Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Article on Currituck's Tax Assessment Process and Procedure

As most know, the taxes are reassessed every 8 years and this falls on the 2013 tax year.  Below is an article on that process:


Currituck revaluation rules online

By Cindy Beamon

Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CURRITUCK — The rules Currituck will use to determine new property values are now online, but it will be a few months longer before county taxpayers know how those rules will affect them.

The schedule of rates, standards and values used in appraising property does not list specific properties yet. Rather, the schedule of values explains how appraisers will calculate the value of nearly 24,000 properties in Currituck in the coming year. The document is on the county’s Web page,, and available for viewing at the tax office.

Under state law, counties are required to revaluate property at least every eight years. Once adopted, those new property values are used to determine how much owners will pay in taxes.

The new rules are designed to make sure all properties are treated the same, said Currituck Tax Director Tracy Sample.

“The goal is to get market value, and the even bigger goal is to treat everybody the same, to treat everybody fairly,” said Sample.

Currituck commissioners have agreed to set a public hearing on the schedule of values for Jan. 7. Once adopted, the new rules can be used to figure the new property appraisals.

Taxpayers could receive notice of new values by late February or early March 2013, said Sample. Initially, the county had estimated an earlier mailing, but complications with a computer program slowed the process a little, he said.

The revaluation process actually began more than a year ago.

Throughout 2012, appraisers have been visiting each property in the county to assess its value. The appraisers were looking for certain features that may add to or subtract from the value of a home, business, or farm. The goal for appraisers is to value the property at what the typical buyer would be willing to pay for it.

Appraisers look at what other similar properties are selling for to determine that value. They also look at other factors.

Appraisers basically rank houses at five levels, from “X” for superior quality to “D” for fair quality. Houses with gabled roofs and unique designs usually rank higher than less distinct box-like houses. The house’s condition, size, age, and location also factor into its ranking. For businesses, the property’s money-making potential is a likely consideration.

Building materials also make a difference. For a commercial building, a brick veneer rather than a wood one adds to its value. According to the schedule of values, brick can add $9 to $13 a square foot to the value of a building, compared to about $6 to $9 a square foot for a wooden storefront or about $3 a square foot for a light metal one.

Add solar glass, a deluxe heating and air-conditioning system or a balcony, and the value is likely to go up.

Location also matters. A house on the oceanfront could be valued at more than $1.5 million over a soundfront home on the mainland. Typically, appraisers will look for how much houses nearby are selling to come up with the value.

For farmland, the type of soil is a big factor because better dirt means higher yields and money-making potential. Sand or “Currituck muck” ranks the lowest for farmland while Portsmouth or Altavista soils have greater value.

All the factors are plugged into mathematical equations to determine the property’s value. Even the calculations can vary, depending on what information the appraisers are able to gather.

The selling price of houses in their neighborhood is likely to make a big difference. With the upswing in foreclosures and short sales in recent years, property values are likely to go down. Because of the downturn in the real estate market, county officials are expecting lower appraisals overall than eight years ago.

Some areas in Currituck are more likely than others to be affected by that trend. Sample said he expects property values in the four-wheel drive area of the Outer Banks to go down the most. Houses in Moyock, where real estate sales have been less affected by the economic downturn, are expected to either hold their value or go down less than other areas of the county.

Sample said he doesn’t know how property owners will react to the new appraisals.

Normally, property owners are most concerned when values go up because that means higher property taxes. It’s uncertain how many residents will decide to challenge appraisals that actually go down, he said. Commissioners will be scheduling appeals sometime after the new appraisals are mailed out.

County officials are expecting some challenges regardless.

With all the variables involved, coming up with property values is not an exact science, appraisal company Tyler Technologies acknowledged in the rate schedule report.

“No program, regardless of how skillfully administered, can ever be expected to be error-free,” reads the report. “The appraisal must be fine-tuned, and this can best be done by giving the taxpayer an opportunity to question the value placed upon his property and to produce evidence that the value is inaccurate or inequitable.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Currituck County moves to Dismiss Lawsuit for Commercial Development

Currituck seeks to dismiss Swan Beach suit

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CURRITUCK — Currituck is asking a Superior Court judge to dismiss a challenge to its ban on commercial development on the county’s off-road beaches.

The county filed the motion in September after Swan Beach Corolla sued the county last summer for blocking its construction plans.

In the county’s motion to dismiss, Currituck is seeking the case be dropped on grounds that Swan Beach Corolla filing its complaint too late; that it did not exhaust all remedies outside of court; and that the county, because it is a governmental entity, is immune from lawsuits like the one the company filed.

A date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Developers filed the lawsuit last July charging they already had county permission to build businesses in Swan Beach, although the county is now opposed to those plans.

Swan Beach Corolla claims a plat with commercial lots was approved four decades ago, but the county has since reneged. The complaint seeks to reverse the county’s recent denial for commercial use of the lots totaling 37 acres.

The lawsuit claims the county rezoned six commercial lots decades ago without notifying the owners who purchased the property in 1966. Despite the rezoning, the county still billed the property owners as if the lots were zoned for business use, the lawsuit claims.

Developers apparently tried to remedy the problem several years ago by asking the county to restore the lots’ previous zoning.

Since 2004 Developer Charles “Chip” Friedman and other business owners who brought the suit have sought three times to rezone six lots originally zoned for commercial development.

In May, Currituck’s Board of Commissioners voted for the third time to deny Friedman’s rezoning request to build a cluster of cottage suites and businesses, including a convenience store, offices and a wedding chapel.

The decision upheld a 30-year-old county policy to restrict commercial development on Currituck’s northernmost beaches.

Outer Banks residents have protested the project would open the door for more business growth in an area ill-equipped to handle it. The remote beaches that begin at milepost 13 have no paved roads and no central water and sewer.

The lawsuit alleges that the county already allows commercial development on the off-road beaches because certain businesses are operating there.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Currituck County to waive certain fees for storm related repairs

There is some confusion circulating that the County is waiving permits for repairs.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  The County is waiving certain fees but still requiring the permits for repair work.  See below an email  from Jennie Newbern of the Currituck County Planning Department answering my request for clarification:


Thanks for your email. CAMA Approval & Building Permits are required. The County has waived building permit fees for Hurricane Sandy related damage until November 30, 2012. If CAMA permits are required, those fees are still applicable.

Also, please see the attached (included on blog below) information regarding the emergency permit issued from the Secretary of NCDENR. Permits for dune restoration efforts (including sand importation & beach push) may be obtained from the District DCM office at no fee. Again, permits are required, fees waived.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any other questions or concerns.


Jennie Newbern

Planner I/Code Enforcement/CAMA LPO

County of Currituck

P: 252-453-8555 ext. 222
F: 252-453-8300

Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor Dee Freeman, Secretary
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Release: Immediate Contact: Michele Walker

Date: Nov. 1, 2012 Phone: 919-707-8604

Coastal Management Offers Emergency CAMA Permit for Beach Bulldozing Following Hurricane Sandy

RALEIGH – Oceanfront property owners with beach and dune erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy will be able to obtain a Coastal Area Management Act emergency general permit to allow beach bulldozing for the reconstruction of primary and frontal dune systems.

The emergency permit regulations speed up the authorization process for permit approval. The rules also waive permit fees for these projects. The permit does not eliminate the need to obtain any other required state, local or federal authorization.

Dee Freeman, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, activated the general permit today, for use in the Ocean and Inlet Hazard Areas of North Carolina’s eight oceanfront counties: Brunswick, Carteret, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender. Work authorized under the emergency general permits must be completed by Nov. 1, 2013.

The permit may be used only to authorize beach bulldozing for the reconstruction of primary and frontal dune systems.

The Division of Coastal Management will open an emergency field office on the Outer Banks next week to assist property owners with these and other Coastal Area Management Act permits for Hurricane Sandy recovery.

On Nov. 5, the division will open an office at the Pitt Center, 6 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, N.C. Office hours will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The phone number is 252-261-8281.

If you would like to apply for the emergency general permit, here’s how you can help Coastal Management review your request as quickly as possible:

1. Please make your request in person at the N.C. Division of Coastal Management office that covers your county: Pitt Center, 6 Skyline Road, Southern Shores (temporary office);1367 U.S. 17 South, Elizabeth City (Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties); 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City (Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties, and the White Oak River bank in Onslow County); 943 Washington Square Mall, Washington (Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties); 127 Cardinal Drive Ext., Wilmington (Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties, Onslow County south of the New River, and Topsail Island).

2. Bring with you a description of the extent of the proposed dune reconstruction, including dimensions and shoreline length. Pre- and post-storm pictures of the project are helpful.

3. Provide your name, address, phone number and the project location. Include any detailed information that will be helpful, such as the state road number, the name of the water body and the name of the development.

4. If you have had any other CAMA permit on your property, please tell the division. Those permits may contain information that will help staff in the N.C. Division of Coastal Management review your repair or replacement request
Property owners with questions should call their local N.C. Division of Coastal Management office: Elizabeth City, 252-264-3901; Morehead City, 252-808-2808 or 1-888-4RCOAST (1-888-472-6278); Washington, 252-946-6481; or Wilmington, 910-796-7215.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post Hurricane Sandy Beach Videos of the 4WD Area

Given the volume of calls and emails regarding the beaches and current conditions, I took video driving on the 4WD beach in 1 mile segments so inquiring minds can see some Post Hurricane Sandy shots.  Let me know if you need more specifics.

Ramp to MP 14

MP 14 to MP 15

MP 15 to MP 16

MP 16 to MP 17 (Swan Beach)

MP 17 to MP 19 (USFW land)

MP 19 to MP 20 (N. Swan Beach)

MP 20 to MP 21 (NSB to S. Carova)

MP 21 to MP 22 (Carova Beach)

MP 22 to MP 23 (Carova Beach)

MP 23 to MP 24 VA line

Forgive me, this is rather amateur and I had to put each video to music since the alternative was a repeated dialogue with my 5 year old on the value of eating all the carrots in his lunchbox.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NC Department of Insurance Denies Insurance Rate Increase


We have just been informed that NC Insurance of Commissioner (Wayne Goodwin) has issued Notice of Public Hearing on the 2012 Homeowners Insurance Rate Filing.

The Notice of Public Hearing is means that the NC Department of Insurance does not approve of the NC Rate Bureau's Rate Filing and feels that the filed rates are excessive and unjustified.

The Hearing will not begin until June 2013 which allows both the NC Department of Insurance and the NC Rate Bureau the time needed to go through the discovery process and prepare for the Hearing. The Hearing is conducted similar to a trial with the Department of Insurance providing evidence and testimony as to why they disagree with the Rate Filing and the NC Rate Bureau

providing evidence and testimony as to why the Rate Filing is justified. The NC Insurance Commissioner will preside as the Hearing Officer during the Public Hearing. The Public Hearing will be open to the public - the public will not have an opportunity to comment during the process.

As of last Wednesday's Public Comment Session held in Raleigh, approximately 3,000 comments were submitted. The deadline for comments was last Friday, October 19th and over 9,000 comments were ultimately received. This is a telling sign that the rising cost of homeowners insurance is a critical issue in NC.

A press release should be posted soon on

Monday, October 15, 2012

Article from News & Observer shows NC Legislators' Feelings on Bridge costs

GOP Legislators Attack Plans For Seven-Mile $650 Million Bridge

GOP legislators attack plans for seven-mile, $650 million Outer Banks toll bridge
Published Fri, Oct 05, 2012 06:31 PM
Modified Fri, Oct 05, 2012 10:43 PM
By Bruce Siceloff –
By Bruce Siceloff The News and Observer
Tags: N.C. Turnpike Authority
Mid-Currituck Bridge
David Joyner
Sen. Bill Rabon
Sen. Neal Hunt
Outer Banks
RALEIGH — Republican legislators at a committee meeting Friday said the state could not afford to contribute to a planned $650 million toll bridge from mainland Currituck County to the northern Outer Banks.

The co-chairs of a House-Senate transportation oversight committee wouldn’t say when or whether they’ll vote on the Mid-Currituck Bridge, which would be built in partnership with an international consortium of private developers. But members argued against committing the state to pay as much as $28 million a year for four decades to cover an expected gap between toll collections – mostly from tourists – and project costs.

“The problem we have as a state is we don’t have the revenue we need to take care of the infrastructure we currently have, whether it’s Interstate 95 or other roads,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, an Avery County Republican. “It’s just amazing to me the creative ways we’ve come up with to finance and borrow additional money in different areas.”

Transportation officials said the state’s partnership with private developers actually will push the taxpayer cost higher, not lower. And toll collections will cover only 30 to 40 percent of the project cost – compared to a 60 percent share expected from drivers who use the Triangle Expressway in Wake County.

“From that perspective, it’s hard to justify,” Sen. Neal Hunt, a Wake County Republican, said after the meeting. “I know they have needs down there. But, dadgummit, we have lots of needs in the state.”

Acting on instructions from the legislature a few years ago, the state Department of Transportation is planning the Mid-Currituck Bridge as a public-private partnership with a Madrid-based consortium that builds bridges around the world. In exchange for taking profits from toll collections that would continue for 50 years, the private partner would carry much of the risk that the bridge – dependent on a healthy tourism economy – could turn out to be a financial flop.

David Joyner, the DOT turnpike director, said that reduced risk is worth an extra $3 million a year that taxpayers would pay.

“Is this a good deal?” Joyner asked committee members. “You’ve got to help us decide. We think it is.”

State and coastal agencies have been talking since 1975 about a bridge across the Currituck Sound, to ease weekend and summer traffic jams on U.S. 158 and N.C. 12. At seven miles, it would be North Carolina’s longest bridge.

Supporters say it would cut 37 miles and as much as two hours from beach trips. Vacationers and others would pay variable tolls projected to reach as high as $25 per trip during peak hours, with discounts for frequent users.

Elected officials and legislative candidates from both political parties in Dare and Currituck counties like the proposed bridge, and so do out-of-state residents who endure long traffic delays on their vacation trips to the Currituck Banks.

“As far as I know, this is the most important project – and has been for 20 years – in northeastern North Carolina,” said Rep. Bill Owens Jr., a Perquimans County Democrat. “It’s important to our economy, and it’s something that’s been worked on by Democrats and Republicans. … It needs to go forward.”

But a sheaf of letters and emails delivered to the legislature revealed sharp divisions among coastal residents. And the Mid-Currituck Bridge earned low-priority ratings when DOT engineers compared it to other needs.

Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said he’ll wait to see how the bridge project looks next spring, after as many as 50 newly elected legislators take their seats.

He expressed doubts about a 40-year commitment to pay a combined $123 million a year for the Mid-Currituck Bridge and two other pending toll projects – enough money, he said, to widen and overhaul I-95. The other two are the Garden Parkway in Gaston County and the Cape Fear Skyway in New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

“The numbers just don’t add up on these turnpike projects,” Rabon said. “I wish they did. The one in my area is as bad as this one.”

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or or

Read more here:


Friday, October 12, 2012

County to reduce number of Tour Vehicles

Larger vehicles, fewer trips under N.C. horse plan

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© October 7, 2012


A colt about 6 months old pranced around while his mother and three other Corolla wild horses recently grazed in a meadow behind the dunes.

His spiked, immature mane looked like the Mohawk haircut of a rebellious teen, colored dark brown close to the neck with a golden tinge at the tips.

An open-cab Hummer with eight riders pulled up. Four heads popped up over the roll bar and began snapping photos. It was the perfect scene for a wild horse-tour driver giving his customers what they wanted.

County officials, however, are considering ways to limit such horse-viewing trips, and the disruption they cause, by having larger vehicles that make fewer trips.

Nine companies advertise the adventure of riding in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the north beaches in search of wild horses. It is a booming business attracting about 3,000 people a day in the summer months. North Carolina made the wild horses a featured attraction in its tourism advertising this year, ramping up interest even more.

Many times a day, lines of vehicles rumble along the surf and then turn west, up and over the dunes.

The Currituck National Wildlife Refuge and privately owned meadows and forests offer thousands of acres of habitat. But the horses also frequent the lawns of the 600 to 700 homes built along the rough, unpaved roads.

Residents of the north beach communities often have complained about the traffic and the disturbance. Some tour companies do not obey the rule of staying 50 feet from the horses, said Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

"Too many people are getting too close," McCalpin said. "The law says 50 feet. I don't think that's too much to ask."

Contention between residents and tour operators has smoldered for years while the demand to see wild horses has grown. Owners maintain that the tours attract business and jobs to Corolla, generate tax revenue, and reduce the number of people who would drive up there on their own.

Currituck County commissioners are considering an ordinance that could cut from 46 to 25 the number of tour vehicles permitted. Operators would be allowed to use larger vehicles with greater capacity that still would offer rides to the same number of customers.

Tour owners would have to buy a new license for close to $1,200 per vehicle, raising $29,960. That fund would cover expenses such as maintaining the county's public park and restrooms in Carova Beach and grading its main route, Ocean Pearl Road. None of the roads there are paved, and many have potholes nearly large enough to swallow a pickup.

"I think it's going to be a good thing," said Scott Trabue, owner of Back Country Outfitters in Corolla. "You've got to respect the locals and you've got to respect the authorities."

Richard Brown of Wild Horse Adventure Tours and Bob White of Beach Jeeps would see the number of vehicles they use cut from 10 to four, according to county statistics. Neither could be reached for comment.

Oblivious to the troubles, the Corolla wild horses are doing well, said Wesley Stallings, the herd manager.

An aerial count in September turned up 121 horses, just about the ideal population, he said. Corolla Wild Horse Fund officials await a vote on a bill in Congress sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones that would allow the herd to remain at 120 to 130 horses. An unenforced ordinance agreed to more than 10 years ago by federal and local officials calls for the herd to remain at 60 horses.

Using GPS technology, Stallings locates where the horses live and graze month by month.
The herd naturally divides into harems of four or five horses. Harems migrate according to the season.
Marsh grasses near the Currituck Sound and mast in the maritime forests are best in the winter, while sea oats on the dunes mature in the summer. In the spring and fall, horses graze in the meadows between the dunes and the marshes.

"I know where each horse's home range is," Stallings said.
He hopes his research can eventually help resolve issues of habitat versus development and tours.
On the beach, a harem led by a black stallion well-known for his long flowing mane trotted near a large oceanfront home. A foal left behind whinnied for his mother before trotting along the base of the dunes to where she waited.
An open vehicle from a different tour company was not far away, but more than 50 feet. People stood from their seats taking photos of another memorable scene of wild horses. More satisfied customers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NC Governor race to determine ultimate fate for the Mid Currituck Bridge


Governor hopefuls differ on bridge
By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Although recent questions about the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge have arisen in the state Senate, one local lawmaker says the future of the project may likely hinge on the new governor.

Gov. Bev Perdue has supported the project, but her influence will end after November’s election, when a new governor is elected.

State Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, says who replaces her could have a big bearing on the bridge. The governor appoints the state Board of Transportation, the body in charge of negotiating the state’s contract with a private partner in building and maintaining the $600 million span, Owens notes.

“If (the BOT members) want to kill it, they certainly can in their negotiations,” he said.

In recent statements, the two candidates for governor have differed on their stances on the bridge.

Republican Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte, was non-committal in his support of the bridge, although a campaign spokesman said that does not mean he opposes the project.

McCrory wants to examine all road projects statewide before deciding which ones should move forward, said Ricky Diaz, press secretary for McCrory.

“If elected, Pat McCrory will develop a long-term

transportation infrastructure plan to once and for all to remove politics from transportation infrastructure funding,” said Diaz. “Pat believes projects should be funded based on worthiness, and will review plans for the Mid-Currituck Bridge to ensure that the long-term economic interests of the state and region are best-served.”

Democrat Walter Dalton, the state’s current lieutenant governor, supports the bridge, said campaign spokesman Schorr Johnson.

“He believes it will help with tourism which is one of North Carolina’s top industries,” Johnson said.

He noted that Dalton also supported project when he served in the state Senate.

Dalton also approves plans to fund the project with a combination of public and private funds.

“The unique public-private partnership is the only way a project of this size will be able to go forward,” Johnson said.

Johnson did add one qualifier. He said funding for the project will have to be re-examined every two years when the state budget is being considered.

The state’s changing political landscape over the past two years has turned out to be a mine field for the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge project.

Under the leadership of then Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, the General Assembly agreed to pay $28 million each year in “gap funds” for the next 30 years to support the project. Gap funds will pay the difference between what the bridge will collect in tolls and the actual cost of construction.

However, after Basnight left office and Republicans took control of the Senate, the project has been under fire on several fronts.

Most recently chairmen of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee have questioned the state’s plan for funding the bridge. State Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Beaufort, said recently in an interview that the state needs to re-examine the importance of all N.C. Turnpike Authority projects before the General Assembly funds them. The Turnpike Authority is the state agency the General Assembly, then under Democratic control, created to oversee and build several expensive toll road projects, including the Mid-Currituck Bridge.

Owens, who also will be leaving office when his current term ends in December, said the project has already passed close scrutiny over the past two decades. He claims the recent questions are aimed at either diverting funds to other road projects or eliminating toll projects altogether.

Despite the recent attacks, Owens said he believes funding for the Mid-Currituck Bridge will eventually come through. The General Assembly will find it difficult to undo the legislation that already promises state funds for the project, he said.

“It takes both the House and the Senate to take it out,” Owens said.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bridge Funding Gets Serious Questioning and Scrutiny For Lawmakers

Lawmaker questions need for Mid-County Bridge

By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New questions by lawmakers about the proposed Mid-County Bridge in Currituck signal another tough fight ahead over the $600 million project, local and state officials say.

Four powerful Republicans in the General Assembly plan to review the state’s plan for funding the bridge this fall.

In response, Currituck commissioners are set to meet with the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee on Sept. 5 to defend what they call a “serious threat” to the seven-mile span crossing the Currituck Sound.

State Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, one of the committee’s four chairmen, said “gap funds” for the mid-county bridge — funds to pay for the difference between what the project will cost and the amount private tolls will raise — unfairly favor Currituck over other counties in the state. If Rabon had his way, funds would be more evenly distributed among all 16 of the state’s transportation districts.

“What makes Currituck so special?” Rabon asked in a telephone interview last week.

The newest threat to the project is really nothing new, said state Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank. In 2011, Owens used the bridge as a bargaining chip when he agreed to vote with the Republican majority for a veto-proof state budget.

“It’s been serious for a couple years now,” Owens said of 
possible funding cuts to the bridge.

The bridge will lose Owens as its chief defender in the General Assembly when he retires later this year. Another powerful bridge supporter, former Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight left office in January 2011.

“We have fought a lot of opposition over the years, and so far, we are still on the table,” Owens said. “But there will be future fights after I am gone.”

That fight could hang on a promise.

Owens said House Speaker Thom Tillis made a promise that he would back the bridge for as long as he remains speaker. So far, Tillis has kept his word, said Owens.

When the Senate sought to cut the gap funding for the project by almost half this year, Tillis helped restore full funding in the General Assembly’s final budget, said Owens. Cutting the gap funds would have “killed the project,” he said.

Tillis could not be reached to comment. Last week, an aide said he was on vacation until Monday.

Owens acknowledged the fragility of Tillis’s promise. Tillis may not be re-elected as House Speaker or he may yield to pressure from fellow Republicans not to continue gap funding for the project, officials have speculated.

In the Senate, opposition to the Mid-County Bridge and similar toll-road projects appears to be building.

Rabon said he doesn’t know if he has support in the General Assembly to end funding for the bridge as lawmakers now know it.

In 2002, the state set up the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to plan and construct toll-road projects that would be too expensive to be funded through the traditional state transportation system.

Rabon is now suggesting the state scuttle Turnpike projects and divvy funds among the transportation districts.

He said the Turnpike projects give an unfair advantage to some counties.

“No one in the state should be special. Everyone should be treated fairly,” said Rabon.

He didn’t mention names, but Rabon said under previous leadership in the General Assembly, northeastern North Carolina has already received “more than its fair share” of state funding for various projects.

“That’s the way it used to be done, but that’s not the way it’s going to be done from now on,” said Rabon.

State Sen. Stan White, who was appointed by the Democratic Party to fill the unexpired term of Basnight, charges that questions about the bridge’s funding are a veiled attempt to shift funding to other road projects in the state.

Currituck Commissioner Owen Etheridge has also questioned the motives of legislators raising questions about the gap funding.

“I just want them to not play politics with the Mid-County Bridge, and that’s what I think is going on,” Etheridge said in an interview earlier this month.

Rabon denied that his district would receive any immediate benefit from shifting funds away from Turnpike projects. He noted that the proposed Cape Fear Skyway, a Turnpike project near Wilmington, would be one of the victims if funding is shifted elsewhere.

Rabon said he doesn’t oppose the Mid-County Bridge, just how it will be funded.

The state’s plan to provide $28 million in gap funds each year for 30 years will turn the bridge into a “billion dollar project,” he said. That’s more than the state can afford, he said.

Rabon also questioned what will happen if the state’s private partner in the project goes bankrupt.

“If they go belly up, who’s going to pay?” he asked.

Local officials say the oversight committee chairmen are overlooking the benefits of the Mid-County Bridge project.

Owens said he’s invited Rabon to Currituck to see the need for the bridge first-hand, but so far Rabon hasn’t accepted.

“I don’t think people realize the magnitude of the problem,” said Owens, noting that evacuation of the barrier island during a major hurricane would be a major problem.

Both Owens and White said the oversight committee’s move to re-examine financing for the bridge could be serious.

“(The) Turnpike (Authority) is nervous,” said White. “The tone of the (committee’s) letter is ‘kill the bridge.”’

Rabon said asking questions is just part of his job as a member of the oversight committee. He said Currituck needs to prove the importance of the project to the entire state.

“If the same project was approved in Avery County, would Currituck support it?” asked Rabon.

Owens said Currituck has already answered questions about the bridge’s importance.

“This is nothing new, and it certainly hasn’t been rushed,” said Owens.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Speculation on the Mid Currituck Bridge


Killing bridge could cost $10M
By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

CURRITUCK — The state risks losing up to $10 million if it pulls out of a partnership agreement to build the proposed Mid-County Bridge in Currituck, an official with the agency responsible for building the span says.

David Joyner, executive director for the N.C. Turnpike Authority, also has adjusted the proposed construction starting date for the $600 million bridge project to January 2014.

Under that timeline, the seven-mile span across the Currituck Sound wouldn’t open to traffic until 2018.

Joyner made both projections as part of his response to questions posed recently by four powerful state Republican lawmakers critical of the state’s funding for the Mid-Currituck Bridge project.

In a letter to Joyner, state Sens. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston, and state Reps. Phillip Frye, R-Mitchell and Grey Mills, R- Iredell, each of them a chairman of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, asked several questions about the bridge. They said the state’s first public-private partnership to build a road project needs to be “highly scrutinized” to avoid a negative outcome.

Among other things, the lawmakers wanted to know the terms of the state’s agreement to build the bridge, and the state’s projected risks and financial obligations for the project.

In his Aug. 3 response, Joyner said the state’s private partner in the bridge project, Currituck Development Corp., is expected to contribute $40 million toward the bridge. CDC is a consortium of private partners including Spanish bridge-building company ACS Group.

Under the proposed public-private partnership, CDC will design, construct, operate and maintain the project over 50 years. The company is expected to recoup its costs by charging tolls, estimated earlier to cost motorists between $6 and $12 one way.

Joyner said if the state were to back out of the partnership agreement with the CDC before closing the deal, it would have to pay up to $10 million.

The private partners have also agreed to shoulder “key risks” in the project, he said. Those risks include: absorbing the risk for collecting tolls; keeping construction on time, and on budget; and operating and maintaining the bridge for 50 years.

The state’s obligation includes providing “gap funds” to subsidize construction costs.

The state Legislature has agreed to pay up to $28 million in gap funds each year for 30 years. For the past two years, however, the General Assembly has delayed its appropriation of the gap funds and diverted the funds elsewhere.

This year, the Senate even removed funding for the project altogether but later agreed in budget negotiations to a one-year delay in funding instead.

Apparently, the new round of questions from the committee chairmen is a continued challenge to the project.

“Transportation infrastructure needs in this state are great and we all must grapple with which projects to finance and how to finance them,” states their letter to Joyner.

Local officials say the questions by the Republican lawmakers signal a serious threat to the bridge project.

“I am very worried they will not come back next year and refund the bridge even though we have assurances they will,” Currituck Commissioner Owen Etheridge said.

The General Assembly is expected to hammer out next year’s budget during its winter session. Funding for the bridge is expected to be part of those budget deliberations.

In the meantime, the state will be working toward finalizing its agreement with CDC.

The Turnpike Authority has projected its commercial agreement with CDC will be ready by October. The next steps would be the project’s final design and environmental permits before the financial closing in December 2013.

Joyner said any legal challenge to the project — which the Turnpike Authority is expecting — would not increase the state’s $10 million liability.

“Historically, environmental lawsuits do not kill projects but they can delay projects,” Joyner said. “Eventually projects go forward assuming financial conditions allow. We have anticipated a reasonable delay from litigation.”

The lawmakers’ letter states their committee plans to meet this fall to review the information from Joyner.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Commercial Developer Sues Currituck County Over 4x4 Beaches

It comes as no major surprise but it has finally made its way to court.  Swan Beach Corolla LLC, figureheaded by Chip Friedman, is suing Currituck County over its refusal to allow commercial development on the 4x4 area of the Outer Banks.  Cindy Beamon of the Daily Advance has the latest below.

Currituck sued on Carova development limits

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CURRITUCK — Officials’ resolve to ward off commercial development on the remote northern Outer Banks beaches will face a challenge in court.

Developers filed a lawsuit this month charging they already have county permission to build businesses in Carova beach, although the county is opposed to it.

Swan Beach Corolla LLC claims a plat with commercial lots was approved four decades ago, but the county has since reneged. The complaint filed July 6 in Currituck Superior Court seeks to reverse the county’s recent denial of plans for a 290-unit inn and nearby offices and stores on 37 acres in the off-road community.

The lawsuit claims the county rezoned six commercial lots decades ago without notifying the owners who purchased the property in 1966. Despite the rezoning, the county still billed the property owners as if the lots were zoned for business use, the lawsuit claims.

Developers apparently tried to remedy the problem several years ago by asking the county to restore the lots’ previous zoning.

Since 2004, Developer Charles “Chip” Friedman and other business owners who brought the suit have sought three times to rezone six lots originally zoned for commercial development.

After two failed attempts, Swan Beach Corolla, originally operating as Ocean Associates, started legal proceedings in 2008 but later backed down.

In May, Currituck’s Board of Commissioners voted for the third time to deny Friedman’s rezoning request, this time to build a cluster of cottage suites and businesses, including a convenience store, offices and a wedding chapel.

The decision upheld a 30-year-old county policy to restrict commercial development on Currituck’s northernmost beaches.

Carova-area, off-road residents protested the project would open the door for more business growth in an area ill-equipped to handle it. The remote beaches that begin at Mile Post 13 have no paved roads and no central water or sewer.

Friedman, however, charged the county already turned a “blind eye” to illegal businesses operating in the off-road community. His complaint prompted an inspections sweep last year of the off-road area to determine if any illegal businesses were operating in the mostly residential zoning district. The suit claims businesses, including a septic tank company, heavy equipment company, storage warehouse and mining operations continue to operate in the off-road community.

The suit pointed to other developments where businesses have been allowed to develop. Ocean Sands and Whalehead subdivisions have real estate offices and restaurants even though they are zoned R-02, the same as the Carova properties, the suit claims.

During the 1970s, the county told developers that projects approved before new zoning laws would be “grandfathered,” the lawsuit claims.

“County representatives continued to represent to property owners that subdivisions approved prior to regulations would be grandfathered and could be built with their original approvals,” the suit reads.

The suit claims the Swan Beach Corolla properties are being singled out for enforcement of the “no commercial” policy.

The county allows developers to build 23-bedroom beach houses — that some people call hotels — the suit stated. The mega houses, equipped with 91-seat dining rooms and industrial-size kitchens, are granted permits, but the plaintiffs were denied permission to build an inn, the suit states.

“Allowing these extremely large homes to operate for business and commercial purposes as hotels in the R-02 District but to deny plaintiffs the right to operate an inn is purposeful discrimination,” the suit charges.

The lawsuit also claims the plaintiffs had already made “substantial expenditures” toward developing the commercial properties before the county rezoned them.

Developers would not have spent $425,000 in roads, ditches and engineering work in the early 1970s if they had known the county would rezone the property, the suit states.

The county has not yet filed an answer to the complaint.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bridge Gap funding removed from NC budget for Mid Currituck Bridge.

From the Raleigh News &Observer.  I suspect the public money for the Mid-Currituck Bridge could be in grave danger...even before the sideshow began.  I'd say all options including forgery were exhausted.

By Bruce Siceloff and J. Andrew Curliss The News and Observer

RALEIGH -- The Senate Rules Committee chairman launched an investigation today into what he called “fraudulent” letters sent to legislators last week that appeared to reverse the state Department of Transportation’s position on the need for $63 million in start-up money for two toll projects.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said DOT officials would be asked to speak at a rules committee hearing Wednesday morning, and representatives of Gov. Bev Perdue’s office would be asked to speak at a second hearing Thursday morning.

The letters were drafted last Thursday morning by Perdue staffers on DOT stationery and over the signature of Jim Trogdon, DOT’s chief operating officer, and appeared to contradict a recommendation Trogdon had made in a June 8 memo to legislative leaders.

Trogdon had said June 8 that DOT would not be ready before fiscal year 2014 to spend proposed “gap” funds for the planned Mid-Currituck Bridge in Currituck County and the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, so he recommended that the legislature find other uses for that money in the budget for 2013. Thursday’s letters to two legislators interested in the projects included a line inserted by Perdue staffers Pryor Gibson and Kevin McLaughlin that said the “funds are needed in this budget cycle.”

Trogdon disavowed and retracted the letters Thursday afternoon and told legislators they had been sent and signed without his consent. By then, the false letters had been cited in floor debate over an unsuccessful amendment to restore the toll road funding to the budget.

“Those simple facts in my mind warrant this committee’s inquiry into the integrity of information provided to the Senate as it goes about its business,” Apodaca said this morning. “This is simply an inquiry. We will go where the facts lead us.”

He went out of his way to absolve Trogdon, a major general in the N.C. National Guard, of any wrongdoing.

“This should not be seen as a reflection on any particular DOT official,” Apodaca said. “Specifically, Gen. Jim Trogdon is one of the finest public servants we have in this state. In conducting this inquiry we in no way question the integrity of Jim Trogdon.”

Read more here:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Read my lips....

Currituck county approved a budget that keeps property taxes at the same $0.32 level it has been for the last 8 years. Kudos. Below is the details for the Daily Advance's Cindy Beamon: Currituck board OKs $65M spending plan By Cindy Beamon The Daily Advance Tuesday, June 5, 2012 CURRITUCK — The Currituck Board of Commissioners approved a $65 million budget Monday that cuts county spending by 9 percent without raising property taxes. Under the county’s spending plan for 2012-13, the property tax rate will remain where it’s been for the past eight years: 32 cents per $100 valuation. According to county officials, that 32-cents tax rate is now the six-lowest in the state. It also means that for a homeowner with a $200,000 home, his tax bill of $640 won’t change. The budget offers the county’s 363 employees their first raise in several years. Under the spending plan, employees will get a 2-percent cost of living adjustment. Fees countywide will remain the same, except for three sewer districts. Newtown Road Sewer District’s flat fee will rise from $26 to $32 a month. Costs for wastewater services in Moyock Commons will actually go down in next year’s budget. The district tax rate will decrease from 24 cents to 20 cents per $100 valuation. In addition, the wastewater utilization rate will decrease from four times the water bill to 3.5 times the water bill. Wastewater fees at Walnut Island will be based on water usage. The budget includes several capital projects, including the county’s first-ever mosquito spraying service. Other projects include the Aviation Technical Training Center and multi-use fields at Currituck Community Center, new tennis courts at Currituck High School, a new rodeo arena at the Rural Center and the architectural design for a new animal shelter. The spending plan also contributes to a major update of Currituck’s central communications system. The county began upgrading towers and buying new equipment last year for the 800 megahertz system. The budget includes a $10.6 million tourism budget, supported mostly with occupancy taxes, the tax on room stays and cottage rentals. About $4.3 million of occupancy tax revenues will go to tourism promotion and $6.3 million toward tourism-related expenses. The $47 million general fund is the largest of 25 separate budgets that make up the county’s operating budget. About 38 percent of the general fund budget goes toward public safety, which comprises more than half of the county’s work force. Another 22 percent goes toward education. This year, the county expects to contribute $9 million to the school system, almost $5.9 million for Emergency Management Services and another $5.6 million for the sheriff’s department.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Corolla Wild Horses make the New York Times

The popularity and the plight of the Corolla Wild Horses is so large that it made the New York Times. I must say a rather indepth article. Click here for the link

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

County Commissioners continue to disagree about (insert topic here) once again.

Cohesiveness on the County Board of Commissioners continues to erode and yet again seems to impede their ability to make significant steps towards fully addressing real county issues. The embers of closed door frustrations are spilling over onto public meetings and evoking childhood memories of the old playground at recess. Cindy Beamon of the Daily Advance has the Hall Monitor's recap below:

Rorer to Petry: Shut up; Petrey to Rorer: ‘You will be sorry’
By Cindy Beamon
Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2012
CURRITUCK — A discussion about deputies turned into a brief, but fiery exchange between two Currituck commissioners at a work session earlier this week.
John Rorer, chairman of the Currituck Board of Commissioners, told fellow Commissioner Butch Petrey to “shut up” after Petrey criticized Rorer for his description of deputies as “power hungry.”
Petrey told Rorer not to tell him to shut up again or “you will be sorry.”
Rorer then threatened to remove Petrey from the meeting if he continued to be “out of order.”
In an interview Tuesday, Petrey said Rorer had insulted deputies in Currituck, and he felt the need to defend him. Petrey questioned if Rorer even had the power to remove another commissioner from the meeting.
Rorer said Tuesday that Petrey’s comments were disruptive and it was his duty as chairman to keep order.
“We have to be tolerant of each other and make allowances, but I do have to run the meeting,” said Rorer.
Rorer said removing another commissioner from the meeting would require a vote, but Rorer thought a majority on the board would have sided with him.
The dispute arose during a discussion about hiring a “courtesy patrol” for the off-road beaches on Currituck’s northern Outer Banks.
Commissioners were discussing whether it would be better to hire college students or pay deputies overtime to patrol the beaches on all-terrain vehicles.
The choice depended on what the board wanted to accomplish, said County Planning Director Ben Woody. If commissioners wanted a courtesy patrol to have enforcement powers, then it would be better to hire deputies, Woody said. If commissioners wanted the courtesy patrol to focus on welcoming vacationers and providing information, then the county may not need deputies, he said.
Commissioners then discussed what would happen if vacationers became unruly with the courtesy patrol. They asked Sheriff Susan Johnson, who said she was there to listen, if vacationers would heed friendly warnings from a courtesy patrol.
Johnson said it would depend on the person and the situation. Based on past interactions between vacationers and volunteer courtesy patrols, about 60 percent of the time, deputies were called to assist, she said.
Commissioner Paul O’Neal said some self-appointed courtesy patrols have provoked vacationers in the past. He said he’d heard reports of some people running up and down the beach yelling at vacationers, telling them to move their cars.
“It’s how it’s done that is going to make a difference,” said O’Neal.
Rorer said he agreed. When the discussion turned to deputies patrolling the beach, Rorer said “the attitude of deputies are not the most genteel and persuasive.” He said their behavior is influenced by having guns and often feel the need to demonstrate their power.
Petrey then told Rorer he should tell Currituck deputies that face to face.
Rorer told Petrey to shut up.
Petrey responded by telling Rorer not to tell him to shut up again.
On Tuesday, Petrey said he was offended by Rorer’s attitude toward local law enforcement.
“They don’t deserve that,” he said.
Johnson said she also disagreed with Rorer’s comments.
“I assure you that the deputies are not interacting with tourists in our area in a negative manner,” she said.
The conflict between Rorer and Petrey was not the only testy moment during Monday’s work session.
Petrey and Commissioner Vance Aydlett also exchanged words after Petrey suggested posting more signs on the beach would cost less than hiring a courtesy patrol.
Aydlett said signs have been on the beach for 15 years and had not solved the problem.
“It’s time to man up and do it or shut up,” said Aydlett.
Aydlett later told board members that his comments were not directed at any one commissioner.
Commissioners ultimately agreed to pay overtime for two more deputies to patrol the 12-mile stretch of beach. The decision will double the sheriff’s department’s ATV summer patrols, said Johnson. Instead of two officers covering six miles each of beach, four officers will cover three miles each, she said. The extra manpower and ATVs are estimated to cost $64,380, which Scanlon said would be funded with occupancy tax revenue.
“I am hoping we will see a marked difference with the safety issues on the northern beaches,” Johnson said.
Commissioners have considered several proposals to resolve a dangerous mix of sunbathers and traffic on the off-road beaches during the height of summer tourist season.
Residents have proposed a permit system to limit the number of vehicles on the beach, but commissioners have rejected that idea so far. Commissioners considered creating a “safe zone” so that sunbathers would not have to cross traffic, but that proposal has been shelved, at least until next year.
Johnson said she’ll know by the end of summer if the added patrols made a significant impact on the safety issues.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

County at odds over addressing future of 4x4 beaches

Here is an article about people's opinions how best (or worst) to address the increasing traffic and multi uses on the 4x4 beaches. I am providing a link to this article because the comments on the article are also noteworthy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NC Building Code change could have significant impacts for 4x4 homeowners

It seemed that the NC building code rule change was trying to be as quiet on this as they could despite the significant impacts that a rule change like this would have on groundfloor addtions and new construction. I am not saying I don't agree with the intent of the code here, but some more public education on it would have helped Builders, Remodelers, and (most importantly)Inspectors grasp how to adapt to the change. See an article summary below:

Flood code may raise building costs North Carolina

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© March 24, 2012
New homes in North Carolina as well as additions to existing homes must be built a foot higher off the ground in flood-prone areas under new regulations, adding an obstacle for homebuilders fighting to survive a sluggish construction industry.

The new North Carolina building code, which took effect March 1, surprised some contractors.

It requires the bottom finished floor to be one foot above where maps show the worst floodwaters would reach.

The change means additional layers of concrete block for the foundation.

Duct work for heating and air conditioning systems and electrical lines can no longer run through the crawl space. Also included are new energy-saving codes that require builders to caulk, insulate and wrap dozens of additional spots on a new home.

All of that adds up to higher costs.

And with petroleum prices rising, the cost of building materials made from plastics - such as plumbing pipes and light fixtures - have also gone up, said Duke Geraghty, an Outer Banks builder and former president of the Outer Banks Home Builders Association.

He estimated the price of a new home could rise by several thousand dollars.

"It's hitting us all at once," Geraghty said.

The Outer Banks Home Builders Association plans to petition for a change to the rules, he said.

Geraghty is preparing to start on a new house soon - his first in two years. A few years ago, he was building 20 a year, he said.

"It's not much of a recovery," Geraghty said, noting that the one house he's building is replacing a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Irene last year.

"We're getting a little more business."

Home additions have provided the bulk of the work, but now, those new rooms will have to be elevated a foot higher than the existing floors, and that could also dissuade homeowners, he said.

The new state code requires the finished floor of a new home be a foot above the base flood elevation in regulated flood zones, said Spence Castello, chief building inspector for Currituck County. The new height is called design flood elevation.

Before March, builders could build the bottom floor to base flood elevation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency defines base flood elevation as the height of floodwaters that would have a 1 percent chance of reaching that level in a given year.

Weather events of that magnitude are also known as 100-year storms, according to FEMA.

Base flood elevation depends on the ground elevation and the proximity to water, which varies. Nearly 60 percent of Currituck County lies in flood-prone areas that require flood insurance.

In most of Currituck County, base flood elevation lies between 5 and 10 feet above sea level and can vary even within the same community, according to charts on the Currituck County website.

In some places, especially along the oceanfront, where wave action is expected, the base flood elevation rises to 12 feet or more. Builders have to use federal flood maps to know the elevations at a given spot.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Corolla Finally Gets Charter School Approval

Corolla school approved by state board

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© March 2, 2012
For the first time since 1957, a school is set to open this fall in Corolla following approval Thursday by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

It was the last major hurdle for a small group of parents who worked for years to create a school on the Currituck County Outer Banks to keep their children from having to travel hours a day on a bus to and from the mainland.

"We're ecstatic," said Sylvia Wolff, a founder of the school. "It's a little bit surreal. Now we have to make this a reality."

About 30 students are expected to enroll at Waters Edge Village School. Funded by the state, public charter schools allow for greater flexibility in course work and in hiring teachers. The school would cover state-required standard subjects while making use of unique resources nearby such as the wild horses, the ocean surf, maritime forests and freshwater marshes.

The Corolla Education Foundation, the group behind the school, plans a public informational meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 12 at the Pine Island Fire Station in Corolla.

A small school for Corolla children closed in 1957 after the population there had declined to just a few families. About 30 years later, Corolla boomed as a tourist attraction.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Global Agenda Invading Currituck County?

Well...sure, why not?

Citizens: UN plan taints Currituck UDO rewrite

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Thursday, February 16, 2012

CURRITUCK — A United Nations “plan” to subvert private land ownership worldwide is filtering its way into Currituck County, a few residents told county officials at two recent meetings.

Ben Rolfes of Moyock, who created a protest group called Currituck Citizens against U.N. Agenda 21, said the county may have been affected by international policy without local officials being aware of it.

He has asked Currituck commissioners and planning board members to delay action on its rewrite of the Unified Development Ordinance until they have considered his objections. Tuesday, Planning Board members voted 4-3 to table the UDO rewrite until they meet with commissioners to review the massive 550-page county document. The joint meeting is scheduled for Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Currituck Historic Courthouse.

U.N. Agenda 21 is likely to be one item discussed at the joint meeting.

“I think it’s a concern,” said Planning Board member Manly West.

Rolfes said he doesn’t believe Currituck officials had any “malice or ill intent” when they decided to update the UDO.

“Rather we feel that they have been duped by Clarion Associates, a known entity issuing U.N. agenda objectives,” said Rolfes, who referred local officials to a YouTube link on the subject. The site connects Clarion Associates, a Chapel Hill consulting firm hired by Currituck County for the UDO rewrite, with the United Nations’ International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives.

Craig Richardson, vice president with Clairon Associates, said Wednesday that allegations on the video are “completely false and pretty ridiculous.” He said Clarion has neither received nor donated any money to ICLEI.

He also denies any subversive international agenda.

He said the UDO rewrite has been a “locally driven” document with a reported 45 public meetings over the past two years.

“This has been a very open process,” said Richardson.

Moyock resident Toni Tabb said she was concerned as well about Agenda 21’s impact on Currituck’s UDO rewrite. She said the ultimate goal of U.N. Agenda 21 is to push growth into urban areas and abolish private land ownership, all under the guise of “green” initiatives. She read a resolution approved by the Republican National Committee in January 2012 that said the U.N. Agenda 21 is a “comprehensive plan of extreme enviromentalism, social engineering and global political control.”

Tabb said both Democrats and Republicans have objected to the United Nation’s plan being “covertly pushed into local communities across the United States.” They often use words like “sustainable development” and “smart growth” to disguise their true intentions, she said.

Planning Board Chairman Joe Kovacs asked for specifics about what part of the Currituck UDO concerned Tabb and Rolfes.

He said the proposed UDO did not promote the high density that Tabb said was part of the U.N. Agenda 21. Proposed zoning districts in Currituck — with two to three units per acre the maximum allowed — “is not what I call high density,” said Kovacs.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Legislation gets approval to increase Wild Horse population

In a significant step for the preservation of the Corolla Wild Horses, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to increase the size of the herd thereby allowing them a better chance to thrive and survive. Kudos to Karen McCalpin and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund for their efforts. The bill next goes to the Senate where hopefully it will be approved as well. See the article below:

House OKs act increasing size of wild herd

By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

COROLLA — Legislation to protect the free-roaming wild mustangs on the Currituck Outer Banks won support from the U.S. House of Representatives Monday.

The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act passed the House with unanimous support and now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The legislation sets up a new public-private management plan for the wild horses that scientists say is needed to keep the herd from becoming extinct.

Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, said the House’s approval of the proposed law is an important step toward saving the wild horses.

“The fact that it was a unanimous vote speaks volumes,” said McCalpin.

U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones, who sponsored the bill, said in an interview Tuesday that he expects North Carolina U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr will back the legislation.

Jones said with pressing national issues before the Senate, he doesn’t expect the legislation will be considered before summer.

Jones said the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s offer to pay for the herd’s management should work in the legislation’s favor.

“I am sure Currituck County can energize the Senate just like they did in the House,” he said.

The proposed management plan would raise the maximum herd size from 60 horses to up to 130. Equine genetic scientist have found that at least 110 horses are needed to prevent the herd’s genetic collapse. In addition, the plan would expand the herd’s genetic pool by introducing mares from the wild mustang herd at Shackleford Banks in Cape Lookout National Seashore.

McCalpin said the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is already taking steps to prepare for the introduction of horses from Shackleford Banks.

The Wild Horse Fund will be slowly trimming its herd of 136 horses to around 120, she said.

One way they do that is by sending human-friendly horses to Martin Community College where they are saddle-trained to make them “more appealing for adoption.”

The herd manager will also begin contraception procedures this week to keep down numbers, she said. A small dart, filled with contraceptives, is shot into the horses’ hind quarters to prevent new births. McCalpin said the procedure is approved by animal rights groups.

The procedure begins now while the number of tourists on the Outer Banks has waned. The task would be impossible in the summer when so many visitors were nearby, she noted.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Roadwork to begin on Ocean Pearl Road

After several years of effort and regulatory hurdles, it appears that the first efforts in maintaining and straightening the roads in the off road 4x4 area of Carova are finally getting underway. I applaud the County's willingness to maintain these roads at no direct expense to the property owners...and coming in under budget for Phase I. See the recent article below.

Carova sand road repairs coming

By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance
Sunday, February 5, 2012

CAROVA — Work may begin soon on a sand road in Carova riddled with potholes, some big enough to swamp a truck.

The county has accepted a $123,000 bid for repairs to Ocean Pearl Road, a three-mile sand road running behind the dunes at the beach resort.

The project will begin at Wild Horse Estates and continue north to the Virginia state line. Work could begin in two to three weeks and be completed in a few months, said Commissioner Vance Aydlett.

County officials say the road improvements are needed so that fire, rescue and law enforcement vehicles can access homes and vacation rentals on the off-road beaches.

Residents have complained that vehicles risk losing their transmissions in some of the big dips.

The work includes filling in potholes with sand from high-ground shoulders at the road’s southern end. Shallow swales will be dug on each side for drainage.

“It’s going to make a major difference, I believe,” Aydlett said.

Initially, the county had planned a deeper drainage system to prevent possible road flooding. That plan was rejected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of the potential impact on wetlands.

One section of the road south of Wild Horse Estates in North Swan Beach will not be repaired because the Corps has determined it is mostly wetlands.

It appears there may be some money left over for a little extra road work nearby.

The low bid for the project was half of what the county had budgeted. The county will need to subtract its cost for re-designing the project, but there should be some money left over, Aydlett said. The Carova Beach Roads Service District could opt to use that money to repair some of the east-west roads that connect to Ocean Pearl, said Aydlett.

Randall Spencer said he and fellow members of the Carova Beach Roads Service District will be deciding which roads will take top priority.

“We’ll be trying to find out what is the next worst road. We have a lot of choices,” Spencer said.

Aydlett said he has sought repairs for Ocean Pearl Road since being elected in 2008. The first step was creating the service district that recommended improvements to Ocean Pearl Road as the “main north-south road through Carova.”

Plans to improve the road have run into several snags — first how to fund the improvements and later over the Corps’ objections.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NC Turnpike Authority completes Final Environmental Impact Statement

What is being billed as a significant step in the process to build the Mid-Currituck Bridge, the NC Turnpike Authority has completed and released the Final Environmental Impact Statement. They have also revised their timeline (below). Little matters until we confirm the money exists for this project, which is less certain, given the make-up of NC politics these days. See related article below from the Daily Advance

Project Schedule (subject to change)

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Final Environmental Impact Statement

Record of Decision
2nd Quarter 2012

Begin Final Design
2nd Quarter 2012

Begin Construction
4th Quarter 2012

Project Open to Traffic

Environment study recommends mid-Currituck bridge

By Cindy Beamon
The Daily Advance

Friday, January 20, 2012

CURRITUCK — Plans for the $660 million mid-county bridge cleared a last major hurdle Thursday with release of the final environmental impact statement by the N.C. Turnpike Authority.

The study recommends the preferred alternative for the project, which involves construction of a seven-mile toll bridge across the Currituck Sound, as well as limited improvements to existing N.C. Highway 12 and U.S. Highway 158.
The Turnpike Authority, the state agency in charge of the bridge project said federal approval is expected this spring when the Federal Highway Administration issues its record of decision on the bridge. The Turnpike Authority said construction is set to begin by late this year and the bridge will open to traffic in 2017.

“The approval of this FEIS marks an important step forward for this project, which has been years in the making,” said David Joyner, executive director of the Turnpike Authority. “As the environmental planning process nears completion, the Turnpike Authority will determine over the next few months whether to proceed with the public-private partnership option or utilize municipal financing to build the project.”

Supporters applauded the possibility Tuesday that construction could begin soon, but opponents said the project is still far from being certain.

Jennifer Symonds, a long-time opponent of the bridge, said if the project proceeds as the Turnpike Authority expects, “there will be a lawsuit without a doubt.”

She said the Turnpike Authority is overly optimistic about its timeline to begin work. One major obstacle — how the project will be funded — still remains shaky, she said.

Supporters of the project were more optimistic that plans would go according to schedule.

State Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, said he’s hoping builders will break ground before he leaves office in 2012.

“It’s just one of the last remaining large items on my bucket list that I had to do as a politician,” said Owens.

John Rorer, chairman of the Currituck Board of Commissioners, said the county has already been making plans for the major construction project.

“This will open up a whole new wealth of opportunities for people in Currituck County,” Rorer said.

Financing for the project still remains uncertain. The Turnpike Authority said it will be weighing two options: a public-private partnership or state financing alone.

Rorer said he viewed the review of options as a good sign that the project will not hinge on what private investors decide.

Owens said the Turnpike Authority is “keeping its options open” but is not overly concerned about losing private backing for the project.

But Symonds said the funding issue is still far from resolved. Lawmakers nearly cut funding last year, and the project may face a similar challenge this year — but without the presence of its two major proponents, Owens and retired state Sen. Marc Basnight on board, she said.

The Environmental Impact Statement includes a preferred route for the bridge.

The preferred alternative for the bridge will place the toll plaza on the Currituck mainland at U.S. Highway 158 north of Aydlett with a bridge across Maple Swamp. Aydlett Road will remain open to traffic and turning movements would not be restricted at Waterlily Road. A median acceleration lane will be added to aid safe turns at Waterlily Road and U.S. 158.

The landing point for the bridge in Corolla would pass between the Corolla Bay subdivision and the northern end of Monteray Shores subdivision. The bridge approach will be at least 300 feet away from the homes and lots west off N.C. 12.

The project is expected to reduce travel time and congestion, as well as provide an alternative hurricane evacuation route for the northern Outer Banks.

The FEIS and supporting documents are available on the project website at By Feb. 3, hard copies of the FEIS may be viewed at the Currituck County Courthouse; public libraries in Corolla, Currituck County, and Dare County; the Town of Duck Administrative Building; town halls in Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores; the N.C. Department of Transportation Maintenance Yard Office in Maple; as well as by appointment at the Turnpike Authority Office in Raleigh.

Comments regarding the FEIS will be accepted until March 12. They can be e-mailed to or mailed to Jennifer Harris, North Carolina Turnpike Authority, 1578 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1578.

FEIS can be found here

Friday, January 13, 2012

Corolla Charter Scholl Passes Another Hurdle

The diligence is beginning to pay off as the hope for a Corolla Charter School is ever closer to becoming a reality. See DA article below for more details.

Council: OK Corolla charter school

By Staff reports
The Daily Advance
Thursday, January 12, 2012

COROLLA — Corolla’s proposed charter school moved a big step closer to reality Wednesday when a state agency recommended it for final approval.

The N.C. Public Charter School Advisory Council voted to allow Corolla’s Water’s Edge Village School application to proceed to the State Board of Education.

The state board will vote Feb. 2 on whether to grant Water’s Edge Village School a charter, according to Sylvia Wolff, vice president of the Corolla Education Foundation, the group spearheading the Corolla charter school effort.

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If granted, the charter would allow the Corolla Education Foundation to open the region’s first-ever charter school in Corolla this August.

Wolff said in an e-mail Thursday that members of the Water’s Edge Village School board of directors attended Wednesday’s meeting of the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools in Raleigh for a final interview.

“After an intense question-and-answer session and a few words of support from (state Rep.) Bill Owens, the panel voted to allow the application to proceed to the State Board of Education,” Wolff said.

Owens, D-Pasquotank, said Thursday the Public Charter 
Advisory Council appeared to recognize the “unique circumstances and situation” in Corolla.

The distance and drive from Corolla to Currituck’s mainland posed some difficult choices for families, said Owens. Students could either ride several hours on the bus or families were forced to pay extra for their children to attend school in Dare County, he noted.

The unique situation swayed at least one advisory council member, Owens said.

The member said he had never before favored granting a charter to a school that lacked the required number of students, but would in the Water’s Edge Village School’s case, Owens said.

The application was Corolla’s second attempt at establishing a charter school. Owens said finding a location for the school and financial support were key in the Corolla’s Water’s Edge Village School’s success this go-round.

“The seven board members of the charter school did their homework and addressed the key issues,” Owens said.

Corolla’s Water’s Edge organizers first applied to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to create a tuition-free public charter school in Corolla in February 2010.

The application made it to the final round of consideration by DPI officials, but ultimately was not approved.

Undeterred, school organizers began soliciting support from area school officials and lawmakers, including Owens.

Things first began looking up for the Corolla charter school last year when the General Assembly agreed to lift the cap of 100 charter schools in the state, and asked DPI to speed up the charter school application process for any group that had already submitted one.

In its revised application, Water’s Edge School projected having 31 students in grades K-6 when it opens in 2012 and growing to about 39 students by 2015-16.

The school’s organizers say the school would emphasize hands-on, outdoor learning and rely on Corolla’s natural resources and the nearby educational opportunities.

The school year would run from September through November with time off in December and January. The second trimester would run February through April, with a two-week break in April, then start in mid-May and go to the middle of August with a week off in July.

The school’s seven-member board said in November that it expected to receive $141,000 in state funding for the school as well as another $66,951 from Currituck County.

The school’s application included letters of support from Currituck County Schools, Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, the North Carolina Aquariums and Audubon Sanctuary at Pine Island.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Currituck County trying to clear out drainage

It is frustrating that the Army Corps has refused maintenance on some of the platted drainage ditches in the 4x4 area. I am not sure what a "naturalized state" of a drainage ditch looks like. One would contend it was in a naturalized state prior to being approved and dug the first time. Hopefully they will realize that drainage on a community level will benefit the area more successfully than imposing stricter individual water retention regulations on individual properties. Below is an article from the Daily Advance.

Currituck in race against nature to clear OBX ditches

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CURRITUCK — Clearing ditches on the Outer Banks has turned out to be a race against nature for Currituck officials.

The county has sought to solve flooding problems on sand roads behind the dunes by clearing out drainage ditches.

That effort ran into a roadblock, however, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied permits for the work. The Corps decided three main ditches in Carova had returned to their “naturalized state” and were no longer eligible for clearing.

Currituck commissioners are now rushing to get permits for other ditches not yet in their “naturalized state” before it is too late.

The county has not yet budgeted the work at Carova and North Swan Beach. But county officials say they want the permits on hand to ensure they can clear the ditches when they get ready. The county plans to dig the ditches, left untended for years, to their original depths.

The drainage ditches are among several options the county is examining to alleviate flooding and puddling on roads like Sand Fiddler and Ocean Pearl. In many cases, the roads have become washboards riddled with potholes.

Commissioners have discussed creating a service district to fix the problem, but it remains unclear if residents would be willing to pay for a new stormwater drainage system. In the past, residents have shoveled sand from the roads to fill their lots, leaving potholes that some hoped would discourage traffic and development on the remote stretch of beach. Now some roads run lower than surrounding lots, making the roads catch-basins for storm run-off.

Commissioner Vance Aydlett, who owns a vacation home in Carova, said only the roads — not homes — flood, unless there’s a nor’easter with 20 or more inches of rain. Less rain can make roads impassable for a while, but residents on the remote stretch of beach have gotten used to the situation, he said.

“There’s a whole lot more to this issue than meets the eye,” said Aydlett.

Commissioner Paul O’Neal recently suggested fixing the roads behind the dunes to alleviate another problem in the four-wheel drive area — too much traffic on beaches during summer months. He said more traffic on roads behind the dunes would mean less traffic on the beach.. County officials have been studying safety issues in the off-road area, but have not acted on suggested changes so far.

Another study may also examine the problem with flooding roads.

County Manager Dan Scanlon said the county plans to conduct a study to examine the impact of future growth in the area designated by the federal government as a COBRA zone. The designation makes homeowners ineligible for federal flood insurance as a way of discouraging growth in areas it deems unsuitable for development.

Despite the designation, development appears to be pushing its way northward to the off-road area. Some officials have predicted that construction of a mid-county bridge would add pressure for more growth.