Wrightsville Beach mayoral candidate Bill Blair is running uncontested and has previously served as an Alderman and planning board member.
You are one of three local uncontested mayoral candidates. What do you think this says about the political climate?
I think there needs to be more people who are running for office that are qualified, that have an interest in the beach. And itís disappointing that more people are not doing that. As to what the specific reasons are, itís hard to tell.†
What is the first issue you hope to tackle as mayor?
The first issue was the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance. Now, as of yesterday Ö itís about a four year delay cycle Ö And basically what it does, it sort of takes the immediate burden away and it basically puts it out there for a total of about four years to study the effect on homeowners, the affordability of the homeowners and how to replenish the FEMA fund Ö And flood insurance rates will not go up dramatically. There will still probably be some insurance increases, but not dramatic as we all have expected.
Considering the cost to the town for our present recycling arrangement, would you favor or oppose mandatory curbside recycling?
One of the things I would do before I would pursue mandatory recycling, which Iíve never been in favor of mandatory much of anything, but would be to go to the county to give them an opportunity to participate in that recycling center as most of the constituents, or more than 50†percent of the people that use that center, are actually county residents. So that burden should not all be Wrightsville Beachís. Ö There are ways to take that recycling center and move it to different parts of the beach and make it more restrictive.
What is your position on the construction of a dog park facility on town property? †
As to a dog park, Ö Iím not aware of where that actually is in the process, where the locations are. I think itís a concept we should look at. Iím unsure as to what the liability issues may be, so some of that needs to be clear to me to be able to come up with a great answer for a dog park. I know we have limited space here.†
Are you in favor of or opposed to increasing the 40-foot height limit in the R-1 and/or R-2 residential zones?
Up until the Biggert-Waters Act, I was fine with the current ordinances from the UDO exercise we went through a year ago. When the Biggert-Waters Act came up, it was clear that there was the potential to have to raise heights or first-floor elevations to meet insurance requirements or lessen insurance burdens. Now that there are new pending legislations in front of us, itís hard to answer that question. Ö Because the answer was, two days ago, we probably need to look at some freeboard issues to help residents. ... Looking at heights for particular reasons, thatís something we do need to explore.
Are you in favor of or opposed to modifying the existing C-5 commercial zoning (specifically the Galleria property) to allow permanent residential structures to be constructed there as a mixed use development?†
I wouldnít be in favor of residential on that side of the bridge probably at all. As a Wrightsville Beach resident, I donít think folks on that side of the bridge share the same interests that we do.
How do you feel about Wrightsville Beach School being moved off of the beach to help with the overcrowding issue?
Iíd like to see Wrightsville Beach School stay right where it is. As far as the overcrowding issue, the county is going to have to deal with that at some point. They have on that side of the bridge several large apartment developments going on right now, which obviously will add to their school crowding problem. I think the county is going to have to look at a new school, not necessarily for Wrightsville Beach but for their growing county problem on the Eastwood/Military Cutoff section of town.†
Describe your budgeting outlook and financial philosophy.
From what I remember being on the board for four years, the budget stays pretty static.† ... Weíve been fortunate to budget it pretty conservative, which has worked well. Ö But my philosophy is pretty conservative. My obvious goal is I donít particularly have any interest in increasing taxes.†
What donít people know about you?
One of the things they probably donít know about me is I have a passion for buying late model 1970 CJ7s and restoring them. Ö Iíve got a weak spot for cars, but I have a real weak spot for CJ7 Jeeps.