Published 8:51 pm Sunday, August 26, 2007

By Staff
Want to weigh in on the issue of mooring fields in the Pamlico River off Washington’s waterfront? Want to have a say in where and how development and growth should occur in Washington? Want to offer an opinion on how the city should address transportation matters in the future?
Then the place to be is at the public hearing the Washington City Council will conduct at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The hearing is being held to receive the public’s comments on the city’s draft land-use plan.
Mooring fields, controlling and managing growth and strategies related to transportation issues are among many land-use matters addressed in the draft land-use plan.
The Coastal Area Management Act requires counties in the state’s coastal region to develop land-use plans, which must be updated every five years. Municipalities in a CAMA county come under that county’s land-use plan, unless they opt to develop their own land-use plans. That’s what Washington decided to do, and that’s why the city is updating its land-use plan.
The city, with the Planning Board doing a large portion of the work, began revising its land-use plan on Sept. 13, 2004. At that time, the city implemented a participation strategy. About 20 meetings, which the public had opportunities to attend and provide input for the plan, have been held from Nov. 1, 2004 to today. Monday’s hearing provides another opportunity for people to have their say about the plan.
Unlike its predecessors, the revised plan pays lots of attention to better protecting and managing its waterways, from better water-pollution strategies to plans for dealing with increased boat traffic. The draft plan supports establishing mooring fields in the Pamlico River, a turnaround from previous land-use plans. The draft land-use plan includes a provision calling for the city to create a water-use and harbor-management plans to regulate and oversee mooring fields.
Because two of Washington’s greatest assets are its waterfront and the Pamlico River, the city and its residents should be concerned with protecting and preserving those assets.
Sykes is right.
No doubt there are other boaters and people who have differing views on how to take care of the river and waterfront. They should be at the hearing Monday to voice their views.
The Coastal Area Management Act has served the state well in the 35 years or so it’s been in effect. The N.C. Coastal Federation and other similar groups have argued and will continue to argue the state isn’t doing enough to protect and preserve its coastal regions. Their contention may include some valid points.
But where would the state’s coastal region be without the Coastal Area Management Act in place?
The city’s land-use plan is just a small part of the Coastal Area Management Act’s strategy for protecting the state’s coastal region. Those small parts, provided by counties and municipalities in the coastal region, make up the pieces of the armor that is the Coastal Area Management Act.
Washington residents should help forge that armor by making their voices heard at Monday’s hearing.