Holden Board Compromises On Land Use Plan
BY SUSAN USIIKK
Holdcn Beach Commissioners
hammered oui a compromise Mon
day, adopting a larul use plan update
that allows for future development
of some scattered "islands" that pro
trude from iLs mid- island marshes.
However, the lain I use plan sets
aside as no-build, protected conser
vation areas similar islands on die
far western end of the island be
yond the last Army Corps of
Engineers designated spoil area, as
well as the land north of the Corps'
right-of-way easement not designat
ed as spoil area. Also unplatted ar
eas at the feet of canal streets will be
designated as conservation areas.
Five areas designated to receive
future Corps ol Engineers dredge
spoil and other existing spoil areas
will fall under a new land classifica
tion category created solely for that
purpose by the hoard last
Wednesday night: rural special use
Until the delayed I wo update re
ccivcs approval from the Coastal
Resources Commission (CRO. the
town w ill continue to operate under
its existing plan.
Once maps have been revised, the
plan adopted by the town will be
forwarded to the N.C. Office ol
Coastal Management for review and
comment. It then goes to the CRC
for consideration at an upcoming
Monday's compromise was an ef
fort to reduce the possibility of the
plan receiving conditional approval
by the state and getting sent back to
the town for revision. Board mem
bers' efforts won plaudits from the
mayor and town manager.
"Congratulations." Mayor Wally
Ausley told the hoard. "I fell a little
troubled with sending it to Mr.
(Haskell) Rhett with those areas des
ignated as rural when he had indicat
ed that might not be acceptable."
Citing a high degree of public in
put from a wide variety of interests.
Town Manager Gary Parker said.
"This is the way government is sup
posed to work. It makes me feel
The newly-elected board of com
missioners was faced with consider
ation of the long-overdue land use
update at its first meeting on Dec. 1.
Members recessed that meeting until
last Wednesday night after dis
"It was our feeling that if the islands were
platted and could be built on, then there
was no reason they couldn't build there."
? Jim Shafor, Vice Chairman
Holden Beach Planning Board
cussing the proposed update with
Khctt, field representative with the
N C. Office of Coastal Management.
A motion made hy Commissioner
David Sandifer anil ;unended several
iiuics guided Wednesday' involved
discussion. Sandifer supported the
plan as drafted hy the planning ami
zoning ordinance, saying, the hoard
had done " a fantastic job". He ad
vocated the tightest restrictions |x>s
sihle on state-owned areas, hut saul
the privately owned marsh islands
should he treated differently.
Commissioner Jim Fournier saiil
he felt unduly "pressured" to adopt
the ordinance hy references to the IS
months of work involved in us
preparation, when he was more con
cerned with us outcome. "My only
problem is with this definition of ru
ral. That's giving carte blanche to
build a levee; that's not looking after
All 20 coastal counties that fall
under the Coastal Area Management
Act (CAM A), and the incorporated
towns within them, are required by
law to have a land use plan and to
update it at five-year intervals.
Holden Beach began work on its
ll>9() update nearly two years ago.
The version adopted Wednesday
night slighdy modifies the plan rec
ommended by the town's planning
hoard, in part because of concerns
raised by Rhctt. The CAMA field
representative said he didn't think
the "rural" designation was appro
priate to land area on a fragile barri
Rhctt had suggested a new cate
gory for the marsh islands ? conser
vation special use. which allowed
limited residential development,
while protecting the fragile environ
ment surrounding the islands.
Instead commissioners created a
new category for the spoil areas on
ly. rural-special use.
Jim Shafor, vice chairman of the
Holdcn Beach Planning and Zoning
Board, said ihc original "niral" des
ignation was to insure consistent
treatment of all the marsh islands.
It was our feeling thai if the is
lands were platted and could he built
on. il they could izct all the permits,
then there was no reason they
couldn't build there." he said.
The rural category is intended to
discourage "the premature conver
sion" of the designated areas into ur
ban-type uses. According to the
plan, "extending urban services into
the Rural class is considered an inef
ficient use of resources."
Shafor said the planning board's
intent was tli.it services not be ex
tended by the town until after prop
erty owners obtain permits to build,
not be lore.
Commented Commissioner Four
nicr, "But just the virtue of having
the permits doesn't change the facts:
It would still be an inefficient use of
resources" to extend services into an
area of low -density development.
Commissioners backed off slight
ly from the original planning board
proposal, designating only those
marsh islands south of the Corps
right/-of-way line as rural, with the
possibility of eventual development
at a density rate of 2 1/2 units per
Audience member Crawford Hart
questioned categorizing the marsh
islands so as to allow for their future
"If we al'ow development of the
islands, then it is only a matter of
ume before they start destroying the
surrounding wetland," he said. "If it
can be built on then let them go
through the amendment process."
If the islands were designated
conservation, individual property
owners could petition the town to
amend the ordinance to another cat
egory, a process that takes about
To Be Altered
A small change in design is
not exported U) delay renovation
of the Holdcn Beach public
works garage into new quarters
lor the town's police department
Commissioners acted on the
projcct Wednesday in a session
continued from Monday night.
'Ilie hoard authorized Town
Manager Gary Parker to accept
the low hid for the project, bar
ring any problems with it, then to
implement a change order.
The old garage stands behind
the town hall meeting room.
Instead of taking up juirt of die
meeting room for a doorway
linking the two buildings, the op
tion chosen by the previous
board, the town plans now to
bump out an office wall for that
Commissioners said they
think either approach would cost
about die same and they don't
expect the change to delay die
Bids were to be received
Monday, Dec. 9.
The police department is tem
porarily located in a town-owned
house adjacent to the town hall.
The former policc department
serves as the town manager's of
To Negotiate Kill
Commissioners said they plan to
negotiate payment of its bill with
Henry von Oescn & Associates, the
engineering firm in Wilmington that
prepared the draft of the plan.
While some of the map changes
were initiated by the town and
should be paid for by the town, oth
ers resulted from company error and
did not reflect data provided by the
town or data collected by the com
pany in the field at Holdcn Beach.
Alan Holdcn, a fomier member of
the planning board, said that board
"had it right to begin with..."
"I am personally o(Tcnded."he
continued, ciung the additional time
required by the town to make the
changes. "I don't think the town
should have to pay to correct it."
Southport Family Loses Claim Against Insurers
A former Souihport businessman
w hose funeral parlor hurried in 19X4
lost a S4.5 million lawsuit against
his insurers in Brunswick County
Superior Civil Court last week.
Thomas E. Gilbert III and his
wife. Evelyn H. Gilbert, had filed a
lawsuit against the Great American
South Inc. in 1985, seeking $4.5
million for lost revenues, demolition
of the building, general damages and
alleged slanderous statements made
by the insurers that the Gilberts
claim labeled them as arsonists and
ruined their credit.
The company had refused to pay
for the building because it alleged
the Gilberts burned down the busi
ncss to collcci on ihc policy and thai
the family had failed to coopcratc
with fire investigators.
Judge B. Craig Ellis allowed a
motion to dismiss after the plain
tiffs' attorney. Lewis K. Newton,
presented his case to a jury last
Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 3-4.
Court reporter Yvettc Murray said
a courtroom had been reserved for
two weeks while 126 witnesses had
been lined up for the defense, which
never had to present its case.
On the witness stand last Wed
nesday, Gilbert testified that he was
in Las Vegas when the fire burned
his business on Aug. 11, 1984.
A federal jury acquitted Gilbert,
67, and his son, Thomas Gilbert IV,
41, of arson in February 1987, but
convicted both men on multiple
counts of defrauding customers by
Liking money intended for trust ac
counts for burial plots. At the time
charges were brought, Gilbert IV
served as Brunswick County coro
Gilbert told the jury he was re
leased from prison in October 1987
and has held odd jobs since then ? in
a junkyard, as a trash truck driver
for Bald Head Island, as a rest home
janitor and for the U.S. Census
He told the jury that he kept
kerosene lamps in the house for
emergencies. Bookkeeping records
were kepi in a cardboard box in a
rear room and were destroyed by the
fire, Gilbert said.
Investigators contend the Gilberts
refused to answer questions about
their finances and refused to turn
over records following the fire.
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To Drop Lawsuit
A Brunswick County Superior
Court judge has ruled that a lawsuit
filed against the county by Houston
and Associates of Shallotte should
go to trial.
Judge B. Craig Ellis denied
Brunswick County's motion for dis
missal last week in Superior Court.
However, Ellis granted one part
of the county's motion in which
$22,557 is at stake, money Bruns
wick County claims has been paid to
Houston and Associates hut that
they "have not otherwise been
Houston and Associates, engineers
hired to design water line projects to
the Seaside and Shallotte Point com
munities, claims its contract was
breached Aug. 5 when Brunswick
County Commissioners voted with
out warning to fire the firm.
In a lawsuit liled against Bruns
wick County Aug. 30, the firm al
leges lour claims for relief from the
county. It claims county officials
breached a contract and tcxik delib
erate actions to force the firm to
miss its deadlines.
Attorneys arc seeking in excess of
S397.000 in fees, payment for work
Brunswick County's motion indi
cated the county should be allowed
to seek the S22.557 in damages if
Houston and Associates failed to de
liver all work in progress on the wa
ter system by an Aug. 30 deadline.
Alfred P. Carlton Jr., Brunswick
County's attorney, said the county
anticipates filing a '.ountersuit
against the firm.
In its fourth claim, the lirm had
filed for declaratory relief, asking
ihe court 10 declare lhal: Houston
and Associates had at no time
breached its contract; Houston is not
obligated to turn over work in
progress to Brunswick County;
Houston is entitled to S1H7,(XK) for
the work in progress; and Houston is
entitled to damages for breach of
A contract was signed with
Houston and Associates on Feb. 18,
allowing ISO days for design work
on the projects to be completed.
On Aug. 1ft, copies of the engi
neering plans and specifications for
the projects were delivered to the
Shallottc branch of NCNB, "to be
held in escrow pending a determina
tion of the rights of the parties," the
To Our Very Own Snoop
The Beacon Staff
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