Friday, August 12, 2022

Podcast Jan. 18 – Wrightsville Beach, potential water supply crisis, and red-light cameras

We start this week in Wrightsville Beach, where the Board of Adjustment is made up of the same elected officials on the town’s Board of Alderman.

If that sounds like a mouthful of bureaucratic jargon, it’s understandable. But it’s also important. Here’s why: the adjustment board is designed to provide oversight for decisions made by the town — so, in most towns and cities, a Board of Adjustment acts like an appeals court for planning and zoning decisions made by officials.

Except, in Wrightsville Beach, elected officials review their own decisions.

We get into why this is problematic — and what it has to do with the large number of lawsuits the town is facing (many of which were filed after the members of the adjustment board unsurprisingly upheld town decisions that they themselves have made).

Next up, we look at Lock and Dam No. 1, located upriver on the Cape Fear from Wilmington.

The dam was built as part of a navigational system over a century ago. Almost no one uses it for this reason anymore, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to relinquish responsibility for it.

Why does that matter? Well, a side effect of the dam is that it creates a back-pooling of water that allows CFPUA and other water utilities to put their ‘straw in the water.’ Now that the Corps of Engineers is backing away from the project, someone has to step in, or the region faces a potential water supply crisis.

The only problem is — that conversation isn’t moving along very quickly.

Lastly, we take a look at American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Wilmington’s red-light camera contractor. The company has repeatedly flaunted state engineering regulations but, so far, there’s been no repercussions from the state’s regulatory board (which lacks enforcement powers) or from the city. While the state’s engineering board has at least pleaded with the general assembly to give it the power to go after companies like ATS, Wilmington officials have routinely dismissed or laughed off concerns about the legality of red-light cameras.

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