Accelerated Carolina Beach renourishment to be reconsidered

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Carolina Beach might not receive a batch of sand this fall after all.

The Wilmington-New Hanover Port, Waterway and Beach Commission approved a resolution of support to postpone the renourishment project to 2016 as originally scheduled.

The $7.4 million project was proposed when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers secured $4.8 million to be used with $727,000 from the N.C. Division of Water Resources for what could have been the town’s last chance to secure federal funds before its federal authorization expired December 2014.

The New Hanover County Commissioners approved a request to pull $1.86 million from the room occupancy tax fund to cover the remaining cost for the project during a May 5 meeting.

A request for reauthorization in the 2014 Water Resources Reform & Development Act was pending during the May meeting. A three-year authorization was secured in June. The county is pursuing options to secure an additional 15-year reauthorization in the interim.

Since the project is federally authorized through 2017, the county manager’s office suggested Carolina Beach be renourished in 2016 as originally scheduled. County commissioners will vote on the change during an Aug. 21 meeting.

The commission’s resolution of support carried despite opposition from Kure Beach Mayor Pro Tem Craig Bloszinsky.

Because the corps cannot guarantee the funds  it allocated for the 2014 renourishment will still be available in 2016, Bloszinsky said he favored taking advantage of the money now.

“It would be a value to put the sand on the beach this year. … If we don’t get an extension past the three years, we’re going to get one nourishment out of this,” Bloszinsky said

County shore protection coordinator Layton Bedsole said the Division of Water Resources funds allocated for the 2014 renourishment will be available in 2016.

Carolina Beach and Kure Beach are both on three-year cycles and renourishment projects traditionally occur simultaneously. Kure Beach also requested ROT funds for a 2014 accelerated cycle during the May 5 commissioners meeting but the board declined action on the request.

Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox said he realized the corps’ funds are not guaranteed for 2016 but said he understands the county’s reasoning.

In other business, the commission heard a report from Tyler Newman, senior government affairs director with the Business Alliance for a Sound Economy, on how proposed changes to definitions in the Clean Water Act could affect local development.

Newman said the changes, proposed in a joint effort by the corps and the Environmental Protection Agency, would expand the definition of wetlands, subjecting large portions of New Hanover County to further regulation.

Newman said if approved, the changes would be the largest expansion of EPA jurisdiction since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972.

The EPA is accepting public comments on the changes through Oct. 20.

For the full story, check out the July 17 issue of Lumina News.

email miriah@luminanews.com

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