Oak Island residents speak out against beach nourishment fee proposal

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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — Oak Island residents could soon have to pay a monthly fee to fund a $40 million beach nourishment project, and residents are speaking out against the current proposal.

The Town of Oak Island has spent five years creating a beach nourishment master plan. Town leaders are proposing dividing the town into four districts based on proximity to the beach, and charging homeowners a monthly beach nourishment fee based on that location and property size.

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“I don’t think dividing up into districts and having one district pay a significant amount more than a district a mile away from the beach is really a fair process,” said resident Kenny Kidd.

The town held a meeting Tuesday night for residents and homeowners to voice their concerns.

“The council is looking at a $40 million plan,” said resident Jacqueline Mariotte. “That’s a lot of money for a small island.”

According to the town’s website, the fees could range from around $37 dollars per month up to $1,897 per month for a property valued at $1 million.

“In our instance, because we’re neighbors, we would be considered District 2,” Mariotte said, standing alongside her neighbor Cornelia Weiker. “We both have small homes, less than 800 square feet in my case, and the assessment value on it in some instances I would be paying double or triple what a home across the road, Oak Island Drive would be paying.”

Some suggested implementing paid parking to help fund the project, arguing a lot of wear and tear on beaches comes from visitors.

“The public beach is equally enjoyed by everybody, not just Oak Island or the neighboring counties, but the whole state of North Carolina,” said resident Beatrice Hair.

Others suggested making the fees equal among everyone in town, so some families aren’t forced to pay more than others.

“What if we just divided it by every parcel owner in the town of Oak Island, and it comes out to $66 a month, which is a little less than $800 a year,” Kidd said.

The town isn’t making any decisions just yet. Mayor Ken Thomas says council will take the feedback into consideration.

“Town council’s going to have to decide where they go next,” Thomas said. “They’re going to do a lot of soul searching and it’s going to be tough.”

Council will vote whether to move forward with the current four district model at an upcoming meeting. That could happen as soon as next Tuesday.