Aldermen will fill committee vacancies, consider parking plan

by Patricia E. Matson
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lumina News file photo

The setting of a Feb. 9 public hearing to discuss outdoor seating and pier repairs at the Oceanic are on the board of aldermen’s consent agenda for its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen plan to make numerous appointments to town boards and committees during its regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12. It will also consider a parking plan for Harbor Island, farmers’ market changes, outdoor concert co-sponsorship, the aquaculture facility lease and a crosswalk light proposal.

Vacancies on town bodies include three on the planning board, two on the parks and recreation advisory committee, two on the historic landmark commission, four on the marketing advisory committee and three on the board of adjustment, plus two alternates.

Prior to the board meeting a reception will be held at 5 p.m. in the Town Hall conference room for the public to meet applicants of the various committees.

At 6 p.m., the BOA will begin its meeting.

Parking recommendations vetted since 2010—including public hearings in February and March 2011 and two workshops in September— will be discussed again. The most desired changes appear to be the creation of a residential parking district on Harbor Island and the establishment of an overflow parking area near the Visitors Center.

Staff recommendations include restricting on-street parking in parts of Harbor Island during the daytime from March through October to residents and guests displaying parking passes; establishing a procedure for special parking for events such as parties and construction; designating a site adjacent to West Salisbury Street for overflow parking; and reconsidering a previous board decision to implement a new metered area along Pelican Drive, because it has not been funded and reaction was mixed during the September workshops.

Regarding the farmers’ market, the aldermen rejected several proposed changes during the Dec. 8 meeting, including carrying locally made crafts. However, they directed staff to evaluate potential new sites for relocation. The market has been held along Old Causeway Drive for three consecutive summer seasons.

Town staff determined that the area directly in front of the Town Hall may be the most visible location, and any parking overflow could be directed to the former fire station. Nearby restroom facilities would also eliminate the expense of portable toilets.

The town has worked with WECT on the Sounds of Summer Concerts in Wrightsville Beach Park for more than 10 years, with four or five concerts planned per summer. The Wrightsville Beach Merchants Association and Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Foundation have proposed discontinuing Family Movie Night, which ran in high summer 2010 and late summer 2011, in lieu of funding additional concerts. For eight weekly concerts between June 21 and Aug. 9, WECT has requested that the town commit to fund an estimated $6,000, or half of the expenses.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington aquaculture program currently leases approximately one acre of land on Harbor Island for $42,500 per year. The university is asking to amend the lease to include part of the adjoining site that the Division of Marine Fisheries vacated in May 2011, at no additional cost. Town staff recommends approval.

The aldermen will also consider whether to support a high-intensity activated crosswalk signal, or HAWK lights, along Causeway Drive. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is expected to pay for most of the installation costs; however, if a secondary location at the intersection with Coral Drive is chosen instead of the primary location at the North Channel Drive intersection, the town will need infrastructure improvements that will cost an additional $150,000 to $200,000.

At the beginning of the meeting, the 2010-11 audit report will be presented, and Tim Taylor will propose a smoking ban for the beach strand. The aldermen rejected the idea of a smoking ban in May 2010, but the parks and recreation committee voted 3-2 on Monday, Jan. 9, to recommend a smoking ban on the beach strand and at the parks. (See related story, page A2.)

Among the items on the consent agenda, which may be passed without discussion, four public hearings are expected to be set for the Feb. 9 aldermen’s meeting. One is to discuss the possible rezoning of the Park Tract adjacent to Town Hall from P-1 Conservation to G-1 Public and Semi-Public, which the planning board voted against recommending on Tuesday, Jan. 3, and another is to consider a street closure on Trent Court. The other two are for a nonconforming amendment and conditional use permit for the Oceanic Restaurant to expand the outdoor seating area and repair the pier. A previous estimate set repairs at approximately $400,000.

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