Town pushes for moving boat ramp site

Published 6:44 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

BELHAVEN — The Town of Belhaven continues to push back against a proposed North Carolina Wildlife Commission boat ramp on the Cooperage Tract.

At Monday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, the board approved a motion requesting that the county manager ask the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners for the boat ramp to be built in another location, a property of almost 7.5 acres recently donated to the county by Brantley Tillman.

Last month, the county signed a 25-year memorandum agreement with the Wildlife Commission, agreeing to provide the land to build a public boat ramp off of N.C. Highway 99 in Belhaven, although the exact location was not specified.

A county-owned, 40-acre parcel of land known as the Cooperage Tract, which is located at the corner of N.C. Highway 99 and West Main Street, was selected for the ramp. Only a small portion of the 40 acres is buildable, as a lot of the site is comprised of wetlands.

Tillman’s donated property is located adjacent to the Cooperage Tract. When the Tillman property came back on the table, the Wildlife Commission agreed to reconsider the ramp location, according to county Manager Brian Alligood.

Alligood said the Commission is working on draft plans for the Tillman property and hopes to present them by the end of next week.

Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal first expressed his disapproval of the proposed Cooperage Tract ramp at an Aug. 22 Board of Aldermen meeting, saying a local group of county residents and the commissioners signed the memorandum agreement with the Wildlife Commission without consulting the town.

He said placing a boat ramp on that proposed parcel of land would make it public-owned property, thus eliminating any chance of tax revenues.

O’Neal said on Monday that he expects the commissioners and Wildlife Commission to reconsider the location and build the ramp on the Tillman property instead.

“It’s not good for the people of Belhaven,” he said of the current plans. “We’re trying to protect the town.”

Alligood said the Wildlife Commission actually prefers the Tillman property to the Cooperage Tract land, and was very willing to start redrafting the plans.

He said, from what he can tell, the results should be positive for all parties involved.

“Their goal is to try to get a nice landing down there,” Alligood said.