February 21, 2008

New Waterside Restaurant Coming to CB?

From a Public Notice filed 02/13/2008

Notice of Public Hearing with Planning & Zoning Commission for 2/21/2008

-Consider a request from Greg Reynolds for a Conditional Use Permit for a Restaurant located at 300 N Lake Park Blvd and 302 N Lake Park Blvd, currently King's Boat and fromerly Barnacles Restaurant, Marina's Edge Restaurant and Sweetwater Restaurant. The proposal includes 207 indoor and outdoor seats, a 1000SF roof-top deck overlooking Masonboro Sound Boat Basin, a small gift shop and game room.

This sounds great to me. I've always felt that Carolina Beach lacked enough water front restaurants. Let's see what become of this...

BTW, here is the proposed location:

February 20, 2008

New Pier Planned for Fort Fisher

North Carolina Aquariums Launch Pier Efforts

In order to preserve a coastal tradition that weather and economics have nearly erased from the shoreline, the N.C. Aquariums want to build and run three storm-resistant ocean fishing piers – one near each of the state’s aquariums at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island.

"We are losing piers along our coast, and more are likely to disappear,” said Bill Laxton, chief deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Our goal is to build three new concrete piers that will withstand coastal storms and provide future generations with invaluable ocean access."

Aquarium staff views the proposed educational piers as another avenue to advance the Aquariums’ mission of inspiring appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments.

Piers provide a vantage of the surf zone to visitors who come just to stroll along the deck. In addition, the Aquariums’ proposed pier complexes will facilitate beach access and other recreational activities.

“The interest in recreational fishing presents a wonderful opportunity to teach conservation,” said Division Director David Griffin. “Getting people out into their natural surroundings is the most effective form of environmental education.”

The Aquariums have asked for $4 million from the state’s Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund (WAMI) toward the development of the piers. The General Assembly included the WAMI program in the 2007 state budget for projects that improve public and commercial waterfront access. The move came after a committee appointed by the legislature took a broad look at diminishing waterfront accessibility of all types.

Visitors and tourism-oriented businesses have mourned the rapid vanishing of fishing piers in the last decade. A succession of hurricanes in the late 1990s wiped out many of these gathering spots, favored by vacationers and locals alike. Soaring real estate values spelled the demise of others.

Griffin noted that fishing piers have played an important role in the culture and history of the coast, as well as in the tourism-driven economy. The price of oceanfront real estate makes the prospect of private investment in new piers unlikely.

“The North Carolina Aquariums are uniquely positioned to address this loss,” he said. “We already have well-established programs and facilities within an easy drive of all the major tourist beaches.”

The proposed piers will extend 1,000 feet into the Atlantic, with concrete pilings to withstand crashing waves and high winds, and timber decks to reflect tradition. The design will employ “green” building principles and stormwater treatment methods. The facilities also will accommodate people with disabilities.

Anglers and vacationers won’t be the only users. The proposed complexes include pier houses, exhibits, classrooms, meeting and event rooms, accommodations for other water-based activities, and staging areas for data collection and research. The sites also will provide bathhouses, parking and access for beachgoers. Among the many programs planned will be fishing conservation workshops, beach walks, sleepovers, science camps, school programs, kayak excursions and surfing classes.

“With the piers, we’ll be able to bring new programs to more people,” Griffin said.

The Aquariums already have two of the projects underway. Construction is set to begin in mid-2008 on a concrete pier to replace Jennette’s Pier at Nag’s Head, in conjunction with the Aquarium on Roanoke Island. The first fishing pier on the site was built in 1939. The N.C. Aquarium Society, the Aquariums’ member-based support group, acquired the existing pier in 2003, and turned it over to the state in October. The new pier is expected to open in 2010.

The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores plans to begin design and development on its pier next summer. The Aquarium is partnering with the town of Emerald Isle to build the project at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access . The 4.1-acre site was home to the Emerald Isle Pier until it was torn down after damage from two 1996 hurricanes. The site, eight miles from the Aquarium, stretches across Bogue Banks at about its midpoint. The Aquarium plans a fishing dock, kayak launch area and other amenities on the sound side section of the property in addition to the ocean pier and facilities.

“We are excited about this partnership with the North Carolina Aquariums,” said Emerald Isle Mayor Art Schools. “We believe the project will provide tremendous benefits for North Carolinians for generations to come.”

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is considering various sites for its proposed pier project.

Each pier is estimated to cost about $12 million. The Aquariums plan to pay for the projects with money from Aquarium admission receipts, pier user fees, grants, contributions from other government agencies and donations from the Aquarium Society.

Tourism industry leaders welcome the efforts to perpetuate the familiar and family-friendly coastal icons. “The pier and sound side access here on the Crystal Coast will be a welcome addition to the area,” said Carol Lohr, executive director of the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority in Carteret County, home to the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. “The expanded programs from the Aquarium, and the fact that both will be open to the public, will be another eco-friendly area the tourism authority can market and promote.”


February 19, 2008

Boardwalk Update:

Carolina Beach Makes Over its Boardwalk
Megan V. Williams

WILMINGTON, NC (2008-02-19)
Volunteers rolled up their sleeves and picked up paintbrushes this past weekend for the first in a series of workdays aimed at beautifying Carolina Beach's boardwalk.

Brightly painted new planters, all-weather Adirondack chairs, and seaside landscaping are just some of the things a group of business owners, residents, and public officials, has planned for its boardwalk makeover.

Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce head Duke Hagestrom is a part of that effort. He says the idea is to get visitors to give the boardwalk another chance.

"Come re-visit us. If you've been down here before and you were disappointed in the past, try us again. Come on out, see what we're all about, see all these fabulous changes that are taking place."

Hagestrom says the group plans to roll out the boardwalk's new look in time for this summer's tourism season.

"The boardwalk area is the living room of our community, and we want to make sure everybody realizes they're invited."

The Boardwalk makeover committee has already raised more than forty thousand dollars from the town, the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, businesses, and private donations.

Carolina Beach will unveil its remodeled boardwalk with an opening ceremony in early May.


February 18, 2008

New Public Park for Kure Beach Oceanfront

KURE BEACH - Congressman Mike McIntyre - 7th district (D), visited Kure Beach on January 30...he was given a tour of the future site of a new oceanfront park in downtown Kure Beach. The Town purchased the vacant Rolling Surf Motel in December of 2007 for $3.6 million dollars to make way for the new oceanfront public park. The Town Council obtained $500,000.00 from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners from a county parks and green space bond to help fund the $3.6 million purchase. They continue to seek federal and state grants to pay for the cost of purchasing the property.

Mayor Mac Montgomery explained early in the purchasing process the goal is to entirely offset the cost using grant funding as opposed to taxpayers dollars. The project is strongly endorsed by McIntyre. He wrote a letter to the North Carolina Division of Environmental Resources in December requesting financial resources and technical assistance for funding and developing the project. The design of the park will focus on an underground filtration system to collect storm water runoff from the park and surrounding areas to reduce pollution from surface runoff into the ocean.

In January the Council unanimously approved pursuing a N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant for $500,000 towards the purchase of the property. The Council also unanimously approved seeking grant assistance from N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund in the amount of one million dollars towards the purchase. Mayor Montgomery explained the Town already submitted two grants. A $500,000.00 grant request to the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management was submitted in December and another $300,000.00 grant application submitted to the North Carolina Division of Water Resources. The Town already received $500,000.00 from New Hanover County drawn from a parks and green space bond.

Montgomery said he recently met with a representative of the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund and more recently with the director of the Division of Coastal Management to obtain a $1.5 million dollar grant coming from the Natural Heritage Trust Fund through the Division of Coastal Management. That arrangement would require a conservation easement mandating the property is always used as a park.


Proposed park illustration: http://www.townofkurebeach.org/info/Color_Aerial.pdf

February 17, 2008

Pleasure Island...a few of the things to do here:

pelicans kure beach
fort fisher ferry
carolina beach lake
carolina beach sunset
carolina beach boat basin
fort fisher battlefield mounded fort (Pictured Above: Kure Beach Pier frequent visitors, Ferry from Fort Fisher to Southport, Carolina Beach Lake Park bike path, Sunset over the lower Cape Fear at Carolina Beach State Park, Arial view of Carolina Beach Municipal dock with many of the boats out for the day, Fort Fisher battlefield mounded fort.)

Carolina Beach State Park:
Wind your way through habitats along nature trails with more than 30 species of trees, shrubs and plants, including the rare Venus-flytrap. The State Park has approximately 700 acres with a visitor center, fishing pier, picnic and camping (Area 2 campsites are wheelchair accessible), marina, trails, and water activities. Educational programs are offered. For information call (910) 458-8206.

Carolina Beach Lake Park:
Carolina Beach Lake was once noted in the Guiness Book of World Records as being the freshwater lake closest to salt water. It is a great place for a picnic and the site of Pleasure Island’s “Light Up The Lake” celebration during the holiday season. This 11-acre lake offers 4 gazebos, restrooms, sheltered picnic area and playground equipment.

Freeman Park:
Residents and visitors have long enjoyed the beach area now known as Freeman Park. It is one of two beaches on Pleasure Island where you can drive your 4x4 vehicle on the beach. The area has become one of Carolina Beach's major attractions and is popular with residents and tourist alike. Whether coming to the area to fish, swim, go boating, crabbing or casting for minnows, people love Freeman Park. They are drawn to the beautiful beach with its variety of wildlife, dunes and majestic sea grasses indigenous to the region.
Daily passes may be purchased for $10.00 at the entrance of Freeman Park or you may purchase an annual pass for $50.00.

Fort Fisher:
Fort Fisher is the third most visited historical site in North Carolina. During the Civil War, it was the largest sand and earth fortification of the Confederacy. Its job was to protect blockade runners en route to Wilmington with supplies for the Confederacy and it was the fall of this Fort in 1865 that opened the way for the Union victory.

In addition to the historical significance, Fort Fisher offers miles of undisturbed beaches. Enjoy a leisurely day at the ocean shore. Comb the beach for sea stars, keyhole urchins and whelk shells. Or, simply lie back on the sand and enjoy the aerial acrobatics of seagulls, terns and brown pelicans as they soar above the waves. You may want to venture into the mud flats and marshes to watch sandpipers and other shorebirds as they search for food. Learn about endangered species. Loggerhead sea turtles, piping plovers and other rare species nest along this sandy shore. Explore the North Carolina coast; visit Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. This stretch of pristine shoreline offers many enjoyable activities. Also, Fort Fisher is the second beach area on Pleasure Island that permits operation of 4x4 vehicles in designated areas ($10/day-$40/year).

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher:
The aquarium is one of three state aquariums along our coast. It offers a variety of hands-on programs while visitors marvel at sharks, eels, sea turtles and other fascinating forms of marine life. Educational programs area offered, and popular exhibits include the touch pool and the state-of-the-art ocean habitat.

Fort Fisher Ferry:
Grab the Ferry from Fort Fisher over to Southport. While there, have lunch on the water and take in the sites of this quaint and historical town. From there, head back home on the inland roads and stop at Orton Plantation. It is a beautiful plantation with majestic gardens. And while there, make sure to look around at the various ponds and lakes, you may spot an alligator or two.
Ferry Schedule


Fishing and Boating:
Pleasure Island is one of the premier bottom, pier and surf fishing sites on the east coast. For deep-sea fishing, the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin is the center of boating activities and boasts one of the largest recreational fishing fleets north of Florida. Charter boats and head boats leave the municipal marina each day and return with catches of grouper, snapper, dolphin, flounder, plus much more. Bait, poles and tackle are provided, but you may bring your own.

Kure/Carolina Beach Pier:
Carolina Beach Pier: 1800 Carolina Beach Ave N., Carolina Beach - (910) 458-5518

Carolina Beach Skate Park:

Hotel Project To Request Adding Conference Space

(Pictured Above:) Rendering of an approved 191-room branded resort hotel on the oceanfront in downtown Carolina Beach on the northern end of the boardwalk. The project was approved by the Town Council in June of 2007.

By Willard H. Killough IIIManaging Editor
CAROLINA BEACH - In June of last year the Carolina Beach Town Council approved a conditional use permit to build a 191-room 115’ tall ocean front hotel on the northern end of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk; on the site of the former Ocean Plaza building.

The applicant, Russ Maynard of Seaview Properties, LLC, recently submitted a request to modify that permit to have additional parking in the Town’s Marina Lot near the hotel property for the addition of up to 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Town’s zoning ordinance allows the Council to permit a developer to utilize public parking within 500’ of their development in order to meet the calculated number of parking spaces required for a project.

According to a description submitted to the Planning Department, the project area is located on a recombined parcel in the Town’s Central Business District (CBD) immediately adjacent to the Town’s Boardwalk. The scope of the project is the redevelopment of the lots of the King’s Beachwear (.34 acres) former Hula Grille Restaurant (.075 acres), former Ocean Plaza (.13 acres), parking lot (.26 acres), former ice cream stand (.035 acres) and the existing Sea Side Inn (.16 acres) for a total of one acre, located at the north end of the boardwalk at the intersections of Canal Drive, Carolina Beach Avenue North and Harper Ave., into a 191 room hotel with indoor and outdoor pools, a hotel cafe, with three levels of structured parking. The parcels have been recombined into one parcel including the relocation of a portion of Carolina Beach Avenue North.

Following approval of the hotel in June 2007, the Town Council approved closing a portion of Carolina Beach Avenue N. to facilitate the project.Parking will be provided under the building on the first three floors (including ground level).

A total of 197 parking spaces are required by the Town and 197 parking spaces are being provided. Landscaping, signage and site lighting will be provided in accordance with the Town Land Use Plan and Ordinances. According to the developer, Hotel guests will be able to park on site. Six metered parking spaces along Carolina Beach Avenue North are being relocated within the parking to provide a safer, and more pedestrian friendly entrance to the boardwalk area – these spaces can still be metered by the Town. This also makes room for a potential water fountain feature at the entrance to the boardwalk.

According to the developer, “The 5,000 square foot meeting space will sit approximately 250 people. Per the zoning ordinance Hotel Meeting rooms are required to provide 1 parking space for every 4 seats plus one space for every 200 square feet which requires 87.5 spaces. Per the latest change in the zoning ordinance, “A 25% parking reduction shall be given if 50 or greater parking spaces are required. The reduction shall only apply to associated on-site uses limited to restaurants, bars, and meeting rooms.”

The developer concludes that, “The zoning ordinance parking reduction provides for the request to be reduced from 87.5 to 66 parking spaces for the meeting space. Thus, our request is to have the meeting space 66 parking spaces utilize the Town’s Marina Lot. The meeting space will primarily be utilized in the off seasons (Fall and Winter) to further promote tourism in Carolina Beach, specifically the CBD. Since the hotel has been approved, several organizations, meeting planners and others have requested that the hotel add in meeting space to provide a larger alternative to other meeting spaces in Carolina Beach. It is anticipated that most of the people attending an event will also be staying at the hotel, as is common for most hotel meetings. For those not staying at the hotel, and parking in the Marina Lot, it will both generate revenue for the Town as well as encourage people to engage businesses within the Central Business District.”

The developer states that, “A conditional use permit for the proposed redevelopment was approved by the Town of Carolina Beach in June 2007. A road closing order (actually a road relocation) for a portion of Carolina Beach Avenue North was approved in July 2007. A high-density storm water permit has been issued by the NC Division of Water Quality, as well as a permit for sedimentation and erosion control plan by the NC Division of Land Quality. All site permits required to commence construction have been obtained.

”The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the item at their February 21, meeting at 7PM.

[NOTE: There is a rumor that this will be a Hilton property.]

Carolina Beach Council Approves 90-Room Fairfield Inn On Boardwalk

(Pictured Above:) A rendering of a 115' tall Fairfield Inn proposed for construction adjacent to the Marriott Hotel on the Boardwalk. Town Council approved the project at their January 8th meeting.

By Willard H. Killough IIIManaging Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council approved a request to build a 115' tall 90-room Fairfield Inn adjacent to the north side of the existing Marriott Hotel at their January 8th meeting. To facilitate the project, the Town Council also closed several portions of public right-of-ways on the Boardwalk.

The applicant - Tidewater Property Acquisitions, Inc and Carolina Beach Land Holdings, LLC - are requesting to build the Fairfield Inn. They also developed the Marriott.The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission voted at their December 13, meeting to recommend Town Council deny a request for their conditional use permit to construct the project.Planning Commissioners all generally agreed that another hotel would be welcome in the downtown area, but expressed concerns with closing public right-of-ways used for pedestrian access on the boardwalk, parking, infrastructure and consistency with the Town’s Land Use Plan.

The Town’s Planning Department explained the project is in general conformity with the Town’s 2007 CAMA Land Use Plan. Many people spoke in favor and opposition to the project with many saying they had concerns but were not totally opposed to a hotel in the area. Local resident Lynn Denne said the Town should look at ways to better educate the public on large projects. She also asked if the value of the right-of-ways being closed for the project is worth a new hotel and was the developer truly being creative or just brining a cookie cutter design that has been built in other towns.

Donna Gurgainos of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce voiced support for the project to improve the Boardwalk area and Central Business District by utilizing vacant properties to boost the economy and tax base. She explained the developers are not strangers to the Town; they have already built a successful Marriott Hotel.

Local resident and business owner Don Bosco echoed Donna’s opinion stating that while other projects have been approved and have yet to become reality, Tidewater has already developed the Marriott and has a good track record.

Leroy Franks says he opposes the project because there will only be eleven feet between the two hotel buildings and will not leave sufficient space for the fire department to operate. He said the project would block access to the beachfront and if the developer says they need public property or else the project can’t be built, “He can downsize his project if he wants to.”

Franks also requested that Council member Pat Efird excuse herself from voting on the project or the request to close the right-of-ways because her real estate company is currently listing property near the hotel site. He explained, “Which ever way she decides, it could be a windfall profit for her client or herself.”Efird commented, “I should hope so.” Many in the audience applauded and Efird commented, “I don’t stay in business for nothing.”Efird said the property is not a part of the hotel project and there is no financial conflict of interest.

Birdie Clark explained one of her concerns is the Town is nearing completion of the master plan for the boardwalk and central business district and would like to see the Town, “Wait just a little longer to see what the direction is and we can be sure this project will fit with what will be built adjacent to it.”

Clark explained that while developers and town staff communicate about a project prior to meetings, “We haven’t had a flippin clue of what ya’ll have been talking about until now and there is not enough time between a planning and zoning decision” and a Town Council meeting for people to be informed.

She explained that some people get information before the general public and the Town should use a process that better informs and educates the public throughout the entire review process.

Another resident urged the Council to require the developer to open up pedestrian access to the area south of the boardwalk that was closed when the Marriott was built. The street closure request is to close the eastern end of Cape Fear Blvd., a portion of Carolina Beach Avenue South and a portion of a 20’ foot right-of-way that leads off Carolina Beach Avenue South. All within the area of the Boardwalk.

If the roads and alleys are closed, the applicant and new property owner has agreed to deed the estimated northern 74’ feet by 110’ feet of the Cape Fear right-of-way back to the Town for a park area. That means a small portion of the gazebo area at the Boardwalk would become part of the hotel property, with the larger portion given back to the Town for a park.

Councilman Dan Wilcox said the project meets the ordinances and the Council could require the developer to include a restaurant and a parking garage, but the ordinance doesn’t require that and Council can’t force them to do something the ordinance doesn’t require. He said the hotel would bring additional people to the area to stimulate the economy and will bring $1.26 million dollars in impact fees to the Town as well as additional room occupancy, property and sales tax revenues. The developer will be required to install and upgrade infrastructure in the area. He feels the project is in general conformity with the Town’s land use plan because it meets the majority of the polices in the plan.

Councilman Alan Gilbert said the conditional use permit process has let the Town and people down because it prohibits any real constructive negotiation on behalf of the citizens with a developer because Council members can’t discuss the project with the public prior to a meeting per legal requirements of the process and Town staff has no power to negotiate. Gilbert said a hotel is a benefit in that area but, “Is it worth giving up right-of-ways and accesses, will it benefit the Boardwalk. And I think we are just a few features short of doing that.”

Gilbert referenced the absence of a restaurant that could benefit the area and said a parking lot located nearby the primary hotel site will replace commercial use with a ground-level parking lot entirely for hotel use. He explained that a lack of amenities would cause him to rate the project a 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Wilcox explained the project has to be reviewed under the existing ordinance and conditional use permit process. Gilbert urged the developer to open up pedestrian access from the Boardwalk through the Marriott parking lot towards the Lake and Carolina Beach Avenue South area.

Council member Pat Efird said, “We’ve been waiting a long time for something to happen on that Boardwalk with nobody, other than Russ Maynard on the north end, to even consider building something on the Boardwalk. I welcome these developers to come in here and do something.”

The Council voted three to two to approve the project with Mayor Joel Macon and Council members Wilcox and Efird voting yes and Council members Alan Gilbert and Jerry Johnson voting against the hotel. The same members voted identically for the request to close right-of-ways for the hotel. The developers have agreed to donate an existing vacant lot near the Gazebo area to the Town for public open space.

Donations are rolling in for the Boardwalk effort!

Thanks to Russ Maynard for pledging $3,000 towards this effort. Russ is the developer that is going to be building the new Carolina Beach Fairfield Inn. He has put out a challenge to other Pleasure Island developers and asked them to support the effort with any means possible. In addition, town residents are sending in donations as the grassroots effort begins to build.

Make a tax deductible donation:

The Boardwalk Makeover Committee is operating under the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce 501(c)3 Foundation - The Pleasure Island Foundation for a Sustainable Community. In order to receive a 100% tax deduction all contributions - cash or in-kind - should be made out to the PI Foundation / Boardwalk Makeover. If you have any questions regarding contributions please call the Chamber at 910-458-8434. Very soon, we will add the ability to accept donations on-line.

In the meantime, donations can be mailed in to the Chamber of Commerce:

Check payable to "Boardwalk Make-Over"
Care of Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce
1121 North Lake Park Blvd
Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Carolina Beach Boardwalk Makeover

(Pictured Above:) Volunteers and dedicated town employees begin the hard work.

The efforts to makeover and improve the Carolina Beach Boardwalk and its surrounding areas are in full force. Local business owners, realtors, and residents met Monday, January 21 at the Courtyard Marriott for the first committee meeting. Responsibilities were divided and individual teams were formed to allocate tasks and focus community efforts in specific directions.

Marketing, Design, and Arts and Activities were among the different task forces decided upon, and each group will tackle various aspects of improvement to bring the committee’s plans to fruition. Two more local businesses have donated funds toward the project, and all residents, realtors, or businesses who want to help improve Carolina Beach are encouraged to contribute. for more information or with questions on how you can help this great cause.

One of the most exciting developments of the improvement plan is the new website, www.boardwalkmakeover.org, which is a great community resource to keep people updated and involved in the changes going on. The site features a calendar of upcoming events, such as the team meeting next Monday, January 28, and it also currently has a list of the plans, team efforts, and donation levels pertinent to the project. The website is also a forum for public feedback, and it will soon feature blogs and notes on upcoming plans. Visit the site today and leave your comments and responses to this great effort to improve the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.
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