Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: David Heglar seeks reelection to Kure Beach council

David Heglar, longtime Kure Beach council member, is seeking reelection this fall. (Courtesy photo)

KURE BEACH — David Heglar is looking to retain his seat on the Kure Beach Town Council. A retired captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve, 27-year electrical engineering and active volunteer firefighter with the Kure Beach Fire Department, Heglar has served on town council since 2011.

After losing the election in 1997, Heglar, the current commissioner of public works, served his first term on council in 1999. He was the town’s finance commissioner working on budget preparation. He did not run for reelection in 2003 due to the likelihood of being called to duty in the Navy. Heglar served in support of special operations in the Middle East in 2007, returning home a year later.

Heglar, a registered Republican but politically independent, is running against three other candidates for two positions on the council.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, covering issues such as balancing growth and infrastructure, traffic and tourism, parking and climate change impacts.

Heglar’s answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

The paywall has been dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 31 and must be returned Nov. 7 (or post-marked as such).
  • Registration to vote will be open until Oct. 13; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration will be available only during one-stop early voting.
  • Early voting begins Oct. 19 and remains open through Nov. 4 (3 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 7, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

To vote early in New Hanover County, visit the Northeast Library (1241 Military Cutoff Road). From Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, voters can also go to CFCC Health Sciences and Learning Center (415 Second St.), Carolina Beach Town Hall (1121 Lake Park Blvd.) and the NHC Senior Center (2222 S. College Road).

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their voter registration card, or verified here.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

A photo ID is required to cast a ballot in 2023; more information can be found on the state board of elections website.

The candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily.

Port City Daily (PCD): Why run for town commissioner (or mayor) now?

David Helger (DH): I have been fortunate to have been born and raised in Kure Beach and to have lived during my Navy service in upstate NY, coastal CT, coastal SC, central FL, and coastal GA. Like many of our residents, I recognize how special Kure Beach is and want to continue to serve to ensure that it maintains its smalltown atmosphere. In the end I want to ensure that my children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and lifestyle that is Kure Beach, and to ensure that it remains affordable for our residents and property owners.

PCD: Name three issues you think are most affecting the town currently and describe how you would work toward tackling them.

DH: Long-term viability of the Coastal Storm Risk Management projects (Beach Renourishment): With the continuing fiscal challenges at the state/federal level funding is a continued concern that council will have to continue to focus on.

Long-term viability of infrastructure (water/sewer/stormwater systems): The town must continue to maintain/replace/upgrade infrastructure systems and ensure clean water, sewer systems to support growth and properly maintained and operating stormwater systems.

Short Term Rental impact to the town: currently over 20% of the properties in Kure Beach have converted to STRs. Ensuring that these active businesses do not impact the smalltown nature of Kure Beach will continue to be a challenge.

PCD: Where do you see the balance of accommodating tourists and other locals outside Kure Beach and ensuring Kure Beach residents’ concerns are addressed? 

DH: All of my life, Kure Beach has been a welcoming tourist town. Many of our current residents initially visited the town as guests and then realized that Kure Beach was the right place for them. The balance starts with making sure that everyone, residents, locals and tourists understand what Kure Beach is, which is a family-oriented beach. We are the only beach in New Hanover County that has seasonal parking passes for locals outside of our town and only moved to paid parking when it was obvious to the Town Council that we had to based on adjacent community’s actions. 

Council has worked to ensure that the high users of services (garbage, water/sewer) pay more for those services with our fee schedules. Noise ordinances, parking enforcement and beach enforcement are all areas where the town has taken action to balance the priorities of the residents and the interests our visitors. Our police, fire and public works departments work diligently to ensure that everyone enjoys the beach, safely and without intruding on other’s enjoyment. 

Council has properly funded and directed our department heads in a friendly but non-compromising approach to maintaining the town’s family-oriented beach and I believe that the town is doing a good job on this issue – even with the challenging last few years of Covid, hurricanes and the combative nature in today’s public environment.

PCD: The extension of the island greenway is a contentious topic in Kure Beach. What action do you think the town should take on the issue and do you see a compromise between differing opinions?

DH: In 2009, the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization conducted a study of this issue which highlighted issues and made recommendations that the greenway path connecting Carolina and Kure Beach be adjacent to Dow Road (https://www.wmpo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2009-10_DRCS_PlanFINAL.pdf  pages 24-32). 

During the council discussion on this issue, I highlighted this position and requested that the current study include this path specifically in the cost portion of the analysis.  Based on my personal experience with stormwater in the area behind Settler’s Lane, as well as the Ethyl-Dow Chemical structures in that area, I believe that the cost difference between the two solutions will be substantial.

With the already identified route as a sharing route that the council supported by making the connector from Spot Lane to Settler’s Lane, there is a connector route for the walkers and bike riders who would prefer to cut through North Kure Beach to then rejoin the main greenway south of K Ave. This path is similar to the greenway path in Carolina Beach on Eighth Avenue that connects Harper to the trail at the Carolina Beach Park. 

South of K Ave: I believe either a shared path down Sixth to G, and then Fifth to E would be feasible or with the median on Sixth and the MOTSU property to the west immediately adjacent to Fifth Ave, there is an opportunity to have a dedicated pathway with minimal cost. 

South of E Ave: I believe that NCDOT could potentially restripe the road to combine the two current bike paths on either side to a single dedicated walkway/greenway on the west side of the roadway. There would be some stormwater issues that would have to be addressed south of the Air Force base, but in my opinion they would be minor. Once the greenway left town limits, it would be work with NCDOT, the museum and aquarium to complete the pathway to the end of 421. 

Having said all of this, this is my current opinion on the issue. The study is still ongoing, and the final numbers have not arrived, but I am not in favor of taxing the residents, many of whom are retired and on fixed incomes for a pathway in the woods when the current biking/walking path on the street is safe and effective.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for development in Kure Beach? Are there any types of development, residential or otherwise, you think will not fit in Kure Beach? 

DH: Unfortunately, the land value will continue to drive people to maximize the use of their properties. In the areas that allow it, we continue to see properties convert from single-family homes to multi-family usage, with many of these converting to short term rentals, so the town will need to continue to monitor changes to state law on the authorities to manage issues around these businesses. 

In other areas of the town, restrictive covenants exist either by zoning or HOA restrictions that will control what occurs in these areas. The Planning and Zoning Commission has been proactive on development in the town, and the town’s Land Use Plan clearly document the citizen’s long-term vision for development, which I fully support.

PCD: As evidence shows, climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of storms and hurricanes, along with sea level rise. What should the town do to protect residents, property and infrastructure?

DH: The town has invested in infrastructure as well as training to respond to storms.  We are fortunate to have an experienced staff of professionals and volunteers who respond to hurricanes and have demonstrated this throughout the previous decades.  The town also participates in the Community Rating System (CRS). CRS is a part of the NFIP, and its purpose is to recognize, encourage, and reward, by the use of flood insurance premium adjustments, community and state activities that are above and beyond the National Flood Insurance Program required minimum standards. 

The town communicates annually the town’s hurricane plan and response, as well as information to our citizens for their planning purposes. 

Sea level rise is a much bigger long-term concern. For the near term, the town council will need to continue to work with our county, state and federal partners to maintain the viability of our Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project (Beach Renourishment). Longer term, the town’s citizens and representatives will need to continue to participate with other communities in advocating at the state and federal level for policies that plan for and mitigate impacts of storms and sea level rise. 

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