Southport's new fire truck

At their February 11 meeting, members of the Southport Board of Aldermen accepted the donation of a 75-foot ladder tower truck to the Southport Fire Department.

Battalion Chief Ralph Treadway advised board members that the donation of the 2015 Pierce Velocity Aerial Scope truck was made by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The truck, which was previously in service with the Kings Park, Long Island, New York, Fire Department, will replace the department’s current 50-foot ladder truck.

According to Treadway, the truck will be housed at Caswell Beach. Southport Fire Department contracts with Caswell Beach to provide fire coverage for that community.

“If we had to purchase one of these trucks new, the cost would probably be over a million dollars,” Treadway said.

He also noted that the new truck will be able to fit into places where the department’s existing 101-foot ladder truck cannot be used, due to blocked access from trees.

Black History Month honored

Southport Mayor Joseph P. Hatem, MD, presented a board proclamation honoring Black History Month. In his remarks after reading the proclamation, Hatem noted that “Southport celebrates Black History Month with heartfelt remembrance,” honoring the lives and legacy of the African American community and its contributions to the city.”

After reading the proclamation, the mayor presented it to Rev. Brian A. Monroe, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Southport.

Language for updated UDO approved

City Planner Thomas Lloyd requested the Board of Aldermen approve a zoning text amendment that would remove parking overlay district language from Southport’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). He noted that, as part of the city’s recent update and rewrite of the UDO, parking regulations and provisions were revised for the central business (CBD) and business district (BD) zoning designations.

Within the CBD there are no parking requirements, and significantly reduced standards have been put in place within the BD. As a result of that UDO revision, the current parking overlay district is no longer necessary.

At the January meeting the Board of Aldermen removed the parking overlay district from the zoning map. At the February 11 meeting, following a brief public hearing, the board approved removal of the related language from the UDO.

Concerns voiced by residents

During the public comment period, Thomas Alt of Southport expressed concerns about the decommissioning of the Capital Power (CPI) plant scheduled for March 31. He stated that while the plant lies fully in Brunswick County, issues of groundwater, stormwater and air pollution directly affect Southport, and presented questions about how the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) plans to monitor and test the decommissioning.

Among other issues, Alt expressed concern about stormwater runoff, created by high-pressure cleaning machinery that could impact groundwater.

“It could equally impact the runoff water into the 9.2-mile Duke cooling canal that empties into the Atlantic Ocean just off the beaches of Caswell Beach and Oak Island,” he said.

Alt pointed out the last time the Board of Aldermen took up this matter, a resolution was issued stating that Southport was concerned about potential, environmental contamination, and he implored the city to immediately collaborate with the county and any other local jurisdictions, as well as Duke Power who owns the property that CPI sits on, to ensure the cleanup is conducted correctly.

“So citizens can have full faith that their families are protected,” Alt said.

Also during the public comment period, Beth Commander, owner of The Trolley Stop in Southport, asked if the city has any immediate plans to help stimulate the retail environment. She stated that between the current pandemic and construction of the much needed sewer replacement project on Howe Street, the retail traffic the city once enjoyed has declined significantly, and felt that Southport needs to advertise that it is “open for business,” since many people she has talked with do not realize that.

“We’re not looking for a handout, just a hand up,” Commander said.