Monday, September 27, 2010
Posted by EOD at 11:27 AM
Sturza, who is also the mayor of Kill Devil Hills, made a presentation to the county board on September 7th, where he outlined four new proposals which, if adopted, would update the county's Land Use Plan (LUP). Sturza appeared in his capacity as a county employee and it is arguable whether he mixed politics with his public duties to plan and report on behalf of the county.
Because the State of North Carolina does not allow hard structures along our beaches, Dare's current LUP acknowledges this and simply states that "beach nourishment is the acceptable means of combating shoreline erosion in Dare County." However, Judge, who owns several oceanfront motels and would like nothing more than to see hard structures along our beaches wants to see that changed. In addition, he openly supports Nags Head's current plan for beach nourishment, one that also calls for a terminal groin at the southern boundary between the town and the National Park Service. Likewise, Mayor/County Planning Director Sturza, who is retiring from county service this month, is also fighting for beach nourishment and is unopposed to hardening of the shoreline in Kill Devil Hills.
One had to listen closely (viewable on county video) as Sturza, who has a gift for gab, made his presentation to the board. Sturza said he, "...wanted to see if the (planning) board had the language they (commissioners) wanted in the updated proposals..." He referred to a planning board workshop held earlier this year that was attended by "some" county commissioners and the discussion that "...centered around legislation that was under consideration by the State that would authorize the use of terminal groins at the "terminus" of barrier islands as an additional tool in the tool box for abating erosion..." (note, the use of "terminus" in Sturza's statement).
(Terminus is a Latin word that literally means boundary stone. It may also be used to describe the end of a road.)
Sturza reminded the board that the proposed legislation has stalled in the General Assembly, but would probably surface again next year. This, in the opinion of this writer, sets the groundwork for Judge and Sturza's planned end run play. Are the other six county commissioners a part of this ploy? In the sense they will probably vote along with Judge, the answer is "yes,"; however, in the sense they understand or care what is really going on, this writer has doubts.
Sturza told the board that if they approve the amendment and it is accepted by Coastal Area Management (CAMA), ".. it will include language that says, in addition to beach nourishment, the use of terminal groins, offshore reefs, and other similar techniques are compatible with the shoreline management goals of Dare County..." The reader should note here that the wording/phrase, "terminus of barrier islands" is omitted from the language.
And, herein lies the shoddiness of what Judge and Sturza are attempting to do. The fact is that the State of North Carolina is only considering legislation (if it gets out of committee) to allow terminal groins at the "terminus or end of barrier islands, e.g. at inlets." Even, State Senator Marc Basnight is on record as opposing terminal groins along our beaches and says he will fight to see that no such language is inserted into any law dealing with the matter. Yet, Judge and Sturza are determined to prevail.
In replying to Sturza, Judge referred to the language as an "implementation strategy". Sturza agreed and said it would be a "political function" of the (county) board when the General Assembly gets together to let them know the county does favor these new techniques. Judge responded by laughing and saying, "if Coastal Area Management approves this, we can go to the State and say, "Well your own agency approved it."
EOD has reviewed the minutes of the joint workshop between the county commissioners and the planning board on March 15, 2010 and it contains no specific wording as to the language makeup of these proposed amendments.
The workshop was attended only by Commissioners Judge, Burrus, Tillett and Dutton; and only four of the seven planning board members.
Interestingly, an official part of Dare's current LUP are the detailed results of a Citizens' Survey that was conducted in 2007. See the above chart which shows that only 24.9% of the respondants supported "seawalls, groins and harden structures" on our beaches. Clearly, if the Dare County Commissioners adopt this amendment, they will be doing an "end run" and disservice to the citizens of this county. It should not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, a public hearing on the draft 2009 update and LUP amendments is scheduled for the October 11, 2010 meeting of the Dare County Planning Board. We encourage you to voice your opinion on this important matter. Don't let our beaches become harden shorelines like those in New Jersey and other northern beaches.
The commissioners' email addresses are listed in the right-hand column of this blog.
Their county paid cell phone telephone numbers are:
Warren Judge - 473-8250
Allen Burrus - 216-7019
Richard Johnson - 216-7045
Virginia Tillett - 475-0591
Jack Shea - 216-5793
Max Dutton - 216-5629
Mike Johnson - 473-8262