In this issue:
- A recap of the Village Council regular meeting. Including updates on several items such as landscape design services, IPC/PO, the south beach artifact, wind energy, funding opportunities, cybersecurity, and the ADA beach access.
- Scam Alert! Callers are pretending to be Duke Energy.
- Where’s My Package?
- Spring cleaning? Make sure you know the recent changes with bulk item pick-up and donations
- The next Village Council meeting is on 4/14, the day before Good Friday, expect traffic pattern changes/road closures near Lighthouse Wynd on Easter Sunday for services at the Village Chapel.
REMINDERS: Blueprint Brunswick open house tomorrow, N-95 masks available at Village Hall, free at-home COVID-19 tests available, IPC/PO remains closed on Saturdays, mask guidance on ferries has recently changed.
Regular Council Meeting – The Village Council conducted its regular meeting on Friday, March 19, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. Here is a summary of the information shared and the actions that were taken at this meeting:
The Village Council unanimously passed the consent agenda which included resolutions declaring surplus property and authorizing disposal, proclaiming April 22, 2022, Earth Day, and proclaiming April 29, 2022, Arbor Day in the Village of Bald Head Island. Under old business, the Village Council adopted a resolution for the Lighthouse Wynd street closure and received a presentation analyzing the water and sewer fund.
Under new business, the Village Council conducted a public hearing on rezoning case 2022-01, an applicant-initiated request to rezone 86 Keelson Row from Planned Development District (PD-3) to Planned Development 3 Commercial District (PD-3C). After hearing from the public and deliberating on this matter, the Village Council denied the request. There was a first reading of the Village’s ordinance to regulate the use of combustible landscaping materials. Staff received feedback and will be revising the ordinance to provide the BHI Club more time to transition to alternate materials and make budget adjustments to bring the Club into compliance. The Village was approached by the Maritime Market to discuss the Market Alley right-of-way and setbacks that are currently required to add additional housing for seasonal employees and interns (approximately 27 units) and cold storage facilities, a present and future need for many Island stakeholders. Options were discussed such as a land swap and applying for a variance with the objective of also improving the Village’s public right-of-way width for its service alley thoroughfare that runs behind the Market to Muscadine Wynd.
The Village Council unanimously adopted a budget ordinance amendment to cover legal fees related to the transportation authority. The Village is catching up on legal expenditures (and these include any financial advisors hired by the Village’s legal team) and approximately $143,000 of the amendment amount is to get through the remainder of the fiscal year based on the need to proceed with the utilities rate case. As previously reported, the Village has petitioned the NC Utilities Commission to regulate the parking and barge to prevent the current owner and any future private owner from setting parking and barge rates at their discretion. The petition was filed in February and resolution on this matter is expected to take six months or more.
The Assistant Village Manager, Jae Kim, provided some updates here are a few:
Landscape Design Services – A landscape contractor was selected among the three. Village Staff met with their principal planner to go over the scope of work. In particular, Village staff provided them with the State stormwater plans for the Contractor Services area, which is one of the areas they will be working on. Other Village owned facilities will be forthcoming for landscape design work to include Village Hall, IPC/Post-Office, and the Public Safety Complex.
Island Package Center & Post Office – The Village submitted a rate increase for UPS last month to equal the same rate as FedEx ground, this would increase the amount per package that the Village receives from the package carrier. Staff has been adjusting its internal procedures to improve package accountability. The department is a little short-handed and is looking at ways to be more efficient. The IPC/PO will definitely be re-opening on Saturdays soon after the staffing level is at 100%. The Village will notify customers as soon as that start date is determined.
Marina Channel Maintenance – Coastal Dredging was set to begin dredging operations yesterday, they had arrived and started setting up last Monday, but experienced a delay due to some unexpected equipment issues. Placement of the material from the channel and sand bypass area will be placed as far north as permitted along Row Boat Row. This work is expected to be complete by the end of the month.
Wilmington Harbor Inner Ocean Bar Maintenance – Village officials met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today to discuss the next navigation maintenance project which could begin as early as this winter. Discussions centered around maximizing the channel maintenance sand for the benefit of the island and specifically getting sand placement to the eastern end of south beach in front of the Shoals Club. Staff will be working with the Corps over the next several months on the design of the “fill design template” (i.e., where the sand will go), and a possible Memorandum of Agreement to formalize the project.
South Beach Artifact – Archaeologists from the State gathered physical data from the artifact last month (February 16) and their preliminary investigation led their team to believe that the artifact is dated in the late 19th to early 20th century. To our knowledge, they are still researching their archives and database in order to issue a final determination. As the Village waits for information from the State, the Village is in contact with its past consultant from Tidewater Atlantic Research to work on a proposal to the State for the removal of the artifact.
In the meantime, the Village has asked folks to be cautious when walking in this area and to not allow children to walk in the area unsupervised. Caution tape was put up but likely did not last long due to the strong wind, tides, and wave action. Please let your family members, visitor, and guests know to be careful out there.
Wind Energy – A representative from the Village’s government law and policy practice advocacy firm attended a follow-up meeting to the January 28 open house that was hosted in Southport. An update from that meeting will be forwarded to the Village Council. Mayor Pro Tem Gardner reported that he and Mayor Quinn had a conference call with Jennifer Mundt, Assistant Secretary of Clean Energy Economic Development for the State. They asked about the NC Towers group (the State’s offshore wind task force) and shared the Village’s concerns about the viewshed, interference with barge and ferry operations, and onshoring the utility infrastructure. She was very open to hearing the concerns and staffs the subcommittee on infrastructure and environmental justice for NC Towers and has included the Village in its distribution list to receive information on upcoming meetings. Gardner was realistic in that he does not think the Village can stop this, but we can hope for mitigation, so the Village does not have to increase spending on shoreline stabilization.
Funding Opportunities – Mr. Kim reported that he is also working with the Village’s government law and policy practice advocacy firm on congressionally directed funding opportunities for the Village. Some of the projects discussed are possible grant funds for the ladder track, a stormwater project, road paving, and the wastewater treatment plant expansion being the priority of the request.
The Village Manager, Chris McCall, updated the Council on several items. Below are a few details on the information he shared:
Cybersecurity – Mr. McCall had Sebastian Alamond from the IT Department give an overview of what the Village is doing to maintain security with its information systems. The Village will be having the National Guard come in during the month of June or later to perform a penetration test to check the Village’s security and will be working with other third parties to optimize the Village’s security.
ADA Beach Access – The Village continues to work with the Bald Head Association on getting the approvals to move forward with the project. The Village is looking at a 60-day process to get the beach access approved by the board and membership. The site plan has been approved by the ARC. In the meantime, the Village has received an extension from the State on its CAMA access grant.
Marina Park Dock – Mr. McCall reported that construction for the permanent dock will likely occur this fall. This leaves the Village’s two lessees with limited space to operate their rental operations. He proposed renewing the Riverside Adventures lease this year in full since that includes the building and upkeep of the restrooms and doing a no fee lease with Coastal Urge to continue operations out of the Creek Access this year since the large permanent structure will not be built until after the peak season.
A full account of these meetings can be found in the minutes which are posted HERE. Typically, minutes are posted with the agenda of the next month’s meeting (ex. If you want to read the December meeting minutes, they can be found under the January regular meeting agenda).
Scam Alert! – Over the past weekend, a Village employee received a phone call that indicated that the power would be turned off if a payment was not immediately made on the electric bill. This was a scam. According to Duke Energy, you do not have to sign anything or give personal information to anyone calling you on the phone, sending you an email, or showing up at your door. If you feel something’s not quite right about the situation, Duke says you should contact them immediately at 800.452.2777. You can also contact Public Safety immediately (on BHI call 911) and report the call if you feel it was an impostor. More information about scams, including real stories from customers and tips on spotting them can be found on the Duke Energy website HERE.
Where’s My Package? – Heading into the peak season, the Village would like to make sure Island Package Center and Post Office customers fully understand the process for receiving packages on Bald Head Island.
If you are expecting a package from UPS or FedEx, you will typically receive a message from these carriers when your package arrives. Don’t make the mistake that many folks do and assume it is on the island, because it is not. The package has made it to the final destination for the carrier, the Deep Point warehouse. The package then must be transported to BHI via the barge. The timing of the arrival at Deep Point determines when the package is likely to arrive on BHI. If it arrives late in the day, which most often occurs with FedEx packages, the package will likely come over the next day.
Weekends (when the barge does not operate) and weather delays can also have an impact on the timing of delivery to the island. The best rule of thumb is to rely on the email you receive from the IPC/PO indicating your package is ready for pick up. To make sure you are on the list to receive these emails, please speak with one of our IPC/PO associates at the counter or email firstname.lastname@example.org so your request can be relayed to IPC staff. For more information, view our informational videos on USPS packages HERE, FedEx/UPS packages HERE, or our flyer HERE.
Bulk Item Pick-Up & Furniture Donations – Since it is the time of year that folks are doing their spring cleaning and preparation for peak season, the Public Works Department would like to remind you that bulk item pick-ups are now limited to two items. This change went into effect in December 2020. Items must be left outside for pick-up. If you need more than two items hauled away or assistance moving items out of your home, please contact a local mover. The BHA has a list of local movers on their website under “Life on BHI” and “Island Service Providers.”
If you need to schedule a pick-up call the Village’s Customer Service Representative at 910-457-9700 ext. 1000. The representative will take your payment over the phone along with your contact information which is then given to Public Works to contact you to schedule the pick-up. Please provide the Village with enough notice so that Public Works can schedule your pick-up. Special pickups are $100.00 with a limit of two items. Mattresses are $85.00 each.
The Village is still accepting furniture donations for drop-off at Public Works. Donation drop-off is limited to two items every five (5) days. To keep the hauling of donations off-island to a manageable level, the Village would like folks to utilize your furniture delivery company to haul away the items being replaced or to call a local mover.
Council Meeting, Good Friday & Easter Sunday – The next Village Council regular meeting will be on Thursday, April 14, 2022 (agenda will be posted HERE, Zoom info HERE). Village offices will be closed on Friday, April 15, 2022, in observance of Good Friday. Islanders should expect traffic pattern changes and/or road closures on Easter Sunday near the vicinity of Lighthouse Wynd as we accommodate the estimated 800 folks who will be visiting the Village Chapel for the three services taking place that day. More details will be shared as that date approaches.
Blueprint Brunswick Open House Tomorrow – As previously reported, in 2020, the Village of Bald Head Island joined Brunswick County and several other small municipalities in Brunswick County on the Blueprint Brunswick project, which will result in a comprehensive plan for the county and participating municipalities. The Village needs your input to refine the future land use and conservation maps and to develop priority goals for the Village to draft a comprehensive plan that is more individualized for our community. Please join us this tomorrow to provide your input on our community’s future!
If you cannot attend this open house, the Village will be providing information to review, comment cards, and access to an online survey. Also, mark your calendars for a second open house set for April 14, 2022, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Stay tuned for further details.
Free N95 Masks – Federally provided N95 masks are available at Village Hall, as supplies last. These supplies do not include child-sized masks at this time. Brunswick County Health and Human Services dispersed its full allocation of N95 masks to several of its municipal and senior center partners to improve access countywide. Learn more about N95 and other types of masks HERE. To learn more about where to find free N95 masks in Brunswick County go HERE.
Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests – Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests now so you have them when you need them. Order your tests through the United States Postal Service (USPS) at covidtests.gov. Find local testing sites HERE.
IPC/PO is closed on Saturdays – The Island Package Center & Post Office remains closed on Saturdays. First-class mail will be delivered to post office boxes every Saturday. On the heels of having our two newest employees trained, one of our long-time IPC employees has had to go on leave. We are hoping to have all four employees at 100% soon so we can start rotating staff back onto a Saturday work schedule. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Updated Mask Guidance for the Ferries – On March 14, 2022, Bald Head Island Transportation, Inc. released the following announcement:
In accordance with updated US Coast Guard COVID operating guidelines and restrictions, all passengers (except children under the age of 2) must continue to wear a mask while inside the ferry cabins. Mask wear is optional in outdoor areas of the ferry, the ferry terminals, and while riding trams. Passengers are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing whenever possible. Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in helping our employees and customers remain healthy and safe. The Coast Guard COVID operating guidelines can be viewed HERE.