Friday, March 22, 2013

So what is up with the Tree Stumps on the Beach?

Stumps of ancient forest arise yearly on Outer Banks

By Jeff Hampton

The Virginian-Pilot

© March 19, 2013


Every winter, pounding waves ravage the sand along the beach, exposing hundreds of ancient cedar and live oak stumps on the Currituck Outer Banks coastline. It is an annual occurrence here and on other beaches.

"I've seen this all over the world," said Orrin Pilkey, a professor emeritus at Duke University and expert on coastal geology.

Resembling black teeth in the sand, the stumps dot the path of passing traffic along the beach. One of the larger stumps has been outfitted with bright red reflectors to steer travelers from damaging their vehicles - or worse.

Pilkey estimates a maritime forest existed here some 2,000 years ago but was decimated as the barrier island drifted west toward the mainland, covering the roots in salt water.

Now beach traffic rumbles between the stumps - some of them broad, some small - along a section of the 11-mile strand of sand that serves as the only road to the communities north of Corolla. During the summer, when the tourists gather by the thousands, gentler waves replenish sand, and most of the stumps vanish.

"It only takes a few days in May for the sand to cover them up," said Lt. Jason Banks of the Currituck County Sheriff's Office.

Once or twice a year during the winter, somebody slams into one, he said.

"Sometimes people hit them and don't report it," he said. "We find car parts on the beach."

Banks did not recall a serious injury.

Native Ernie Bowden, 88, remembered weaving his father's old truck between the tree remnants in his boyhood. Bowden's uncle, a commercial fisherman who worked the shoreline, tore the front end off his old truck back in the 1930s. His brother once slammed into one. He also recalled that a serviceman died just after World War II when he swerved his open-top military vehicle to miss a stump and overturned.

Resident Jay Bender, a horse tour operator, once crashed into a stump and badly damaged his father's truck.

"When you get to that section, you've got to watch out," he said. "Fog is the worst."

Bowden says he believes two storms in 1846 may have leveled the forest. About 100 years ago, area resident and historian Henry B. Ansell wrote in his memoirs of a massive storm in March 1846 and another in September that sent ocean breakers over the banks and all the way to Knotts Island, more than a mile inland. He wrote of trees being uprooted.

"For the old of this island to recall the dire, terrible and still lasting disaster of that year could bring nothing but depression," he wrote, as recorded in a document at the Currituck County Library.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Bowden dug canals within the Carova Beach neighborhood and remembers uncovering large, ancient trees lying some eight feet below the surface all pointing in the same direction.

"I have to believe that 1846 hurricane leveled all those trees," he said.

These days, a maritime forest thrives on the sound side of the banks about a mile from the ocean. For now, the beach strand has stabilized with relatively little erosion or movement.

As for the ancient stumps, they have sort of become a historical trademark along the beach and most likely will stay that way.

Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon said he has never heard of any plans by the state or county to remove the stumps. The state owns the beach, he said.

Removing the stumps would require a permit, said Michele Walker, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.

"Nobody has ever asked to pull them out," she said.

Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159,

US News & World Report Ranks Outer Banks #1 Family Beach Vacation in the USA

While no major surprise to the folks that vacation here year after year, US News and World Report pegged the Outer Banks for the best family-friendly spot for a beach vacation in the US.  Given the runners up, that is saying something.  Click on the link below for the report.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Currituck County Tax Re-valuations to be mailed next week

In speaking with the Currituck County Tax Department just now, I was informed that they department hopes to have Currituck Property Owners new tax valuations in the mail by the middle to end of next week.  In that letter there will also be a new web address should you need to access information online.  The new website will bring enhanced features for property information in Currituck County.  Anyone needing a refresher on how/why NC Counties are bound to do these rreassessments, I copied this from the County website.

2013 Revaluation

Public Notice: Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 105-317 (c) the Currituck County Board of Commissioners hereby gives notice that the proposed schedules, standards and rules to be used in the 2013 reappraisal of real property in the county have been submitted to the Board of Commissioners and are available for inspection in the Tax Administrator's Office at 2801 Caratoke Hwy, Currituck, NC.

A Public Hearing will be held on the proposed schedules, standards and rules during the regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. The hearing will be held in the Commissioner's room in the Historic County Courthouse.

Currituck is currently in the process of conducting a revaluation/reappraisal for Currituck County for 2013. Notices of the new values are expected to be mailed to taxpayers near the end of February 2013.

Pursuant to G. S. 105-286, all counties in North Carolina are required to conduct a reappraisal every eight (8) years. The majority of the counties, including Currituck County, conduct their reappraisals on this time frame, although a growing segment of counties conducts reappraisals on a shorter cycle.

Currituck County has revalued its' property every eight (8) years starting in 1965, the year of its' first revaluation/appraisal after the octennial schedule was imposed in 1959. The next scheduled reappraisal will be affective for the 2013 tax year.

During years that a general reappraisal is not conducted, G. S. 105-286 dictates that the real property shall be assessed at the value assigned during the last reappraisal. The assessor is limited by G. S. 105-287 to certain circumstances in which he may change the value of real property. These include correcting a clerical or mathematical error, or correcting an appraisal which resulted from a misapplication of the schedules used during the county's last general reappraisal.

The assessor is also permitted to increase the assessed value of real estate when a structure is built or improved, or to reduce the value if a structure burns or is destroyed. The value can also be revised when property had been taxed as having a certain number of acres and the actual acreage is determined to be different.

The assessor may not increase or decrease the appraised value of real property, to recognize a change in value caused by: normal physical depreciation of the improvements; economic conditions affecting the county as a whole; or minor improvements to the property such as repainting, landscaping, terracing, etc. The county may not change the assessed value to reflect a general increases (or deceases) in property values until the next reassessment.

A county may choose to conduct its reappraisal "in-house" utilizing their own appraisal staff, by hiring an outside reappraisal firm, by employing consultants to assist their staff appraisers or a combination of the above. During the 2013 revaluation the county staff will appraise the 4WD Fruitville Beach area of the county and the reappraisal firm Tyler Technologies will appraise the remainder of the County.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updated information regarding the Mid-Currituck Bridge

Here is the latest update from the North Carolina DOT website with information on the Mid-Currituck Bridge.  Funding is still in jeopardy it appears from the politics in the NC Congress but the timeline information is interesting.