Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers voted 80-33 Wednesday to ease restrictions on four terminal groin projects at the coast.
The House version of Senate Bill 151 is a far cry from from the original Senate version, which would allow terminal groin construction in every inlet in the state, as well as removing parts of current law intended to protect property owners and taxpayers.
Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, said the House version is a more measured approach, maintaining the limit on the number of terminal groins at four as a pilot project while easing some of the restrictions in current law that he said are making it "impossible" to build those four projects.
Rep. Rick Catlin, R-New Hanover, reminded his fellow lawmakers that the state's inlets and channels are vital to businesses and tourism and that federal and state money for dredging has run out. He said terminal groins are "another tool" to help keep inlets open.
"I’ve worked for 20 years trying to move sand in a friendly way, but there’s no money anymore," said Catlin, an engineer. "The burden of maintenance of these inlets is pretty much on the backs of local governments."
Opponents argued that easing the environmental restrictions on the groins would ultimately result in damage to beaches and costs to local and state taxpayers.
The measure needs a final vote in the House Thursday. It then goes back to the Senate for concurrence.