7/20/21: DARE REPORTS ANOTHER WEEKLY INCREASE IN COVID-19 CASES, WILL HOLD TWO BACK-TO-SCHOOL VACCINE CLINICS NEXT WEEK.

(I know I got this photo right.)

Dare County today reported a 35-percent increase in new COVID-19 cases for the past week over the previous week’s new-case total—from 40 cases to 54 cases—marking the third consecutive week that the number of people who tested positive locally for the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has increased.

The percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 among the total tests administered during the week of July 13-20—the so-called positivity rate—also increased, rising to 12.1 percent from the previous week’s 11.3 percent.

(See The Beacon, 7/14/21.)

Dare County residents accounted for 47, or 87 percent, of the 54 new cases, and seven nonresidents accounted for the remaining 13 percent, according to an online update posted today by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, which also announced two County-sponsored “back-to-school” vaccination clinics next week for persons age 12 and older.

The County will administer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has been approved for use in adolescents and requires two doses, the second one of which is given three weeks after the first.

“Epidemiological data,” the DCDHHS said in today’s update, indicate that both the State of North Carolina and Dare County are “at the beginning of another surge in COVID-19 infections.” The DCDHHS did not elaborate further on this data, however.

The Delta variant of the virus, which is “significantly more contagious” than other variants and is marked by the onset of different symptoms, “is believed to be prevalent in Dare County,” the DCDHHS said, although prevalence has not yet confirmed. (See The Beacon, 7/14/21.)

In last week’s update, the health department said that the results of genomic sequencing of local virus samples sent to the State for analysis had not yet been received. The DCDHHS did not report any sequencing results today.

Of the 54 new COVID-19 cases, according to the DCDHHS, 80 percent were symptomatic; 94 percent acquired the virus by direct contact with people who were not vaccinated and tested positive for COVID-19; and 17 percent were “breakthrough cases,” meaning they acquired the virus despite being vaccinated against it.

Of the nine breakthrough cases, three people received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; three received the Moderna vaccine; and three received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.    

So far, 28 breakthrough cases have been reported in Dare County since “the onset of providing vaccinations,” the DCDHHS said in its update.

As was true of the previous week’s 40 new COVID-19 cases, this week’s 54 cases run the gamut in age—from the 17-and-under age group to the 65-and-older age group—although the majority (37 of 54) were under age 50.

Eight people age 17-and-under, all residents, tested positive for COVID-19, as did four Dare residents who are age 65-and-older.

The DCDHHS continues to promote vaccinations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reports that 60 percent of Dare’s population was fully vaccinated as of July 18. It reported the same figure last week: Fewer than 100 more locals became fully vaccinated during the week of July 12-18.

The DCDHHS will offer two back-to-school vaccination clinics this month, the first on Thursday, July 29, from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Buxton, and the second in Nags Head from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

To register for an appointment at one of the clinics and for more information, see COVID-19 Vaccine | Dare County, NC (darenc.com)

You may access the DCDHHS’s update here: DCDHHS COVID-19 Update #104 | Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | Coronavirus | Dare County, NC (darenc.com)

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/20/21

7/20/21: SITE PLANS FOR 24,000-SQ.-FT. MARSHALLS DEPT. STORE IN MARKETPLACE TAKEN UP BY PLANNING BOARD; Board Also to Tackle Trash, Recycling Problems.

Photo courtesy of Caroline Walker/OBX Today.

The Town Planning Board yesterday considered site plans for a 24,000-square-foot, “off-price” Marshalls department store to be built in the Marketplace at Southern Shores next door to the CVS Pharmacy.

The plans, submitted by “Southern Shores Owner, LLC,” which is represented by developer Ashton Properties of Charlotte, call for the demolition of all buildings to the west of CVS—up to and including the space rented by Coastal Rehab—and the redevelopment and reconfiguration of the parking area.

According to a project narrative by Ashton Properties, which has owned the Marketplace since 2014, the redevelopment would demolish 19,775 square feet of existing shops and “reconfigure” about two acres of existing parking lot, adding 27 new parking spaces.

Next to the Marshalls, Ashton’s Vice President of Construction and Development, L. Karen Partee, told the Planning Board at its regular meeting yesterday, the developer also would construct at the same time a 6,000-square-foot retail outlet.

The smaller shop does not yet have a lessee, Ms. Partee said, but Ashton has a “national soft goods retailer” in mind for the space.

Ms. Partee also said that Ashton would help Coastal Rehab to relocate.

At 24,000 square feet, the proposed Marshalls is considered a “junior box” store, according to Southern Shores Owner, LLC’s application to the Town for building permits and a site plan review.

Marshalls “mega” stores, which were once more commonly known as “big box” stores, also exist. The descriptor of “off-price” is now favored over “discount” by commercial developers and retail store owners.

According to Internet sources, Marshalls, which is owned by TJX Companies—the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Home Goods—has more than 1,000 stores in the United States and 61 stores in Canada. The U.S. stores are reportedly in 42 states and Puerto Rico.

There are three Marshalls stores in the Hampton Roads area, including one in Chesapeake.

There are five Marshalls stores in North Carolina, the closest one to the Outer Banks being in Wilson.

The off-price department store sells clothing, shoes, cosmetics, jewelry, and an assortment of home products, including bedding and some furniture, according to the Marshalls and TJX Companies websites. 

According to Ms. Partee, the Marshalls project is “phase one of trying to get the center where it needs to be.” Ashton intends to do a “good bit of redevelopment,” she told the Planning Board, to “upgrade” and “right-size” the Marketplace, which has “far too many” small shops, many of which are currently vacant.

If the Town and Ashton come to terms on the project, demolition could start as early as the end of this year, Ms. Partee told The Beacon after the meeting.

She projected a tentative opening date for the Marshalls store of spring 2023.

Ashton’s plans must be reviewed first by the Planning Board, which either recommends them or not, before the Town Council considers them for approval.

The Board expressed concerns yesterday about increased stormwater runoff into the canal behind the Marketplace caused by the construction, which will increase ground coverage by roughly 10,000 square feet.

Board member Robert McClendon said he would like “to see some infiltration system before water goes into the canal.”

Board member Ed Lawler agreed, saying “We shouldn’t be straight-piping any water straight into the canal.”

“Straight-piping”–into the same pipes that were installed in 1987 when the Marketplace was built–is what is currently occurring with stormwater runoff around the shopping center.

Ms. Partee said that Ashton has not integrated a new stormwater-runoff treatment plan into its project, but it is looking at using permeable surface in the parking area.

“If stormwater changes get put on top of this project,” she said, “it could cripple it.”

In response to a Board question about the appearance of the Marshalls department store and the adjacent 6,000-square-foot shop, Ms. Partee said that the developer would not try to “match up” the new facades with existing building facades. She said the single-story structures would most resemble the appearance of Food Lion.

Ashton will make a full presentation about its Marketplace redevelopment plan at the Planning Board’s Aug. 16 meeting.

OVERHAUL OF TOWN ORDINANCES ON SOLID WASTE

In other business last evening, Vice Chairperson Tony DiBernardo announced that the Planning Board had been given the go-ahead by the Town Council, before whom he appeared on July 6, to revise and bring up to date the Town Code chapter on solid waste, which was enacted in 1988.

Mr. DiBernardo addressed in particular revising Town Code Chapter 26 so that it addresses problems that have arisen with trash and recycling receptacles, many of them caused by confusion and neglect among renters at vacation homes.

Just trying to figure out which receptacle at a rental home is for trash and which is for recycling can be a challenge for renters, because of the many different colors of the cans.

Among the concerns Mr. DiBernardo highlighted yesterday are:

  1. Placing and removing receptacles from the right-of-way in an appropriate and timely fashion (The current Town ordinance specifies that receptacles “should,” not shall, be moved out of the right-of-way within 24 hours after collection.);
  2. Maintaining a sufficient number of receptacles at vacation rental homes, based on occupancy;
  3. Ensuring that recycling and trash items put out for pickup are not overflowing and creating litter; and
  4. Educating people about which items are recyclable and which are not.

The Beacon applauds this initiative, which will involve the Planning Board, the Public Works department, other Town staff, and perhaps members of the public.

We daresay no one living in Southern Shores likes to see litter strewn on the side of the road; to encounter toppled receptacles in the roadway; and to experience other eyesores and hazards caused by misuse or neglect of trash and recycling receptacles.

During the seven years that we have been regularly attending Town Council meetings, we have heard numerous homeowners complain about the receptacles. We are glad someone is finally taking action. 

2021-22 OFFICER ELECTION: The Planning Board unanimously reelected Andy Ward as its chairperson and Mr. DiBernardo as its vice chairperson. Planning Board officers serve one-year terms, which coincide with the fiscal year.

Other members of the five-person board, which also serves as the Town Board of Adjustment, include Lynda Burek, Robert McClendon, and Ed Lawler. Jan Collins is the Board’s first alternate.

There has been a vacancy for the position of second alternate for months. If you would like to apply for this voluntary position, please see:

TOWN OF SOUTHERN SHORES (southernshores-nc.gov)

The term of office for the second alternate is from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/20/21

7/17/21: FORMER SSCA PRESIDENT McCAUGHEY FILES FOR MAYOR’S RACE; THREE TO VIE FOR TOWN COUNCIL SEAT, INCLUDING BEACON EDITOR.

Mayoral candidate Rod McCaughey

Rod McCaughey, the immediate past president of the Southern Shores Civic Assn., filed Thursday to run for mayor of Southern Shores. He will face Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey in the Nov. 2 municipal election.

(See The Beacon, 7/3/21, for an announcement of Ms. Morey’s candidacy.)

Mr. McCaughey has been active in the SSCA since he and his wife, Betsy, retired to Southern Shores eight years ago, moving into a home that they built on Eleventh Avenue.

Mr. McCaughey volunteered to serve on the SSCA’s Architectural Review Board soon after his arrival. He went on to lead the revitalization of the SSCA’s Sea Oats Park and the restoration of its North Marina, among other improvement efforts, and to serve two years as SSCA president. He currently is involved in bringing pickleball courts to the Hillcrest Beach.

Before his retirement to Southern Shores, Mr. McCaughey told The Beacon that he had two successful careers as a business entrepreneur.

He first started a medical-industrial gas company, which he eventually sold to British Oxygen Co., for whom he worked as marketing manager for the Northeast after the sale.

When his employment contract with BOC expired, Mr. McCaughey, who is a native New Yorker, returned to school and earned his M.B.A. in London. He went on to a second career as a partner in a regional mortgage banking business.

In his bid for mayor, Mr. McCaughey said he hopes to “fairly represent the interests of all homeowners in Southern Shores while guiding and managing growth in the community.”

The term of office for the Southern Shores mayor is four years; the position is compensated with a small annual salary.

2021 TOWN COUNCIL ELECTION

Three Southern Shores homeowners filed their candidacies yesterday at the Dare County Board of Elections for the Town Council seat that current Councilman Jim Conners will be vacating. They are Ann Sjoerdsma, Paula Sherlock, and John Carter.

Yesterday was the last day for candidates in Dare County to file with the BOE for the November municipal election.

The term of office for a Southern Shores Town Council member is also four years, and this position, too, is compensated with a small annual salary.

Southern Shores has five Town Council members, including the Mayor. Elections are held in odd-numbered years and are staggered so that the Mayor and one Council member are elected in one year, and three Council members are elected two years later.

Inasmuch as The Beacon has a decided bias in favor of one candidate in the Town Council member election, we will not be covering it like we expect to cover the mayor’s race. We will issue a statement next week about how we plan to move forward.

We would like to say now, however, that we are pleased that the voters of Southern Shores will have a choice of candidates in both of our local elections.

****

A TRAFFIC REMINDER: The left-turn ban this weekend at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 158 and South Dogwood Trail is in effect from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow. There will be eight local-traffic-only barricades in place on residential streets north of East Dogwood Trail, but there will be no road closures.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/17/21

7/15/21: UPDATE: HICKORY TRAIL WILL NOT BE CLOSED THIS WEEKEND, STREETS OFF EAST DOGWOOD TRAIL WILL REMAIN OPEN TO LEFT-TURNING NORTHBOUND TRAFFIC.

You will see many signs like this in Southern Shores this weekend, but no chains.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn has decided not to close Hickory Trail this weekend and to keep the median on East Dogwood Trail, which was blocked to left-turning northbound traffic by chains last Saturday, open to all traffic.

The left-turn prohibition at U.S. Hwy. 158 and South Dogwood Trail will be in effect on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon today.

In explaining his decision to reverse an earlier one to close Hickory Trail to all traffic this weekend, and to continue using chained barricades, the Town Manager said in a release posted today on the Town website that “We are getting mixed feedback [from residents about] the closure of the median along East Dogwood Trail.

“Clearly,” he continued, “any steps we take to re-route the cut-through traffic results in varying impacts to different parts of town.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon that he had received “mixed responses” from residents, some of them angry, about the chains that were drawn last weekend across the East Dogwood Trail median at the intersections of Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail. He also told us that he was rethinking his decision to close Hickory Trail this weekend.

(See The Beacon, 7/13/21.)

According to his statement today, local-traffic-only barricades will continue in place this weekend at eight locations: Four off of East Dogwood Trail at Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail, for all traffic going north; three off of Hickory Trail at Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail, for all northbound traffic; and one on Hillcrest Drive for all traffic going north on Sea Oats Trail.

According to Mr. Ogburn’s release, the Town’s traffic count data show that 93 more vehicles passed through Southern Shores via South and East Dogwood trails last Saturday, when the median was blocked by chains, than did on Saturday, June 26, when the left-turn ban was in effect, but the median was open.

Mr. Ogburn cites in his release some percentage increases and decreases of traffic, between June 26 and last Saturday, on the side streets off of East Dogwood Trail.

According to traffic count data, he said, both Hickory Trail (149 percent more) and Wax Myrtle Trail (143 percent more) experienced increased traffic because of the median barricades, while Hillcrest Drive (30 percent fewer) and Sea Oats Trail (35 percent fewer in 200 block; 14 percent in 300 block) had a decline.

“The negative impacts taken from the traffic data,” Mr. Ogburn observed, “indicate that those on Wax Myrtle Trail and Hickory Trail received a negative impact disproportionate to the benefits of those on Sea Oats Trail and Hillcrest Drive.”

This corresponds to feedback that the Town Manager received from residents, as well as to comments posted on The Beacon blog and Facebook pages.

Traffic driving through Chicahauk on Juniper Trail increased 25 percent last Saturday over the June 26 volume, Mr. Ogburn added, noting that the Town is keeping track of spillover traffic from South Dogwood Trail to Juniper/Trinitie trails.

There currently is “no plan to continue the median closures along East Dogwood Trail or [to close] off Hickory Trail at either East Dogwood Trail or Hillcrest Drive,” Mr. Ogburn concluded.

Closing the median on East Dogwood Trail “will require a more permanent and secure measure, otherwise vehicles will plow right through,” Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon today in an email. Indeed, last Saturday, someone did drive through one of the chains.

To read the Town Manager’s full statement on the traffic, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/summer-cut-thru-traffic-impacts/

Mr. Ogburn thanked residents for their “patience while we continue to explore options to mitigate traffic while also trying to limit the impacts on year-round residents and on those that need to come through Southern Shores for work purposes.”

On average, more than 11,000 vehicles drive through Southern Shores each weekend, he said.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/15/21

7/14/21: YOU ARE INVITED TO MY MARK-DOWN MOVING SALE TOMORROW AT 69 HICKORY TRAIL, 10 a.m. TO 3 p.m.; MANY ITEMS WILL BE FREE, INCLUDING ALL BOOKS.

Dear Beacon Readers:

Please join me tomorrow (Thursday), between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for an all-offers-considered, many-items-free moving sale at my former residence, 69 Hickory Trail, one door down from the East Dogwood Trail intersection.

If you do not feel like browsing or shopping, please drop by anyway for a visit and/or a mingle or just to say hello. I trust that all unvaccinated people will wear a facemask, and everyone will be mindful of physical distancing in what is about a 600-square-foot unfinished space on the ground floor of the home.

On sale at whatever low price we agree upon will be furniture (including a dining room table with six chairs and a desk); various electronics; women’s jewelry; lamps; luggage; cordless phones; office supplies; handbags; women’s shoes and clothing, including new/never worn and pre-owned shoes and clothes; framed prints; dishes, coffee mugs, and other kitchen supplies; vases and objets d’art;  and a miscellany of other items, everything from outdoor and indoor spot and flood lights to candles to wall mirrors.

There will be boxes of free items for you to sort through and shelves of free books for you to pore over.

As a former book critic and editor and a book author, I am committed to passing along books—both hardcover and paperback—without charge.

I look forward to seeing you at 69 Hickory Trail tomorrow. Thank you.

Ann, 7/14/21

7/14/21: COVID-19 CASES ON THE RISE IN DARE COUNTY, PERCENTAGE OF DELTA VARIANT INFECTIONS NOT YET KNOWN.

The Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services yesterday reported 40 new positive cases of COVID-19 during the past week, an increase of nearly 150 percent over the previous week’s total of 27. It also reported a marked increase in Dare’s COVID-19 positivity rate.

Dare County’s July 5-12 positivity rate, which is the percentage of positive cases among the number of COVID-19 tests administered, was 11.3 percent, whereas the previous week’s positivity rate was 7 percent. For the week of June 21-28, Dare County recorded a positivity rate of just 2 percent.

Thirty of the 40 new cases were Dare County residents, and 10 were nonresidents, according to the DCDHHS dashboard. The ages of the new cases range the gamut, from age 17 and younger to age 65 and older. Five of the Dare County cases are in the oldest age group.

The positivity rate statewide is also on the rise. After weeks of recording rates of about 3 percent, the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services is now reporting rates above 5 percent. The positivity rate reported on the NCDHHS’s dashboard yesterday was 5.3 percent.

Starting with the week of May 18-25, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) reverted to reporting new COVID-19 cases on a weekly basis, rather than on a daily basis, as it had been doing since the spring of 2020. The DCDHHS issues its reports each Tuesday.

The DCDHHS also has a vaccine data dashboard, which it updates each Sunday. As of July 11, the dashboard showed 60 percent of the county’s population, or 22,143 people, had been fully vaccinated. An additional 993 people have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to recording the number of new COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate for the week, the DCDHHS reports upon the percentage of new cases that are symptomatic; the percentage of new cases that were acquired by direct contact with unvaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19; and the number of new “breakthrough cases,” which are cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people.

Thirty-four of the 40 new cases (86 percent) were symptomatic, according to the DCDHHS, and thirty-six (90 percent) were acquired by direct contact with unvaccinated people.

Statewide, the DCDHHS reported, 99.2 percent of the newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases are in unvaccinated people.

For the first time yesterday, the DCDHHS further identified the breakthrough cases according to the vaccine that the infected people received. Of the eight breakthrough cases for July 5-12, five of them received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; two had the Moderna vaccine; and one had the Pfizer vaccine.

No one from Dare County is currently hospitalized because of a COVID-19 infection. Twenty-nine people are in home isolation.

THE DELTA VARIANT    

Although it is known at the state level that the Delta variant of the coronavirus has replaced other variants as the predominant one, Dare County has yet to receive specific data back from the state identifying the variants in the COVID test samples it submitted.

The Delta variant, aka B.1.617.2, originated in India and is more contagious than other variants because it has a stronger resistance to the human immune system.

Through genomic sequencing—basically an analysis of an organism’s genetic material— scientists can assess the variant or strain of a virus; but this sequencing, according to the DCDHHS, takes about three weeks.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday, about 58 percent of the new COVID-19 cases diagnosed from June 20 to July 3 in the United States were of the Delta variant, which has different symptoms from other COVID-19 strains, such as the Alpha variant associated with the United Kingdom, and is believed to cause more serious illness and hospitalizations.

In North Carolina, the most recent sequencing revealed that 40 percent of the COVID-19 viruses were identified as Delta variant. Epidemiological data suggest, the DCDHHS said in its report yesterday, that North Carolina is at the beginning of another surge of COVID-19 infections.

Unlike the other COVID-19 variants, the Delta variant does not cause a loss of taste and/or smell in an infected person. The Delta variant’s symptoms are more vague and have been described by medical experts as similar, upon onset, to a mild cold, with a runny nose or sore throat.

For a complete list of COVID-19 symptoms, see the CDC at

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

The DCDHHS is encouraging everyone age 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccination, which may be obtained through the county health department and at many area pharmacies.

For the DCDHHS’s full report, see https://www.darenc.com/Home/ Components/News/News/7404/1483.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/14/21 

7/13/21: UPDATE: TOWN MANAGER SAYS HE WILL NOT CLOSE ALL FOUR ROADS OFF EAST DOGWOOD THIS WEEKEND

We just had a conversation with our hard-working Town Manager, Cliff Ogburn, who told us that he is “discouraged from closing all four roads” off of East Dogwood Trail this weekend because such action would “cause too much of a negative impact.”

After sending out postcards to Hickory Trail homeowners notifying them that their street would be closed Saturday and Sunday, Mr. Ogburn said he would decide tomorrow which of the four streets—Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail—would be closed to left-turning northbound traffic.

(See The Beacon’s post earlier today.)

He also said that he is still evaluating the timing for the closures, which may not correspond exactly with the times when the left-turn ban at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 158 and South Dogwood Trail is in effect.

Last weekend, Mr. Ogburn experimented with preventing northbound left turns from East Dogwood Trail, and, like The Beacon, received “mixed responses” from residents about the barricades, some of them quite angry. He told us that some people were “really upset at the idea of altering their transportation” routes.

The chains blocking the left turns from East Dogwood were not in place on Sunday, he said, when the traffic was lighter than it was the previous day.

We think Mr. Ogburn is between a rock and a hard place, and we congratulate him for taking some action this summer to curb the cut-thru traffic. He seems to us to be thoughtfully evaluating all of the options, while also trying to give residents ample notice of closures. Stay tuned.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/13/21

7/13/21: TRAFFIC ALERT: TOWN TO CLOSE HICKORY TRAIL THIS WEEKEND.

The yellow chain will be across Hickory Trail, preventing all traffic from entering or exiting the road, this Saturday and Sunday, according to a notice mailed by the Town to Hickory Trail homeowners.

Hickory Trail will be closed at its intersection with East Dogwood Trail this weekend, according to a postcard sent by the Town of Southern Shores to Hickory Trail homeowners, who received the mailed notice today.

The postcard reads in part that before “implementing a road closure” at East Dogwood and Hickory trails, the Town wanted to give homeowners “advance notice so you can plan accordingly.”

It goes on to state: “We believe it is best to place the closure at this location to prevent northbound traffic. In the event we determine that negative impacts warrant [the] removal of [the barricade], we will be able to do so rather quickly.”

As a Hickory Trail homeowner, I received this notice in my mailbox today and was not thrilled. I had planned travel between Hickory Trail and North Dogwood Trail this weekend to complete tasks associated with a move. But, being a team player, I will, in fact, change my plans “accordingly,” as the Town requesed.

Honestly, I was more perplexed by another statement on the postcard that reads: “Some of you may recall signing a petition in July of 2019 that requested the Town take similar action.”

It is disingenuous—as well as unnecessary—to suggest that Hickory Trail homeowners should be more than happy to accommodate this closure because, after all, we petitioned for it two years ago! But, perhaps I am being too harsh.

The truth, of course, is that our 2019 petition requested a closure of Hickory Trail while Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail remained open to left-turning northbound traffic off of East Dogwood Trail. The dramatically different situation now is that Hickory Trail will be the last northbound street off of East Dogwood Trail to close to traffic. (At least this is what the postcard and the traffic information on the Town website suggest. We will confirm this tomorrow with the Town Manager.)

We also were seeking closure of Hickory Trail at Hillcrest Drive, not East Dogwood. That’s a big difference.

There was a hue and outcry two years ago from people who live on Hillcrest, Sea Oats, and Wax Myrtle, as well as East Dogwood, about closing Hickory. Hickory Trail homeowner David Watson, who originated the petition, presented it to the Town Council, and no one supported it.  

With the closure of Hickory Trail this weekend, many people who live north of East Dogwood Trail will be essentially hemmed in, unable to go out of Southern Shores without having to cope upon their return with all or a portion of N.C. Hwy. 12-north.

If you use South Dogwood Trail to return home, you have to anticipate a vehicle backup at the traffic light on East Dogwood Trail before you can turn north on Duck Road to reach your residence.

Residents in the Southern Shores woods often take Hickory Trail to the Hillcrest Beach. That also will not be possible this weekend.

What do you think about closing Hickory Trail? Please let The Beacon and the Town know. You may reach the Town at info@southernshores-nc.gov.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/13/21

7/11/21: THE TRAFFIC ‘SPOT’-FIXING EXPERIMENT CONTINUES

Traffic backed up on East Dogwood Trail, heading east to Duck Road, as early as noon yesterday, because of the chain barricades in the median. This photo was submitted by a reader who lives on Sea Oats Lane, which is the extension of Sea Oats Trail on the south side of East Dogwood Trail. The side street to the right in the photo is Sea Oats Lane. The Beacon received email reports from residents throughout the day about traffic backups on Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, and Wax Myrtle Trail, despite the barricades.

Dear Beacon Readers: Please post your comments about this weekend’s cut-thru traffic and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures that the Town implemented on this blog entry. Thank you!