CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach has grown considerably over the past few years and with new residents and growth the town is being asked to meet the needs, and wants, of its residents. Items like stormwater management and land-use plans are obvious topics of conversation, but now the town could also be looking into burying of power lines — a project that has been considered by town leaders in the past.
During Town Council’s December meeting, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth brought up the topic to the rest of council for consideration.
It is important to note that no decision to bury the lines has been made and it is not known if it is even feasible at the time.
The discussion surrounding the burying of power lines was recently brought up in an impromptu poll on social media by a member of the community and turned out to be the number one item residents wanted to see.
“As council knows we have a very engaged community … a couple of weeks ago, Jay Healy … asked a question of the public, ‘What would you like to see different in Carolina Beach?’ … One of the number one requests was burying the power lines,” Shuttleworth said.
It’s not the first time the discussion has come up, he said, having talked with former Mayor Dan Wilcox about it in years past.
Shuttleworth said that with the amount of engagement he has seen on social media surrounding the issue he recommends creating an ad hoc committee to simply look into the feasibility of such a project.
The committee would operate for a period of time, Shuttleworth suggested 8 to 12 months, but ultimately as long as necessary to determine the feasibility of burying the lines.
Council agreed to create the committee and allow the public to join in on the discussion and talk about the possibility of the idea. While it is not an impossible task, it would take a significant amount of work to get the lines underground.
“In my exploration, you have to hire Duke Energy to bury their own lines, we have to acquire right-of-way, there are service lines that have to be done. The estimate they gave me from the bridge to the lake … a year and a half ago was like $13 million,” Shuttleworth said.
The town’s finances have been called into question by the state this year after a pattern of a consistently declining general fund balance was noticed. The state has asked for an explanation of the depletion of the fund balance and what the town was doing to correct its course; Carolina Beach has since responded, according to interim Town Manager Ed Parvin.
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