A New Hanover County resident and businessman has stepped down from his post as chair of the Coastal Resources Commission.
Frank Gorham, who lives in a home on Figure Eight Island and has an oil and gas business in Mexico and Texas, resigned from the position Thursday after he was notified by Gov. Roy Cooper's office that the CRC's Nags Head-based vice chair Renee Cahoon would be appointed to the helm.
"I've always felt -- I call it best management practices -- that an old chairman should not hang on with a new regime. It makes it harder for them to lead. So I immediately resigned," Gorham said Monday.
The 13-member CRC establishes policies for the N.C. Coastal Management Program and adopts rules for both CAMA and the N.C. Dredge and Fill Act, according to the commission's website. The commission's role is to designate areas of environmental concern, adopt rules and policies for coastal development within those areas and certify local land use plans, the website states.
"He was one of the best chairs I’ve ever served with, and I wish he was still on the commission because he brought a great stability to the commission and he did a marveious job," Cahoon said of Gorham on Monday.
She said Gorham was able to bring balance to the panel because he had the ability to listen, express his views and also allow others to express theirs, resulting in a group that worked well together.
"I cannot believe that I could aspire to be as good as Frank, but I will try," said Cahoon, who has been notified verbally by state officials that she is expected to be appointed chair.
Cahoon said one of Gorham's greatest accomplishments involved a sea-level rise study measure that limited the scope of the study to a 30-year rolling time table, to be updated every five years.
"There's probably still some disagreement out there, but I think making it a rolling update every five years really does make it a long-term study," Cahoon said.
Gorham said he felt the 30-year time frame would mean more people would give the study more credit. He said the balancing act he worked to achieve wasn't always easy.
"You're trying to balance protecting the environment, but I have a firm belief that you have to help those existing property owners to be able to stay with their dream. I have a house on the ocean, and my dream would be that my great-grandchildren could use it," Gorham said.