Emerald Isle commissioners Tuesday night will receive a report on a study of moving the channel to and from the town/N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission boating access facility to address safety and erosion concerns voiced by residents. (Contributed graphic)

NC - Emerald Isle board to receive channel relocation report, hold hearing on new dunes and vegetation protection rules

EMERALD ISLE — Emerald Isle commissioners Tuesday night will receive a report from an engineering firm on a proposal to relocate the channel to and from the regional boating access facility in Bogue Sound.

The Jan. 11 meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at town hall off Highway 58 – with masking and limited seating because of reinstated COVID-19 protocols – and on Zoom and Facebook.

The report will come from representatives of Moffatt & Nichol, the town’s engineering firm. Commissioners voted unanimously in July to authorize the expenditure of up to $10,000 for the study. At that time, residents at the meeting said the relocation to farther offshore in the sound is needed.

“Boat wakes are destroying the marsh grass,” said Lee Harris of Sound Drive.

Joy Brownlow, also of Sound Drive, said that in addition to causing erosion, the wakes from speeding boats hurt seafood production because the grass serves as habitat for juveniles of many marine species.

Others said boats “fly” through the channel, endangering others in the water, and that a “no wake zone” wouldn’t do much good because those zones are rarely enforced by the state.

The company will present three possible projects to improve the situation, and town manager Matt Zapp will ask the board for a consensus on what, if any, steps to take next.

The board will also hold a public hearing to get residents’ opinions on a set of Unified Development Ordinance text amendments intended to increase protection of vegetation and dunes in the town. Residents have also called for better protection, especially as redevelopment often results in larger buildings and potentially increased stormwater runoff.

The proposed text amendments state that on all lots of record and new lots, a dunes and vegetation permit will be necessary before any land-clearing activity and/or tree removal, and all such proposals will be reviewed by the dunes and vegetation protection inspector. Normal maintenance of existing vegetation will be exempt.

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