A dredge is shown at work in this aerial view of the south end of Topsail Beach, looking north from New Topsail Inlet. Photo: Topsail Beach

NC - Topsail Beach holds hearing on inlet property rezoning

TOPSAIL BEACH – The highly anticipated recommendation for a rezoning request that would allow development on the southern end of Topsail Island is likely a little more than two weeks away.

Island property owners and visitors to the Pender County beach town continued to voice their opposition Wednesday to rezoning “The Point,” nearly 150 undisturbed acres stretching from the ocean to New Topsail Inlet.

Raleigh software entrepreneur Todd Olson is under contract to buy the tract pending his request of the town to rezone the land from conservation to conditional use, which would allow him to pursue plans to build a family compound.

Olson was not at the Topsail Beach Planning Board’s meeting Wednesday that included a public hearing, during which 20 people spoke in objection to his request.

The land that has been owned by the McLeod family for decades is a sentimental spot for many familiar with the island.

Speakers at Wednesday’s hearing expressed their love of the property and reiterated concerns raised over the past several months about potential environmental impacts development may have on land both state and federal governments have deemed particularly vulnerable to coastal storms because of its location to an inlet.

The property is within a state-designated Inlet Hazard Area, one in which shorelines face a higher threat of erosion and flooding at inlets that can suddenly and dramatically shift. The land is also in a Coastal Barrier Resources System, or CBRS, zone.

Congress created the system in the early 1980s to discourage building on relatively undeveloped barrier islands by barring federal funding and financial assistance in hurricane-prone, biologically rich areas.

Charles Riggs, a Jacksonville-based land surveyor representing Olson, told planning board members Wednesday that infrastructure on the property, including water wells, septic systems and roads, will be privately maintained.

Jones-Onslow Electric Membership Corp. has indicated it will supply power to the site.

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