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Coastal Resources Commission speaks out on looming member reduction

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TWC News: Coastal Resources Commission speaks out on looming member reduction
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WILMINGTON — Current members of the Coastal Resources Commission and Advisory Council are speaking out on the Senate possibly cleaning house.

These two groups work together to develop and adopt policies pertaining to coastal development. Wednesday, the two groups met in Wilmington and while the piece of legislation was not on the agenda, it was certainly a major topic of discussion.

It could have been one of the last meetings for the current members of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council. Senate bill 10 sets their term expiration date for June 30.

"It's important to look at things and study issues before you make a drastic cut like this," said council member Webb Fuller.

If the bill becomes law the council would drop from no more than 45 members to 20 members. Additionally, instead of appointments being made by various state and local agencies to ensure a diverse group, the Coastal Resources Commission will have sole assignment power.

The only requirement is at least half of the members must live along the coast.

"To basically gut all of our commissions that have been in place for decades and a process that has been in place that ensures that you get a balanced approach to these things, these important issues, we are certainly not in favor of it," said council member Tracy Skrabal.
 
The bill includes sweeping changes to the Coastal Resources Commission as well. The expiration date for current members would be whenever this bill becomes law. Instead of 15 members there would only be 11.
 
"I was shocked at the breadth of this bill, I was shocked at the total change in the way we would be managing the coastal program," said commission chairman Bob Emory.
 
Emory said the appointment requirements in the bill focus a lot more on business and land development backgrounds than coastal environment knowledge.
 
"I hope as they go forward they'll give some thought to going back to bringing in some more of the way it's been done in the past as far as the areas of expertise that are represented," said Emory.
 
Most importantly, members of both groups said these changes will certainly stump productivity for an unknown amount of time.
 
The bill states two Coastal Resources Commission members would be recommended by the Senate President Pro Tem, the speaker of the House would appoint two, and the Governor would select seven instead of him selecting all of them.
 
The commission's meeting continues Thursday.

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