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Brunswick County looks at shore protection

Strong support was shown at the Brunswick County Commissioners’ meeting Monday night for the establishment of a shore protection policy.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith, who was recently appointed chairwoman of the Brunswick Beach Consortium, was on hand to praise the commissioners on their consideration of adopting a formal policy.

As the policy currently reads, the county will establish a special reserve in the county capital reserve fund designated for shore protection projects, contributing $200,000 annually.

“The beaches in the county are vitally important to the economic well-being of the county,” Smith said.

She added, however, that she had some concern with the board’s decision to cap its contribution at $200,000.

“But these are million-dollar projects,” she said. “We need to come up with some way to increase that.”

Ocean Isle Mayor Pro Tem Dean Walters echoed Smith’s commendation and concerns.

“Tourism affects all areas of our county,” Walters said to the board. “This has to be a partnership with federal, state and local funding outlets. The towns need to step forward, but we need your help.”

Steve Stone, deputy county manager, said that some changes would need to be made to clarify the policy.

The policy currently references the Brunswick Beach Consortium’s joint programs to restore and maintain the ocean beaches of its members.

Commissioner Frank Williams suggested removing the reference to the consortium altogether as not all towns are members anymore.

And Commissioner Marty Cook said a definitive answer to any dollar amount to put in the policy may not be possible right away.

“We are going to have to find some means to ensure our beaches are stable, but I don’t think we are going to have a good answer right now.” He said. “We are going to have to reassess. It’s gonna be expensive.”

The board moved to vote on the policy in its March regular meeting.

Also Monday, the commissioners asked the staff to draft a resolution in opposition of offshore wind farms until a list of concerns they drafted have been adequately addressed.

The concerns include the cost of erecting a wind farm and the economic development impact.