OBAR Legislative Briefing

May 28, 2015 Legislative Briefing

Migratory Bird Treaty Act – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced this week in the Federal Register that they intend to develop a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the impacts of authorizing incidental takes of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Moreover, the USFWS discloses they are considering rulemaking to address the regulatory aspect of “takes” and have launched a website to augment this effort at http://birdregs.org/  .
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has undergone several large scale revisions since its inception in 1918 and currently there are 1,027 bird species in the U.S. that are protected under the MBTA – of which roughly 8% are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The Federal Register notice states; “Many natural and anthropogenic sources (any activity, action, or component of a project, enterprise, or endeavor) cause bird mortality or otherwise contribute to declining populations. Bird habitat is lost or degraded every year due to urbanization, energy development, agriculture, and forestry practices.”  There is concern that this proposal will result in duplicative regulations to that of the Endangered Species Act, while adding a new layer (or hurdle) to jump through for projects, permits, etc. for the 92% of the birds not on the endangered species list.   Bird habitat especially can be expansive – especially along the coast. Public comment is due July 27, 2015 and there are several public meetings across the U.S. with the nearest one in Fairfax, Va. on July 2nd. .
This is “hot off the presses” so more information to follow in future briefings.
Thanks to Rudi Rudolph from the Carteret Shoreline Protection Office for the information.

Hurricane Preparedness Week
Hurricane season begins on June 1st! This week is recognized as National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
Dare and Currituck Emergency Management encourage all residents, businesses and property owners to take steps now to prepare for a weather emergency.

Currituck County also has very helpful information regarding hurricane preparedness and what to do after a storm. Another resource offered by the state of North Carolina is Ready NC.  Download the mobile app to stay up to date on hazardous weather conditions.

Town/County Updates
– The Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2016 at their meeting on Monday, June 1st at 10 a.m.
All interested persons are invited to make written or oral comments at that time.
As presented by County Manager Bobby Outten, “The total budget for FY 2016 is $154,704,808 and the General Fund budget for FY 2016 is $101,870,999. The FY 2016 budget is 21.31% more than FY 2015 and the General Fund budget is 1.16% more than FY 2015. The large increase in the total budget is due to the Beach Nourishment and Inlet Maintenance funds. Without those projects and the related budget increases, the total budget is 1.58% greater than FY 2015.”
The FY 2016 budget maintains the current tax rate of $0.43 per $100 of property valuation.

Item 11 on Monday’s Agenda is Waterway Maintenance as a Use for the 2 Cents of Occupancy Tax Designated for Beach Nourishment.  As reported last week, NC Senate Bill 160 – Enhance Safety and Commerce for Ports/Inlets – includes language that would allow the use of Dare County’s Occupancy tax designated for beach nourishment to be used for dredging. The bill has already passed the Senate and is still in the Rules Committee of the House. Information in the Commissioner’s Agenda Packet includes only the following information on the item: “The Board of Commissioners will discuss Senate Bill 160, Part IX, Sec.3.3 which says – MODIFY USES FOR DARE COUNTY OCCUPANCY TAX SECTION 9. Effective July 1, 2016, for net proceeds collected on or after that date, Chapter 449 of the 1985 Session Laws, as amended by Chapters 177 and 906 of the 1991 Session Laws, Part VII of S.L. 2001-439, and Section 7 of S.L. 2010-78, is amended by adding a new section to read: “Sec. 3.3. Waterway Maintenance. – Notwithstanding any provision restricting the use of taxes authorized in this act, the county may use up to three million dollars ($3,000,000) of the net proceeds of the taxes authorized by Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of this act per fiscal year for maintenance of waterways in the county. This section is repealed for fiscal years beginning on or after July 1, 2021.”
As noted, the wording “waterways in the county” is included in the legislation which should cover both Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet. The same language is used in a memorandum regarding the use of a dredge year-round. A question has been raised whether or not Hatteras Inlet in in Dare County. This will most likely be addressed at Monday’s meeting.

On Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., the Town Council of the Town of Duck will conduct public hearings and consider the following items:
• An ordinance amending Section 151.23(B) of the Buildings and Structures Ordinance by defining the activities that constitute “Commencement of Work”;
• An ordinance amending the standards of Section 156.137, Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planning;
• An ordinance amending Section 156.002 of the Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Duck, North Carolina to clarify how building height is measured in different flood zones.

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