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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Department of Defense wants a say in future development around MOTSU

The Department of Defense has granted $270,000 to the Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a joint land-use study for more than 16,400 acres in southeastern North Carolina. Public hearings begin on July 30

Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has enlisted the assistance of Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a Joint Land Use Study of over 16,400 acres shared between five municipalities in southeastern North Carolina. Areas that appear dark grey depict land owned by the United States government. The joint land use study area is outlined in dark blue. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Cape Fear Council of Governments)
Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has enlisted the assistance of Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a Joint Land Use Study for more than 16,400 acres shared between five municipalities in southeastern North Carolina. Areas that appear dark grey depict land owned by the United States government. The joint land use study area is outlined in dark blue. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Cape Fear Council of Governments)

SOUTHEASTERN, N.C.—For over 60 years, the largest military terminal in the world has operated under the radar in southeastern North Carolina. Now, the Department of Defense wants a say in how the area gets developed.

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The Department of Defense has enlisted the assistance of Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a joint land use study containing approximately 16,435 acres spanning five municipalities and two counties: Brunswick County, New Hanover County, Boiling Spring Lakes, Carolina Beach, Southport, Kure Beach and Leland.

Surrounded by residential and commercial development in the fastest growing county in the state, Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) is at the center of the proposed study. MOTSU serves as the military’s leading ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic and is the largest military terminal in the world.

The study

The United States government maintains ownership of at least 8,636 acres within the proposed study area. MOTSU’s base is in Sunny Point, across the river from Carolina Beach.

“They’re a pretty good neighbor,” Allen Serkin said. “Most people don’t even know they exist.”

Serkin, the local government services director for the Cape Fear Council of Governments, is the project manager for the joint land use study.

The study is being funded by a $270,000 grant from the Department of Defense. He said the study is designed to open and formalize lines of communication between the public, the military and local government leaders.

“If (the public) understands what compatible use looks like, it will just help the discussion as to how willing they are or are not to be good neighbors,” Serkin said.

Residents will get a chance to engage with the project on July 30 when the public meeting process begins.

Since October 2017, all five municipalities and both counties have passed resolutions in support of the study.

In May, Cape Fear Council of Governments(CFCOG) conducted stakeholder interviews with representatives from each local government located in the 3-mile buffer zone of MOTSU’s base and in the .5-mile buffer zone of the rail corridor that leads to Leland.

Residents will get a chance to engage with the project on July 30 when the public meeting process begins. These meetings will serve as a rare opportunity for residents and local government leaders to directly interact with MOTSU representatives.

What does “compatible use” look like?

Within the military’s proposed 16,435-acre study area, there is plenty of land being actively used. Whether it be via maritime use in the shipping channel, aviation issues, airspace use or environmental concerns, MOTSU will soon have the opportunity to weigh in on what’s going on around them.

Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has enlisted the assistance of Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a Joint Land Use Study of over 16,400 acres shared between five municipalities in southeastern North Carolina. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Cape Fear Council of Governments)
Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has enlisted the assistance of Cape Fear Council of Governments to conduct a Joint Land Use Study for more than 16,400 acres shared between five municipalities and two counties in southeastern North Carolina. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Cape Fear Council of Governments)

“For them, it would probably be best if there was no development outside of their property,” Serkin said. “They recognize this–and that’s why there’s a grant process for this–that that’s not reasonable, but that certainly is probably what they would prefer.”

Upon completion of the study, MOTSU and CFCOG will produce recommendations, which could then later be implemented by local governments.

These recommendations could frame the way land is developed and even currently used in southeastern North Carolina.

From height restrictions to recreational boating to drones, Serkin said the study will define what land use the military considers “compatible.”

Serkin said the study will ask, “What kind of development outside of the base are appropriate and not going to negatively impact the ability of Sunny Point to fulfill its mission?”

Though both CFCOG and the public will have to work within confines of confidentiality and national security, Serkin said the upcoming meetings will provide answers to the public’s curiosity about Sunny Point and its future plans.

Both MOTSU and CFCOG representatives will host public hearings on July 30 on either side of the Cape Fear River to answer questions and give presentations on the joint land use study.

For more information on CFCOG and MOTSU’s joint land use study, visit the project’s website here.


Send tips to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com or follow Johanna on Twitter @j__ferebee

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