With environmental hazards and safety at the forefront of concerns raised by residents regarding the growing number of boats anchored in Banks Channel, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen discussed ways to limit the crowding, though any action likely won’t come until later.
Mayor Pro Tem Darryl Mills acknowledged that he had spoken with staff at local marinas and there is assumptive evidence that many vessels are not properly disposing of waste.
“It’s a problem,” he said.
“When residents contact town officials, there seems to be no clear information available,” said Alderman Elizabeth King. She added that some of the vessels are too close to the pierhead line, stating her concern for property owners and others navigating the channel.
Wrightsville Beach ordinance allows vessels to be moored or anchored in any waters seaward of the pierhead line within the zoning jurisdiction of the town for no longer than 30 days within a 180-day period. An amendment was last made to this ordinance in August of 2011.
“The current ordinance would be very effective if properly enforced,” said the town’s attorney John Wessell. He added that adopting a daily monetary fine for vessels that extend their stay beyond the 30-day period could also prove beneficial.
Town Manager Tim Owens said that, within the last week, the town has increased its enforcement efforts and that has helped to reduce the number of vessels in the channel.
Officials are aware that several vessels in the channel are only occupied temporarily and often left vacant. Others are listed for short-term rental through services including Air BnB and VRBO. Placing a ban on these services may become a topic of discussion later, but no immediate changes have been adopted.
Many possible measures were considered by the board, including hiring an additional park ranger to assist with enforcement of town ordinances, further restrictions on pick up and drop off regulations at Wynn Plaza, and reducing the daily mooring limit. Researching grants available to assist with the creation of clearly marked mooring fields along with the creation of an online and phone registration system was also mentioned.
One local resident and business owner who spoke in front of the board suggested that the town consider establishing mooring fields, citing more effective regulation and revenue generation as benefits.
Several board members agreed that more conversation needs to take place regarding changes to this ordinance and they will address the issue again while attending their retreat, which usually takes place in February.
Other items on the agenda:
- Town officials will seek bids to construct a new parking area in front of the Parks and Recreation Office Building in addition adopting a resolution allowing resurfacing of the existing parking area. A new parking area will provide 40 spaces, including two handicap accessible spots. By shifting the landscape curbing and islands in the existing lot, an additional 7 spaces will be created.
- A resolution was adopted to select McKim & Creed and Highfill Engineering for scheduled sewer projects associated with the town’s 10-year Water and Sewer CIP Projects.
- A resolution was adopted approving the purchase of a street sweeper.
- A resolution was adopted declaring the Board’s intent to close a portion of South Lumina Avenue adjacent to Bellamy Street and the Carolina Yacht Club property.
- A public hearing for the consideration of a conditional use permit application for Adapt Kitchen to open a carryout restaurant at 32 N. Lumina Ave., and an amendment to an existing conditional use permit for Robert’s Grocery Parking to accommodate the new business was unanimously approved.