Atlantic Beach council signs off on draft restoration and resiliency plan

Stormwater ponds on the road Tuesday on Raleigh Avenue and in the parking lot of Burt’s Surf Shop in Atlantic Beach. (Mike Shutak photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — Town officials have agreed to a draft plan for protecting and restoring water quality and reducing stormwater runoff, and the plan now goes to state officials for approval.

The Atlantic Beach Town Council met for its regular meeting Monday in the town hall meeting room at 1010 West Fort Macon Road and online via Zoom. During the meeting, the council received a presentation from town staff and consultants on a draft watershed restoration and stormwater resiliency plan, which the council unanimously approved for submission to the N.C. Division of Water Resources.

Stormwater runoff is the biggest non-point source of water pollution on the North Carolina coast. While washing over impervious surfaces, it picks up pollutants and carries them to local water bodies, a problem exacerbated by increasing property development.

Town Planning and Zoning Director Michelle Eitner said the town created a recreational water quality committee in 2018 to look into the matter, and among the committee’s recommendations was the creation of the restoration and resiliency plan.

“We’ve got a draft plan,” she said. “We’ll send it to the state reviewer.”

The N.C. Coastal Federation, a conservation nonprofit headquartered in Carteret County, helped town officials create the draft plan. NCCF Deputy Director Lauren Kolodij said stormwater runoff and water quality is a big issue affecting everyone on the coast.

“The goal of these plans is to reduce runoff and the nuisance flooding associated with it,” Ms. Kolodij said.

The coastal federation has assisted other towns with creating similar documents, including Beaufort, Pine Knoll Shores and Swansboro.

Atlantic Beach is no stranger to nuisance flooding. During the meeting’s public comment portion, Mobile Drive resident Randall Lovette said there’s been a significant problem with ponding on his street after rain events.

Part of the plan involves identifying and pursuing projects to improve stormwater infiltration. Town officials brought in LSDI Engineering to help with the draft plan, and representative Jonathan Hinkle said according to the hydrology study the firm did, there’s been a substantial increase in runoff from the 1970s to the 2000s, which coincides with an increase in property development.

“We’ve come up with 25 (infiltration improvement) projects,” Mr. Hinkle said. “We focused on the low-hanging fruit, the cheapest and most effective projects.”

A number of areas with a problem are located on private property, so community outreach and involvement is an important part of the draft plan. Mr. Hinkle said one way homeowners can address stormwater flooding issues is to angle downspouts away from impervious surfaces.

“We found a number of homes with downspouts pointed to paved areas,” he said. “If you turn to spout to a sandy area it infiltrates quickly.”

In others news at Monday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved, with two separate actions, continuing two public hearings for proposed Unified Development Ordinance amendments. The council will wait until the next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, March 22 to take action.

One proposed set of amendments, if approved, will add a 2-foot freeboard to the UDO. Freeboard is a height above the base flood elevation in a given area at which new or significantly improved structures are required to be built. Adding a freeboard will improve the town’s rating in the federal flood insurance rating program.

The other proposed set of amendments is a change to preserve the residential nature and appearance of the Ocean Ridge Drive neighborhood.

The planning board recommended approval of both sets of amendments.

The following also occurred at Monday’s meeting:

  • The council unanimously approved the meeting’s consent agenda, which included a resolution of appreciation for former planning board member Doug McCullough and a resolution approving temporary one-way traffic on West Bogue Boulevard and South Kinston Avenue.
  • The council accepted public comment on a proposed contract amendment with GFL regarding solid waste collection service. Town Manager David Walker said the proposed amendment won’t affect pickup times or schedules.
  • Mayor Trace Cooper gave a recap of the council’s annual planning retreat, held this year Jan. 29.
  • During public comment, resident Joni Dennis said there’s an issue with vehicles being unable to turn around when they come down New Bern Avenue, where she lives. She said she’s had people frequently use her front yard to turn around.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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