Southport mayor proposes neutrality on proposed port

Reported by Kristy Ondo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) - Southport Town leaders have been in support of the possible development of an international container port in the area, but their stance could change after Thursday night.

Several residents have been upset about the idea of the port since 2006.  They value their quintessential, quiet, waterfront town.

Others are in favor of the development, saying the port would bring business and jobs to the area, which are some of the same reasons Southport Alderman decided to support the port in 2006.

But, Thursday night a new mayor will be sworn in, and with a change in leader could also mean a change in the official stance of support.

"I am going to ask the Aldermen to consider changing the resolution of support to one that's neutral," said Mayor-Elect Robert Howard.

It's an ambitious move for the mayor's very first night in office, but he says he's not trying to do anything controversial.  Howard says he wants Southport to have a say in its own fate.

"This port is going to effect Southport more than anywhere else, and we need to be participating, not watching from the sidelines," said Howard.

Howard thinks a neutral stance will give the town a better chance at achieving his next goal, which is to have a seat on the ports authority.

The man who started "No Port Southport" says the mayor is moving in the right direction.

"The port is just too close to the ammunition plant and the power plant," said Rhodes Messick with No Port Southport.  "It's like putting a bull's eye on us."

With the port still in early planning stages, getting everyone on board may never happen, but residents on both sides want to make sure they have a say in their fate.

If the state's plan to build the port is approved, construction won't begin until at least 2017 or later.

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