Carteret County Crossroads

NEWSLETTER # 87, NOVEMBER 2000
PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516. 252-726-6663
www.carteretcrossroads.org

A LITTLE HISTORY

We thought that recent Crossroads members might be interested in how we got started and what we have done over the years. In 1979 someone proposed putting a Liquefied Propane Gas terminal on Radio Island. A group of citizens opposed to the LPG storage formed an ad hoc group, led by Dr. John Costlow, to fight the proposal. After the struggle, the participants decided to form a "watch-dog" group to examine future proposals of environmental concern. Crossroads was the result. From the very first, the main objective was to educate and empower citizens to make sound decisions about projects that have an environmental impact. It is interesting that many of the concerns over the years have involved development on Radio Island or at the port, similar to the two topics discussed below.

Many of the proposals that we have opposed have involved major transportation impacts on Morehead City. For example, after a small coal-exporting facility located on port property proved successful, the owners of land on Radio Island wanted to build a huge coal export terminal on the island. There was a lot of opposition primarily because of the train traffic--estimated at twelve coal trains a day into and out of the city. Morehead would have been paralyzed. Fortunately reason prevailed and the project was dropped.

In future issues we will review some of the other challenges that Crossroads and citizens have faced. If any of you took part in these and would like to share your views, let us know. We would be happy to publish your comments.

FERMENTATION ETHANOL

Many of you have heard that DFI Group Inc. is planning a fermentation ethanol plant on land leased from the State Port on Radio Island. The plant would produce 60 million gallons of ethanol per year from 22 million bushels of corn or from special strains of sweet potatoes being developed by NCSU for their high starch and low water content. Power for the plant will come from Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). It is planned that transport of LNG and product would be mostly by barge, with corn coming by truck or train.

Area citizens, especially some Beaufort residents, have expressed concern at recent public meetings. Ed Stahl, V. P. of DFI, has promised that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with cumulative impact analyses will be forthcoming as part of the permitting process.

For it's Annual Meeting, Crossroads is joining with the Duke University Marine Lab Coastal Issues Forum to explore in depth the proposed alcohol plant with company officials and a wide range of experts. We expect a full discussion of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed plant. The meeting will be held January 18th at the Duke Marine Lab.

PORT EXPANSION

The Port has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for expansion of the State Port on Radio Island. A public hearing was held and public comment has been received. We have questioned the need for the expansion, the effect on traffic through Morehead City and Beaufort, and the environmental effects of the extensive dredging and the large of amount of impervious surface created. A major weakness in the DEIS is the failure to look at cumulative impacts, especially on transportation. We expect these questions to be answered before the final EIS is issued.

MOAs

The Marine Corps is proposing additional restricted airspace (Military Operating Areas) north and east of Carteret County. The plans include Core and Cherry MOAs, which were proposed and never finalized several years ago. There is a big difference in the present proposal in that the floor of the MOA would be at 3000 feet, rather than the 500 feet previously requested. For information, call 1-888-658-8664 or go to: www.tamsconsultants.com/moas/.

COMPREHENSIVE GROWTH PLAN

The process of developing a Comprehensive Growth Management Plan for Carteret County is underway. A consultant, The Chesapeake Group, has been selected and is working hard to determine what the citizens want their county to look like during the next twenty-five years.

A public meeting was held at the Civic Center on November 18th to gain input from interested citizens. It was interesting to this observer that there is nearly unanimous support for high environmental quality. The citizens want meaningful planning for development and infrastructure that will not imperil further our water quality or our quality of life. Zoning for the entire county was a frequently expressed desire, as was countywide planning for wastewater treatment--not to be confused with a countywide sewer system. The importance of managing stormwater runoff was repeatedly emphasized. It appears that the new EPA Phase II Stormwater Rules will have a lot to say on this issue. Some issues commonly associated with "Smart Growth" were also brought up such as the desirability of bike and walking paths, neighborhood stores, etc.--all concerns of those who oppose unchecked sprawl.

It appears that the Group is looking for community consensus on plans for growth that will both preserve the environment and provide for economic development. If this objective is achieved and adopted by local government, it will be a big step forward in determining how our county will look the next few years.

At present, there seem to be two opposing views--growth and jobs at any cost versus preservation of high environmental quality. The key to any successful plan will be to reconcile these views and to adopt measures to put the plan into effect in a meaningful way. We have seen a variety of land-use plans, strategic plans, etc. come with fanfare and disappear without a trace. Let's hope that this one does better.

ARCHIVES

We would like to assemble a complete set of Crossroads Newsletters. We had a set once that was borrowed and never returned. If you have any newsletters published before September 1986, we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to copy them for the records.

CROSSROADS ALERTS

We are trying to keep our members informed of environmentally important events and developments in the county. As some of you know, we recently sent out e-mail announcements of upcoming events. If you are a member, have an e-mail address and did not get our announcement, please send us your e-mail address. The simple way to do so is to send an e-mail to: ihooper@mail.clis.com. We will be happy to add you to the list. Please let us know how you feel about this way of communicating with you. If you do not have e-mail, we will continue to send out alerts by mail as we did for the Comprehensive Planning meeting.

CENTER FOR MARINE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (CMAST)

We recently celebrated the opening of the new CMAST facility on the Community College campus. The four-story building will provide space for a variety of functions. NC State University will occupy the first two floors with researchers from the Veterinary School, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Physics and Marine Sciences, School of Fisheries and Wildlife Biology and the Seafood Testing Lab as well as the NC Sea Grant. The NC Cooperative Extension Service will be on the third floor.

The Community College will occupy the fourth floor with new Biology and Physics laboratories to support their new Associate in Science degree, as well as a computer lab for teaching Internet technology and Cisco Certification classes.

CROSSROADS NEWS

Members are welcome at all Board Meetings, held the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 PM in the Conference Room at the Duke Marine Lab Auditorium.

John Fussell has resigned from the Board to devote more time to other projects. John, the last remaining board member of the original group that started Crossroads in 1980, has contributed a lot to the group over the years. We will continue to call on him for help on special topics. If you know of persons interested in serving on the Board, please let us know.

Thank you to our newest Life Members, Brent Creelman, Bob and Diane Hardy, and Pat Bland, for their continued generous support of Crossroads.