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Carolina Beach Town Manager To Update Council On Sunny Point Lease

The U.S. Army has notified the Town of Carolina Beach they are in violation of their lease on land in the Sunny Point Buffer Zone used for the sewer treatment plant. They are requiring a plan to remedy the issues in June and compliance by the end of this year.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach was notified in April they are in violation of their 1972 lease agreement with the U.S. Army for land off of Dow Road.
The Town Council will get an update at their June 12, meeting from Town Manager Tim Owens on the status of adhering to demands issued by the Army. The property currently houses the Town's Operations Department including public works, public utilities, storm water department and the Town's garage. Additionally, it's home to a greenhouse and various office and storage areas. The Army is demanding the Town comply by the end of 2012.
The "buffer zone" is land owned by the U.S. Army for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. The port deals in ammunition and the buffer zone serves as a "blast zone" in the event of an incident. The zone covers the largest area of land west of Dow Road in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.
On November 7, 2011, Sunny Point officials inspected the Operation's yard and other areas of the buffer zone used by the Town. A letter date January 19, 2012 was sent to Carolina Beach Town Manager Tim Owens providing a copy of the inspection report.
The Town sent a letter back outlining improvements noted in the Army's inspection report.
On April 13, Cindy B. Turner, Savannah District, Deputy Chief, Real Estate Division for the Army Corp of Engineers wrote to the Town, "Pursuant to Condition No. 6 of the subject lease, compliance inspections of the leased premises were conducted on November 7, 2011 with a follow-up inspection on March 22, 2012, by my staff and Mr. Michael Fuller of Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point. Both inspections identified deficiencies regarding the use of the leased premises. During the follow-up inspection the recent construction of a water retention pond to collect contaminated water runoff adjacent to the dumpsters was noted. It is evident that the lease site is being utilized for operations that do not comply with the terms and conditions of our lease."
She explained, "A letter dated January 19, 2012, was sent to Mr. Timothy Owens, Town Manager, transmitting a copy of the inspection report listing the deficiencies. A letter of reply dated February 2, 2012, was received from Mr. Brian Stanberry, Public Works Director for Carolina Beach that addressed deficiencies listed on the inspection report."
Turner explained, "Condition No. 26 in Supplement No. 1 dated August 11, 1972, states, "The area will be used for construction and operation of a sewage treatment facility and necessary appurtenances and the construction and maintenance of a 40' x 100' storage building and fenced outside storage area." A review of our files shows multiple requests by the Town of Carolina Beach and subsequent denials for permission to relocate the town's public works area, utilities equipment, parking area, supplies and materials to this lease site. The site was leased and made available specifically for the construction, operation and maintenance of a sewage disposal facility to assist in efforts being made by the State of North Carolina to abate the pollution of waters throughout the State. The Government's sole determination was that the requests were not in the best interest of the Government and adversely impacted this commands mission requirements."
Turner wrote, "It is my expectation that removal of all items not specifically authorized for the operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment facility be accomplished by December 31, 2012. Please furnish a corrective action plan to include dates that deficiencies will be corrected not later than June 30, 2012. The plan should include, dates that items will be removed, corrections to items that will remain upon the leased premises and any additional corrective actions and/or processes the town will implement to ensure no recurrence of the noted deficiencies."
She explained, "Items that require corrective action and/or removal include, but are not limited to; items stored for auction, multiple storage buildings, FEMA trailer, marine vessels, generators, undercarriage water station, maintenance shop and multiple dumpsters and retention pond. The Town of Carolina Beach is reminded that as the Lessee you have a responsibility, as appropriate, to independently perform periodic inspections, keep the entire lease site maintained, and make repairs as required."
On April 16, 2012, Joseph E. Calisto, Colonel, United States Army, Commanding, wrote to Mayor Ray Rothrock explaining, "In reference to the letter from USACE Real Estate Office dated April 13, 2012 regarding Lease... I must say that I am very disappointed at the misuse of the property leased to you in good faith by the U.S. Army. I am further concerned that once town leadership was made aware of the violations, nothing has been done to date to correct the situation."
Calisto explained, "It is my expectation that corrective action be taken on noted deficiencies and that all items not specifically authorized for the operation and maintenance of the sewage treatment facility be removed no later than December 31, 2012, otherwise, termination of the lease will be considered."
He explained, "I respectfully request that you provide my staff courtesy copies of all correspondence with the Savannah District Corps.of Engineers, Real Estate Division to ensure our team remains informed of all corrective actions regarding this matter."
On Monday May 7, Town Manager Tim Owens said he requested a meeting with Sunny Point officials and will know more following that meeting in the coming weeks.
Town Public Works Director Brian Stanberry had previously replied to the Army Corp of Engineers regarding issues listed in the November inspection report. He outlined improvements made based on the inspection report issued by the Army.
In a memo to the Council earlier this week Town Manager Tim Owens explained, "As you are aware, the Town received a recent inspection from representatives of the Savannah District Corps of Engineers and from the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point. The Corps of Engineers is the responsible party for inspecting, maintaining, and overseeing all outparcel leases such as the one on Dow Road. It appears that the last inspection of the Dow Road facilities was in the mid-1990's."
Owens explained, "Through this inspection the Town was cited on a number of items that were not in conformance with the lease arrangement signed in 1964 with subsequent amendments. From that inspection, the Town has remedied many of the items and continues to work on other items as noted. As of late, we are in the process of removing and disposing of items a noted on the inspection. Likewise, we are working on a process of general maintenance of the area and consolidating and shrinking the storage of vehicles, equipment, and lay down materials."
He explained, "As of the last correspondence, the Army Corps of Engineers and officials of MOTSU are requesting a corrective plan of action to be submitted to them by June 30, 2012 and to have completed that action plan by December 31, 2012. The corrective action plan is underway with a lot of work to complete. Once that corrective action plan is complete, I believe that it is important that the Town Council hold a workshop to discuss the action plan. I am proposing that the workshop be held on Friday, June 22, at a time to be decided by the Town Council (or any other date and time around this timeframe)."
Owens explained, "As of May 31st, Mayor Rothrock, Councilwoman Friede, me and key staff held a conference call with representatives of the Savannah District Corps of Engineers and MOTSU staff. We better understand the expectations of MOTSU and will devise a plan accordingly."
Owens said the plan will include continued maintenance of the leased areas and setting a timeline to complete other activities not completed by June 30, 2012. Also, to create and request a modification to the existing lease agreement and submit that to the appropriate officials.
Owens said at that point they will wait for a response on the lease modification and action plan. Following that response, they will take further corrective action as required by MOTSU.
He added that once the Town is in compliance, they should, "request an extension to the 50 year lease arrangement for the Waste Water Treatment Plant operation."
He explained, "In order to accomplish the above, I am requesting that the Town Council approve a budget of up to $75,000 to accomplish all of the tasks in a timely manner. The funds can be allocated from the water/sewer reserve fund. These funds will primarily be used for unfinished maintenance items, disposal of any debris, hiring contractors to assist in accomplishing tasks, surveys, legal work, surveys, engineering or any other needed tasks."
The Council will discuss the matter at their June 12, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall in the Council meeting room.