PELETIER — Rapid growth is continuing in western Carteret County, as evidenced by a steady increase in fire and emergency service calls to the Western Carteret Fire and EMS Department in Cedar Point.
WCFD Chief Kevin Hunter briefed Peletier commissioners on the growth during their monthly board meeting Monday in town hall off Highway 58.
“We had 166 calls in June, which was above the average of 145 to 155,” he said, “but in April, we had 209, which was a record, and in July we hit 200.”
More and more calls are coming from Stella, which, like Peletier, is experiencing rapid residential development, Chief Hunter said, and more is on the way. Recently, he said, the department had 18 calls in Stella in one day.
It’s all part of a trend that began a few years ago and has continued through the novel coronavirus pandemic. Including several new residential RV parks in the planning stages, Chief Hunter said he expects 3,000 to 5,000 more people in western areas of the county in the not-so-distant future. It's all putting the department under a bit of a strain, paired with some shortages in the work force, Chief Hunter added, but the department is managing thus far.
Traffic is also on the rise on Highway 58 through Peletier, and Chief Hunter said he’s seeing more accidents, possibly necessitating Peletier’s first stop light at some point in the near future. He and a town resident at the meeting mentioned the intersection of Highway 58 and Peletier Loop Road, where there is a BP gas station.
Further evidence of the growth came later in the meeting Monday, when the board agreed, by unanimous vote, to residents’ requests to ask the N.C. Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on Peletier Loop Road from 55 mph to 34 mph.
Town Commissioner David Bragg called Chief Hunter’s report “stark,” and said the town and its planning board need to increase focus on how to address growth not just at the present, but five to 10 years down the road.
“I’d like to see us have some additional meetings,” the commissioner said.
Commissioner Larry Rhue agreed.
“Try to get on the road (Highway 58) on a Saturday afternoon,” he said.
Mayor Dale Sowers agreed town officials need to “start the conversation” about growth in more depth soon.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.