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Waste Station Built; Council Delays Decision To Buy Land

Work on a new waste transfer station for the Town of Carolina Beach was recently completed on land leased by the Town on Bridge Barrier Road. At the Town Council's March 11th, meeting the Council postponed a decision to purchase the property pending further review of alternate locations for the station.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Town of Carolina Beach recently built a  new waste transfer station on Bridge Barrier Road adjacent to the Carolina Beach Post Office.
The land at 1313 Bridge Barrier Road is being leased by the Town with an option to buy. On March 11th, the Council voted to postpone a decision to purchase the land pending more information on alternate uses for the property and seeking a new location for the station. The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously approved entering into a lease with an option to buy property at 1313 Bridge Barrier Road at their August 13, 2013 meeting. The land will be used as a waste transfer station and storage area for their Operations Department.
The Town had been searching for a location for many months after the U.S. Army notified them over a year ago dumpsters located on land leased to the Town were not in compliance and had to be removed.
After receiving permission to extend several deadlines to comply with the lease, the Town requested another extension from the U.S. Army to continue various operations until September 2013.
The Town was notified in April of 2012 they were in violation of their 1972 lease agreement with the U.S. Army for land off of Dow Road. 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.
The property housed the Town's Operations Department including public works, public utilities, storm water department and the Town's garage. Additionally, it was home to a greenhouse, various offices and storage areas as well as large dumpsters.
The 1972 lease only permitted a wastewater treatment plant, a storage building and related uses. One of the more complicated issues is where to relocate dumpsters used to hold trash collected from public trashcans throughout Town and along the beachfront.
The Army originally demanded the Town comply by the end of 2012 and granted an extension until June 2013 to continue using dumpsters on site and a garage to maintain Town vehicles.
The Town searched for alternate locations for both the dumpsters and garage for a number of months.
They ultimately approved a permit to locate both on property they own in a residential district behind the Federal Point Shopping Center off North Lake Park Blvd a short distance from Town Hall.
That would have called for using a small portion of a nearly 10-acre tract of land for trash compactors and a garage building.
Homeowners in the adjacent neighborhood behind the shopping center filed an action in court challenging the decision citing concerns with noise, odor and other issues.
The Town began negotiations with Jim Conlon, the owner of property at 110 Dow Road to pay an annual lease.
That would have served as an alternate location from the previous plan to locate the transfer station and garage behind the shopping center.
Ultimately the Town signed a lease with an option to buy for the Bridge Barrier Road property. A large ramp and concrete containment area was constructed to permit disposal of refuse in a trash compactor. The refuse is collected from public trashcans throughout town, along the beachfront and within Freeman Park. The compactor is emptied by a trash hauler on a regular basis.
At the Council's March 11th, meeting several residents living adjacent to the property expressed their concerns with odor from trash, the loud noise of trucks emptying the compactor in the early morning hours, the impact on area property values and rats.
Public Works Director Brian Stanberry said no trash will be out in plain site and the area will be inspected every day. He said they will work to take safety measures and turn off back up alarms on vehicles and take other steps to reduce engine noise.
He said a contract has been signed with a pest control company to address any issues with rats. Traps were put out earlier this year and to date no rats have been caught. The operating hours will be from 7am to noon and then light operations later in the afternoon. A larger wooden fence will be installed along the side of the property to shield it from a residence.
The Council approved spending up to $34,909.00 for the additional improvements to the waste transfer station to address concerns.
Councilman Gary Doetsch said, "Certainly make sure that we don't leave this subject before we are certain we are going to discuss an alternate place at some point in time. I do think this was an ill chosen place to put this transfer station and I would like to see Town Council work on an alternate place to do this."
Mayor Dan Wilcox said, "I agree and I think this site may be viable for us for other reasons and its obviously going to be used right now because whatever we do it's not going to happen before the season. We have to do what we can. That's one reason why I don't have too much heartburn with this part of it because if we use it for something else those will still be good improvements."
Council member Leann Pierce explained, "I agree with Gary. I don't see this as a permanent site and if we can find a better location for the waste transfer station I'm in favor of that."
Council member Sarah Friede said, "On behalf of one of the people who had only bad choices to make about where to put it, we had to put it somewhere and there are very very limited properties that are zoned industrial. Its going to be awful anywhere. There is no good place for it except where it was and the Army made clear to us that was not an option any more. We would like to have it very far away from all of the residents."
Friede said if property owners in Carolina Beach have property that would be acceptable and not a financial burden on the Town they should call the Town and let them know.
The total cost is $400,000, $260,000 property purchase and $140,000 improvements to the property. Requests for proposals went to 6 banks, two said they were not interested and three did not respond. The one proposal received was from BB&T. The Town requested proposals for both 10 and 15 years. The interest rate for 10 years is 2.37% while the 15 year rate is 2.93%. Based on the loan interest payback amount, it was recommended the Council accept the 10 year loan. The annual payment will be $49,480 for the first year commencing in 2015 with the final payment due in 2024.
The Town would have to seek the permission of the State Local Government Commission before proceeding with the financing terms.
The $2,500 per month lease will not increase until August of 2015, so the Town has time to consider the option to purchase the property. The improvements to the property have already been paid for and would be reimbursed from the loan from BB&T.
Wilcox questioned if the Local Government Commission could simply put a hold on the Town's application. He said, "I don't think we have to move on this right this second. I am hopeful that we can obtain another piece of property for waste transfer and that we can look at this piece of property as potentially a lay down yard" to store materials such as wood and gravel and, "that looks like it may be well suited for that and since we have an urgent need for that."
Wilcox recommended tabling the issue until the April Council meeting
Councilman Gary Doetsch made a motion to continue with the lease on the property and research options for alternate locations before taking permanent action on the Bridge Barrier Road property.
The Council discussed the property may be of some use other than a waste transfer station but would like more research before making a final decision.