NEWSLETTER #95, March, 2002 www.carteretcrossroads.org PO BOX 155, BEAUFORT, NC 28516. 252-726-6663
Irv Hooper has handed over to me the editorship of the Newsletter. I take on this responsibility with pleasure. Irv has been a superb Editor over the many years of this newsletter, and will continue as my mentor. We owe him great thanks!
N. Bruce McCutcheon
(Each Newsletter will feature an editorial by a Board Director. As your new Newsletter Editor, I'll take the privilege of going first.)
No matter one's station in life, most everyone appreciates Carteret County's beautiful environment. It seems inconceivable that anyone would carelessly spoil it. If this is so, why is there any need for an environmental protection group such as ours? Part of the answer lies in attitudes that are widely held, but can work against the common good of a clean, beautiful and productive environment. Three such attitudes may contribute to our environmental problems: 1) "Please don't tell me what I can do with my own property." 2) "My actions have no impact on the environment." 3) "The environment looks clean to me, so what's the problem?"
The first attitude makes people resist and resent zoning or land use plans that impose rules or suggest means to control how property can be developed. Controlling property development for the common good is seen as less important than the freedom to develop property for personal advantage.
The second attitude allows people to feel that they are not responsible for creating environmental problems. They think that what they do with their property is of such insignificance to the environment, and that the environment is so able to recover from small degrading impacts, that they are blameless.
The third attitude probably creates the greatest difficulty for environmental protection. If people don't see, or otherwise notice that the environment is suffering degradation, then there seems to be nothing to worry about. They are convinced of a problem only by direct sensory evidence--- large and unnatural fish kills, huge toxic blooms of algae, or sick wildlife and people. They are often unconvinced, however, by the scientists' statistics and warnings, such as acreage of shellfish beds that are closed after a heavy rainfall.
Crossroads, over the 20 some years of our existence, has addressed these attitudes with information and knowledge. We know that good education can help people accept that protecting the common good is important and requires thinking beyond one's individual property rights. We know that good education can help convince people to stop doing bad things to environment and see that which is hard to see, and think about that which is difficult to understand. So, we carry on, both as watchdog to point out the problems, and as educator to help make things right. We are glad you, our members, are there to support these efforts. N. Bruce McCutcheon
Radio Island Watch
Crossroads routinely contacts representatives from El Paso regarding their LNG proposal. They continue to tell us that they have nothing new to report and are still looking for eastern Carolina customers needing large amounts of gas. They assure us that as soon as they are ready for public disclosure of the details of their project, Crossroads will be fully informed.
Annual Meeting Summary
(The following is excerpted, with minor editorial changes, from a longer summary prepared for Crossroads Board of Directors by Ted Odell. )
This evening’s program was a presentation of the Carteret County Comprehensive Management Plan. The construction of the Plan has been in process for about 18 months and is within a couple of months of completion. The Committee that put together this Plan is composed of 28 representatives from across the county, with a variety of skills and knowledge; it was chaired by Joan Lamson.
Howard Kohn of The Chesapeake Group, Inc., consultant to the committee, made the presentation. This Plan is a Vision or Policy Document to be used and modified for the next 20 years. It is not a zoning ordinance or set of regulations, and it is not an implementation tool, but rather a guide. It should be recognized at the beginning that the County and the municipalities within the County need to approve and support the plan. The Plan was developed through a consensus process, with Òevery word negotiated. The public has been encouraged to attend the meetings of the committee and its subcommittees. In addition, several community forums were held, telephone and business surveys were made and face-to-face interviews were carried out. The general objective was to devise a plan that would provide current and future generations a good place to live in all respects, economically, environmentally, culturally and otherwise. The areas covered are transportation, the environment, economic development, recreation and natural resources, education, health care, regional relations and public infrastructure. Goals are to: promote and protect the quality of the environment and of life for residents; preserve and respect cultural diversity; preserve and enhance the county’s natural and historic resources; preserve and enhance the county’s recreational opportunities; encourage a diversified economic base; provide quality education; ensure quality health care, promote the county’s goals by involvement with local, regional, state and national governments and entities; provide a balanced transportation system.
Regional Relations: Carteret County is a small, very diverse community with many different agendas. Activities that require a regional approach were identified, such as tourism, economic development, transportation and environmental remediation. Objectives are to increase coordination and communication among governmental units within the county, and with higher levels of government, as well as between businesses /industries and governmental agencies in order to forward the goals of the county.
Environment: There is a balancing act between preserving the environment and continuing development that contributes to community vitality and growth. Everyone agrees that our life in this county revolves around water, but approaches differ. Water quality in the sounds continues to worsen. “Shell fishing in shellfish designated waters must be protected.” A variety of factors that affect water quality were examined (hydrology, soils and nutrients, vegetation and habitat, surface water quality, groundwater supply and quality). Regulations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) were reviewed, beginning in 1972. First, point sources were regulated and more recently attention is being given to more diffuse sources of water pollution that that have been found to be of great significance. Local and national polls exhibit a concern for the environment, while there is also the sometimes-opposing concern for quality jobs and housing. There is also a lack of unanimity about what are the most important factors that are contributing to our failure to halt the degradation of the environment.
It might be a lack of awareness and knowledge of cause and effect, or addiction to the old ways. In any case, there appears to be a rising consensus that storm water runoff is a major cause of problems contributing to environmental degradation. Perceptions about existing and/or “needed” regulations are diverse. “Protection of the environment through a balanced approach that preserves the quality of the resources while allowing development that is supportive of the ecosystem and expands economic and housing opportunities in Carteret County is the challenge.”
Objectives: In addition to taking part in various statewide planning opportunities with regard to the environment, one interesting suggested objective is to develop a new approach to setting standards, namely performance standards in place of hard and fast regulations. An example would be the setting of a specific amount of nitrogen that would be allowed to leave farmland rather than limiting the amount of fertilizer that could be applied. Other objectives are to promote uniform guidelines concerning the amount of open space acreage required for developments, and a tree replacement program. Another objective is a countywide water conservation program that would include a public education program about the importance of water conservation. The institution of maximum impervious coverage limits for new development was suggested, as well as consistent ordinances at local and county levels of government that require a minimum of 50 foot stream buffers, with the first 30 feet near the water to be woody vegetation.
(The remaining portion of Odell's summary of the Annual Meeting, covering development, land use planning, and other issues will be presented in the next Newsletter.)
Board Directors Billy Harvey and Penny Hooper were nominated and reelected at the Annual Meeting to serve another three-year term.