Coastal counties seeking support

Published 7:49 am Friday, February 22, 2008

By Staff
There is strength in numbers.
That’s what local representatives are hoping for, at least.
A group of officials from counties and municipalities in eastern North Carolina joined together this week to try to do something as a group that they might not be able to accomplish as individuals.
As individuals they are united in their opposition to new rules that deal with stormwater runoff, and they are seeking the clout of large organizations in their fight.
The coastal North Carolina officials met with representatives of the N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners this week to solicit help in opposing the stricter rules approved by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission in January.
Each county has its own geography, but each of the counties will feel the pain if the rules are enforced. About 50 percent of the land within Carteret County lies within a half a mile of shellfish waters. In Pamlico County, the figure is about 29 percent.
Beaufort County doesn’t have the same volume of shellfish waters, but the effects of the rules could be just as tough, according to county officials.
Under the revised rules, someone building a new structure within a half-mile of shellfish waters and on more than 12 percent of a lot will have to install stormwater-control measures. The new rules also require new development to place a 50-foot vegetated buffer between it and protected waters. For a redevelopment project, a 30-foot buffer is required.
Beaufort County has few designated shellfish waters at its eastern edge, so County Manager Paul Spruill said the restrictions placed on development everywhere else in the county under the new rules are most alarming.
Beaufort County isn’t the only governmental body with concerns.,
The permitting time is already six months, Tyson said. “This will just about shut it down.”
Spruill, Washington County Manager David Peoples and Hyde County’s interim manager Carl Classen attended Tuesday’s meetings. They were joined by representatives from Carteret, Dare, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties and managers from several municipalities in those counties.
The clout of the NCACC and the NCLM is well-known. The NCLM was founded in 1908. By 1917, it had helped push through the Municipal Finance Act that gave cities and towns more local control and authority to issue bonds. In the late 1940s, it fought for the passage of the Powell Bill, which when first enacted provided cities with a share of the state’s gas-tax revenues.
The NCACC was formed the same year as the NCLM, and it has lobbied for issues of importance to counties.
Carteret County Manager John Langdon is expected to make a presentation Monday to representatives of the NCACC to further solicit that organization’s help in convincing the General Assembly to reassess the stormwater rules, according to Peoples.
We hope the NCACC and the NCLM will see fit to throw their support behind the local efforts.