Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Chuck Bost runs for reelection to Belville Town Council

Belville Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Bost is running for reelection to the town council. (Courtesy photo)

BELVILLE — Charles “Chuck” Bost is the current mayor pro tem of the Town of Belville and is running for election of another term on council.

An adjunct professor in criminal justice, instructor at StreetSafe and retired law enforcement officer, Bost has served on the council for the last four years. He also was on the Belville council and served as mayor pro tem from 2009 to 2013.

Bost, a Republican, is running against incumbent Morgan Mehler and newcomer Joe Cranford for two open seats.

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

Bost’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.

In Brunswick County, voters can cast ballots early at the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension (in lieu of the Board of Elections) at 25 Referendum Drive, Building N, in Bolivia.

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their registration cards, 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 commissioner now?

Chuck Bost (CB): I am running for re-election to the Belville Board of Commissioners because I would like to continue the work we have begun in the town. That includes
development of our Riverwalk Park and downtown area, planning and implementing the development and growth of our town and to secure our town’s future in Brunswick County and the area, with an attention to preserving our greenspace and controlled growth.

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

CB: The three main issues that I believe we need to focus on in the coming years are controlled growth, our downtown and park development, and addressing flooding and stormwater concerns.

We have laid out a plan in our Vision 2030 Plan that addresses what we believe are realistic and feasible ideas to redevelop and revitalize our downtown area to include shops, restaurants, a hotel, community center and other amenities. We are working hard with developers, NCDOT, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that we make tangible progress and are moving forward towards implementing these plans.

It is no secret that Brunswick County is growing, and we need to be part of that growth otherwise be overwhelmed and impacted by the effects that rapid and uncontrolled growth can bring. Our town wants to have a controlled and planned growth that ensures that our greenspace is preserved, and development is thought out to minimize the impact it will have in our community and Brunswick County as a whole.

We currently have two apartment complexes being built that the board and town management worked hard to make sure considered the impact on traffic, greenspace, and quality of life of neighboring communities before approving both projects. We coordinated with NCDOT to time the NC 133 widening project with the building of one of these apartments so that we could address the expected impact on traffic.

We also have pushed hard and, with the help of NCDOT and WMPO, are moving forward with our multi-use paths near and around Belville Elementary and the Belville Riverwalk Park. All these projects together will help with both multi-modal traffic such as pedestrians and bicycles, as well as ensuring a better flow of traffic in the area.

Because of where we live and the low elevation of Belville, flooding is always a concern which was evident with the last two hurricanes and heavy rains we received this past year. Issues with property rights and limitations on municipal intervention, as well as financial constraints have often prevented us from being more aggressive in addressing these issues.

Therefore, we applied for and recently received a grant to begin surveying and identifying what actions we can take as a Town to address, clear, or repair some of these drainage issues. It is a slow and methodical process, but we have already made great strides with this and continue to press forward to ensure this problem is resolved.

PCD: Do you agree with the town’s recently adopted ordinance to regulate open burns? Why or why not?

CB: I do and voted for it. As we grow, we must ensure that our community is a safe place to live and that the people in our community work toward maintaining that. Our population is becoming denser and having people burning indiscriminately is asking for a dangerous problem. The current state and county laws were impractical to enforce unless we added a mechanism to use these existing laws to empower our Town’s Code Enforcement Officer the ability to enforce them. Laws keep honest people honest, but we want to ensure that those that do not comply are also held accountable.

PCD: The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is reaching its end-of-life and funding has yet to be allocated toward its replacement. What have officials gotten wrong and right in expediting the process? What would you do that is different? Also, do you support a toll and any of the options on the table for its replacement? Explain.

CB: I have the privilege of being an alternate on the WMPO Board and know this is a complex issue that has been debated extensively. We all know that the bridge is well past its life expectancy and that the NCDOT has done herculean work maintaining it but the reality is it needs to be replaced. The frustration is that we, as a community, see state and federal financial resources being allocated across the state and not towards our bridge replacement, which we feel is an urgent concern.

Funding to replace the bridge has included looking at a toll bridge, which people are averse to due to the financial impact it may have on individuals. But the reality is that this might be a viable alternative then trying to repair a bridge whose replacements parts are often made by companies that will no longer be able to supply them. I also think we should seriously look at a third bridge again. I know this was shot down some years ago but, again, the reality is our area is going to continue to grow and the two bridges we have are inadequate to keep up with the demand of that growth. I also hope that the WMPO will entertain building a bridge that does not require being raised for shipping traffic which also contributes to the problem with our traffic.

PCD: Brunswick County is growing at a rate of nearly 6% annually, the highest in the state. How do you plan to keep pace in terms of jobs and housing, while also balancing quality of life for residents, especially with the small town feel of Belville? Do you have some ideas that haven’t yet been considered?

CB: Many of the ideas that Belville is currently implanting or planning to implement I have spearheaded over the past four years. That includes planned controlled growth that preserves the natural beauty of our area. We are growing but we want to make sure we keep our “small town charm”, a credo I am proud to say I implemented to always remind us of who we are and where we come from. We want to ensure growth does not come at the expense of our greenspace.

I was told years ago that our area would be the bedroom community of Wilmington as Chapel Hill is to Raleigh and that growth would explode, which it has. There are many apartments in our area, indicative of the trend of people looking for rental property versus buying a house but those alternatives can be priced out of most people’s price range. The state has pushed for affordable housing alternatives, and
we should look at that.

Jobs in our area appear to be more retail-focused than manufacturing, so we need to be cognizant of that as well and what that means for salaries of individuals. This also plays into keeping our taxes low while balancing the financial needs and obligations of growth. Our board, I believe, has done an amazing job of trying to keep sight of growth, controlling our spending while preserving our area’s natural beauty and that is something I would endeavor to continue to do.

PCD: How do you envision the use of Belville’s Riverwalk in the future, especially in terms of recreation and economic development?

CB: My vision sees the Belville Riverwalk Park, boardwalk, and downtown as symbiotic and complementary. I would like to keep the Riverwalk purely for recreation and the enjoyment of the natural beauty of the area. I supported and helped push forward the Dragonfly Project, advocate for better use of the Duke Education Pavilion, expansion of the boat dock to include accessibility to kayaks and other crafts while trying not to disturb the fishing off the dock. I would like to see the expansion of our entertainment pavilion to accommodate more concert and park events.

The boardwalk expansion will tie in the park with our downtown area, allowing for individuals to enjoy walking along the river taking in the natural beauty that the river and park provide. It will also allow for the transition of the tranquil park amenities to other venues that I foresee in our downtown area which, as I have mentioned, will include shops, restaurants, a community center, a hotel, and other amenities. I would like to see a downtown where foot-traffic is encouraged and a courtyard can be established for outside dining, and community activities, such as cornhole and other family activities.

There is also the potential of having boat docks and a water taxi service so that people can boat to our downtown area, enjoying it, the boardwalk, and our park. I think it would provide a much-needed respite for the people in our area. I truly believe if you build it, they will come.

PCD: With drainage issues a top concern within the town, how can the board of commissioners implement changes to improve stormwater runoff and reduce flooding?

CB: As I mentioned before, we know that flooding and stormwater drainage is an issue and we have taken steps to address these issues. We first need to understand the problem beyond the fact that we have one and to have viable solutions to implement. In one area alone, the problem starts from many choke points along the original drainage route where drains have been filled in, have overgrowth or debris in them. Many of these areas are in places where the responsible parties, whether they
are individuals or the town, are in question. But this is a public health and quality of life issue that we, as a board, take seriously, and are addressing. These steps are slow, unfortunately, because of bureaucratic and legal red tape but they are being undertaken and we make a little progress every day towards fixing this issue.

PCD: Brunswick County is the fastest growing in the state; how should Belville’s leadership approach future development, balancing economics with quality of life?

CB: This is another issue that I believe I have already mentioned and that the board and I are addressing. We know growth is inevitable but jumping in the growth bandwagon without any planning or forethought will invite the inevitable problem of unsustainable issues with infrastructure and destruction of our natural beauty.

We, in Belville, have the luxury of knowing that growth was inevitable and that allowed us to plan and take thoughtful measures towards controlled growth. Our unfortunate annexation agreement that we were involved in restricted our growth but allowed for this planning and, once it expires this year, we can move forward with that planned growth.

Our Vision 2030 Plan lays out our downtown and park plans; we are working on additional plans for our Town that will see a slow, steady growth respectful to the preservation of the natural beauty our area has and maintaining our “small town charm.”

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