Cedar Point manager outlines prospective UDO update, park improvements for new year | News

Cedar Point manager outlines prospective UDO update, park improvements for new year | News

CEDAR POINT — Newly minted Town Manager David Rief has big plans for Cedar Point in 2021.

In an email Thursday, Mr. Rief, who was hired as town administrator in 2019 and promoted to manager in December when the town changed its form of government, said two of his top goals for the year involve planning.

He wants to update the Unified Development Ordinance, which commissioners adopted in June 2019 after it was developed by former Town Administrator Chris Seaberg and consultants. It took effect in July 2019, bringing all of the town’s zoning and development rules into one, more streamline document.

He also wants to update the town’s comprehensive plan, which is kind of a blueprint for what kinds of development should be allowed in specific places and helps guide rezoning and other decisions by commissioners.

Finally, he wants to transfer building inspections from Carteret County to town staff; improve Boathouse Creek Walking Trails Park with new trails, a pier and a kayak launch; and digitalize the town’s files.

Mr. Rief, who is a former town attorney, planner and inspector, has already reviewed the UDO and made a number of piecemeal suggestions for changes, all of which commissioners have approved. However, the goal for 2021 is to suggest more changes based on his review and get those amendments adopted.

The existing UDO, according to Mr. Rief, still has some inconsistencies and problem areas. Part of the reason for that, he said earlier this year, was the UDO was partly written by consultants who were not completely familiar with Cedar Point. Although the planning board, town commissioners and the town attorney, Neil Whitford, spent hours reviewing the document before adoption, it was a massive undertaking, coming in at nearly 350, often highly technical, pages.

But, Mr. Rief said Thursday, since it’s an update and he has the right background, there’s no need to hire a consultant.

“We’re going to do it in-house,” he said.

As for the comprehensive plan, Mr. Rief said the existing one went into effect in 2008, so much in the rapidly growing town has changed.

He said he envisions hiring a code enforcement officer early in the new year to cover zoning issues, floodplain issues, nuisance abatement and N.C. Coastal Management minor permits.

“Training would commence on all other areas before building inspections, to ease some of my workload, with the goal of being able to transition into the building inspections after six months or so,” most likely in the 2021-22 fiscal year, which will begin Thursday, July 1, he said.

The town currently contracts with the county for building inspections services, but Mr. Rief included a full-time town inspector position in the 2020-21 budget, and commissioners approved it. At the time, he said the town had been generating an average of $72,000 per year in county revenue for inspection fees since 2008, and growth and development are continuing, so the position should pay for itself. The town has been advertising for the position, either full-time or part-time, but has not yet been able to fill it.

The toughest of the goals to accomplish in 2021 might be the kayak launch and pier in the park.

The town has been awarded more than $1.5 million in state grants to help pay for the $2.8 million purchase of the 56 acres of land, and the park has been open for more than a year. But grant funds for specific projects within the park have been harder to find.

The park is intended to be mostly trails for walking, but some people are using it to launch kayaks at an unimproved site.

Mr. Rief hopes to obtain grants this year and also replace the existing pier.

Finally, the manager believes it’s time to digitize files.

“We are reorganizing the way zoning permits have been filed and digitizing as we go,” he said, so some of that work has been done. But, he wants the job completed “so we have access to the information in the event we have to work remote again at some point because of the (coronavirus) pandemic or a hurricane, or if town hall is destroyed by a storm or fire.”

 

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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