Watermark Marina pier extension given red light


A request to extend a Wilmington marina’s launch pier into the Cape Fear River was denied by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) during a July 30 meeting in Beaufort, N.C.

Watermark Marina’s 540-foot pier is located five miles south of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. According to an August 2013 project narrative, only 20 of 430 available slips were occupied due to shallow water at the pier that restricts navigation to four hours around high tide each day.

The July 30 ruling could be appealed in Superior Court.

William A Raney Jr., a Wilmington-based attorney, represented CXA-10, the Texas-based corporation that owns the marina, during the request for variance.

The corporation attempted to modify its Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, major permit to extend the pier in 2013. The permit modification was denied December 2013 based on noncompliance with two CRC rules: a rule limiting construction of structures to one-fourth the width of a water body, and a rule allowing structures to exceed a 400-feet length limitations if the structure “gives access to deeper water at a rate of at least 1 foot for each 100 foot increment of length longer than 400 feet.”

The original request would have built the pier to extend 1,424 feet into the river in order to achieve six-feet low water depth, comparable to six other dry storage facilities in New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

After completing a June 2014 depth study ordered by the CRC during a May meeting, the request was reduced to 1,306 feet, extending across 49 percent of the back channel of the Cape Fear River on which the marina sits to offer access to deeper water at a rate of less than 0.5 feet per 100 feet increment.

The total width of the water is 6,755 feet from bank to bank, but an undeveloped artificial spoil island sits 2,686 feet from the bank on which the marina sits. The percent of width spanned is calculated using distance from the spoil island, not the entire width of the river.

If the percent was calculated using the entire width of the river, the 1,306-foot proposed pier would extend across 19 percent of the water body.

The CRC split in its July 30 consideration of request for variance, ultimately rejecting the modified proposal on grounds that it still did not comply with the two original rules it violated.

email miriah@luminanews.com

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