Onslow Commissioners have approved a request to ask for State lottery funds to help expand a middle school and to construct a new elementary school well as participating with occupancy tax funds for a Welcome Center. The Commissioners were meeting in a regular session Monday, March 7, 2022.
Commissioners were asked to approve the applications for two schools to be partially funded by the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. The NC Lottery provides the funds through the entity for needed schools. Nearly thirteen million dollars is now to be sought for expansion projects at Northwoods Middle School in Jacksonville and thirty million dollars would be sought for a new Eastern Onslow Elementary School.
Fifteen million dollars in matching funds are required and would come from the County’s allocation to the School Board for construction. The approval from the Commissioners authorized the grant application.
Tourism Funds Allocated
Tourism funds were allocated for participation in the Jacksonville Welcome Center set for the intersection of Marine Boulevard and Old Bridge Street. City officials estimate the Center will cost a million dollars and won $350,000 from the County to help build the Center. With unanimous approval, the County allocated funds from the Tourism Fund for the project.
Tourism funds are collected as occupancy tax from persons who stay overnight in lodging facilities such as hotels, motels and short-term rentals like beach houses. The funds must be used for tourism related activities. The Tourism Fund does not include proceeds from the Property Tax.
New restrooms at Onslow Pines Park cannot be constructed where they are needed because of poor soil conditions. The Commissioners unanimously voted to purchase a mobile restroom trailer. Tourism Funds would be used to purchase the $100,000 restroom trailer. The trailer could also be used for emergency situations where there are restroom problems, or for disaster events.
The County Commissioners also gave approval for a grant application seeking $393,875 from the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund for projects at Hines Farm Park and Stables. Parks & Recreation Director Katie White indicated an inclusive playground with accessible surfacing, two picnic shelters and furnishings, walking paths, parking lot and site work as well as utility work to make the projects work would be built if the grant was approved. The funds are a dollar-for-dollar match, the County intends to use proceeds from the Tourism Fund to provide for the match. Commissioners unanimously approved the application.
Commissioners also gave approval to three rezoning requests after public hearings for each. The first rezoning request approved is for a site at the intersection of Old 30 and Piney Green roads in the White Oak township. The rezoning of the half-acre site from residential 10 to community business was unanimously approved.
The second rezoning unanimously approved is for a nearly 3-acre site at 676 and 680 Swansboro Loop Road. The request is rezone from residential to Rural Agriculture.
The third and largest in size rezoning request is on behalf of Coastal Bay Developers and White Hats companies for the Coastal Village rezoning. The thirty-acre site with 75 parcels is located on the southeastern side of NC 210 in the Stump Sound Township and the requested rezoning is from Residential 15 to residential 5. The subdivision was platted in the 1980’s but was never fully developed. During the public hearing, applicant Charles Riggs indicated that the developers believed the higher density was warranted because of the existing development around the area, which is bounded by the Stump Sound Park, and other higher density developments. The rezoning was approved unanimously.
New Ambulance Service
Commissioners also gave approval to a non-emergency transport franchise for Coastal Carolina CPR LLC doing business as American Ambulance Service in order to be given a franchise to provide non-emergency transportation within Onslow County. It was noted that the service can be required to help answer 9-1-1 calls should an emergency be declared.
This franchise does not affect the Onslow County EMS system. The company, based in Holly Ridge, is new but has a franchise to operate similar services in Pender County. A favorable recommendation was given by the Onslow County Peer Review Committee which is recommending the award of the franchise. No one spoke at the first public hearing and the commissioners were able to take action after the second public hearing to approve the franchise.
Tax Notices, Additional Funding from the State, and Honors
The acceptance of additional funding for the Women’s and Children’s Health and Nutrition program is before the Commissioners for action. The state increased the allocation to recipients of the program, and therefore the amount sent to Counties increased. The action is to approve the additional funding and approve the necessary budget amendments.
Property owners who have not paid their taxes for the year are to have their names and amount of tax owned published in the Daily News March 28, 2022. Because of software issues, the County was unable to meet the original date intended for the publication, and the action of the Commissioners is to approve the new date.
A series of budget amendments and an appointment were before the Onslow County Board of Commissioners. Tanya Foreman was appointed to the Museum Advisory Board by the Commissioners.
The Commissioners presented two proclamations: One in honor and celebration of the Onslow County Senior Games and another in honor of National Social Work Month.
Items on the consent agenda approved included a tax release and tax refunds. The Commissioners also approved the sale of two lots declared as surplus. The availability of the lots was advertised, and upset bids were received that drove up the cost of the two for sale.
During manager comments, County Manager Sharon Griffin discussed revaluation notices which were mailed last week. She emphasized that property owners who believe their value was incorrect should make an appeal. If they have a recent fee appraisal, that could help support their claim of a lower value, they should use that as part of their appeal. Property owners can file an appeal online on the tax department site.
It was also noted that the Board of Commissioners have not yet set the tax rate for the new tax year approaching.