County accepts bid to demolish Pamlico Beach convenience site

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners accepted a bid to demolish the Pamlico Beach Convenience Site, effectively ending discussion about whether the county should keep the dump open.

Amid objections from Pamlico Beach residents, the board voted 6-1 Monday night to accept the low bid of $46,882.50 from Corbett Clearing & Demolition, LLC, to clear, grade and seed the site and remove all fencing and structures. The county’s plan is to close the site and redirect Pamlico Beach refuse to the Ransomville convenience site, located eight miles away. The plan also includes modernizing the Ransomville site, creating a pull-up and paved facility, to accommodate the trash transfers.

The county has been asked to vacate the land by the end of December by the Mills’ family trust, the current owners. The no-cost lease agreement between the county and an industrial firm that owned the 1.8-to 2-acre property started in the 1980s, but expired in 2003. The property was purchased by the current owners in 2001, with the knowledge that the county operated the Pamlico Beach convenience site on a corner of the property, according to county Manager Brian Alligood.

“Since 2003, the county has had continued use of the site. There has never been a discussion about the site (with the new owners),” Alligood said.

In September, the county was contacted about purchasing the site for $20,000, a price commissioners rejected. The county was originally given until Nov. 30 to vacate the property but renegotiated that date to the end of the year.

Pamlico Beach residents spoke against the decision at Monday night’s meeting. Many questioned why the county failed to contact any of their number and discuss the prospect before moving forward with shuttering the dump for good.

Marlene Young, who has had a home there since 1991, said many residents found out about its closure from the Nov. 14 Daily News article reporting the decision had already been made.

“That’s not right. There’s a lot of discussion in the government today about transparency. There was absolutely no transparency for us when this happened,” Young said.

Young presented a petition with 421 signatures, and a letter from an elderly Pamlico Beach resident, to commissioners.

Kim Watson, whose husband’s family has owned Pamlico Beach property since the 1930s, said it was county negligence that led to the decision.

“Someone failed to see the lease was expired on the dump. On whose watch did a lease expire and not be noticed for three years? This should have been solved three years ago when the lease was up for renewal,” Watson said.

Allyn Norton requested commissioners hold off on the site’s closure and demolition until a study of the county’s convenience sites is completed. The county allocated money in the 2018-19 budget for the study that is slated to begin after the new year.

However, that the lease was expired and the family trust asked the county to buy it or vacate the premises did not have bearing on the county’s decision to close the facility. With 11 convenience sites in the county, the county was already looking at closing some sites.

“I’ve been a commissioner for four years, and the No. 1 complaint I’ve had in four years is solid waste,” said Commissioner Frankie Waters, describing complaints of how bad the sites look and the potholes that riddle the drop-off areas. “There is no way that we can continue to have eight sites on the north side of the river and maintain them. Every time we have a budget, everybody says, ‘Cut, cut, cut,’ and this is what happens. It’s not about the $20,000. It’s about the location.”

Newly re-elected Commissioner Stan Deatherage asked that commissioners hold off on closing the site, as well.

“We’ve heard these people speak tonight passionately about their community system. We have yet to get the study on the savings that will be enjoyed by the county by consolidating or seeking more efficient ways to handle,” Deatherage said. “I think we’re putting the cart before the horse. Once that property has been razed, we can’t put the genie back in a bottle. … Until we see data, we don’t tear it down.”

Commissioner Hood Richardson said he regretted not being able to vote with the Pamlico Beach residents on the issue, but did not believe the dump’s closure to be that much of a hardship.

“We haven’t harped enough on the modernization at the site at Ransomville,” Commissioner Hood Richardson said. “One of the things I’m committed to is that it’s going to be a paved site.”