Monday, March 1, 2010
As you may know, my blog was a subject of controversy at our Southport Aldermen's retreat back in January. I stopped doing my blog and deleted the offending post so I could find a perspective that would be insightful without being alienating to my fellow board members. I decided to stick with stating my opinion on matters before the city government and not comment upon the positions of other board members or the board as a whole. The last thing I want to do is make our board look foolish or inept--because we certainly do not possess either of those traits. We're a group of 6 individuals (7 including the mayor) who want to do what he or she believes is best for our city and the citizens. I don't want any of my posts to state or imply otherwise.
Anyway, since we last spoke the board has had a lot on its plate. Our retreat on January 16 included reports from all of the city departments including their goals for the upcoming year. Several areas need consideration for more money (building repairs and remodeling, better pay for police officers, numerous capital improvement projects, road and sidewalk repairs), and there is a piece of property within the city limits that's under foreclosure and the city would love to it. Board unity was excellent throughout all of the discussions and we will work to keep it that way.
The January meeting saw the board repeal the 2006 resolution to give complete support to the proposed North Carolina International Terminal (NCIT) 1 mile upriver from our city. This puts the city in a neutral position with the NC State Ports Authority so we can discuss ways in which the port can benefit our citizens, and be given consideration with regards to potential negative factors and how they can be mitigated or eliminated.
Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I was heavily involved with No Port Southport NC, Inc. prior to being elected. As a representative of the city I need to be open to anything that has the potential to improve the economic prosperity of our region. That said, the Ports Authority has yet to give me a valid reason to support their efforts. We've requested that NC State Ports Authority CEO Tom Eager come to Southport to discuss the proposed port with our board and our citizens at a public meeting. Unfortunately, despite a visit from our mayor, city manager and 2 aldermen, Mr. Eager has not agreed to meet us. This is not a good sign and I hope to find a way to remedy this situation.
Another controversial issue was a request for rezoning for a 10 acre property from R-20 to R-10. The change in zoning would double the potential housing density (both are residential only zones). I was against the rezoning for a number of reasons, among them the fact that it would not benefit our community (a requirement by state statutes and our local ordinance), it would adversely alter the character of the neighborhood (all adjoining properties are R-20), and it would make existing traffic problems along Stuart Road at Howe Street much worse. We also have a huge inventory of housing units in the city and do not need an area of increased density. This is the last area in Southport where R-20 lots exist. The vote was 3 to 3, and the mayor broke the tie by voting in favor of the rezoning. Those beside myself who voted against the rezoning were Ed Boguskie and Mary Ellen Poole.
On the good news side, I was able to convince the board to have the City of Southport join the Cape Fear Arch: a consortium of environmental organizations, local, state and federal agencies and governments for the purpose of encouraging sustainable resource management. For more information go to www.capefeararch.org
Tomorrow (March 2) there will be a special Board of Aldermen meeting concerning our current sign ordinance and whether or not the city will permit temporary signs. Please go to my website at www.ken4alderman.com for more on this issue.
Since January I've attended 2 courses given by the NC League of Municipalities and the UNC School of Government: Essentials of Municipal Government (3 days) and Reading and Understanding Government Financial Statements (2 days). The financial course spent a lot of time on using various indices to evaluate the fiscal health of one's municipality. Fortunately, Southport is in pretty good shape at this time. I will continue to educate myself on the many aspects of our government and how to make the best decisions possible.
Upcoming issues due for the March 11th regular meeting are a report on the meeting with Tom Eager (see above), the appointment of new members to the Planning Board and Board of Adjustment, and an update on the fire station.
Among my current initiatives are finding ways in which Downtown Southport, Inc. (DSI) can give more support to our retail merchants, work more closely with the Southport Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, and ways in which we can bring more businesses to our city and the surrounding area. I was appointed to the DSI Board of Directors at our January meeting. One program being put forth is the 3/50 program, which encourages people to shop at our local merchants. For more on this outstanding program please go to http://www.the350project.net/home.html
As always, please contact me by any means available if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, concerns, or just to say, "Hey." Until next time I continue to be your humble public servant - Ken