to
establish a moratorium on requiring
units to be raised until after the
tourist season ends, and to require
condominium associations to desig
nate areas for the raised units to be
located and constructed at each pro
After May 1, 1995 ? or the start
of Ac next prime rental season ?
permits to replace outside units
would not be issued unless the re
quirements have been met.
Town commissioners decided
Tuesday to conduct a workshop on
an unspecified date in early
September to hear suggestions from
affected property owners, HVAC
contractors and others.
"There isn't any easy solution.
This is an issue that affects the entire
community," said Fox. "I think it
would be good to hear from some
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