RALEIGH — With meetings on hold for the past couple of months awaiting new members, state Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials are hopeful that a slate of appointments released by the governor’s office yesterday means the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) can soon return to work.
Gov. Pat McCrory named nine members to the commission, which lost all but four members under a provision in the state budget that took effect July 31. The provision also dropped the number of CRC members from 15 to 13.
McCrory named to the commission yesterday:
Frank Gorham of New Hanover County – Gorham, who will serve as chair of the commission, fills one of the seats reserved for a coastal property owner or a member with experience in land development. He is the owner of Sandstone Properties LLC in Wilmington and was appointed to a two-year term.
- Greg Lewis of Carteret County — Lewis, chair of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners, was appointed to the CRC’s second seat reserved for a coastal property owner or person experienced in land development for a one-year term. He also is a member of Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow, the county’s Economic Development Council and the Public Water Access Committee.
- Bill Naumann of Craven County — Naumann, president of Transformation Venture Capital in New Bern and former chairman of Hatteras Yachts, was appointed to a two-year term to the seat reserved for members with experience in engineering or a marine-related science.
- Neal Andrew of New Hanover County — Andrew, a civil engineer and president of Andrew Consulting Engineers, was appointed for a one-year term for the second seat requiring experience in engineering or a marine-related science.
- Suzanne Dorsey of Brunswick County — Dorsey, executive director of Bald Head Island Conservancy & Smith Island Land Trust and a marine sciences adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, was appointed for a two-year term to a seat requiring experience in coastal related business.
- Benjamin Simmons Jr. of Hyde County —Simmons, a farmer and founder and owner of Dare to Hyde Outdoor Adventures, was appointed for a two-year term to the seat requiring experience in coastal agriculture. Simmons, a current CRC member, owns farmland in Hyde and Tyrell counties and produces corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat and sorghum.
- Renee Cahoon of Dare County — Cahoon, a current CRC member who has served several terms as mayor of Nags Head, was reappointed for a one-year term to the seat experience in local government within the coastal area.
- Bob Emory of Craven County — Emory, environmental manager at Weyerhaeuser’s southern timberlands operations and a current member of the CRC, was reappointed for a one-year term to the seat requiring experience in coastal forestry. Emory, the former CRC chair has been on the commission since 1994.
- Lee Wynns of Bertie County — Wynns, a current CRC member and the former mayor of Colerain, was reappointed for a one-year term to the seat reserved for a member with experience in commercial fishing. He is the retired president and operator of Perry-Wynns Fish Company and has served on the CRC for 11 years.
While the four current members did meet in a special session in August to recommend a course of action in a recent court case on a variance to the CRC’s sandbag rules, DENR opted to postpone the CRC’s scheduled meeting last month until new members were on board.
Michelle Walker, spokesperson for DENR, said a date for the next meeting has yet to be set, but the appointments should allow the CRC to return to a regular schedule.
“We are very pleased to have nearly a full slate of commissioners and are ready to begin working with them as soon as possible,” Walker said in an email.
Under state law, the new appointees must be approved by the State Ethics Commission before being sworn in. They join Marc Hairston, a charter boat captain from Onslow County, and Caswell Beach Mayor Harry Simmons. Both were appointed in July by state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. They are awaiting final clearance from the ethics commission.
Under the new structure of the CRC, House Speaker Thom Tillis was also given two appointments, but Tillis did not name anyone in legislation on appointments passed in July at the end of the N.C. General Assembly session.
Changes to the CRC in the budget also give the commission the power to appoint members of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council. DENR officials have said they expect the appointments to come after new CRC members are given a chance to get up to speed in their new roles.