Sunset Beach Activist, Developer Win Pelican Awards

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC July 31, 2014 – A Sunset Beach activist and a Wilmington developer have won 2014 Pelican Awards from the N.C. Coastal Federation. They are among six of the award winners along the southeast N.C. coast.

Sue Weddle advocates for effective coastal stormwater regulations and tough enforcement of coastal development rules.

Developer Burrows Smith won an award for being a local champion and pioneer of low-impact development, a new approach to controlling stormwater pollution.

North Carolina Coastal Federation

They are among the 15 statewide recipients of Pelican Awards this year. The annual award recognizes the exemplary work of people, organizations and groups to protect and enhance the N.C. coast. All will receive the awards Saturday at a luncheon at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores in Carteret County.

Weddle is a long-time resident of Sunset Beach. She retired to the coast with her husband, Owen, to “get away from it all,” as many people do. But Sue found she could not relax when she saw coastal resources being threatened by unwise or poorly planned land uses. She soon found herself serving on local and state- appointed environmental review committees, and frequently became a leader in heated public policy debates or permit reviews in her efforts to protect the integrity of the coast’s shifting sands, fragile marshes, water quality and public access.

“Sue never leaves a stone unturned, a deed unread or a permit unchallenged if she believes that something is being proposed that unnecessarily hurts the health and productivity of the coastal environment,” said Todd Miller, the federation’s founder and executive director.

Like other developers, Smith used pipes, ponds and other conventional techniques to direct and control stormwater runoff on his many development projects in New Hanover County. But after learning about a new stormwater management approach that makes use of the land to absorb stormwater, he’s become a strong advocate of low-impact development, or LID.

Smith is vice president and managing partner of River Bluffs Development Group and now a strong proponent of LID. He is implementing LID techniques on his 315-acre development in Castle Hayne by installing permeable paving and rain water harvesting systems, minimizing tree disturbance and directing all the stormwater into the ground before it becomes polluted runoff.

“Burrows has demonstrated what can be achieved when you believe in the work you are doing and engage partners in your quest,” Miller said. “His result is a model development that is being showcased all over the state and nation.”

Other regional winners are:

  • Supply Lakes of Lockwood Homeowners Association for installing 56 rain barrels and eight rain gardens with the Smart Yards Program
  • Planner Shawn Ralston for leading efforts to provide sound environmental safeguards in New Hanover County’s special-Use permit
  • Wrightsville Beach for the town’s partnership and support in establishing the Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center and the federation’s new southeast office
  • The William Maddison Randall Library at the University of North Carolina Wilmington for cataloging the federation’s collection of documents making them accessible as a permanent coastal education resource

About the North Carolina Coastal Federation:

“Working Together for a Healthy Coast”

The N.C. Coastal Federation is the state’s only non-profit organization focused exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat restoration and preservation. The federation’s headquarters are at 3609 N.C. 24 in Ocean between Morehead City and Swansboro and the office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The federation also operates field offices in Wrightsville Beach and Manteo. For more information call 252.393.8185 or check our website at