Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DOT soliciting bids for legal services for Public/Private Partnership of Mid-Currituck Bridge

The DOT has released a solicitation for a Statement of Qualification (SOQ) from legal firms capable and willing to provide councel and help facilitate the Public/Private Partnership between NCDOT and NCTA for the construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge. The document, available here offers some timelines and information that seem to indicate things are moving forward. Thanks to Tony for catching this one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Carova Beach rated #2 Secluded Beach by Sherman's Travel




Thought this was interesting though publicity of seclusion is a double-edged sword. Hope all had a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving. See the link

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BOC changes UDO to prohibit Domestic Horses in 4X4 area


In an email from Karen McCalpin, Director of the Wild Horse Fund, she explains that domestic horses are now prohibited from being on the 4x4 beaches in an effort to protect the Corolla Wild Horses. Below is her email:


At last night’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting, the Board voted to change the Unified Development Ordinance to prohibit domestic horses from the RO2 district. There was also a majority vote to have language written to make it a criminal offense to house domestic horses or ride them in the RO2 district. Wesley, Kimberlee Hoey, Mike Hoff, Bo Dame, and I had an opportunity to meet with the Commissioners at their work session prior to the meeting and we also testified at the Public Hearing.



This is incredibly good news for the wild horses. We were able to acquire written expert testimony from the following: Dr. Rachel Cachero, Dominion Equine Clinic, Suffolk, VA; Dr. Charles Issel, Chair of Equine Infectious Diseases, University of Kentucky; Dr. Philip Sponenberg, VMR College of Veterinary Medicine, VA Tech University; Karen Sussman, President of the International Society for the Protection of Wild Horses and Burros, Landry, SD; and Mike Yoder, Coordinator, Regional Equine Information Network System, Animal Science Extension, North Carolina State University. All the experts, including Carolyn Mason of the Shackleford Banks Foundation strongly recommended that domestic horses be prohibited from the entire area inhabited by the wild horses. Very briefly, their reasons included the strong possibility of transmission of disease to the wild horses from the domestic horses; the disruption of wild horse social structure; safety of mares and foals as stallions violently confront the domestic newcomers in an attempt to protect their harems, as well as the safety of the public.



If you would like to view the testimony and resulting vote, go to the video for Nov. 17 under Archived Videos. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund commends the Board of Commissioners for taking this critical step to protect the health and longevity of the wild herd as well as protecting the public.




Karen H. McCalpin

Executive Director

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

November NorEaster Articles and Photos

Here are some articles and photos of the area after the storm. All things considered the 4x4 area faired considerably better from a damage perspective than the Norfolk area and Nags Head/Hatteras Island.



http://www.dailyadvance.com/news/currituck-declares-state-of-emergency-964276.html

http://hamptonroads.com/2009/11/nc-governor-assess-dare-county-storm-damage












Monday, October 26, 2009

NCTA Answers County's Assumptions

A follow-up article has been printed in the Daily Advance addressing some of the County Commissioners assumption that the NCTA is caving to environmental pressures. Below is the article for the Daily Advance's Toby Tate:

Engineer: No deal on span plan

By Toby Tate
Staff Writer

Saturday, October 24, 2009

While the negative public reaction to an option for the Mid-Currituck Bridge project wasn’t unexpected, a state official says it’s not true the option represents a “deal” to appease environmentalists’ concerns about the bridge project.

Jennifer Harris, an engineer with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, in fact says the plan, referred to as “Option B,” is not being pushed by environmentalists, even though it addresses an existing environmental issue — the division of Maple Swamp.

“We meet with environmentalists very regularly,” Harris said. “The idea about us striking a deal — I don’t know where that came from. We met with resource and regulatory environmental agencies and discussed the benefits and disadvantages of this opportunity and they didn’t object to us studying it.”

Harris was responding to a recent news report that the Turnpike Authority had struck a deal with environmentalists by proposing Option B for the mid-county bridge project.

In addition, Currituck Commissioner Barry Nelms said at a recent Currituck commissioners meeting that Option B was proposed to “appease” environmentalists. Nelms and the other six members of the Board of Commissioners have adopted a resolution formally opposing the option because they say it will negatively affect the Aydlett community.

Under Option B — one of three options for the bridge project — most of the existing Aydlett Road that now serves the Aydlett community would be removed. A new road north of the community would be constructed. Traffic bound for both Aydlett and the mid-county bridge would use the new road, which would include exits for Aydlett residents. The new road would also contain toll booths for the bridge.

Turnpike officials have touted Option B, saying it would both save money — taking $60 million off the bridge’s $660 million cost — and make improvements to the natural environment in Aydlett.

“We’ve been studying this project for a few years and doing the engineering work under a few parameters and a few assumptions,” Harris said at an Oct. 12 meeting in Currituck. “(This option) could save the project a considerable amount of money and help the project be more financially feasible as well as from a natural environment standpoint provide some improvements.”

The chief improvement removing Aydlett Road would make is that it would reconnect Maple Swamp, Harris said.

“Aydlett Road is essentially a dam in between two parts of Maple Swamp,” she said during the Oct. 12 meeting. “It keeps the swamp from being a continuous natural feature.”

Many Aydlett residents, however, oppose the option because they say it will increase traffic in their community and disrupt their rural quality of life. In their resolution, Currituck commissioners endorsed a plan that keeps Aydlett Road and puts the toll booths for the bridge closer to U.S. Highway 158.

Harris said the reaction from Currituck residents and officials wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“I can’t say that I didn’t expect that reaction,” she said. “(Option B) does have different effects on the community. How that (option) relates to the community is different from (how) ‘Option A’ (affects the community) and that’s why we went” to the Oct. 12 meeting.

Harris said no final decisions have been made about which option will be selected for the bridge plan. And despite commissioners and residents’ opposition, she believes Option B is a viable plan that should be considered.

“I think the component that preserves a large portion of Maple Swamp is a key component” of the bridge plan, Harris said. “We’re looking at trying to minimize the impact with something that is financially feasible. You can do a project that avoids and minimizes impacts at a cost or you can minimize cost at an impact to the human and natural environment. We’re looking at a plan that doesn’t have detrimental effects but is also financially feasible.”

The purpose for the new bridge, according to the Turnpike Authority, is to improve traffic flow between U.S. 158 and N.C. Highway 12, reduce the travel time for those traveling between the Currituck mainland and the Outer Banks and speed up evacuation of the Outer Banks during hurricanes.

The Turnpike Authority is currently studying the proposed bridge’s impact on the environment. Once that study is complete, the Turnpike Authority will release it for comment to federal and state agencies as well as the public.

Regardless of which option is chosen, Harris believes the bridge project will go forward. Not building the bridge won’t solve the problem of ever-increasing traffic headed to the Outer Banks.

“The alternative to do nothing is an option that wouldn’t address transportation needs,” she said. “You have different users and you have to listen to all perspectives. We have to have an understanding that there are some people there all year long and some who visit, so it’s a unique dynamic.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Currituck Commissioners Oppose Two Bridge Proposals

From the County's website, the Commissioners adopted a resolution opposing the bridge landing options on the mainland. Below is from the County's e-newsletter and the resolution link is below:

Commissioners Adopt Mid-Currituck Bridge Resolution
Board United in Opposition to NCDOT's Aydlett Proposal

The Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution on October 19, 2009 to oppose two aspects of the state's plan for the Mid-Currituck Bridge after a significant number of citizens spoke against items in the state's proposal.

The document outlines the county's opposition to Option B for the Aydlett interchange, which would involve removing the current Aydlett Rd. and placing a toll booth plaza in close proximity to the Aydlett community. The resolution also states the board's opposition to the proposed placement of a barrier wall at the intersection of Waterlily Rd. and U.S. 158. If built, the wall would force motorists from Waterlily Rd. wishing to travel south on U.S. 158 to first travel north on U.S, 158 over the Coinjock Bridge and then make a maneuver into the southbound lanes.

Click here for a full copy of the resolution

Monday, October 19, 2009

More affirmative talk about the Currituck Bridge to the Outer Banks

I was trying to figure out why my phone was going crazy this morning with people wanting to put in offers or "get serious" about real estate. I then realized I should have read the paper this morning. It appears the Virginia-Pilot's Jeff Hampton is confident on the bridge to the Outer Banks. Below is the article:



Shortcut to paradise: Toll bridge to the Outer Banks

What’s ahead
An environmental assessment is due before year’s end. Construction could begin early next year and completion is projected for 2013.

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© October 19, 2009
Corolla has long been one of Currituck County's favorite - and most remote - Outer Banks travel havens.

Getting there requires making what is essentially a giant U-turn that can add more than a hour's drive.

Those familiar with the jaunt know that first you must drive south almost to Kitty Hawk before crossing the Currituck Sound. Then you flip around on N.C. 12 and head north toward Corolla, land of wild horses, a lighthouse and isolated beaches.

After about 20 years of debate, state and local officials and environmentalists are near agreement on a $659 million shortcut: a 5-mile bridge over the sound that would link Corolla to a small town about a 40-minute drive from the Virginia-North Carolina line.

State engineers have partnered with a private construction group that will lead the design, construction and operation, including toll collection, estimated to be $8 each way during the peak season and $6 during offseason.

A 2007 study estimated the bridge would draw an average of 13,500 vehicles daily on peak-season weekends, with revenues of $7 million in its first year.

By 2025, traffic counts are expected to average 19,200 daily on summer weekends, with tolls at $12 and annual revenue of $24.9 million. The state budget includes $15 million annually in public money to help finance the project.

A draft environmental impact statement is due out before the end of the year. By February or March, construction could begin on the bridge, with completion expected in 2013.

Proponents say the bridge will relieve congestion on U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 through Duck, hasten hurricane evacuation, lower costs of construction in Corolla and expedite county services there.

Most elected officials - including North Carolina state Sen. Marc Basnight - and residents in Dare and Currituck counties have supported the project even before it was first put on a state highway plan in 1989.

"We need that bridge bad," said Gene Gregory, a Currituck commissioner who has pushed for construction more than 20 years. "We've been on the verge two or three times before something has popped up to delay the thing again."

Since the project's inception, state and federal environmental agencies weighed its value versus its effects on the environment.

In 2004, after a multiyear study, the state determined that widening U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 would relieve traffic better than a bridge.

But a local grass roots group, Build the Bridge - Preserve Our Roads, paid for a study that determined the bridge would be better and cheaper.

In Aydlett, a community of about 1,000 people without a traffic light or a gas station, residents opposed the intrusion to their quiet neighborhood. Aydlett sits on the shore of the Currituck Sound and is about 25 miles from the Virginia border.

Last week, state officials announced another option for the Aydlett side that renewed opposition. To save $60 million, the new road would be on the ground through the swamp with culverts to allow passage of water and animals.

Toll booths would be in Aydlett. Local traffic could use the new road to get to the highway. Aydlett Road, the existing road, would be removed to allow better water flow.

"That's the craziest thing I've ever heard," resident Mike Doxey said. "I am strongly against it."

Residents plan to file a petition against the latest option, Doxey said.

Penny Leary-Smith, an Aydlett property owner, also opposed the new option.

"When you have people leaving that meeting in tears, that's wrong," she said.

Even local officials who have supported the project all along don't like this idea.

"The Board of Commissioners does not support putting that traffic in Aydlett," said Paul O'Neal, a Currituck County commissioner. "That community would never be the same."

Others warn about traffic and crime flowing into Corolla as access becomes more convenient.

"People come to the Currituck Outer Banks because of its remote, pristine nature," Corolla resident Barry Richman said.

Large highway projects usually increase crime nearby, he said. Corolla already has problems with break-ins during the off-season, but now criminals will have easier access and more than one way out of town, he said.

Basnight still supports the bridge even with the cost-saving measures, said Schorr Johnson, a Basnight spokesman.

Public hearings will be held on the options, said Jennifer Harris, an engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

But these objections are not expected to slow construction, Gregory said.

"I feel strongly that it's going to happen this time," he said.

After the earlier setbacks, the project nearly died in 2005 when the North Carolina General Assembly assigned it to the state Turnpike Authority to use tolls and a private-public partnership to speed up construction.

The Turnpike Authority agreed in December to partner with a private group headed by ACS Infrastructure Development, a subsidiary of a firm based in Spain.

The ACS partners, collectively known as Currituck Development Group LLC, are also investors, following a pattern used in Europe.

Traditionally in North Carolina, contractors bid on projects already designed by the state and make no financial investment.

Two years ago, Basnight asked that the bridge include such Earth-friendly designs as solar powered lighting, a bicycle and walking path made from recycled plastics and a look that better blends with the Currituck Sound environment. Those features remain options, Johnson said.

Once completed, a new road would intersect with U.S. 158 about a mile south of Coinjock, travel east around two miles through a swamp, pass through Aydlett where the bridge would begin and go about five miles over the Currituck Sound to Corolla. Toll booths would be placed near U.S. 158.

On both sides, the bridge follows generally vacant areas and would displace about 11 residences.

In Corolla, plans include two terminus options, one near the TimBuck II shopping center and the other about 1.5 miles north near the Corolla Bay subdivision.

In contrast, the four-lane Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge from Mann's Harbor to Roanoke Island was approved by the state in 1996 to replace the 43-year-old William B. Umstead Bridge, which was previously the only crossing over the Croatan Sound.

By 1998, Balfour Beatty Construction, Inc. of Atlanta was awarded the contract for the 5.2 mile bridge, the longest in the state.

Costing $89 million, the bridge opened in August 2002, taking seven years from start to finish.


Here's the timeline to date:

Timeline

■1989 Bridge first placed on a state highway plan after years of discussion.
■1996 State purchases land in Corolla for bridge landing. Bridge cost estimates range from $47 million to $71 million.
■1998 Bridge plans and possible landing sites presented at public hearings. Aydlett residents oppose the project. Cost estimate is now $87 million.
■2001 Bridge project stalls after state officials announce study that could take years. Officials say bridge’s environmental impact may not be worth its e ffect on traffic flow. Cost estimate is now $97 million.
■2002 North Carolina Turnpike Authority created to expedite construction of several state road projects.
■2004 State unveils traffic study that says widening U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 would relieve traffic flow better than a mid-county bridge. Currituck and Duck officials and residents disagree with conclusions. Bridge cost estimate is $103 million.
■2005 General Assembly passes bill authorizing Turnpike Authority to plan and build a toll bridge over Currituck Sound using private financing and construction. Cost estimate is $118 million.
■2006 A study by a transportation institute at North Carolina State University estimat es the cost at $156 million.
■2007 Turnpike Authority releases study that shows tolls could be $8 to $12. Bridge costs estimates are adjusted to better reflect inflation and design to $296 to $795 million.
■2009 ACS Infrastructure Development, a private company, to lead construction and operation of toll bridge. Estimate firmed up to $659 million.
■Oct. 12, 2009 State puts forth option to let the bridge land in Aydlett rather than go overhead all the way to U.S. 158. Revision could save $60 million. Aydlett residents and Currituck commissioners oppose that option.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mid-Curituck Bridge exploring additional option of Configuration

The Turnpike Authority came into the County to discuss another design idea for the bridge to improve traffic flow and likely to lessen the overall blow of the environmental impact. Commissioner Nelms commented in the article below from the Daily Advance and seems to already know it is not feasible and says the board doesn't support removing the stars from Aydlett...which is a daunting feasibilty effort in its own right. Below is the article from the Daily Advance's Toby Tate.

New Currituck bridge option unveiled

Aydlett Road concerns raised
By Toby Tate
Staff Writer

Monday, October 12, 2009

About 40 Currituck residents turned out Monday evening to hear engineers from the North Carolina Turnpike Authority discuss a new plan for the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge.

The purpose of the new bridge, according to the Turnpike Authority, is to substantially improve traffic flow on the project area’s thoroughfare between N.C. Highway 12 and U.S. Highway 158, to reduce travel time for those traveling between the Currituck mainland to the Outer Banks and to reduce hurricane clearance time during an evacuation.

The project, which includes three different alternative plans, would likely include road improvements and the widening of parts of U.S. 158 and N.C. 12.

According to NCTA Engineer Jennifer Harris, the latest option, called simply “Option B,” would include taking out Aydlett Road and moving traffic to the new road.

“We’ve been studying this project for a few years and doing the engineering work under a few parameters and a few assumptions,” Harris said. “An idea will be presented which could save the project a considerable amount of money and help the project be more financially feasible as well as from a natural environment standpoint provide some improvements.”

The improvements to the Option B plan include relocating the toll collection booths and putting Aydlett Road traffic on the new highway. All but a small portion of Aydlett Road would then be removed, Harris said.

“Aydlett Road is essentially a dam in between two parts of Maple Swamp — it keeps the swamp from being a continuous natural feature,” she said.

First, according to Harris, an environmental impact study would be completed to determine if the plan is feasible. The plan would save the approximately $660 million project about $60 million, Harris said, and protect the natural environment of the Maple Swamp area.

Most of the local residents, however, voiced concerns about the feasibility of the plan, about how the project would be paid for and about how the road would affect Aydlett residents.

Currituck Commissioner Barry Nelms also voiced his concerns at the meeting about Option B.

“Plan B is not feasible and board stands against it,” he said. “You are obviously catering to the environmentalists by moving (Aydlett) road. To move it to their immediate neighborhood is going to take out the stars they see at night forever and that’s not acceptable to the residents of Aydlett,” he said.

NCTA Chief Engineer Steve Dewitt said his team was there to consider all possible options with the local community.

“I’m not here to sell a bridge,” he said. “I’m just here to talk about what elected officials asked us to do.”

The current timeline has the bridge open to traffic in 2013.

The U.S. Coast Guard will also be sending out a preliminary public notice to request navigational information in the Currituck Sound, Harris said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Historic Wash Woods Life Saving Station Serves Again - Now as Twiddy's 4x4 Real Estate Office



I rarely do personal updates on this information website but I felt it prudent to let those who follow this site and love the 4x4 Beaches of Carova know that I now operate full time out of the old Coast Guard Station located 8 miles North of the paved road. Twiddy & Company has always had a strong presence in the 4x4 area and service is something we pride ourselves on. Wash Woods, as it is locally known, is uniquely positioned to better serve both Buyers and Sellers with their real estate needs in the off road area and is a hub of information, history, and professional service. When you are next in the area, stop in for a visit, I am here nearly every day.



I thought I would share some photos and history of Wash Woods as there is really no other place like it:

The United States Coast Guard built Wash Woods Station in 1917 to replace an earlier
station a few miles north, and numbered “166” in the chain of stations along the
Atlantic coast. During its years of active duty, Wash Woods housed guardsmen who performed countless brave rescues. When German U-boats were thick off the coast during World War II, Coast Guard stations along the Virginia and North Carolina shores prepared for conflict. At that time, Wash Woods was home to about 30 guardsmen. The lookout tower was constantly utilized and armed patrolmen walked the beach searching for signs of the enemy.


After the war, Wash Woods reverted back to standard pre-war-sized crew until 1949. Records indicate that the station remained active from thereafter with only a single caretaker until officially decommissioned in late 1954 or early 1955. In the years to come, Wash Woods Station served as a private vacation home. In 1988, Doug and Sharon Twiddy bought the station and began restoration. Carpet was stripped to reveal the original heart pine floors and the walls were restored to the original plaster finish. In 2007, the Twiddys rebuilt the boathouse in the likeness of the original structure.


In 2008, the cisterns were rebuilt and steps were taken to begin building a replica of the original lookout tower. The walls are now decorated with a collection of old photos of Wash Woods and Coast Guard memorabilia to share the history of this unique place with those who visit.



Feel free to stop by for a cup of coffee and get the real scoop on what is happening in the 4wd area real estate market. I look forward to seeing you.

Survey Conducted to Research Toll Amounts for Mid-County Bridge

As the potential increases for the Mid-County Bridge to finally come to fruition, determining the daily toll is being researched. Below if the full article from the Daily Advance's Toby Tate:


Span designers conduct online survey
By Toby Tate
Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How much would you pay to cross the Mid-Currituck Bridge?

That’s what the state agency overseeing the Currituck County bridge project wants to know from local residents.

The N.C. Turnpike Authority is conducting an online survey that asks residents of Currituck, Dare, Camden and Pasquotank counties how much of a toll they would be willing to pay to cross the bridge that will link the Currituck mainland and Outer Banks.

The survey, which is online at nustats.com/midcurrituck, also asks respondents how often they believe they would cross the bridge, whether they would cross it for business, commuting or vacation travel, and whether they would use the bridge under certain conditions, such as when summertime traffic is backed up on the Wright Memorial Bridge in Dare County.

The survey also asks participants questions about their permanent residence and their level of income.

According to Reid Simons, director of government and public affairs for the Turnpike Authority, the “willingness to pay” survey is part of the Investment Grade

Traffic and Revenue Study being completed by the group in charge of building the bridge, the Currituck Development Group and its sub-consultant, NuStats.

“It’s an exclusive study that certifies the projected revenue of a roadway,” Simons said. “It’s what the Turnpike Authority will use to get the credit to sell bonds to build the road.”

With a price tag of $660 million, the Mid-Currituck Bridge is expected to be one of the first toll road projects in the state. Estimates for the toll have ranged from $6 per crossing to $30.

In an e-mail, Simons said a research team completed an earlier willingness to pay survey of visitors to the Outer Banks during the peak season of the summer. The team is now focusing on off-peak season traffic, specifically residents of the four counties expected to use the bridge more than others.

The Investment Grade Traffic and Revenue Study is to be complete next spring.

Planned for decades, construction on the mid-county bridge is expected to get under way late next year and be complete in 2013.

The bridge’s designers are currently studying the proposed span’s environmental impacts. A draft environmental impact statement on the bridge should be ready in November. Public workshops on the DEIS will be held after the study’s release, officials.

The Currituck Development Group’s partners on the project include ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc.; Dragados USA, Inc.; and Lochner-MMM Group.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Preliminary Plat Approved by Commissioners for Carova Beach Lot Reconfiguration

As reported on before, the effort to reconfigure large blocks of land in Carova originally earmarked for future business is now one step closer to becoming "The Estates of Carova Beach", an open space subdivision of lots for residential development and several acres dedicated to Currituck County for public use. By unanimous consent, the Board of Commissioners approved preliminary plat approval of the reconfiguration request with just one stipulation: tear down the dilapidated oceanfront home on the oceanfront by the Carova Beach Firestation. Finally! To view a full copy of the development impact proposal, you can click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Board Unanimously Approves Carova Service District

Tuesday night after a quick public hearing the Currituck County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of establishing a service district. You can click here to watch watch the public comments and the outcome.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Upcoming Board of Commissioners Meeting Tues Sept 8th

There are a few topics below of interest to 4x4 residents/visitors/fans/etc... happening at tomorrow's BOC meeting, I have highlighted them below. If you are interested but cannot attend, you can watch the video live by clicking here.

Disclaimer: Video may lack the HD quality and edge-of-your-seat suspense commonly associated with County Gov't Meetings



Currituck County
Board of Commissioners Agenda
Historic Currituck County Courthouse
Date: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 Time: 7:00 PM
Work Sessions
5:30 p.m. Economic Development Board
Regular Agenda
7:00 p.m. Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance
Item 1 Approval of Agenda
Item 2 Public Comment
Please limit comments to items not appearing on the regular
agenda, please limit comments to 3 minutes.
Item 3 Proclamation for Constitution Week
Item 4 Update on County Inspection Review Process
Item 5 Public Hearing and Action on the Creation of the Carova Beach
Road Service District
Item 6 Public Hearing and Action: PB 08-45 Estates at Carova Beach:
Request for preliminary plat/special use permit approval of an open
space subdivision to re-plat 20 existing lots into 28 residential lots
in Carova Beach Subdivision, Sections 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9, Fruitville
Township.

Item 7 Public Hearing and Action PB 09-24 Jarvis Landing: Request to
establish a 15.3 acre Residential Multifamily (RMF) overlay district.
Property is located at 7400 Caratoke Highway, approximately 750
feet North of Case Landing Rd, Tax Map 110, Parcel 74, Poplar
Branch Township.
Item 8 Presentation and Discussion on updating the County's Hazard
Mitigation Plan
Item 9 Appointment to Jury Commission

 
   
Item 10 Consent Agenda:
1. Transfer Unspent FY 2008/2009 ROAP Allocation
2. Moyock Welcome Center Addition - Change Order #1, Revelle
Builders
3. RO Water Treatment Plant-Change Order #5, ML Water System
Upgrades
4. Budget amendments
5. Resolution Authorizing Sale by Upset Bid Residential Structures
at Milburn Sawyer Road and North Spot Road
6. Resolution declaring surplus property and authorizing auction of
surplus property
7. Approval of Board of E&R minutes
8. 2009 Tax Levy & Prior Year Taxes to be Charged to the Tax
Collector
9. Approval of August 17, 2009, Minutes
Item 11 Commissioner’s Report
Item 12 County Manager’s Report
Item 13 Closed Session:
1. According to GS 143-318.112 (4) to discuss economic
development
Adjourn
Special Meeting
Tourism Development Authority Meeting
Call to order
TDA Budget amendments

Another write up on the Carova Beach Service District

Finally report by Jeff Hampton of the Virginia Pilot, here's more information regarding the Service distict. All interested parties should try to attend the Commissioners meeting Tuesday night.


By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© September 6, 2009
CURRITUCK COUNTY

Carova Beach's sand roads, cratered with pond-size holes, could get improvements soon after years of resistance by locals who wanted the community to remain mostly undeveloped.

A public hearing is set for Tuesday to create a road service district in Carova Beach, a neighborhood in Currituck County's northern Outer Banks.

The plan includes using occupancy taxes charged on beach rentals to pay for filling and leveling unpaved roads there and in some cases clearing ditches to aid drainage, said Currituck County Commissioner Vance Aydlett.

"From what I've seen, 75 percent of the people in Carova Beach support it," Aydlett said. "They're tired of their vehicles being torn up, wheel bearings and stuff like that."

In the past, locals have resisted a new tax and preferred the rough roads to help deter development. Former Commissioner Ernie Bowden tried several times over nearly 20 years to get a road improvement district.

This time the district would only include Carova Beach, would be paid for with occupancy taxes and would include a local advisory board, Aydlett said.

Residents and county officials have held at least four meetings at the fire station, he said.

An advisory board of locals and emergency personnel would first assess the roads, make a report to commissioners and then work could begin, Aydlett said.

Initial efforts are expected to cost about $300,000. Currituck County raises around $9 million annually in occupancy taxes.

"I have not received any phone calls opposing it from members of the Fruitville Beach Civic Association or from the locals," said Tom Hudak, president of the association. "To me, it looks fine."

In the summer, hundreds of visitors a week stay in beach rental homes in the communities of Carova Beach, Swan Beach, North Swan Beach and others along 11 miles of the narrow beach strand. About 150 people live in the area year-round.

Emergency vehicles and construction trucks struggle to navigate the roads after normal rain.

Dozens of renters were stranded in 2006 after Tropical Storm Ernesto. Along some roads, underground phone lines had surfaced and were crushed by big tires, knocking out service to several homes. Mud holes also tend to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

But in the past even some tourists lamented that improvements could take away some of the untamed appeal of Carova Beach.

On Wednesday, Travis Moretti of Virginia Beach stalled his Jeep trying to pass through a mud hole more than 3-feet deep that spanned the width of Ocean Pearl Road, one of the most traveled roads there. It is also the address of the only fire station.

Water rose to his door handles and flooded the engine. An older Jeep pulled him free while his friends pushed. The hole was one of several similar in size on Ocean Pearl.

Even so, Moretti did not support fixing the roads. He liked the unpredictability and wildness of it. Not far away from where he stalled, wild horses grazed and a feral pig scampered across the road.

"It was my Jeep and I still wouldn't support it," he said of the road improvement plan. "It's kind of cool like it is."

Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Carova Beach Subdivision moving forward on its own with Service District Proposal



As previous reported, Carova Beach is assembling an advisory group to oversee the creation and function of a Service District to improve the road conditions within the subdivision. Previous attempts for the Service District have failed when including other subdivisions in the off-road area, so Carova beach is making the move on its own. Below is the latest draft for the proposal which offers some good information regarding the scope of authority and structure of the appointed committee. As I understand it, a public hearing will be scheduled shortly at an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.

Draft Proposal:

RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING AND CREATING THE CAROVA BEACH ROAD SERVICE DISTRICT

WHEREAS, Chapter 153A, Article 16 of the North Carolina General Statues,
authorizes counties within North Carolina, to define service districts to finance, provide, or maintain for such districts one or more services, facilities, or functions in addition to or to a greater extent than those financed, provided or maintained for the entire county; and,

WHEREAS, said statutes further provide that the county may define a
service district for the purpose of street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles; and

WHEREAS, acting in response to a need for action in order to protect and maintain public safety, address increasing traffic demands resulting from property development within the Carova Beach area and to preserve and protect private property rights through the re-establishment of rights-of-way thus ending travel across private property, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck has determined that the creation of a service district for street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles will be for the benefit of those properties located within the service district boundaries and adjacent thereto; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck
finds that the proposed district is in need of projects and programs to the standards of G.S. 153A-301(b) and (c) to a demonstrably greater extent than the remainder of the county to meet the needs and goals set forth above and, further, that a county is statutorily limited to establishing such projects and programs only within an area of the county having characteristics of the proposed service district area and thus it is impossible to provide the planned services on a countywide basis; and

WHEREAS, it is economically feasible to provide the proposed services within the district without an annual tax levy as property within the district is dedicated as street rights-of-way with an assessed valuation of zero and the County of Currituck has identified Occupancy Tax revenue as a source of funding to provide street maintenance and junk automobile removal services within the district; and

WHEREAS, there is a demonstrable demand and need for the services proposed within the district as set forth and incorporated into a report which has been available for public inspection in the office of the Clerk to the Board of Commissioners for four (4) weeks prior to the public hearing on the matter of the establishment of the service district which report is incorporated herein by reference; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck has caused a notice of such hearing to be duly published in a newspaper having general circulation in the County of Currituck, said hearing having been conducted on ________________, 2009, and the County Attorney has certified to the Board of Commissioners that the mailing of notice of hearing has been completed, all in conformity to G.S.153A-302(c);


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck, North Carolina that:

Section 1. The County of Currituck has fully complied with each and every requirement of Chapter 153A, Article 16 of the North Carolina General Statutes and the Board of Commissioners determines and finds the same as a fact.

Section 2. The Carova Beach Service District for street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles is hereby established and created consisting of the rights-of-way of in Carova Beach as more particularly shown on the map attached hereto as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference.

Section 3. The County of Currituck may allocate to the Carova Beach Road Service District any revenue whose use is not otherwise restricted by law including, but not limited to, Occupancy Tax, in order to finance, provide or maintain for the district, services provided therein, in addition to or to a greater extent than those financed, provided or maintained for the entire county. If at any time Occupancy Tax is not sufficient to fund a street maintenance or improvement project then such project will not be implemented until sufficient Occupancy Tax is available to fund such project.

Section 4. There is created a Carova Beach Road Service District Advisory Board comprised of seven members appointed by and serving at the Currituck County Board of Commissioners. Three members shall be residents of Carova Beach Subdivision, one member shall be an absentee owner of property in Carova Beach Subdivision, one member shall be a representative of the Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., one member shall be a representative of Currituck County Emergency Medical Services and one member shall be a representative of the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department.

The Carova Beach Road Service District Advisory Board shall have the following responsibilities:

a. assess road rights-of-way comprising the service district;

b. develop a prioritized list of road rights-of-way in need of maintenance and the type of maintenance or improvement recommended;

c. prepare and submit to the Currituck County Board of Commissioners a report of advisory board assessment and recommendation;

d. monitor and report to the Currituck County Board of Commissioners the status and progress of approved road maintenance and improvement projects; and

e. any other tasks or responsibilities requested by the Currituck County Board of Commissioners related to the purpose for the service district.


ADOPTED the ____ day of _____________, 2009.


_________________________________
Chairman, Board of Commissioners

Thursday, August 20, 2009

National Geographic names Outer Banks as One of Best Drives

There is a great article out of the Sept issue of National Geographic titled "Drives of a Lifetime". Below it talks about the great 114 mile drive heading south from the Currituck Lighthouse to Ocracoke. For me, however; I'm still more of a fan of the 12 mile drive headed north from the Currituck Lighthouse....

Lighthouse Coast
North Carolina

Written by John Briley


Stand on the metal walkway that encircles the lantern room of the Cape Hatteras Light, some 165 feet above ground, and you'll sense that this towering sentry, which has been saving lives since 1870, is still vital to today's passing mariners. Looking east, you watch the relentless swells of the Atlantic Ocean paw away at the beach, continuously redrawing the contours of this coast. Panning south, you see Cape Hatteras National Seashore sweeping out toward Cape Hatteras Point, which knifes into the ocean like a giant arrowhead. Even on a calm day you can make out the froth of the treacherous waters just beyond Diamond Shoals, where the northern Labrador Current clashes theatrically with the Gulf Stream.

This lighthouse is among four that dot the main stretch of North Carolina's Outer Banks. All were built during the 1800s and still cast their beacons today—guiding white-knuckled seafarers through famously ornery waters. Over the centuries, some 1,500 ships have perished here, earning the Outer Banks the moniker Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Nature still rules this tendril of barrier islands, despite the creep of development in some Outer Banks towns. Marsh grasses bend to light breezes in Pea Island Wildlife Refuge; just up the road, long-billed herons, ibises, oystercatchers, and plovers feed in the tea-colored waters of Pamlico Sound; and out in the Atlantic, surfers and sea kayakers frolic in the breakers.

Overview
This 114-mile drive cruises from Corolla to Ocracoke Village. Start at the northern end of Highway 12, literally where the pavement turns to sand at the Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve. Follow it to Route 158, which is the bypass road for Highway 12 and travels through Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Rejoin Highway 12 at Whalebone Junction (the entrance to Cape Hatteras National Seashore), and stay on it all the way to Ocracoke Village, including the car ferry from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island. The route, mostly two-lane, runs straight and flat, linking communities of weathered beach houses, offering ocean views amid the dunes, and serving up extended vistas of the sound.

Start at Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Corolla
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse (1101 Corolla Village Rd., Corolla; +1 252 453 4939; www.currituckbeachlight.com) is not the lonely northern outpost it once was: Beach houses have knuckled in around the 162-foot-high sentry. But the sense of history is still strong at the light itself and at the adjacent keeper's house, which is now a museum shop. Climb the tower's 214 steps to scan the Currituck Banks estuarine reserve for wild horses (you'll need binoculars).

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Driving south, the first major stop is major indeed: the site where air travel was born. The Wright Brothers National Memorial (Hwy. 158, Kill Devil Hills; +1 252 441 7430; www.nps.gov/wrbr) encompasses more than 400 acres and marks the places where brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first four powered flights. A full-size replica of their Flyer is on display in the visitors center. Another exhibit hall interprets the region's history. Photos show Model Ts parked in sandy lots next to beachfront homes and women in dresses emptying fish nets. Also covered is aviation history, from gliders to the space shuttle.

Jockey's Ridge State Park
Children of all ages adore the giant sand dunes of Jockey's Ridge State Park (W. Carolista Dr., Nags Head; +1 252 441 7132; www.jockeyridgestatepark.com), which boasts the tallest natural sand-dune system in the eastern United States. The 420-acre park, with dunes topping 80 feet, practically demands juvenile behavior, such as kite flying and running (or rolling) down the silky sand. Also popular here: hang-gliding lessons from the professionals at Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Training Center (W. Carolista Dr.; +1 252 441 4124; www.kittyhawk.com). Surfers have their own mecca nearby: the Secret Spot Surf Shop (2815 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head; +1 252 441 4030; www.secretspotsurfshop.com). Owner Steve Hess was shaping and selling boards out of the back of his brother's Kitty Hawk hotdog stand in the early 1970s. "We still get the big waves, but it seems like we used to get them more often," he says nostalgically. "Maybe I'm just jaded; I've been surfing here since I was a kid."

First Colony Inn
Plan to spend a night at the First Colony Inn (6720 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head; +1 252 441 2343; www.firstcolonyinn.com), built in 1932 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This 26-room bed-and-breakfast recalls a bygone era, with antiques, wraparound verandas, comfy wooden rocking chairs, and a meditative library. The breakfast room has been preserved in its original condition. Cable TV and heated towel bars add modern touches.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
When you enter Cape Hatteras National Seashore (+1 252 473 2111; www.nsp.gov/caha), strip malls and traffic lights give way to a landscape resembling an African savanna set down in the ocean. The park includes all the coastline from Nags Head to Ocracoke, 74 miles south, and the appeal is all outdoors: combing for shells on Coquina Beach, fishing the tidal creeks of Albemarle Sound, photographing the muted hues of the marsh, or sitting on a dune, scanning the ocean for passing pilot whales.

Bodie Island Lighthouse
Six miles south of Cape Hatteras National Seashore's northern entrance stands the 156-foot Bodie Island Lighthouse (Hwy. 12, Nags Head; +1 252 441 5711; www.nps.gov/caha/bodie-island-light-station.htm), a lonesome sentinel on Albemarle Sound. The black-and-white striped tower, first lit in 1872, is the third lighthouse to bear the name Bodie Island: The original was so poorly built it was abandoned; its successor was blown up in 1861 by Confederate troops. The lighthouse itself is closed to the public but makes a captivating photo in the right light. Stroll the Bodie Island Pond Trail through bird-rich marshland. A small visitors center covers lighthouse history.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
A few miles farther south you'll come upon the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge visitors center (Hwy. 12 ten miles south of Nags Head; +1 252 987 2394; www.fws.gov/peaisland), where you can hike the nature trail for close-up views of countless birds—ospreys, snow geese, egrets, plovers, tundra swans, wrens, and more—plying the ponds and marshes of Pamlico Sound. Walk across Highway 12 and over the dunes to a beach almost as pristine as it was a thousand years ago. To get out on that water, drop into Hatteras Island Sail Shop (Hwy. 12, Waves; +1 252 987 2292; www.hiss-waves.com), which rents surfboards, windsurfing gear, and kayaks, and offers windsurfing and kite-boarding lessons.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Continue 20 miles south to a local icon: the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (46375 Lighthouse Rd., Buxton; +1 252 995 4474; www.nps.gov/caha). Beach erosion forced the relocation of the Outer Banks' most venerable landmark in 1999. The move—2,900 feet—saved the tallest (210 feet high) operating beacon in North America, but also changed the view from the lantern room gallery: Instead of looking down on surfers in action, visitors now have a vantage of dense maritime woods—live oak, pine, and yaupon—and a slightly set back perspective of the sweeping coast. This may be America's most photographed lighthouse.

Buxton
The mellow resort town of Buxton morphs from winter village to summer-vacation central in June, bustling with tackle shops, B&Bs, and seafood restaurants. For a simple, succulent piece of flounder, tuna, tile fish—or whatever's biting—hit the Fish House (48962 Hwy. 12, Buxton; +1 252 995 5151). The family service recalls quieter times, while the sloping floor is a remnant from the building's days as a commercial fish-processing plant. Markings on the wall show where recent hurricanes flooded the dining room. One of the best breakfasts on the Outer Banks—Belgian waffles, egg strata, souffl├ęs—is to be had at the Inn on Pamlico Sound (49684 Hwy. 12, Buxton; +1 252 995 7030; www.innonpamlicosound.com), which also serves up simple but comfortable accommodations, fiery sunsets from a private deck, and free use of bikes and kayaks.

End at Ocracoke Island
A 40-minute ferry ride will transport you from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island (www.hatteras-nc.com/ferry). Relish the 16-mile drive through Ocracoke's unspoiled national seashore, then explore Ocracoke Village, a laid-back settlement at the far end. "I sold my car years ago," notes one local at the Pelican bar. "Now I walk and bike everywhere." The highlight on Ocracoke Island—literally—is the Ocracoke Lighthouse (Lighthouse Rd., Ocracoke; +1 252 928 4531; www.nps.gov/caha/ocracoke-island-lighthouse.htm), the oldest (1823) and shortest (75 feet tall) operating lighthouse in North Carolina. The tower is not open to the public, but the nearby Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum(www.ocracokepreservation.org) is. It has an exhibit on island history, including a videotaped lesson on translating the phrases of the local "high tiders." End your day at Howard's Pub (1175 Irvin Garrish Hwy., Ocracoke; +1 252 928 4441; www.howardspub.com), where you can toss rings, dance to live music, or just sit back in a chair on the porch, beer at your elbow, and click through your digital photos of a great set of lighthouses.

Road Kit
This drive is ideal in the shoulder months of Sept.–Oct. and April–June; summer months can see a lot of traffic; Nov.–March can be bleak and weather-challenged. For information, visit www.outerbanks.org.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Carova Beach Service District on the table...Again



At a recent Board of Commissioner's meeting, Commissioner Aydlett directed staff to begin the process to form the Carova Beach Service District. With a second from Commissioner O’Neal, the motion carried. What does that mean?? Well, it appears sentiment in the Carova Beach subdivision favors a Service District to address infrastructure issues on its roads. It appears at this time, no other subdivisions such as Swan Beach, North Swan Beach, etc.. will be included in the proposal. I emailed Commissioner Aydlett as to some of the particulars and it seems that an advisory board will be established to spearhead the effort. His email reply stated that:


The advisory board for the Corova Beach Service District will be comprised as follows 3- fulltime Corova beach residents, 1- non-resident home/property owner in Corova, 1- member of the Volunteer Fire Department, 1- member of the county EMS Department and one representative of the sheriffs department. The purpose is outlined in a document that Gwen Tatum has in the managers office. This document will be available for review and comment during a four week period before it goes for a public hearing. The extent and scope of the service district will be defined by the advisory board who will make recommendations as to these things.




The referenced document is a Resolution establishing the Service District. I obtained a copy of the draft below:

RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING AND CREATING THE CAROVA BEACH ROAD SERVICE DISTRICT

WHEREAS, Chapter 153A, Article 16 of the North Carolina General Statues,
authorizes counties within North Carolina, to define service districts to finance, provide, or maintain for such districts one or more services, facilities, or functions in addition to or to a greater extent than those financed, provided or maintained for the entire county; and,

WHEREAS, said statutes further provide that the county may define a
service district for the purpose of street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles; and

WHEREAS, acting in response to a need for action in order to protect and maintain public safety, address increasing traffic demands resulting from property development within the Carova Beach area and to preserve and protect private property rights through the re-establishment of rights-of-way thus ending travel across private property, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck has determined that the creation of a service district for street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles will be for the benefit of those properties located within the service district boundaries and adjacent thereto; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck
finds that the proposed district is in need of projects and programs to the standards of G.S. 153A-301(b) and (c) to a demonstrably greater extent than the remainder of the county to meet the needs and goals set forth above and, further, that a county is statutorily limited to establishing such projects and programs only within an area of the county having characteristics of the proposed service district area and thus it is impossible to provide the planned services on a countywide basis; and

WHEREAS, it is economically feasible to provide the proposed services within the district without an annual tax levy as property within the district is dedicated as street rights-of-way with an assessed valuation of zero and the County of Currituck has identified Occupancy Tax revenue as a source of funding to provide street maintenance and junk automobile removal services within the district; and

WHEREAS, there is a demonstrable demand and need for the services proposed within the district as set forth and incorporated into a report which has been available for public inspection in the office of the Clerk to the Board of Commissioners for four (4) weeks prior to the public hearing on the matter of the establishment of the service district which report is incorporated herein by reference; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck has caused a notice of such hearing to be duly published in a newspaper having general circulation in the County of Currituck, said hearing having been conducted on ________________, 2009, and the County Attorney has certified to the Board of Commissioners that the mailing of notice of hearing has been completed, all in conformity to G.S.153A-302(c);


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY the Board of Commissioners for the County of Currituck, North Carolina that:

Section 1. The County of Currituck has fully complied with each and every requirement of Chapter 153A, Article 16 of the North Carolina General Statutes and the Board of Commissioners determines and finds the same as a fact.

Section 2. The Carova Beach Service District for street maintenance and removal of junk automobiles is hereby established and created consisting of the rights-of-way of in Carova Beach as more particularly shown on the map attached hereto as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference.

Section 3. The County of Currituck may allocate to the Carova Beach Road Service District any revenue whose use is not otherwise restricted by law including, but not limited to, Occupancy Tax in order to finance, provide or maintain for the district, services provided therein, in addition to or to a greater extent than those financed, provided or maintained for the entire county.

Section 4. There is created a Carova Beach Road Service District Advisory Board comprised of seven members appointed by and serving at the Currituck County Board of Commissioners. Three members shall be residents of Carova Beach Subdivision, one member shall be an absentee owner of property in Carova Beach Subdivision, one member shall be a representative of the Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., one member shall be a representative of Currituck County Emergency Medical Services and one member shall be a representative of the Currituck County Sheriff’s Department.

The Carova Beach Road Service District Advisory Board shall have the following responsibilities:

a. assess road rights-of-way comprising the service district;

b. develop a prioritized list of road rights-of-way in need of maintenance and the type of maintenance or improvement recommended;

c. prepare and submit to the Currituck County Board of Commissioners a report of advisory board assessment and recommendation;

d. monitor and report to the Currituck County Board of Commissioners the status and progress of approved road maintenance and improvement projects; and

e. any other tasks or responsibilities requested by the Currituck County Board of Commissioners related to the purpose for the service district.


ADOPTED the ____ day of _____________, 2009.


_________________________________
Chairman, Board of Commissioners

ATTEST:

_____________________________
Clerk to the Board

(County Seal)




I am not sure on how the determinations were made as to establishing a SD in Carova and not the other subdivisions, but Carova does have the overwhelming number of issues concerning the roads. More to come...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Missing Boy May be in Carova Beach




Any of the local readers please keep your eyes out for this Boy. Below is the email I recieved:

Attached is a photo of a missing mentally handicapped 16 year old. He is from Richmond VA and was last scene in Sandbridge VA heading south.
Investigators from VA believe that he is heading toward Corova Beach and they believe that their dogs have tracked him this way. He has been missing for 3 days and the last time he ran a way he was found in an abandoned house in VA. Please be on the look out for this person. If you think you see him please call 252 232 2216.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turnpike Authority may fall back under the jurisdiction of NCDOT

Dispite making incredible strides in moving the bridge forward, it seems that the NCTA is set to come under the fold of the NCDOT. Senator Basnight, the bridge's greatest ally, seems to believe that the measure will leave the bridge on its current course for construction and completion. Below is a full article from the Daily Advance:

DOT to take over Turnpike Authority

Mid-county bridge won’t be affected
By Jennifer Preyss
Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Four years after the project was taken from the N.C. Department of Transportation and handed off to the N.C. Turnpike Authority, the Mid-Currituck Bridge will likely be back in DOT’s hands.

The state House approved legislation last week transferring the administrative functions of the seven-year-old Turnpike Authority to the DOT. The Turnpike Authority currently has charge of the estimated $600 million mid-county bridge project.

House members overwhelmingly favored the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, voting 113-4 for the merger. Those voting in favor included area Reps. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, Timothy Spear, D-Washington, and Annie Mobley, D-Hertford.

The Senate signed off a similar bill when it approved its version of the state budget several months ago.

State officials said the move is designed to trim costs and improve efficiency.

Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for state Senate

President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, said it’s not known how much merging the Turnpike Authority with DOT will save the state. Since the Senate approved its version of next year’s $18 billion budget in May, state revenues have dropped an additional $1 billion, he said.

House and Senate conferees are currently working to reach agreement on a budget before July 15, Johnson said. If they do, and the Turnpike Authority provision remains in the budget, the agency will cease to exist as a stand-alone agency. It instead will fall under the supervision of the DOT secretary, Johnson said.

Basnight was a chief proponents of giving the Turnpike Authority control of the long-delayed mid-county bridge project. In August 2005, then Gov. Mike Easley signed legislation giving the Turnpike Authority the ability to contract with private companies to build nine projects, one of them the long-delayed bridge spanning Currituck Sound.

At the time, a Basnight spokeswoman said taking the project from DOT and giving it to the Turnpike Authority would be more efficient and could speed up the engineering and permitting processes needed to build the bridge.

Since the Turnpike Authority took over, the mid-county bridge project — which was first discussed in the 1980s — has moved forward.

Last year, the Turnpike Authority determined that the project should be a toll bridge, and earlier this year, the agency announced it had signed a contract with ACS, a Spanish construction firm, to build it. A start date for the project — 2010 — and a completion date — 2013 — have also been set.

The Turnpike Authority is also currently studying three options, including a no-build option, for the 7-mile span.

Recently, Turnpike Authority officials announced that they were delaying completion of the environmental impact study until September.

Johnson, the Basnight spokesman, indicated that giving DOT control of the Turnpike Authority shouldn’t affect the timetable for building the bridge.

“This was one of many hundreds of provisions in the budget,” Johnson said. “Sen. Basnight supported (the merger). The Mid-Currituck Bridge is one of his top priorities and he wouldn’t have favored (the provision) if it had any detrimental effects on” that project.

Johnson said the Turnpike Authority may see some organizational changes, but that funding of key projects won’t change. The Senate budget, for example, earmarks $64 million for Turnpike Authority projects, including the mid-county bridge.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bridge Impact Study Delay could save millions


The draft Environmental Impact Study for the Currituck Mid-County Bridge will be delayed until the fall but doesn't appear to delay the timeline of the bridge according to the NC Turnpike Authority. It could actually result in a significant cost savings. See the article below from the Daily Advance:


Delaying study could save $60M on bridge
By Jennifer Preyss
Staff Writer


Pushing back release of a draft study of the Mid-Currituck Bridge project won’t delay the span’s completion date but could shave about $60 million off its final cost, the group planning the bridge said this week.

North Carolina Turnpike Authority engineers elected to reschedule the draft environmental study’s release date until September because they wanted more time to investigate modifications to the mid-county bridge’s design, Jennifer Harris, a staff engineer with the Turnpike Authority said.

Harris said delaying the EIS statement, which originally was due out earlier this year, could trim nearly $60 million off the 7-mile bridge’s cost and help improve its overall functionality when it opens in 2013.

“An additional design construction option has been introduced as a cost-saving (mechanism) and we’re investigating that now,” Harris said.

The bridge, which would attach the Currituck mainland with the northern beaches of Corolla, is estimated to cost about $659.2 million. Delaying the EIS until September could bring that cost down to about $600 million.

Delaying the EIS also will prevent engineers from having to complete a supplementary EIS statement at a more advanced stage in the project, Harris said.

Using the extra time to modify the bridge’s design does not change the three preliminary bridge concepts known as MCB2, MCB4 and no bridge option ER2, but may reconfigure portions of the bridge, including the toll stations on U.S. Highway 158, Harris said.

The current design places the eastbound and westbound toll stations farther apart, she said. A new design may place them closer together and reposition them further east near the Currituck Sound.

However, exact design changes are still unknown, she noted, because the Turnpike Authority has only been discussing modifications to the bridge for less than two weeks.

The postponement will not delay the bridge project’s starting date of late 2010 or its projected completion date of 2013, Harris said.

In May, the Turnpike Authority entered into a public-private partnership with ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc. to build the bridge.

ACS is expected to finance the cost of the project and be compensated over a 40-year period through the collection of toll fees, currently estimated to be $10 to $12 per crossing.

Harris said the public will be notified when changes to the project are made.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Corolla Area Working on a Charter School



Optimism is growing that Corolla may one day have a Charter School in town. It has even gotten the interest of the County Commissioners. Below is a report from a recent town hall style meeting that took place in Corolla.


Task force continues to develop plans

By Toby Tate
Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Currituck County commissioners have thrown their support behind a proposal to bring a charter school to the county’s Outer Banks.

Board Chairman Owen Etheridge said Monday that commissioners are “committed” to seeing a charter school in Corolla, and will do whatever they can to support organizers’ efforts.

“From what I’ve seen, charter schools have been successful in North Carolina,” he said. “If they go about this the right way with organization and set up and find some good teachers, I think they will be able to get (the school) off the ground.”

Etheridge and other commissioners discussed the idea of a charter school on the Outer Banks during a “town hall” meeting with Corolla residents several weeks ago.

Meghan Agresto, manager of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and a parent spearheading the charter school effort, said she left the meeting “feeling incredibly positive” about commissioners’ support.

“Three of them came up to me — (Vance) Aydlett, Etheridge, and (Paul) O’Neal — and they said they think this is an incredible idea and (to) let us know what we can do to help,” Agresto said.

Agresto and several other Outer Banks residents, including Sylvia Wolff, Sharon Twiddy, Bren Robbins, Susan Taylor, Julie Allen and Ilze Drozds-Russano, make up the Corolla School Task Force. The group has been meeting since February to develop a plan for opening a charter school in Corolla by the fall of 2011.

Although charter schools are publicly funded, they’re different from traditional schools in that they’re not controlled by local public school districts. Usually charter schools are controlled by a local board of directors that is responsible for ensuring students meet the same educational standards as their peers in traditional schools.

Under state law, charter schools have to be approved by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. So far, there are 98 charter schools in North Carolina, the closest being Washington Montessori School in Beaufort County.

Agresto said the Corolla charter school task force still needs to incorporate, apply for non-profit status and apply to DPI by February in order to meet its deadline of fall 2011.

One of the chief matters DPI will weigh before approving the task force’s request is the proposed charter school’s financial viability.

“In order to balance the budget, we have to prove to DPI that we can balance (our budget) with the money that follows the children the first year,” she said.

The group also has to elect members to a non-profit board, have those board members receive training in school policy and administration, and find a site for the school.

“We have some good leads on locations” for a school building, she said. “We are communicating with people who are interested.”

Since the school would be a nonprofit entity, any donations, such as a building, could be used as a tax credit, Agresto said.

Agresto believes the school could be more than an educational resource; it also could be another economic draw for the Outer Banks, she says.

“I think people here realize it would be good for commerce if school wasn’t an impediment to living here,” she said. “Even if people were commuting, they could bring their kids with them — people like to be close to their kids. We think that if we build it, they will come.”

The task force plans to meet sometime next week to discuss its next move, Agresto said.

“We really need to meet and educate ourselves” about the charter-school process, she said. “But it looks like if we jump head first into this that the community will be behind us.”


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Currituck Keeps Property Taxes the Same




One piece of good news in this economy is that property owners in the 4WD area won't have an increase in their taxes this year. Through of series of cuts, reserves, and responsibility, the tax rate will remain at $.32 per $100.00. Below is the full article from the Daily Advance:

No tax hike in Currituck's proposed $65M budget
Scanlon cites lower spending
By JENNIFER PREYSS


CURRITUCK — Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon says it pays to have a significant reserve account, and Currituck is proving that in next year’s county budget.

Unlike their peers in neighboring counties, Currituck commissioners don’t face having to raise property taxes or fees to balance the county’s proposed $65 million spending plan, and one of the biggest reasons, Scanlon says, is the county’s decision to keep sufficient funds in reserve.

“When we were in the boom of the economy we took a lot of heat for having reserves; now we can see how wise it was to have reserves,” Scanlon said in his budget message to Currituck commissioners earlier this week. “We certainly don’t seem to be having some of the struggles our (local) communities (are having) because we’ve been able to maintain adequate reserves.”

The Chowan County Board of Commissioners voted earlier this week to raise that county’s property tax rate by 3.5 cents next year. The Pasquotank County commissioners are also considering raising property taxes to balance the county’s budget for next year.

While other counties are cutting jobs and trimming workers’ salaries and hours, Currituck plans to give its employees a cost-of-living raise next year.

“We’re probably one of the few counties in northeast North Carolina that is fortunate enough to be able to provide a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for our county employees,” Scanlon said.

Currituck’s property tax rate remains at 32 cents per $100 of property valuation in next year’s proposed budget. That means someone with a $100,000 house would pay $320 in property taxes next year.

Crafting a balanced budget for next year without any tax or fee hikes was even more of a challenge, Scanlon said, because of the current economic recession. With 66 percent of the county’s tax base on the Outer Banks, Currituck’s revenues are significantly affected by swings in the real estate market, and right now the swing has been downward, he said.

“Our tax base expands for one of two reasons — people buying selling real-estate, or people building something on the land,” he said. “Land transfer taxes peaked in 2005 and ... (there has been a) drastic drop-off in land transfer taxes from 2005 to (the present.) Not only is the number of transactions decreasing, the values of the transactions themselves are decreasing.”

Sales tax revenue has also plateaued, Scanlon said.

“Sales tax has not only become flat but we’re actually starting to see a drop in sales tax,” he said.

Currituck’s 32-cent property tax rate generated more than $25 million last year, while sales taxes contributed about $4 million.

One thing that has helped, Scanlon said, is the county’s decision to lower overall spending over the past seven years.

“We have been systematically lowering our budget versus getting to a point where we’re absorbing a big hit at one time,” Scanlon said.

Next year’s proposed spending plan, for example, includes a $44 million general fund budget — a 6 percent decrease from the current year’s budget that ends June 30. The overall budget is about 4.8 percent less than this year’s spending plan.

Education is the single largest expense in next year’s proposed budget — $10 million. The spending plan also allocates $5 million for emergency medical services, another $5 million for the Currituck Sheriff’s Department, $4 million for the Department of Social Services and about $2 million for the county jail.

The county also had to absorb an 11.71 percent increase in health insurance costs for county workers.

The budget proposal also spends $310,000 developing the 4-H Cultural Life Center — commonly referred to as the “horse farm.” Monies have also been included to upgrade the Planning Department’s Unified Development Ordinance and develop the Maple Commerce Park. Another spending priority for next year is development of a community center, Scanlon said.

Besides the county’s proposed $44 million general fund, Currituck anticipates an occupancy tax fund of $7 million and an enterprise fund of $11 million.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Commissioner Gets Carova Beach Staffed with EMS for Summer Season



It appears the Daily Advance was able to pick up scent. Here is the link to their article . The earlier article is posted below:



Previous Post: June 6th, 2009
With a career background in EMS and Fire Service, Commissioner Vance Aydlett knows how important response times are in emergency situations. The off-road area has historically always had a low call volume when it comes to emergencies, but a response time that many felt was too long. Commissioner Aydlett has set out to do something about it. "I sat down with the County Manager and the EMS Director and told them I wanted some sort of plan to provide an enhanced EMS service for the Carova Beach Area."

Aydlett's initial goal was to provide 24 hour EMS service from the Carova Beach Fire Station but because of other budgetary concerns within the County, the Board of Commissioners ultimately agreed to providing two full-time EMS personnel and ambulance coverage from 9AM-9PM, 7 days a week. Coverage is beginning this weekend and will continue through the tourist season until mid-October.

This is a great step in providing better emergency services to the year round residents and seasonal vacationers. I know it is hard for some to place a great deal of importance on providing more services for so few calls, but for the person making that call, there is no service more important.

Commissioner Aydlett, thanks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Commissioners oppose one proposed design of Currituck County Bridge


As reported in the Daily Advance, The County Commissioners do not support a concrete barrier on US 158. The full article is below:




Currituck opposes bridge design that limits Waterlily Road access
Concept ends left turns from U.S. 158
By JENNIFER PREYSS
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Currituck officials say they are opposed to a proposed design for the Mid-Currituck Bridge that would eliminate left turns from US Highway 158 onto Waterlily Road.

In an e-mail to a North Carolina Turnpike Authority engineer last week, County Manager Dan Scanlon said the county has concerns about the bridge design because it proposes constructing a concrete barrier on U.S. 158 between the J.P. Knapp Bridge and the site where the new bridge would be built.

If the barrier is built, motorists traveling south on U.S. 158 could not turn left onto Waterlily Road as they now do. Instead, they would have to continue south on U.S. 158, drive past the Mid-Currituck Bridge interchange and make a U-turn at the relocated Aydlett Road intersection.

Jennifer Harris, an engineer with the Turnpike Authority, said in e-mail to Scanlon that the change would mean that motorists wishing to turn left from U.S. 158 onto Waterlily Road would have a detour of about a mile.

In addition, motorists would no longer be able to turn left from Waterlily onto U.S. 158. Motorists wishing to travel southward from Waterlily Road would first have to turn right on U.S. 158 and head northward, Harris said in her e-mail. They would have to cross the Knapp Bridge, proceed to the Worth Guard Road intersection and make a U-turn, she said. From there, they would have to cross back over the Knapp Bridge a second time to get southward on U.S. 158. The barrier would require motorists to drive approximately 2.5 miles longer than they do now, Harris said.

In his e-mail, Scanlon advised Harris that county officials do not support the design.

“...Please be advised that Currituck County will go on record opposing such a design,” Scanlon wrote.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Owen Etheridge said the design does not benefit Currituck residents who will be the primary users of the road.

“I don’t see any benefit for any local residents; it only benefits the traveling public,” Etheridge said. “It’s neither convenient or safe and as a commissioner I can’t endorse the project and I won’t.”

Etheridge also points out that in emergencies, the one- and two-mile diversions may affect fire and emergency service response times.

Steve Dewitt, the Turnpike Authority’s chief engineer, said the bridge concept is just that, a concept. He said bridge designers recognize the proposed concrete divide along U.S. 158 may warrant some changes. In fact, they’re currently talking with state Department of Transportation officials to develop another design, he said.

“This is very pre-mature, for now it is just a concept,” Dewitt said. “We’re looking at different alternatives with our number one priority surrounding (driver) safety.”

Dewitt said the there is no timeline for when the final bridge design will be completed. However, the final design will include input from local governments and residents, he said.

“The bottom line is that we’re far from being done with the (plans),” Dewitt said. “We will go back to the drawing board no matter what.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

ANOTHER Stallion euthanized over Memorial Day Weekend


Memorial day weekend always brings with it a certain amount of tolerance because of irresponsibility by a few visitors and locals, but some actions are intolerable. Below is a recount of the events that took place as another stallion was hit by CWHF dirctor, Karen McCalpin.


I have just returned from the beach. The beautiful stallion that is featured in the Mary Kolliner photo in the center of our brochure and our Charter member photos is dead.. His name was Spec. He was euthanized at 2:30 p.m. His left hind leg was broken so badly it was snapped completely in two. Dr. Kite examined the leg thoroughly. It was hit from the side with great force and broken inward. There were ATV tracks all around where the horse was originally seen on the beach at 6:43 a.m. this morning. It is possible that ATV’s were being used to chase the horse and then hit him. Residents reported hearing ATV’s tearing around at 1 and 2 a.m. Spec drug himself up over the dunes over a mile from where he was first seen. I have no words to describe what the last few hours have been like for those of us who were present. If there is a tougher horse on than planet than Spec, then it’s got to be a Spanish Mustang as well. Spec did not want to die and he fought long and hard. It was gut wrenching. It was a waste. It was sickening. Someone up there right now is responsible for his death. Or perhaps, like the other horse that was hit, they left the beach for awhile, they got rid of the evidence, and they’re counting on others to cover for them.

Please, if you live up there and you see or hear something that you know is not right – call the Sherriff’s office. You don’t have to give your name. We have lost two healthy, beautiful, stallions in the last 4 weeks. Hit by people who know that they hit them. Left to suffer in agony. Help us hold them accountable. Help us keep another horse from having to die.

My deepest thanks to Steve and Hannah Rogers who came drove here from Columbia . Steve was able to use his expert marksmanship skills to dart Spec twice with tranquilizers.. Thanks to Deputy Justin Cartwright for his assistance, to Edna Baden, Kim Hoey, Jim and Ellen Rein, Brian O’Connor and Cameron Gray.

Karen H. McCalpin

Executive Director

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

P.O. Box 361

1126 Schoolhouse Lane

Corolla, NC 27927

252-453-8002

www.corollawildhorses.org

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Outer Banks:: No more plastic bags


I rarely weigh in my opinion on the information that I post but I am proud of what Senator Basnight has done with banning the plastic bags. The Outer Banks should be a model of responsible and sustainable behavior since we market ourselves as environmentally appealing to our visitors. Here is the article from the News & Observer in Raleigh, remember, it still has to pass the House:



Outer Banks bag ban wins Senate approval

Outer Banks shoppers at large retailers would have the option of paper or nothing under a bill the Senate approved Wednesday.

The legislation, which passed 47-1, would prohibit those stores from using plastic shopping bags. Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, is pushing the bill, which applies to Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties.

Basnight said the flimsy bags have turned into post-purchase tumbleweeds polluting the landscape of the Outer Banks, which relies on its landscape to attract tourists.

The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat, described the bill as a pilot program that could go statewide. The goal is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags, such as the cloth totes sold at grocery stores, and eventually to eliminate paper and plastic bags.

Nearly 20 states have considered or imposed legislation regulating plastic bags, but only the city of San Francisco has banned them.

Retailers argue that paper bags made from recycled material, which are permitted by the bill, cost more and that retrofitting stores that are set up for plastic bags will create costs that are passed along to customers. The wiser approach, they argue, is to encourage or even mandate recycling.

Staff writer Mark Johnson

Currituck Commissioners Corolla Town Hall Meeting




If you local or down next week and want to attend, the commissioners will be in Corolla for a rare town hall meeting. It is an opportune time to bring up issues from the bridge, 4WD road improvements, tourism dollars, Whalehead stormwater management, etc...

BOC Schedules Corolla Town Hall Meeting
The Currituck Board of Commissioners will conduct a Town Hall Meeting in Corolla on Thursday, May 21, 2009. This meeting is open to the public, and will be held at the Corolla Fire Station in Whalehead, beginning at 7:00 p.m. For more information, call 232-2075.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NCTA on the ground conducting field work for Bridge

Information from the County website and NCTA:

May 13, 2009 - Currituck County residents may soon notice surveyors and engineers completing tasks in the area to support project development studies on the Mid-Currituck Bridge.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) will be performing surveying and geotechnical work within the project corridor for the Mid-Currituck Bridge project. Engineers and surveyors representing NCTA will be working on or near local properties to perform survey tasks and obtaining subsurface information in accordance with General Statutes 136-89.194.

Property owners with questions regarding this work should contact the NCTA Chief Engineer's office at 919-571-3000.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Turnpike Authority enters into Pre-Development Agreement to finalize bridge feasibility.

In the following release obtained from the NCTA, the bridge is the all too familiar "one step closer" to becoming reality. This unique public/private partnership has officially merged whereby various partners within the coalition can focus their efforts and expertise to determine feasibility of each critical component. Below is the release:




TURNPIKE AUTHORITY SIGNS FIRST PUBLIC PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT FOR MID-CURRITUCK BRIDGE

RALEIGH ––The North Carolina Turnpike Authority today signed the state’s first public-private pre-development agreement for a major transportation project.

“This is a historic moment for transportation financing in North Carolina,” said Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, Chairman of the Turnpike Authority Board of Directors. “With today’s contract execution we are creating a partnership between a progressive state entity and a private consortium to harness the efficiencies and financial capabilities of the private sector to deliver major transportation infrastructure for our state.”

The Currituck Development Group, LLC, whose lead partners include ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc.; Dragados USA, Inc.; and Lochner-MMM Group will work with the Turnpike Authority on the development, design, and financial assessment of the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge toll project on the Outer Banks.

“The Currituck Development Group is honoured to partner with the North Carolina Turnpike Authority on the development of this important project,” said Juan Santamaria, with ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc. “Not only will the Mid-Currituck Bridge help to reduce traffic congestion in the region, but it will also lead to important job creation in the State.”

The Currituck Development Group will perform financial analyses to determine the overall financial feasibility of the project. Depending on the results of these studies, the Authority may choose to enter into negotiations for a concession agreement with the Currituck Development Group to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the Mid-Currituck Bridge. Concurrently with the financial analyses, the Currituck Development Group will assist the Turnpike Authority in completing the environmental, engineering and design studies, including capital cost estimates, environmental mitigation, regulatory approvals, right of way and utility impact assessments, and construction planning, as well as toll operational strategies and toll market research. While the Currituck Development Group will complete many project development activities, the Turnpike Authority retains responsibility for the required environmental planning process and its outcomes.

"Today’s agreement is the culmination of more than a year of work by Turnpike Authority staff,” said David Joyner, Executive Director of the Turnpike Authority. “Public-private partnerships are an entirely new project deliver strategy for North Carolina, and we look forward to working with the Currituck Development Group to make the Mid-Currituck Bridge a reality.”

Public-private partnerships are formal collaborations between public agencies and private concessionaires that capture the advantages of private sector participation while maintaining public accountability to develop new infrastructure. These partnerships can be an effective way to deliver much needed infrastructure while minimizing costs and risks to the public.

A Mid-Currituck Bridge would be a toll facility approximately 7-miles long, making it the longest bridge in North Carolina, and cross the Currituck Sound connecting the Currituck mainland at US 158 near Aydlett with NC 12 on the Outer Banks south of Corolla. Construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge would begin in late 2010 and open to traffic in 2013.

Additional project information and a copy of the PDA can be found at www.ncturnpike.org/projects/Mid_Currituck