Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Podcast Jan. 12 – Rules for scooters, fines for developers, Brunsco update, and pickleball shenanigans

We kick off this week with the impending invasion of downtown Wilmington by rentable scooters. Cities like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro have already seen the scooters appear — literally overnight — and have struggled with how to handle them; some have banned them, some have charged companies fees to allow their use.

The state hasn’t passed any regulations on them, and so it remains unclear if the scooters are considered motor vehicles, what laws apply to them, and whether or not local governments can ban them.

Next up, we return to the issue of code violation fines, which we’ve talked about in several recent podcasts. We’ve seen large developers receive large fines, only to have them negotiated down or dropped. We spoke with Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo about how — and why — the city negotiated large fines for developers. We also discussed what happened when an individual resident gets fined, and what the city can do to make the process fairer.

Then, we check in on Brunswick County and two major ongoing issues: Brunswick County’s $137 million plans for a new reverse osmosis plant, and the lawsuit between Leland, Belville, and H2GO, which involves H2GO’s own $30 million RO plant.

First up, an interesting part of the H2GO lawsuit — Leland has asked a judge to block the release of numerous communication documents. We discuss what that means, plus we take a look at one document that was released, from Belville: an email from Belville’s lawyer to H2GO’s executive director Bob Walker, sent one day after the election, asking if a town could hypothetically make a profit from absorbing H2GO’s assets.

Second, Brunswick County’s attempt to get loans to fund its $137 million plans for a new reverse osmosis plant. Plus, we note that the county has been particularly quiet about the recent consent order between the state and Chemours — very different than across the river, where Wilmington, New Hanover County, and CFPUA have been vocal in opposing the order.

In beach-town news, Wrightsville Beach is considering raising parking rates. Again. We get into it.

Finally, a trip to Carolina Beach to discuss the fracas over pickleball. The town’s parks and recreation department is responding to “warring tribes” in its pickleball community. If NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” ever does a reunion show, we would like to humbly submit this as fodder for an episode (maybe a b-plot).

If you missed any of these stories you can catch up below, then take a deeper dive with our weekly podcast.

Wilmington leaders talk possible scooter sharing in Downtown, opt to wait on state lawmakers for guidance

Wilmington mayor addresses tree fines for developers, says city has mitigated fines for individuals, too

In H2GO case, Leland asks court permission to withhold communication records

Brunswick again asks DEQ for clarity – and funding – for $137 million water infrastructure plans

Wrightsville Beach made nearly $3 million in parking last year, considering fee hike yet again

Carolina Beach removes skill levels for pickleball after ‘warring factions’ tell others ‘you can’t play with us’

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