Mason Inlet dredging runs $3.3 million

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More than 50 properties on Wrightsville Beach’s north end will be assessed costs to help dredge and maintain Mason Inlet, which separates the island’s north end from Figure Eight Island.

The cost to maintain the dredging of the inlet over the past five years comes to $3.3 million, New Hanover County Commissioners heard in a November hearing on the issue. Of the total costs, most were assessed to properties on Figure Eight Island, which will owe $2.7 million of the total.

Property owners got the cost assessments in early December, officials said, with costs for Wrightsville Beach property owners ranging from as low as $4 to more than $13,000.

An attorney for Shell Island Resort said that the condominium residents owed 84 percent of Wrightsville Beach’s share of the costs, which he said was too high and should be revisited. The attorney acknowledged that the dredging saved the building from destruction, but added that parts of the project, like dredging the Intracoastal Waterway behind the inlet, mainly benefited Figure Eight Island, which should be assessed the costs, he said.

Property owners have until June 1 to pay the costs without interest or they can elect to pay over five years with seven percent interest.

The formula for assessing the  dredging costs was determined in 1999, when the inlet threatened to swallow Shell Island Resort, and will apply for 30 years. County officials said that the amount being assessed this year is less than in previous years. Assessments are made in five-year cycles. Oceanfront properties were asked to contribute 52 percent of the costs, while non-oceanfront properties paid the rest.

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