İstanbul escort bayan sivas escort samsun escort bayan sakarya escort Muğla escort Mersin escort Escort malatya Escort konya Kocaeli Escort Kayseri Escort izmir escort bayan hatay bayan escort antep Escort bayan eskişehir escort bayan erzurum escort bayan elazığ escort diyarbakır escort escort bayan Çanakkale Bursa Escort bayan Balıkesir escort aydın Escort Antalya Escort ankara bayan escort Adana Escort bayan

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Around 300 BHI villagers sign petition against $2.88 million in ferry litigation

In Bald Head Island, home to 1,200 residential units and less than 200 full-time residents, voter residency questions were an issue in 2010. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A sizable portion of Bald Head Island homeowners and workers have expressed  disapproval for the village’s continued pursuit of control over the ferry system. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

BALD HEAD ISLAND — A sizable portion of Bald Head Island homeowners and workers have expressed  disapproval for the village’s continued pursuit of control over the ferry system.

READ MORE: Bald Head Island intervenes in request to decrease ferry frequency, appeals sale decision

Residents presented a petition to the village council on Friday, asking it to reach a settlement on all system litigation. The petition  states: 

“Our message is simple: For over three years, the transfer of the Transportation System has been in a state of uncertainty and confusion. The related litigation has been disruptive, divisive, and has already cost the BHI taxpayers several million dollars. If the litigation continues, it is likely to cost the taxpayers much more. We believe it is in the best interest of all BHI taxpayers and the Village of Bald Head Island to resolve these disputes now.”

Since Bald Head Island Limited — current owners of the ferry, barge, parking and tram —  announced it would sell those assets to SharpVue Capital, the village has tried to intervene. It has argued it should be the stewards of the system instead of a private company, though a court has ruled the village has no claim to the system, having turned down an opportunity to buy it in September 2022. The village has appealed that decision.

The village also asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission to regulate the parking and barge components of the system and won. The NCUC had previously regulated only the ferry and tram; now, fee and operation changes for the entire system will need NCUC approval.

“Stop this spending of taxpayer money,” resident Jeff Stokely said at the Friday meeting. “And I want to know all the money we spent last year; there’s no money for it, you’re now going to take it from the reserves.” 

So far, Bald Head Island has spent $2.88 million on legal expenses for these cases. On Friday, it transferred an additional $500,000 from its contingency fund for the purpose, despite the speakers like Stokely calling for the opposite.

Last year, the village also raised property taxes from $0.4745 to $0.5779; many residents accused the council of doing do to pay its legal fees, though the village denied this. The rate is expected to bring in $1.89 million more in revenue.

Stokely added the legal fees were akin to taxation without representation. There are around 1,200 homeowners on the island, but only around 385 are full-time residents and eligible to vote.

Mayor Peter Quinn responded to the speakers’ comments, noting the village either wasn’t communicating its intentions clearly or the residents were not understanding them.

“We want to resolve things as quickly as possible,” Quinn said. “There’s no interest that the village has of dragging this out any longer than it has to.” 

Quinn agreed a town hall may be appropriate to answer lingering villagers’ lingering questions. This is something council has refused to do up until now, according to BHI resident and former council member Betsi Stephen. 

“We have to show our displeasure because the council, four-fifths of the council, keeps acting like this is in the best interest of the village,” Stephen said on a call with Port City Daily Thursday.

Stephen started the petition with Alan Briggs, former president of the Bald Head Association They spread the petition through email chains and with the help of some local business owners. They also enlisted the harbor master to bring in the perspective of employees that use the ferry every day.

Overall, Stephen said homeowners make up 250 of the responses; workers are the rest. 

“And people are really upset,” Stephen said. “I mean, it wasn’t people just like ‘OK, I’ll sign your petition’ it was like, ‘Oh, thank god,’” Stephen said. 

She also reported problems getting a hold of the council members for petitioners to  share their thoughts. After being rebuffed several times, the petition leaders met with the mayor and mayor pro tem two weeks ago. 

The mayor sent out a letter after stating “some islanders have voiced their view that we should settle and stop incurring legal fees.” 

“A resolution must involve not only a profitable sale for BHI Limited but also a long-range solution that assures reasonably priced ferry & tram service, parking, and barge, along with capital investment, which has been deferred for far too long,” Quinn wrote in the letter.

Stephen said she thought both sides have lost track of what’s best for the villagers, though the council has not given any indication they will be reversing course.


Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at brenna@localdailymedia.com.

Want to read more from PCD? Subscribe now and then sign up for our morning newsletter, Wilmington Wire, and get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

Related Articles