Regional Report Eastern May 2012
Sportsmen’s suit: New rules are for the birds
Recently introduced regulations that limit the use of off-road vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore have rekindled debate about the impact of those rules on North Carolina’s coastal economy. Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance, which represents Outer Banks off-road and fishing enthusiasts, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. National Park Service in federal court, alleging that the regulations will harm tourism. Environmental advocates disagree. They say that since 2008, when interim rules closely resembling the current ones were instituted, Dare County’s tourism numbers have remained steady while Cape Hatteras’ wildlife population has increased. The Southern Environmental Law Center and Audubon North Carolina have signed on to help the Park Service defend the rules. They are asking a judge to dismiss the case.
The regulations — enacted in January after years of negotiations and court battles — designate 28 miles of seashore as year-round routes for off-road vehicles, including a way to Cape Point, a popular fishing spot. But the vehicles are barred from 26 miles and permitted on 13 miles only during off-peak times. The Alliance claims the Park Service did not consider its input during the rule-making process and based them on a biased scientific report created by an advocate of strict vehicle limits. Coastal storms and predation account for most population losses — not off-road vehicles — the group says in the action. Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville also has filed a bill seeking to overturn the rules.
WILMINGTON — Fiber and polymers producer INVISTA will lay off 60 of the 285 workers at its plant here. The subsidiary of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries says the cuts are needed for it to remain competitive supplying dimethyl terephthalate, which is used to produce polyester fibers.
PANTEGO — The N.C. Utilities Commission approved a 49-turbine wind farm for Pantego Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Invenergy. Pantego Wind is studying the project’s potential effects on migratory birds and must receive additional state and federal permits before it begins construction.
WILMINGTON — UNC Wilmington will spin off the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center to give it more financial flexibility helping startups. The school aims to make the center self-sustaining in the next several years.
FAYETTEVILLE — TKD Golf Management, a company formed by a Rhode Island couple and their three sons, purchased Baywood Golf Course here for $1.3 million from Louisville, Ky.-based Different Strokes Golf Centers. The course had closed earlier this year.
WILMINGTON — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is suing seven former leaders of failed Cape Fear Bank for $11.2 million. The agency alleges executives including former CEO John Coburn were negligent in approving 23 loans that led to the losses.