Well, despite local pressure for action by the Currituck County Commissioners, we have another 'study' to review the Wild Hourse Tour operations for another year. Below is an article from the Daily Advance.
By Cindy Beamon
CURRITUCK — Currituck commissioners want the impact of horse tours on off-road areas studied but don’t think a moratorium on tour operations is necessary.
Commissioners directed county staff Monday to study the tours’ impact and make recommendations before next year’s tourist season. The board stopped short, however, of declaring a moratorium that would block new businesses from starting tours and limit existing businesses from adding more tour vehicles.
The county first began regulating the tours this year following complaints from residents. Officials are concerned that the tours are negatively affecting the Outer Banks’ eco-system, including the wild horses in Corolla, a popular attraction for tourists.
In addition to the study, stricter enforcement of existing policies is needed, some commissioners say. Besides tour vehicles operating without a permit, reported violations include speeding tour vehicles and improper use of public rest-room facilities, especially at the park in Carova.
Tour operators are supposed to provide private bathroom facilities, but instead they are using those facilities at the park. Long lines, used-up supplies, and a backed-up septic system have resulted, said Planning Director Ben Woody.
Commissioner Vance Aydlett said he was concerned about “multiple violations amongst tour operators.”
Woody responded that the county has been “building a rap sheet on some of these guys.”
Woody said some tour companies are closely following county policy while others are operating unmarked vehicles or illegally operating more vehicles than specified on their permits.
Aydlett said speeding has also been an issue. Deputies have been asked to identify the tour company on tickets so that the county can keep track of violations, he said.
For years, residents have complained about the impact of tours on their neighborhoods, particularly trespassing tourists and blocked roads. The constant stream of tour vehicles may be degrading the unpaved roads, some residents argue.
In addition, the Wild Horse Fund, the nonprofit that manages the wild herd on the Currituck Outer Banks, is concerned about how the wild horses are affected by the constant stream of onlookers.
Until last year, Currituck County had not regulated tours and had no record of how many tour vehicles were operating. This year for the first time, tour operators were required to apply for special-use permits so the county could more closely monitor and regulate tours.
At present, the eight permitted companies operate a total of 45 vehicles with a 325-person capacity. Each tour vehicle may conduct tours six to eight times a day, multiplying the impact of the tours on off-road areas.
One permit application is still pending. For a second time, commissioners delayed a decision on a special use permit for OBX Monster Bus and Limo for a 26-seat “monster bus.” Commissioners asked applicant Jennifer Marshall to resolve issues about parking for the bus and ownership of the business before they consider the request at their next meeting.
Some commissioners were concerned that other businesses may apply for permits before the study is completed. With the tourist season half over and no new applications on file, the possibility appears less likely, but commissioners discussed how to address the issue without a moratorium.
“My concern is ... we don’t need to have any more operators this year,” said Aydlett, who proposed the moratorium.
Other commissioners were concerned about the legal issues surrounding a moratorium, particularly if an extension was needed. In the end, commissioners asked county staff to prepare recommendations before early spring so that the county would be prepared before tour operators begin renewing or applying for special-use permits next year.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted by Jason Summerton at 12:13 PM