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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Joint land use meetings well underway, recommendations to come

With MOTSU's land use study underway, the military terminal is presenting its preliminary land use recommendations to the public.

MOTSU Commander Col. Heather Carlisle answers questions at a public meeting in Boiling Spring Lakes City Hall Tuesday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
MOTSU Commander Col. Heather Carlisle answers questions at a public meeting in Boiling Spring Lakes City Hall Tuesday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

BOILING SPRING LAKES — Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) and its partners in a joint land use study presented its preliminary findings Tuesday at a pair of public meetings in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties.

The largest military terminal in the world is conducting the land compatibility study covering a 3-mile radius surrounding its base in Sunny Point and .5-mile area outside its 16-mile rail line, ending at Leland’s rail yard.

RELATED: What does MOTSU want? A glimpse at the military’s preliminary land-use concerns

As stakeholders shape up which recommendations will be formally presented, a preview of land use compatibility concerns was presented Tuesday.

Coordination concerns

Elected officials representing Leland, Brunswick County, and a representative of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis were in attendance at the first meeting held in Boiling Spring Lakes.

Recommendations will be made available this spring in five categories: coordination, land use/zoning, public safety, transportation, and the MOTSU buffer zone. One item of coordination concern MOTSU has already identified is the inconsistent application of state law by local governments near the terminal.

North Carolina General Statute § 153A-323 requires counties and § 160A-364 requires cities to notify military bases at least 10 days prior to a public hearing on any land use changes within a five-miles of the terminal’s base. So far in the study, without naming a specific local government, MOTSU has found this law is not always followed.

At the meeting in Boiling Spring Lakes, Brunswick County Commissioner Mike Forte asked MOTSU’s consultant Vagn Hansen, a planner for Benchmark Planning, how the notification process works.

“If [Boiling Spring Lakes] decides we’re going to put in a subdivision – 100 houses – we have to run it by MOTSU first?” Forte asked.

“You don’t have to run it by them, you have to notify them,” Hansen said. “You can do with that comment what you like.”

Conversely, study findings have identified local governments have a perceived lack of a single point of contact for the military base. Hansen said as a result of this confusion, a “communications manual” will be produced by the end of the study.

Other concerns include aviation and maritime rules around the base. Currently, MOTSU’s federally-restricted portion of the Cape Fear River does not extend the entire width of the river. Also, according to Federal Aviation Administration rules, though MOTSU has unmanned restrictions, there are none for manned aircraft.

“You can fly a manned aircraft directly over Sunny Point,” Hansen said.

MOTSU’s recent presentation material can be viewed online.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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