Senate bill proposes deannexation for Sunset Beach property again

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SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) —  A dispute between a senior living facility and the town of sunset beach has landed back in the state legislature.

The owner of Sunset Commons wants the six acre property to be de-annexed from the town. It is not the first attempt to do this.

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It all started last year when Sen. Bill Rabon introduced Senate Bill 875 in the General Assembly. The bill would have de-annexed three properties, Palm Cove, Sunset Beach West and Sunset Commons apartments from the Town of Sunset Beach. The bill died in committee last June.

“I spoke with the mayor last time and told him that Sunset Beach had six months to rectify the problems,” Sen. Bill Rabon said.

Newly elected Mayor Bob Forrester said two of those problems were resolved, but not the dispute with Sunset Commons.

“She wanted a rebate of inspection fees for the inspection on the construction,” Forrester said.

“The land owner is not satisfied, so I’m just keeping my word and going to move forward and run the bill again,” Rabon said.

“Do you think that the town should refund the property the inspection fees?”

“I absolutely do,” Rabon said.

If the bill passes, Sunset Commons will no longer be part of the town and will not have to pay Sunset Beach property tax.

“We’re definitely going to fight it,” Forrester said. “The fiscal impact on the municipality is minimal.”

Forrester said it may not be that much money, but this kind of situation creates other problems.

“It makes it extremely difficult for local municipalities to operate when state legislators can introduce bills to individually de-annex properties,” Forrester said.

We reached out to the property owner for a comment. Holly Smith said the deannexation is not about retribution, but about providing services and activities originally intended.

“I had budgeted about $38,000 for permitting fees, based on my conversations with the County’s inspection department, but the Town charged over $80,000 for those same services,” Smith said. “The difference, about $40,000, would have allowed us to provide many opportunities for our residents to be active, social, and have fun with others in our community. “