SUNSET BEACH — Town council members here again met behind closed doors Monday to discuss a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly that would de-annex three areas of town and voted to hire a lobbyist to fight the measure, according to Mayor Ron Watts’ Facebook page.
The council went into closed session during its regular meeting Monday to receive legal advice from the town attorney regarding Senate Bill 875. The legislation, which would remove from Sunset Beach’s corporate limits three parts of town now in development, was also the point of a special meeting held Thursday. That meeting was mostly spent in closed-session talks with the attorney.
The council also voted to hire a lobbyist at a coast of $15,000 for help in working with the state House against the bill.
“We will post some key bullet points in support of the Town’s position on the Town’s website as well as key members of the House to contact later this week. We would expect the House to begin considering the bill in the next week or two,” Watts posted Tuesday.
This bill would affect the Palm Cove development, which includes about 10 oceanfront lots where two homes are now under construction at the east end of the barrier island; the Sunset Creek Commons apartment complex that is part of more than 64 acres on the mainland voluntarily annexed in 2008; and Sunset West, a 21-lot oceanfront development at the west end of the island.
“The town has worked in good faith over the past several weeks with the three property groups to address their concerns,” Parker said.
Watts said that if the issues cannot be resolved, the town attorney has the council’s authorization “to take the necessary legal steps to protect the Town’s interests,” Watts posted.
Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, introduced the bill May 11 without consulting town officials on the disagreement, Parker said. The Senate approved the bill in a third reading with a 45-3 vote Friday and the measure passed a first reading in the House Monday. The bill was then referred to the House Rules Committee.
Brunswick County Developer Sammy Varnam, citing conflicts with town officials in matters pertaining to his development projects, requested the bill. Varnam said he intended to send the town a message that private property rights must be protected.