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Surf City Governmental Update May 29, 2020

Town Manager/Administration

I think it's safe to say that the Summer Season is upon us here in Surf City. This week, administrative staff transitioned back to the office. Everyone is taking precautions to help keep our employees safe. It's good to see everyone's face again, and good to be back together working as a team for the residents of Surf City!

The fiscal year budget (FY 2020-2021) has been a primary focus for town administration and finance staff. The unknowns of COVID-19 and its impact on revenues to the Town are still being evaluated and has caused the Town to take additional precautions to make sure we remain in solid financial condition moving into the new fiscal year. Along with the upcoming year's operating budget, a Capital Improvement Plan has been prepared, particularly outlining a 5-year plan for strategic acquisition of needs related to the town, it's governmental operations as well as water and sewer needs.

It continues to be my pleasure to serve the Town and it's residents and if there's anything I can do for you please reach out! -Kyle Breuer, Town Manager kbreuer@surfcitync.gov

COVID-19

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services hosts various resources on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would urge you to review the information contained here.

Along with the Governor's Executive Orders, the Town of Surf City remains under a State of Emergency. You can find copies of the State of Emergency on the Town's website at www.surfcitync.gov

Town Hall Update

The graphic below represents the schedule for construction of the new town hall. As you have seen the site is prepped and will be ready for site work to begin very shortly.

June 2nd Council Meeting and Public Comments

The June 2nd Town Council meeting is set to begin at 10:00 am and will be held by a virtual means at www.youtube.com/townofsurfcity . There is a public hearing regarding a zoning text amendment to Appendix A, Section 4.1.8 Multi-Family Cluster. The town is accepting public comments on the zoning text amendment.

To leave a public comment or public hearing comment please call 910-338-5510. Each participant will be provided three minutes for comments and/or concerns. Please state your full name and address then start your public comment or public hearing comments recording. Please note that these comments will be played back using a digital platform during the June2nd public comment period and are considered an open public record. The phone line will open on Friday May 15th and will remain open for comments until Friday, May 29th at 5:00 PM. If you have questions regarding this process, please contact the town clerk at 910-328-4131x106 or by email at clerk@surfcitync.gov. Detailed Town Council agendas are available from the Town Clerk.

Federal/USACE Project

Federal Storm Mitigation Project: The USACE outlined details regarding the federal nourishment project, the contractor plans to start the nourishment project at the Topsail Beach town line and work north. The contract will go out for bid this summer with plans to begin construction early 2021. The first phase of the project will place 2 million cubic yards from the Topsail Beach town line to Oceanaire Lane. We are still awaiting approval from NCDOT on right-of-parking at two specific beach accesses along S. Shore Drive. Utilizing a template provided by the USACE, Staff utilized current and historical aerial photography to determine property status. Property status is divided into several categories based on location of the dune structure. This ultimately determines the ability of the Town to obtain the cost-share provided by the USACE. USACE staff is working on a coordinated 1 page public message that is consistent for all parties involved and includes key facts and timelines. Once we receive the official message and timelines we will release those.

The federal project is estimated to add an additional 13 million cubic yards of sand to the beach, build a new dune that is projected to be 25’ wide and 14’ high and widen the beach with a 6’ high and 300’ wide berm. Oceanfront citizens should expect to receive copies of perpetual easements within the next month. These perpetual easements will need to be signed and notarized, and the originals returned to the clerk’s office at 201 Community Center Drive or PO Box 2475 Surf City, NC 28445. Any questions can be addressed at 910-328-4131x106.

Typical Dune Profile

Census 2020

It's not too late to respond! By this time each household should have received their Census mailer in via USPS mail services. Each mailer contains your personal key to participate in the Census online at www.my2020census.gov. You may also call 1-844-330-2020 to get personal assistance or to have a mailer delivered to your home.

The 2020 Census directs billion of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, programs and other public services.

The importance of the 2020 Census to North Carolina: https://www.nccensus.org/about-the-census

The 2020 Census Response Rate Tracker has now been updated with the first of the 2020 response data. The tracker is available online at https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html and will be updated regularly going forward.

Advisory Boards:

All Advisory Board & Committee meetings have been canceled through June 15th (exception of Planning Board). We will re-schedule these meetings accordingly.

The Town is in need of volunteers to serve on the Board of Adjustment. If you are interested in volunteering for an advisory board or committee, please complete the application below and email it to clerk@townofsurfcity.com

http://www.surfcitync.gov/2282/Advisory-Committees

Fire Department

The fire department has responded to 51 emergencies since the last update. The call volume decreases related to COVID-19 has subsided and we are back on pace for record emergency calls for 2020.

The fire department has seen a major increase in water rescues already this year. We have seen a total of 14 emergency calls over the past two weeks and have assisted 35 swimmers return to shore. We have had two patients transported to the hospital with significant injuries. It has been a busy year so far and we have already surpassed the number of surf rescue calls from all of last year. Our beach patrol has been out trying to educate beach goers of ocean safety and rip currents.

Fire Department Gator

The fire department has been in constant contact with emergency services professionals across the state to develop contingencies to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. Many services and protocols have seen some form of change, but rest assured the fire department will continue to provide effective fire protection services to the community in this unprecedented time.

The fire department has had several requests for drive by celebrations from the public. We have been participating in as many as we can to help the community celebrate birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc.

Fire department staff has been working with parks and rec and IT to update the current website. We are excited about the progress and look forward to the fresh new look. Stay tuned!

Local community colleges are starting the process of allowing training classes to continue. Several staff members have been able to resume studies and they should be finishing their NC EMT Certification soon.

The fire department has been in talks with the United States Lifesaving Association about a department certification that will recognize Surf City Fire Department as an Aquatic Rescue Response Team. This membership will provide SCFD with more enhanced training opportunities and provide a national standard to meet. More information on this will be forthcoming.

Surf City Fire Department hosted a Pender County Fire Chief’s meeting in the new training room/EOC last week. This marks the first meeting in the new space and the first meeting with the county fire chiefs since the COIVD-19 shutdowns began. It is a good sign to be able to get back to some normal operations.

Chief Wilson meet with the Pender County Commissioners last week to present the FY 2020-2021 budget. We were not asking for any increase in the tax rate for the Northeast Pender Fire District. The meeting went well, and the tax rate will remain at $.10 for that district.

Information Technology

Meetings: Meetings have settled down for us. We had two meetings that required my assistance to host over the last 2 weeks. I met with Public Works yesterday to prepare for new office usage. This will include new network cabling, laptops, and systems.

Radio Server Failure: We have a physical radio server that has failed and I am currently working on repairing the hardware in an attempt to get back online as soon as possible. This is a critical server for the Town.

Prep for employees return: Employees are back at their desks this week. In preparation, last week I spent some time attempting to make sure that it was a smooth transition. As requested, I set up a new computer at the Welcome Center.

Desk Phones: One of the things that I sent to the top of the list was desk phone installations. To allow for better service to our citizens, I switched the Community Center over to the VoIP system on the cusp of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. This provided the capabilities for employees that were working from home to handle phone calls as usual. In reality, I would say it provided a bit more functionality as they were then able to transfer and communicate with the others in the town that was already on this new system.

However, due to the quick nature of setting up the softphones for remote workers, there weren’t physical desk phones available to all of the employees on their return. I spent last Thursday evening installing new Polycom phones and ensuring functionality at each employee’s desk and web configuration of the phone service.

The fire department had one of the old ESI phone systems still in place as well. Last week it also failed. I was prepared and had some Polycom units on hand. Last Friday I installed 4 new handsets and set up the phone system to allow for quick basic phone functionality. There are 4 more phones to be set up at this station, I plan to have those installed next week. I have sat with Fire Chief Wilson and went over expectations of the phone system and feel that we will be able to reach all of those goals over the next couple of weeks.

Helpdesk Tickets: There was a small increase in help desk tickets as workers returned to their desks. This included issues such as sound not working, scanner and printer problems after reconnection, and adding Teams to office PCs. One of the interesting remote help jobs just before our return was the diagnosis of a laptop issued to the Police Department that refused the power on. After some troubleshooting including pictures and facetime, we were able to determine that it was a faulty power supply. I have received the replacement and we are up and going again.

I am working diligently with staff in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, stay tuned for a web request form that will help us ease into things and make sure re-entry runs smoothly.

Police Department

Operational Updates:

Call for Service:In the past couple of weeks the police department responded to a total of 369 calls for service. This number incorporates officer-initiated calls, such as traffic stops in addition to our traditional calls such as reported calls, crimes in progress, assist citizens, traffic accidents, warrant service, town ordinance violations, etc.

Ewatch Weekly Report: If you would like to receive our weekly crime report via email, please follow the link to register: http://www.surfcitync.gov/2324/E-Watch

Patrol Division Highlights:

Onslow County Traffic Safety Task Force: Our patrol division assisted the Onslow County Traffic Safety Task Force last Saturday on Hwy 17 citing 118 motorist for numerous traffic offenses.

Beach Enforcement Operations: Patrol officers assisted beach patrol staff last weekend enforcing beach ordinances. A total of 14 alcohol violations were issued. Town wide, there was a total of 70 ordinance tickets written.

Weekly Crime Stats

Department Updates:

Investigation Division:Detectives have been busy working on an extortion case, a first degree kidnapping case (domestic related), suspicious fire, unattended death, obtaining property by false pretenses, and a breaking and entering of a building. In addition, they made an arrest on an individual for breaking and entering of a residence at the 100 block of N. Shore Drive.

Tips: Any criminal information or narcotic leads/tips from town employees or the general public are encouraged.

Short Term Rental Scam Alert

Scam Alert: The Surf City Police Department has received a complaint that scammers are fraudulently listing beach properties online for rent. The scammers have placed ads on Craigslist stating that beach homes are available for rent, for very low rates, and are requesting money be sent to them through PayPal and Zelle. It is not common practice for businesses in the area to request payments be sent through PayPal and Zelle when renting a vacation property.

Spotlight Notables:

Sergeant Eric Petersen Promotion:

Our staff would like to congratulate Eric Petersen on his well-deserved promotion to the rank of Sergeant. Sgt. Petersen and his K9 partner “Kayda” have done an outstanding job throughout his tenure. We wish him well as he transitions into his new role with the department.

Sgt. Eric Peterson and Kayda

COIVD-19: We are asking all citizens to please continue practice social distancing. We appreciate your support and generosity during this difficult time. Please continue to wash your hands. Stay Healthy, Stay Safe!

Public Utilities

The Surf City Utility Department is comprised of three divisions, Wastewater Treatment Plant, Water Treatment Plant, and the Collections and Distribution Division.

The Surf City Wastewater Treatment Plant is a Sequential Batch Reactor or (SBR) and has the capability of treating 1.5 million gallons a day. Surf City WWTP also utilizes 30 acres of storage ponds and 208 acres of solid set irrigation and is operated under a non-discharge permit.

The Surf City WWTP was compliant with all effluent permit limits for the month of April 2020. For the month of April Surf City WWTP treated 15.722 million gallons and spray applied 16.448 million gallons.

The Water Treatment Plant has the capability of treating 2.6 million gallons of water a day. The plant draws from the Castle Hayne Aquifer and supplies the water towers located throughout town. The water plant produced an average of 850 thousand gallons a day over Memorial Day Weekend. This is a thirty-two percent decrease over last year.

The Collections and Distribution Division maintains the town’s infrastructure that does is not located on one of the two plant sites. This includes fifty-two sewerage pumping stations, 3600 water connections, 4000 sewer connections, three water towers, five wells, and over one hundred and twenty miles of buried pipe.

The Utility Department completed fifty-four work orders and eighty-five locate request since May 14th, 2020. Waterside subdivision has received final certification on the utilities of phase one. The automatic valve on Sea Oaks has completed its testing phase, certification and is currently in service. The island portion of the town will see a slight pressure change as a result.

Town Staff has been focusing on cleaning of the Town’s gravity sewer system this period. Per State permit, the Town is required to clean ten percent of the system every year. This equates to approximately twenty thousand feet of pipe cleaned a year. This process takes a two-man team nearly a month to complete. This task not only keeps us compliant with our permit but helps prevent the likelihood of a sewer blockage during the town’s busiest time of year.

The recent rains have created difficulties in the sewer system. When this area sees such large amount of rainfall like we did last week, the sewer system can be overwhelmed. This last rain event tripled amount of water the utility infrastructure was forced to transport and treat. I encourage anyone who see’s broken plumbing, pipe, or manholes like those pictured below to report it so staff can fix it in a timely fashion.

Busted Pipe

The Town recently promoted Steve Smith to Deputy Director of the Utility Department. Mr. Smith has worked with the Town for sixteen years and is very qualified. If you see Mr. Smith out in the public, please congratulate him for his advancement in his career.

Should anyone have any questions or concerns about Surf City utilities, please call Town Staff at 910-328-4131.

Emergency Management

2020 continues to be an active weather year here in Surf City. Over the last two weeks, we have seen a flash flooding incident and the rapid development of Tropical Storm Bertha less than 200 miles to our south, making landfall near Mount Pleasant, SC, roughly 3 hours after being named. The week prior to that, Tropical Storm Arthur developed and passed 81 miles off our coast. These types of weather events highlight the importance of being adequately prepared to address dynamic, and sometimes unexpected, weather incidents quickly and effectively.

If you haven’t already done so, take the time to take note of your personal readiness. If you have a kit, check it out to make sure items aren’t missing or in need of replacement. If you don’t have a kit, now is a great time to put one together. Same goes for your personal disaster plan. If you already have one, review it with your friends and family and ensure it is actionable. If its not, take the steps now to update it and make it executable. For useful information and tips on becoming more prepared, visit ReadyNC and review the provided information, especially the “Plan,” “Prepare,” and “Stay Informed” sections.

Now is also a good time to get signed up for CodeRED emergency alerts as well. If you have already signed up, you are good to go. If you haven’t signed up yet, take a moment and do so by following one of these methods:

• Visit www.surfcitync.gov/codered, create, and complete your account. You can also update an already existing account here as well.

• From a smartphone, text “surfnc” to 99411 and follow the provided directions.

• If you are without internet access, you can call Town Hall at 910-328-4131 and request a staff member manually sign you up to receive alerts.

As we near the official start of the 2020 Hurricane Season, Town staff met this week, while practicing physical distancing of course, to discuss the upcoming season. The meeting included a virtual brief from our partners at the National Weather Service Wilmington Field Office, where the official season forecast was presented to the group. We discussed the challenges we may face during the season and what steps we can take to address these challenges to reduce their operational impacts. This meeting is one of many that Town staff will participate in throughout the hurricane season to ensure that we remain operationally ready and mission capable.

As highlighted in previous updates, if you and your family will be visiting our beautiful beach, please remain aware of the risk of dangerous Rip Currents. For more information, visit the NWS Rip Current Safety before heading out for a swim.

Rip Current Safety

Planning

If you would like to apply for any building, zoning or planning related function the applications can be found at: https://surfcitync.viewpointcloud.com/. Once your permit has been entered all requests from the applicant and reviewer can be made through the system. Please ensure that the application is filled out completely. The reviewer and/or applicant will be notified immediately by email of any comment or processes completed in the system. Also, please note that the Town Ordinances are on our website but the direct link to the Zoning Ordinance (appendix A) is: http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/North%20Carolina/surfcity_nc/partiicodeofordinances/appendixazoning*?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:surfcity_nc$anc=JD_AppendixA.

Planning Board meetings are currently being held electronically. The meetings are live streamed to our YouTube channel and will remain on our YouTube channel for future viewing. The May Planning Board meeting was held at 3 pm on Thursday May 14, 2020. The site plan approval for Triton Village was approved by Planning Board and will be presented at the June 2, 2020 Council meeting. Triton Village 2 is located between Triton Village and Charlie Medlin Drive. This site plan consists of approximately 17,400 square feet of retail/restaurant/office space. Planning Board also voted to extend approval of the site plan for The Terraces. The Terraces is a single-family subdivision consisting of 76 lots and is located between Dogwood Lakes and Lowe’s Hardware. This subdivision was originally approved on January 2, 1018. The applicant requested to withdraw the text amendment to Multi Family Cluster Zoning (MFC). The MFC zoning text amendment requested that the single-family home lot size be reduced to 4,500 square feet and a 40 ft width as well as a side setback of 5 ft, front setback of 15 ft and a rear setback of 10 ft..

The Planning Board voted to recommend to Council ordinance language and additional definitions regarding Electronic Changeable Copy Signs at the April Planning Board meeting. At the May Council meeting it was requested to move the item to the June workshop. The April Planning Board meeting minutes were approved at the May 14, 2020 meeting and have been posted for public review. This item will then move forward to the next regular Council meeting for public hearing/comment.

Staff continues to work with the providers of our online permitting system to streamline the permitting and inspection request process. Our administrative staff continues to support customers by providing information, walking them through the online permitting process, and receiving and processing payments for permits while answering a variety of planning and building related items.

Code Enforcement is supplementing PD on the weekends by providing additional parking enforcement. This additional responsibility has led to a work schedule change. Code enforcement will now be working Thursday through Monday instead of Monday through Friday. Calls received on Tuesday and Wednesday will be provided to our officer on Thursday. Complaints can also be entered by the public in our ViewPoint portal. This will send a direct email to our officer as well as create a “ticket” for the complaint. Status of the complaint can also be checked in ViewPoint. Direct access to the Code Enforcement portion can be found at: https://surfcitync.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1079

During the past 2 weeks I have continued with the UNC School of Government Zoning Officials Certification course. I focused on weekend parking violations and issuing waste violations for debris and furniture left in the right of way. I addressed one outside storage violation. I received 10 complaints of various natures and am working on addressing the ones under my purview. I have received 3 citation appeals to be brought before the Citation Appellate Committee. The below table lists the investigations/citations performed during the past 2 weeks.

Code Enforcement Activity

Building Inspections

Building Permit Activity

Finance

As we continue through COVID-19, all Finance staff has returned to our office at Town Hall. We continue to follow the CDC guidelines and remain at least 6 feet apart, wear masks when we can not maintain social distancing, and sanitize our areas. We continue to assist customers over the phone as Town Hall is closed to the public.

I am working with the Town Manager to finalize the Manager’s recommended budget which will be distributed to Council by the end of this week.

Below you will find a financial dashboard for the period covering February 2020 – April 2020. This dashboard will show where we stand as far as revenues collected year to date as well as total expenditures spent to date. If you have any questions related to this dashboard, please feel free to contact me at 910-328-4131 x. 109.

Surf City Financial Dashboard