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Hyped Fair Bluff recovery plan short on details, long on theory

A long-anticipated plan for Fair Bluff’s recovery in the wake of flooding after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was presented to the Fair Bluff board of commissioners, but the plan contained no specific proposals and a lot of general theoretical language, much to the surprise of many in attendance.

Lincoln Walther, an urban planner retained by the N.C. Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery and Resilience Initiative (HMDRRI) to help come up with a plan, spent nearly an hour making his proposal to commissioners and members of the public Tuesday night but offered little in the way of specifics.

No members of the board of commissioners would speak on the record after the meeting. Town Consultant Al Leonard had hoped to hear proposals the town could take to the General Assembly to seek funds for implementation. Some of the elected officials present said that Walther’s presentation contained no new ideas, and that they had heard most of the proposals before.

The proposal was a draft, however, and it is expected to be refined and expanded at a later date yet to be announced.

“This plan is a roadmap,” Walther told commissioners, “but it can become a blueprint.”

Walther’s proposal included addressing infrastructure, public facilities, housing, health, the environment, land use, finance, economic development and work force development.

It looked at existing community settings and assets, as well as issues. Funding implementation was not included but is expected to be a part of a final draft.

In other business, commissioners agreed to apply for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant for acquisition, clearance, disposition, relocation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of homes and sewer infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Matthew, reappointed three members of the planning board, agreed to defer action on acquiring new Christmas decorations until the board of directors of the Greater Fair Bluff Chamber of Commerce can decide how much support they can give to the project and received their annual audit report from CPA Wade Greene. Details of that audit will be reported in a future edition of the newspaper.

Commissioners also heard from resident Martha Bromell that residents were not given adequate notice of street closings and repairs in connection with new sewer lines and that residents were unnecessarily inconvenienced as a result. Mayor Billy Hammond, a neighbor of Bromell’s, didn’t disagree. Kathy Ashley, attending the meeting as president of the chamber of commerce but also representing Frank Horne Construction, which contracted for the sewer project, agreed to meet with Bromell to address any outstanding concerns.

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may, 2018

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