July 16, 2008

No Wake Zone Could Go Near N.C. 126 Bridge

By Sharon McBrayer, The News Herald, Morganton, N.C.

Jul. 15--MORGANTON -- After state wildlife officials lost the first request, Burke County officials are trying again.

Boaters will likely have to slow down when they near the N.C. 126 bridge on Lake James.

The Burke County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution requesting a no wake zone be established around the area. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will have final approval, according to county officials.

The area of the no wake zone would be from the channel islands to the far side of Mountain Harbor Marina and the Canal Bridge access area. The owners of marina, John and Laura Aulgur, requested the zone, according to information from the county.

The county first submitted a request for a no wake zone to the Wildlife Resources Commission in 2002. The request was forwarded to the enforcement division for investigation. But the two men the request was forwarded to have since retired, according to a letter to the county from Joan Troy, rulemaking coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Commission. She said there is no documentation that the request was ever decided on by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

Creating a no wake zone has the support of business owners in the area.

In a letter to County Commission Chairman Wayne Abele, six business owners said the area where the no wake zone is requested sees a lot of traffic, has become dangerous and unsafe for boaters.

On Tuesday night, John Phelps told commissioners he's gone under the N.C. 126 bridge in his sailboat many times, only to be passed by boaters speeding by him going 15 to 20 mph. Many of those boaters, he said, are towing skiers. Because of the high speeds of some boaters and the passage around the bridge being narrow, it is a serious safety concern for him.

Phelps told commissioners he was in favor of the zone.

The owners of Mountain Harbor Marina have agreed to pay for the no wake buoys, say county officials.

In other business, commissioners:

--Approved an incentive package for The Settings in Valdese. The agreement is with the town of Valdese to reimburse the town to reimburse two thirds of the cost of installing water and sewer to the development.

--Denied a request to rezone property off Jacumin Road from Residential 3 to neighborhood business.


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