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PAGE 4-A. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28. 1991
Debate Stirs Over New
There's an important subplot to the debate over how to word
sewer system requirements in the county's new subdivision ordi
The real struggle isn't one over words; it's a fight between
developers and the county government which exists to provide
services to its residents.
The section of the new ordinance dealing with sewer system
requirements will have a tremendous impact on the future real
estate market in Brunswick County. It needs to be studied care
fully by the county; perhaps a compromise is needed.
The goal of the new ordinance is to make developers more
accountable for lots they might try to sell which are not suitable
for septic tank systems, thus worthless to the person who is like
ly to buy the land thinking they have just invested in paradise. It
is also intended to protect groundwater quality and coastal wa
A developer who doesn't provide a guarantee in writing that
the lot will perk may be a rare breed, but a few are indeed out
there. In a draft of the new ordinance, the Brunswick County
Planning Department staff recommends rather strong language,
that each lot in a proposed subdivision be capable of service by
a septic system or that a community sewer system shall be in
Developers have raised questions. What about proposed sub
divisions where some "lots may perk while the others won't?
They are concerned that should one or more lots not meet state
septic system requirements then the entire project would be re
jected by the planning board.
A committee formed to look at this provision came up with
an alternate wording, that each lot shall be capable of service by
a septic system or the final plat recorded at the register of deeds
office must bear the following label: Warning, these lots may
not be suitable for human habitation.
While such a warning would likely scare a potential buyer
clear out of the county, it is the planning department's job to
protect consumers from risky land deals. It is the health depart
ment's job to help protect against environmental pollution from
septic systems that will not work.
While tourism and new home construction is the hen that
lays the golden egg in Brunswick County's economy, there has
to be a solution, perhaps a compromise.
It's not asking too much to mandate that a high percentage
of the lots in a proposed subdivision pass a perk test before the
plat can be approved by the planning board.
Requiring a clear majority of lots to meet standards for safe
living would force developers to leave wetlands alone, make it
perhaps too risky to pursue large projects that would place
coastal waters at risk.
Anything less would be uncivilized.
False Spring Fever
It's winter, but the daffodils don't care. They're bursting into bob
bing dots of color all over. Let the groundhog see his shadow, they still
don't care. It seems like spring, therefore they must act like spring.
Some of us are almost as con
fused as the flowers. Never mind
that the temperatures could dip
low again at any time. All we
want to do is dig, dig, dig. It is al
most as pressing as the urge to
sneer; brought on by the early
The urge to plant and nurture
is overwhelming, as strong as any
nesting instinct. It's probably part
of the master plan for mankind, too, rooted in species preservation.
Sandstorms may complicate the waging of war in the Middle East;
young men may stand to lose their lives. Digging helps put all these
things in perspective and gets the blood moving faster.
Apparently there are a lot of us out there overstimulated by the
mild weather and sunshine we've been having lately. Another montn
and we'd be calling it spring fever. This time of year maybe "false
spring fever" is better.
How can you tell if you've got it? It starts with the gardening cata
logs (hat begin arriving after Christmas.
Of course you've not got a serious case until you're caught polish
ing the shovel, rake and trowel at night, drawing sketches on the table
napkins of where you'd like to plant what or doing rough calculations
on how much Osmocote it will take for that new flower bed.
These people can be found shopping, garden supply stores which
were abuzz with activity all week long as temperatures reached into the
70s. One customer was back for her second vehicle load of azaleas.
While one employee was weighing out handfuls of seed for an early
cool-season garden, another was answering questions about fertilizer
and mulch and loaded up customers with onion sets and cabbage plants.
A lot of other folks were looking around and dreaming, planning, if
not planting, their 1991 gardens.
It was a heady experience, as you might imagine, but not as good as
actually getting out there and digging. Some of us have even taken to
dreaming about digging in the dirt. Ask Don. The other moming I woke
up with the entire yard rearranged and scrambled for paper and pencil to
jot down the plan before it disappeared.
I'm blaming it on Bruce Williams. Earlier that day I had read in his
column that aucubas like shade. My two green and gold bushes look
more like black and green bushes and arc in full sun. Complicating the
project: the only part of the yard that gets any shade is already planted
with something else.
Don didn't know it, but the notes were for him, too, directions for
our next do-it-yourself project. Let me break the news to him, okay?
- <Sr j
Have You Hugged Your Dying Tree Today?
In Chapel Hill, there is this hu
mongous tree on the edge of cam
pus that is older than the university
It now stands on a commercial
lot, at a dark corner of a parking
area to an apartment complex sur
rounded by Greek fraternity and
sorority housing. Over the years, the
people at Chapel Hill have been
both kind and cruel to this huge tree
which became quite a star recently
in the local newspapers there.
Because it is so close and yet so
far away from the maddening col
lege crowd, the tree has served for
years and years as an island of iso
lation, a spot for reflection, where
future doctors and lawyers mapped
out their lives while resting in the
folds of its grandfatherly lap. And
occasionally it would be visited by
a few pot smokers (from what I've
At some point in the past, the tree
began to suffer from a form of dis
ease that ate away at its trunk. A
huge chunk rotted away but the tree
survived. Hands helped to break
away bits and pieces that were left
clinging for life as people continued
to frequent the spot.
Eventually, a hole had formed in
the trunk, large enough so that a
person could actually sit inside the
Terry ?V ^
tree (I hope you arc still believing
this because it is true.). Finally, the
tree was able to ward off the dis
ease, but the hole remained forever.
The tree's branches and trunk
reached as high as ever, only the
base was weakened by the hole and
the lack of support on one side.
That didn't stop students or kids
from meeting or playing around the
tree; it actually gave the huge tree a
new personality, made it unique and
The tree quietly regained its com
posure and did what a good tree
should do, provide shade and help
keep the area ecologically balanced.
Developers came and one day no
ticed the hole in the tree and how
students had kept it a tradition over
the years to gather there, for no
practical purpose than to just pass
time and to socialize.
To these onlookers it was an eye
sore, a useless piece of timber, a
lame excuse for a tree that was tak
ing ihc placc of valuable commer
They wanted to chop the tree
down, claiming the disease was go
ing to eventually cause it to die and
come tumbling to the ground. There
was only one problem. Chapel Hill
has a town tree ordinance aimed to
protect nature and its greenery from
the kind of green that developers
love so dearly.
When the developers carried their
case to the town, instead of getting
permission to cut the tree down they
were ordered instead to hire a tree
specialist to diagnose the tree's
problem and to work toward correc
tive action to repair its hollowed
trunk. The developers, stunned, ar
gued that it would be cheaper to just
cut the tree down. They lost their
Today, the tree has been patched
and is under the care of a botanist.
Conservationists have declared it a
major victory for the village (what
nature lovers still call the growing
town of Chapel Hill).
This story could not have hap
pened in Brunswick County. There
was hope that the Brunswick
County Planning Board was going
to include in a new subdivision or
dinance (that it is in the process of
drafting) a tree preservation require
ment That would have made it a vi
olation for developers to carelcssly
destroy native hardwoods when
building on a lot.
That provision now appears in
danger of elimination from the ordi
nance. Planners want it taken out.
They want area developers to have
the right to bulldoze the land to
nothingness before a structure is
built on a deserted lot.
Ironically, last week, county
school children each received a pine
seedling lo plant, courtcsy of
Brunswick Keep America Beautiful
and International Paper Corp.
Arbor Day is some time soon and
President George Bush is proposing
that we increase the nation's tree
coverage by a billion trees per year
during the next decade to help re
duce global warming, a changing of
climates due to destruction of the
earth's rain forests which is causing
our planet to become ecologically
According to a pamphlet dis
tributed by the Brunswick County
Parks and Rccrcation Department, a
Michigan State University study es
timates that a tree over a 50-year
lifetime generates $31,250 worth of
oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of
air pollution control, recycles
S37.500 worth of water and controls
S3 1,250 worth of soil erosion con
Indeed, the world is a bit unbal
anced, and not just ecologically.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Ordinance Permits Adequate Outside Lighting
To the editor:
It is with great sadness that I read
your biased message to the public
(Feb. 21 issue) wherein you equate
unlighted beaches with loggerhead
turtle habitat and thieves.
It is clearly a message with mal
ice in that it seems to mock those
many turtle program volunteers
who spent many hours, both day
and night, attempting to conserve a
You could perform a real service
to this community by printing, in its
entirety, the Holden Beach lighting
Ordinance No. 12-89 so that intelli
gent citizens, independent of your
(1) determine that the ordinance
has nothing to do with sea turtles
and that it was passed over a year
before the turtle program was initi
(2) determine that the ordinance
does not prohibit security lights, on
ly requires that lights on poles be
lowered to 10 feet in height.
(3) determine that the ordinance
continues to allow personal house
lights to include spotlights, porch
lights, area way lights, dock lights,
(4) consider that at the effective
date of ordinance #12-89 which was
November 6, 1990, only 56 out of
approximately 1700 homes had
lights on poles above the 10 foot
height limit. Surely, lowering these
few lights will not create a public
(5) consider that 10 foot high se
curity lights illuminate a normal
front yard area. Add to this the use
of spotlights, porch lights, etc.
around a building, and I submit that
even the most timid of souls will
feel secure-based on light.
(6) consider that light, in itself,
does not prohibit crime. Ask those
citizens of Washington, D.C. that
have lights everywhere. For that
matter, thieves also operate during
(7) Consider that the lighting or
dinance was passed Nov. 6, 1989 af
ter a public hearing and supported
by an overwhelming majority of
residents. I believe that this issue is
only resurfacing so that a few
"would-be" commissioners can use
it as a campaign platform.
The unfortunate point of all this
is that your newspaper has twice
printed half-truths concerning the
lighting ordinance, and now you at
tempt to correlate thieves and sea
Where have you mentioned 10
foot poles versus 20-30 foot poles?
To quote a part of the ordinance
(15-6.18 Outside Lights) "it is the
intent of this section to permit suffi
cient outsiac lighting to provide for
the safely and security of citizens
while preventing undue distraction
to residents or guests."
I believe fair-minded citizens will
understand that you have tried to
suggest that Holden Beach residents
(See LETTERS, Following Page)
We're All In The
It's only the end of February, but
spring is in the air.
The temperature was in the 70s
last week. Things arc blooming.
Local kids are getting ready for the
upcoming baseball season.
Even some Major League base
ball players started checking in for
spring training last week. Hey, the
season is only a month or so away.
But some of these big league ath
letes are still sitting at home. The
problem is, they're still trying to
work out their contracts for the year.
They all love baseball, you know,
but they're not going to play for
free. They're not crazy.
So far this year, there have been
some unbelievable deals arranged
around the baseball diamond. In
case you haven't been following it
in the sports pages, these men eke
out a pretty nice living by playing a
The shocker of the year has been
the deal given to Roger Clemmons,
who is a pretty good pitcher for the
Boston Red Sox.
Clemmons recently signed a con
tract for S5.38 million a year. That's
more money than just about every
body else will make in a lifetime.
Not only is Clemmons the high
est-paid player in baseball, he might
be pulling in the highest hourly
wage on the planet
As a pitcher, Clemmons only
plays every four games. And since
he plays in the American League,
the Red Sox have a designated hit
ter to bat for him.
I think it's safe to say that
Clemmons has a pretty light work
schedule. He puts in a few hours a
week and spends the rest of the time
spitting tobacco juice and counting
If he starts 45 games a year,
which is pretty realistic, Clemmons
makes about $120,000 for each
game. Thai's $13,283 for each in
ning he pitches, as long as he finish
es every game and none of the
games go into extra innings. That's
$40,000 an hour if the game lasts
Of course. Uncle Sam gets his
bite out of Roger's pie. But if the
man known as The Rocket goes out
on his day off and endorses a sneak
er or fast food joint, he's back in
You think Roger worries about
what his light bill is going to be
next month or if he'll be able to
make that car insurance payment? 1
If you ask me, his salary and the
salary of most other baseball play
ers arc way out of line. Clemmons
makes 269 limes as much money as
a well-paid school leather. Some
thing is rot right.
Pitchers aren't the only ones
making money in baseball. Oakland
Athletics outfielder Jose "The Cry
Baby" Canseco makes $4.7 million
a year. He gels by.
Dwighi Goodcn, pitching ace of
the New York Mets, is one of the
guys who was still trying to work
out a deal with his team as of last
Gooden, who has a pretty good
arm of his own, heard what Clem
mons got and turned down a deal
worth more than $4 million a year.
"It's a stan," was what his manager
told the press.
I probably would reacl a litlle dif
ferently if I were offered $4 million
a year to throw a ball. After picking
my lower jaw off the floor, I proba
bly would say, "It's a deal."
I don't like to brag, but I was a
pretly good second baseman in
Little League. You know, I think
I'm in the wrong business. On sec
ond thought, we're all in the wrong