The Oak Island Beach and Inlet Committee has formally recommended that town council adopt plans for beach renourishment that would, in theory, protect property from a storm expected to occur once every 25 years.

The plan outlined by contract engineers Moffatt & Nichol would cost about $36-million. It would cost $6-million more than the low-end possibility but provide an additional 15 years of protection, members of the committee noted at their Thursday session.

Member Vic Stancil said that a 50-year plan was unaffordable, and that annualized maintenance costs for the 10-year and 25-year plans were about the same at $3.07-million. That is because, he said, the bulk of the costs are to mobilize and demobilize the dredge, barges, pipes, bulldozers and associated equipment.

Member Carol Painter reminded the group it needs to keep pushing the town to obtain permits and seek the state’s assistance with funding.

Parts of the nearly nine-mile strand have a primary dune no taller than an office desk, particularly in the central reaches. One coastal expert recently described Oak Island as “one storm away” from significant private property and public infrastructure damage.

Funding the beach project will be a major hurdle and town council in the majority was not willing to raise property taxes this year.

The committee discussed various taxing schemes, noting they would be a tough sell to residents.

Committee member Gene Stokes asked a local real estate broker to analyze real estate sales for the past 12 months in the Oak Island “wooded section” (90 homes in sample), Leland (150 homes in sample) and Boiling Spring Lakes (123 homes in sample).

The analysis found that the average cost per square foot was $151 for the Oak Island interior, $107 for comparable houses in Leland and $102 for similar homes in Boiling Spring Lakes. Houses on the island are worth almost 50-percent more than comparable houses in the other two towns.

“It’s a revealing statistic,” Painter said. Stokes speculated that the higher property value of inland sections on Oak Island was because the beach is nearby.

“We need to sell the idea that everybody needs to pay something (for beach improvements),” Stokes said.

The group reviewed Carteret County’s beach plan and Painter discussed the now-shelved Brunswick Beaches Plan. They also discussed various sand sources, including the Lockwood Folly system and the Yellow Banks off the Intracoastal Waterway.

Members agreed that Oak Island should stay in touch with Holden Beach as it moves forward on plans for a terminal groin and sand placement on its eastern shoreline.

Interim co-manager Lisa Stites said that Moffatt & Nichol would represent the town’s interests; committee members asked for a more formal agreement or contract.

Members of the committee also agreed to research whether there is a possibility of obtaining federal money for sand to improve sea turtle habitat, as was done in 2001. They also decided to work on a draft fact sheet about beach issues that could serve as a handout in the future.