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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Town Of Carolina Beach Gets Final Word From Army: Move Out

Town Of Carolina Beach Gets Final Word From Army: Move Out

The Town of Carolina Beach Operations Department at 404 Dow Road across from Mike Chappel Park. The Town was given another notice last week to remove most operations from Military Land.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach is being forced to move the majority of their Operations Department off of military land following a notice delivered to the Town September 24.
In the 1970’s the Town leased land from the U.S. Army to construct a wastewater treatment plant. Earlier this year the Town was notified they are in violation of the lease terms by using the land for uses not permitted in the lease. They were given until the end of this year to comply.
The Town’s "Operations Yard" is located off Dow Road on U.S. Army land. The "buffer zone" is land taken by the military in the 1950’s for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County.
The port is the largest of it’s kind in the world dealing in storage and transportation of explosive munitions. The buffer zone serves as a "blast zone" in the event of an incident. That zone covers the largest area of land west of Dow Road in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.
Following an inspection last year, the military informed the Town in April their use of that land was largely in violation of the 1972 lease.
That lease only permitted a wastewater treatment plant, a 40’ by 100’ storage building and limited fenced in outdoor storage area related to the treatment plant.  The Army demanded removal of items stored for auction, multiple storage buildings, trailer, marine vessels, generators, undercarriage water station, maintenance shop, multiple dumpsters and a retention pond. A corrective action plan was submitted to the Army by a June deadline. The Town has examined options to relocate those uses including land at Town Hall, Town property on Spartanburg Avenue for outdoor storage and relocating office space within Town Hall. They will consider building the outdoor storage yard on Spartanburg Ave at their October 9, meeting.
In a letter from the Army Corp of Engineers dated September 24, Ralph Werthmann, Chief of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Savannah District, explained, “Dear Mayor Rothrock: Thank you for the submission of the revised Carolina Beach Corrective Action Plan dated August 20, 2012. We appreciate your response and the corrective actions taken to date to bring the lease into compliance. The following responses to your Action Plan, Section 4, Action Items, in the order as submitted, require your attention and corrective action.”
Werthmann wrote, “1. Your plan calls for the town to restrict entrance to the leased areas by the general public. Subject lease, as supplemented, hereinafter referred to as the "lease," Condition No. 28 states, "Only the minimum number of personnel required for operation and maintenance of the facility will be allowed in the area after completion of construction." The Town must restrict entrance to the leased premises to the minimal number of personnel required for operation and maintenance of the wastewater treatment facility. The general public is not authorized on the lease site.”
Werthmann wrote, “2. The lease does not authorize the modular office facility the Town placed on the site and it must be removed. Your request to use the existing 40' x 100' foot building for public works related activities, for repair of equipment and vehicles, employee clock-in area, and other similar public works related activities is not authorized. The 40' x 100' foot building is authorized to be used for storage and never intended for any other purposes.”
He stated, “3. The map referenced in Action Item No. 3, provided on July 24, 2012, is a copy of the map submitted by the Town of Carolina Beach with its request to move the town's public works facility onto the leased site. This request was denied. The map is not a part of our Lease agreement. Condition 26 of the lease authorizes "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." The lease documents the entire agreement between the Town of Carolina Beach and the US Government. Notes, drawings, etc. are not legally binding until reduced to written form and formally agreed upon by both parties.”
Werthmann wrote, “Your request for fencing the storage area is not authorized until plans and specifications for construction are approved. The lease states, "The Lessee has requested that the lease be amended to include the right to construct and maintain a 40' x 100' storage building and fenced outside storage area at no expense to the Government with all plans and specifications for construction requiring prior approval of the Government." Our records do not show that a fence was ever erected. Please submit a plan for construction of the fence to include dimensions and placement. Clearing on the lease site is not authorized until a plan is submitted and approved.”
Werthmann wrote, “4. The Town's request to consolidate all Town equipment, vehicles, materials and other related items within the area is not approved. Once permission to erect the fence is granted and completed, the Town must submit in writing a list of requested items to be stored in the building and fenced area and receive approval prior to placement of any items within the storage area.”
He explained, “5. We concur that all temporary or permanent structures within or outside of the leased areas other than those related to the operation of a waste water treatment facility must be removed. This meets the Town's obligations under the terms and conditions of our lease agreement.”
Werthmann wrote that the “installation of a trash compactor and two open top dumpsters with room for expansion is not authorized.”
He explained there is “no authorization for employees to occupy the 40' x 100' storage building. The only employees authorized to be on the leased premises are the minimum number of employees required to operate the wastewater treatment facility as previously noted in Action Item No. 1. The current number of people that the Town has allowed in the area violates and constitutes a finding of non-compliance of our lease agreement.”
Werthmann  wrote, “We concur that the Town shall secure access to the entire leased premises including the 40' x 100' foot building and the main entrance from Dow Road. All areas that were not authorized in the lease agreement will be restored to their original condition.”
Werthmann  said the Town’s request to allow the existing greenhouse facility to remain on the lease site is not authorized and, “We concur that all areas that were not authorized in the lease agreement will be restored to their original condition.”
Werthmann wrote, “Reference your Action Plan, Item 5, entitled, "Action Items that the Town is Requesting a Time Extension to Complete." Your requests for a time extension until November 1, 2013, for use of the 40' x 100' storage building as the public works garage and use of the unauthorized modular office building are not authorized or granted. An extension is granted until March 31, 2013, to remove and restore the dumpster facility.”
He continued, “The Government's expectation remains that by December 31, 2012, all unauthorized structures will be removed and all unauthorized activities and occupancy in and upon the leased premises will be ceased. A follow-up inspection will be completed by a member of my staff subsequent to December 31, 2012. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions of our lease may result in the revocation of portions of or all of your lease area.”
Werthmann explained, “Condition 16 of the Town's lease states, "That the use and occupation of the premises leased hereby shall be subject to the general supervision and approval of the officer having immediate jurisdiction over the property and to such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by him from time to time. Title 10 USC 172 sets strict legal requirements for the Armed Forces regarding ammunition supplies. These restrictions are mandated to ensure that known hazardous conditions, endangerment of life and property inside of and outside of military installations are avoided.”
The Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday October 3, at 1PM at Town Hall to discuss the issue in more detail.
Background On This Story:
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."
Turner explained the 1972 lease 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." She explained, "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 Town was given until the end of June to present a plan for compliance to remove items stored for auction, multiple storage buildings, FEMA trailer, marine vessels, generators, undercarriage water station, maintenance shop and multiple dumpsters and retention pond. That must be finished by the end of the year. That plan was submitted to the Army by the June deadline including
a resolution adopted by the Council at their June 22, meeting to send along with the corrective action plan.
That resolution stated the Town will spend around $200,000 to make corrections and comply. It stated, "The Town contends that it has historically and with the knowledge by leaders at the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, operated all aspects of a public works, storm water, waste water treatment plant, water and waste water collections operation."
In the resolution the Town claims limited funds and limited options for relocating to other land suitable for construction of public works facilities, and have limited potential to rent available space for the operation of a public works facility.
The Town requested that officials at Sunny Point consider approving a lease amendment for the "historical uses that have been permitted in the leased area" and, "An amended lease is extremely important to the Town given limited availability of tracts large enough to accommodate a public works facility in Carolina Beach and the cost of acquiring the land."
According to the first plan submitted to the Army, the Town will take corrective actions requesting progress meetings at regular intervals and be finished by December 31, as ordered. They would also request a 50-year extension to the original lease.
Town Manager Tim Owens indicated to Council the difficulty of meeting the December 31, time-line and the expense of obtaining various permits required to relocated various operations from that property.
A Sunny Point official informed the Town they are 18 months away from the lease expiring and the way the Town is currently using the leased land does not appear to be an activity that will be favorably considered either locally or up the chain at the
Pentagon or the Secretary of the Army's level. They cannot modify that activity to allow renewal of the lease at this point and have not researched other requirements concerning military buffer zones.