The Beacon erred in believing that the Town’s Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee (CIIP) would review at its meeting today the latest design plans for the proposed South Dogwood Trail sidewalk and would include this project in its priority list of improvements for fiscal year 2019-20, even though its funding is separate from other infrastructure projects.

We regret these errors.

The South Dogwood Trail sidewalk project is now under the exclusive auspices of the Southern Shores Town Council, which first must decide whether to fund it by appropriating $1 million from the Town’s general undesignated fund balance. If a majority of the Council approves this monetary transfer, it then will have to make decisions regarding the sidewalk’s design and construction.

The proposed five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk would run along the east side of South Dogwood Trail.

According to Town Manager Peter Rascoe, if and when the Town Council approves the $1 million appropriation, the Town will notify South Dogwood Trail property owners about the project, but staff will not meet personally with them. Instead, a public hearing about the sidewalk design will be held at the Town Council’s regular July meeting and “residents will be invited to comment,” Mr. Rascoe said.

Mr. Rascoe added, however, that South Dogwood Trail property owners are welcome to contact him with their questions, as well as to meet with him. His email address is prascoe@southernshores-nc.gov.

The Town Council’s July meeting is currently scheduled July 9, the same day as the Republican primary runoff election for the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat that was held by the late Congressman Walter Jones. The Pitts Center is a polling place for this election, which will take place from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

When The Beacon asked Mr. Rascoe today about the scheduling conflict, he said he was not aware of it.

You may view the design plans for the South Dogwood Trail sidewalk on the Town’s website at: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/design-plans-s-dogwood-trail-walking-trail/.

The Town Engineer has prepared a design of the proposed sidewalk in two segments: the northern segment runs from the East-North-South Dogwood Trails intersection south to Fairway Drive and the southern segment runs from Fairway Drive to the Southern Shores cemetery. Because of hills and dense forestry, the southern segment is the more problematic of the two.

With a price tag of nearly $1 million, the sidewalk’s construction would far exceed the annual capital improvements budget.

By previous agreement, the Town Council has determined that five cents out of every 22 cents per $100 of property value collected in Town real-estate taxes will be appropriated for the annual capital improvements budget. A motion by Town Councilman Gary McDonald at the Council’s April budget session to increase this tax allocation to seven cents was defeated 2-3, with only Councilman Fred Newberry voting with Mr. McDonald.

In FY 2019-20, the capital budget amount is projected to be $662,340.

A public hearing on the proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget will be held during the Town Council’s June 4 meeting, at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. You may view the budget at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/town-government/administration/public-documents/fy-19-20-managers-proposed-operating-budget-2/.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/30/19


Said East Dogwood Trail homeowner Tommy Karole, in advocating for a committee to study ways to stop cut-through traffic in town: “I see what the traffic is doing. I see the speed.”

The formation of a committee to explore ways to curtail the summertime cut-through traffic and the reconsideration of a proposed 2015 ordinance that would regulate the holding of “special events” in residences headline the new business that the Town Council will discuss at its June 4 meeting.

The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center, behind Town Hall.

Other key items on the agenda include a public hearing on the Town Manager/Budget Officer’s proposed fiscal year 2019-20 budget and an announcement by Mayor Tom Bennett and/or Councilman Jim Conners of the construction projects recommended by the Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee (CIIP) for prioritization in FY 2019-20.

The Mayor and Mr. Conners co-chair the CIIP Committee, which meets tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the Pitts Center to approve its recommended list of projects. A public hearing on the committee’s recommendations will be held during the Council’s July 9 meeting.

June 4 Town Council Meeting Agenda: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Agendas_2019-06-04.pdf.

May 30 CIIP Committee Meeting Notice: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/ciip-committee-scheduled-thursday-30-2019/

At the top of the CIIP Committee’s priority list is expected to be the construction of a five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on South Dogwood Trail.

A majority of the Town Council voted to transfer $1 million from the Town’s undesignated balance fund to cover the cost of the sidewalk, which represents 13 percent of the Town’s proposed FY 2019-20 budgetary expenses of $7,450,846.

Proposed FY 2019-20 budget: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/town-government/administration/public-documents/fy-19-20-managers-proposed-operating-budget-2/

Councilmen Fred Newberry and Gary McDonald are the proponents, respectively, of the exploratory committee on methods for curtailing summertime cut-through traffic and the Council’s reconsideration of a proposed 2015 “Special Events and Occupancy Limitation” ordinance that it tabled by consensus in January 2016.

Councilman Newberry’s suggestion came in response to public comments by homeowner Tommy Karole at the Council’s May 7 meeting. Mr. Karole, who lives on East Dogwood Trail near its intersection with North and South Dogwood Trails, asked the Council to consider forming a citizens’ committee “to study ways to stop the cut-through traffic in Southern Shores.” He expressed an interest in being on such a committee.

“I see what the traffic is doing. I see the speed,” said Mr. Karole, who has lived on East Dogwood Trail for 18 years. “ . . . Someone is going to get hurt on that road. . . . We can do something to stop it.”

(Despite the wording of the agenda item, Mr. Newberry actually sought more than just a consideration of a committee at next week’s Council meeting. He expressed an interest in hearing from residents affected by the cut-through traffic for more than just the three minutes that are allotted to a speaker during public comments. He sought to engage the public and to hear what people think about the traffic problem and possible solutions.)

Councilman McDonald also cited public comments by residents, including Andy Ward, who is a member of the Planning Board, in recommending at the May meeting that the Town Council reconsider a Town Code amendment that would establish a permitting procedure for public or private gatherings held in residential properties.

Pursuant to the proposed ordinance, “special events” permits would be required of property owners based on the number of people they expect to attend their events.


On Dec. 18, 2015, during a special meeting of the Town Council, Town Attorney Ben Gallop presented four draft ordinances that he had prepared to address the construction of dwellings that are designed to be used primarily for events rather than as family-vacation rentals or single-family homes.

At the time, SAGA Construction Inc. was threatening to build a 16-bedroom wedding destination venue on the oceanfront at 64 Ocean Blvd. The Kill Devil Hills-based developer had not yet sought any permits from the Town, however.

With SAGA knocking at the door, three newly elected Town Council members—Mr. Newberry, Mr. McDonald, and Christopher Nason—had a steep learning curve to master quickly. Each one had been sworn into office on Dec. 1, 2015.

Three of Mr. Gallop’s proposed ordinances were zoning text amendments (ZTAs). The fourth ordinance was a police-power ordinance, relating to public health, safety, and welfare—not zoning. If it had been adopted, it would have applied throughout the town, not just in particular zoning districts.

In the opinion of The Beacon, the police-power ordinance, known as the Special Events and Occupancy Limitation Ordinance, was too much too soon for the newly constituted Town Council to tackle. (I was present at the 12/18/15 meeting.) The ordinance went by the wayside when the Council decided at its Jan. 5, 2016, regular meeting to consider only the three ZTAs.

According to minutes from that January meeting, Councilman Leo Holland said he thought the special events ordinance was “well-intended,” but “complicated and confusing.” Councilman McDonald purportedly questioned how it would be enforced. No one on the Council proposed taking action on it.

On Jan. 22, 2016, the Town Council voted 3-2, with Councilmen Newberry, McDonald and Holland in the majority, to limit maximum house size to 6,000 square feet, thereby defeating SAGA’s plans—at least, the plans the developer had then.

SAGA’s proposed structures at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd.—which it is building at its own risk, with litigation pending—represent its second attempt to disrupt the character of our low-density town.

More than three years later, a seasoned Councilman McDonald no longer questions the enforceability of the special events ordinance. Now he wants to take another look at it.

You will find the text of this ordinance in the minutes of the Dec. 18, 2015 meeting, on pp. 8-12:

Click to access Minutes_2015-12-18.pdf

The proposed ordinance regulates special events, which it defines as “temporary public or private gatherings,” including,  but not limited to, “pre-planned events, community uses, private parties, and traditional family events,” according to the number of expected attendees. (All of these terms are also defined in the ordinance.) It imposes permitting requirements on property owners who hold special events that they expect will be attended by more than 25 people. Under 25, no permit required.

Pursuant to the ordinance, permit application and inspection requirements vary and increase according to the number of attendees, with 25 to 75 people being viewed as a “small” special event; 75 to 125 as a “limited” special event, and over 125 attendees as a “large” special event.

The proposed ordinance also provides, significantly, that no more than three special events requiring a permit may occur during a continuous 12-month period on any parcel of property. If more than three occur, then the property’s use is to be considered commercial, rather than residential, and, therefore, in violation of the Town’s zoning code. Traditional family events are not subject to this limitation.

The Beacon will delve into more detail about this ordinance, if it gains traction. We do not view it as confusing or complicated. But we do see the need for “tweaking.”


Besides determining its FY 2019-20 priority infrastructure projects and hearing from the Town Engineer about the design plans for the Fairway Drive-to-the-cemetery segment of the proposed South Dogwood Trail sidewalk, the CIIP Committee will address the recent reconfiguration of Yaupon Trail’s intersection with South Dogwood Trail.

During a repaving project, the two-way entrance on to Yaupon Trail was replaced by a single-lane entrance/exit that is too narrow to accommodate two vehicles at the same time. The Town Council decided at its May meeting to refer Yaupon Trail homeowners’ complaints about the changes to this intersection to the CIIP Committee.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/29/19


A proposed 20-foot extension of the cell tower at the Ocean Boulevard-Duck Road split is part of a plan to improve phone service for Verizon Wireless customers.

News in Southern Shores has been slow since the Town Council unanimously passed zoning regulations that limit septic capacity and overnight occupancy in vacation cottages to 14 persons. That May 7 breakthrough—the culmination of months of effort by town officials, the Planning Board, the Town Attorney, and many homeowners—deserved to be recognized with a collective sigh of achievement and a break. (See The Beacon, 5/8/19, 5/9/19, and 5/11/19.)

The break is now over.

The Planning Board sprang back into action last night with a short meeting, during which it unanimously approved, with a number of conditions, a 20-foot extension of the cell tower at the Southern Shores Civic Assn.’s Triangle Park, and discussed the possibility of recommending additional restrictions on “events” and “event facilities” in town. (See below.)

The Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning (CIIP) Committee will meet May 30 and address the proposed sidewalk for South Dogwood Trail, for which $1 million has been appropriated in the Town’s fiscal year 2019-20 budget, and on June 4, the Council will take up a heavy, wide-ranging agenda at its monthly meeting.

You may view the design plans for the five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk proposed for the east side of South Dogwood Trail at:


The Town’s engineer recently submitted the plans for the section of the sidewalk that would run over the heavily forested and hilly area from Fairway Drive south to the cemetery. He will present these plans at the CIIP Committee’s meeting, which convenes at 2 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

In an unprecedented move, a three-person majority of Mayor Tom Bennett and Councilmen Jim Conners and Christopher Nason approved the transfer of nearly $1 million from the Town’s undesignated fund balance, which serves as a reserve for natural-disaster relief, to the capital budget to pay for the sidewalk project. (See The Beacon’s report on the April 23 budget session, 4/24/19.)

The three rejected an attempt by Councilman Gary McDonald to increase the capital budget itself by dedicating more tax revenue to it.

The Mayor and Mr. Conners co-chair the CIIP Committee.

Prominent on the Council’s June 4 meeting agenda will be a public hearing on the town’s FY 2019-20 operating budget and a discussion about summertime cut-through traffic, which Town Councilman Fred Newberry requested. The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

You may view the Town Manager/Budget Officer’s recommended $7,450,846 budget at: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/town-government/administration/public-documents/fy-19-20-managers-proposed-operating-budget-2/.

The FY 2019-20 budget shows an increase in expenses of 12 percent over the previous fiscal year budget. (See page 10 of the proposed budget.)

The Beacon will provide links to the Town Council’s agenda and meeting packet when they are available and also preview the meeting.


The Council’s unanimous May 7 vote on large, high-occupancy dwellings “sends a message that we are united,” Planning Board member Andy Ward said last night at the Board’s regular monthly meeting. We will “take care of the issues of high occupancy and density,” he added with assurance.

Chairperson Elizabeth Morey agreed, but said she was “not necessarily satisfied,” because more can be done, and people may seek to “get around” the new laws. She cautioned her colleagues to be “vigilant.”

In that spirit, the Board placed on its June 17 meeting agenda consideration of how the Town Code can be amended to impose more restrictions on “event facilities,” which are currently defined as properties “designed, maintained, advertised or actually used for the primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events,” and restricted to the commercial district.

See Town Code sec. 36-57 at https://library.municode.com/nc/southern_shores/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH36ZO_ARTIIIINDETE_S36-57DESPTEWO.

Event facilities are a “permitted use” in the town’s C general commercial district, which is detailed in Code sec. 36-207.

Mr. Ward referred to the “stiff language” included in a Town Code amendment that Town Attorney Ben Gallop prepared more than three years ago in order to curtail event facilities. The Town Council rejected this amendment in January 2016 when it enacted the 6,000-square-foot maximum house size and approved other language regulating event facilities. Mr. Ward suggested that the Planning Board look at the rejected ordinance because “it had some teeth in it.”

Councilman McDonald has already requested that the Town’s regulation of event facilities be included on the Council’s June 4 meeting agenda. Mr. Ward expressed the expectation last night that the Council’s discussion will guide the Planning Board in its approach and any recommendation that it may make.


Also last night, the Planning Board unanimously approved a 20-foot extension of the cell tower at 148-A Ocean Blvd., in the SSCA’s Triangle Park at the Ocean Boulevard-Duck Road split, from 130 feet to 150 feet—subject to conditions, including that the taller tower be in compliance with the town’s setback and fall-zone requirements.

Board alternate Michael Basilone substituted for regular member David Neal, who was absent.

The extension was before the Planning Board as an application from American Towers LLC and Verizon Wireless to amend a conditional use permit (CUP) issued by the Town in November 2013. According to David G. Allen, an attorney with American Tower Corp. who appeared before the Board, the flagpole-style monopole tower will look the same, “except 20 feet higher.”

Mark Landers, an American Tower territory manager who works with carriers, said the purpose of the extension is to improve Verizon Wireless’s coverage and capacity in the area. Verizon Wireless is not now on the tower.

“AT&T is also increasing their capability,” Mr. Landers told the Board.

In a Dec. 17, 2018 letter that Mr. Allen wrote to Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett about the CUP amendment, he said that the increase will “enable Verizon Wireless to install its equipment at the monopole facility in order to alleviate current reductions and bottlenecks in network connectivity in the area which result in interrupted and dropped calls.”

Mr. Landers told the SSCA membership at a meeting last October that the extension would “accommodate” the explosion in cell-phone traffic, which he described as a 40-percent annual increase in data. Simply stated, too many people are trying to use the network at the same time. (See The Beacon, 10/10/18.)

Mr. Landers said in October that the expansion would take about five months and that American Tower would pay $5400 more in rent to the SSCA, bringing the civic association’s total annual income from the tower to just under $40,000.

It is likely that the Town Council will take up American Tower’s request for the CUP amendment and the tower height extension at its June 4 meeting.


According to Mr. Gallop, the recently enacted town regulations on septic capacity and overnight occupancy apply only to new building projects that have not yet been permitted. That means that SAGA’s two structures at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd., each of which has septic capacity and sleeping arrangements for 24 persons, may be “grandfathered in” as nonconforming uses—provided they are allowed to be built.

There currently are two pending cases involving these properties. One of them is in the state administrative courts, before a judge; the other is local and likely headed for the Dare County Superior Court.

You may have noticed that construction at 134 Ocean Blvd., which is a subject of both cases, has essentially stopped, and that construction at 98 Ocean Blvd. is less than vigorous. The Beach does not believe this is coincidental.

At this stage of the litigation, it is difficult to predict the future. Appeals can consume months, even years. The petitioner-homeowners who have contested the permits that are at the center of these lawsuits are determined to protect their properties and the town from these mini-hotels. If you would like to help them, financially or otherwise, please visit www.nominihotels.com.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/21/19


The structure at 134 Ocean Blvd. is the subject of two pending legal challenges. For more information, see nominihotels.com.

The Beacon returns today to the new 14-person septic-capacity and overnight-occupancy restrictions in vacation cottages that the Town Council unanimously approved at its meeting last Tuesday. Councilman Christopher Nason raised a question before the Council voted that is worth exploring. (See The Beacon, 5/8/19)

Mr. Nason posed a hypothetical involving Southern Shores homeowners who live out of town and keep their beach home “for family alone,” never renting it.

Now suppose these homeowners, he posited, want to use their beach home periodically for family get-togethers. Are they, he asked Town Attorney Ben Gallop, “subject to the same [14-person overnight] occupancy restriction?”

“They are,” Mr. Gallop replied, “if [their house is] permitted as a vacation cottage under this use.”

If these homeowners are already using their home for gatherings during which more than 14 people sleep overnight, Mr. Gallop continued, then “they’d be non-conforming single-family-dwelling permitted.”

It does not matter if they rent their house or not.

Mr. Gallop’s response will make more sense to you when I quote the definition of “vacation cottage” in the new zoning ordinance, which the Town Attorney himself drafted.

But before I do that, I would like to explain first that, under the new ordinance, a property owner who wants to build a new house in a Southern Shores residential district will have two choices: to build 1) a detached single-family dwelling; or 2) a vacation cottage. The property owner will have to indicate on permitting applications filed with the Town which choice he/she has made.

Those of us who already have homes, regardless of whether we rent them or not, have detached single-family dwellings because up until May 7, when the zoning law changed, that was the only permitted use available for a house.

If we use our single-family dwellings as “vacation cottages,” then we are using them in what now is legally considered a “non-conforming” manner.


The Beacon has not been keen on differentiating between single-family dwellings and vacation cottages, an idea that emerged during a Planning Board meeting and was developed and supported by local home builders.

In fact, I agreed with a statement made by Councilman Jim Conners during a recent Town Council meeting that “a single-family home is a single-family home.” I did not want to muddy the waters with creating a new permissible use. Eventually, though, I compromised my viewpoint to support the Planning Board, which sought to restrict occupancy according to the use of a property. (The 14-person septic capacity restriction posed no problem. See The Beacon, 5/9/19.)

The new law defines a vacation cottage as “the use of a property and associated single-family dwelling in whole or in part for any part of a calendar year for the purpose of transient occupancy.” It does not say anything about renting. It speaks only to a use for transient occupancy, by the homeowners themselves and by anyone else.

“Transient occupancy” is defined in the new law as “overnight occupancy . . . for periods of less than 30 days for vacation, leisure, recreation, or other purposes by [people] who have a place of residence to which they intend to return including when such property or structure is offered in whole or in part for rent or use by the day, week, or other period of less than 30 days.”

Combining the two definitions, you can see that encompassed within the term “vacation cottage” are second homes that are not rented and used on a transient-occupancy basis, homes that are used exclusively for vacation rentals, and homes that are both rented and used as second homes. You also have the issue of a currently permitted single-family dwelling becoming a vacation cottage.

Mr. Gallop might have created new permitted uses that distinguish second homes from vacation rental cottages, but he did not, and I am not going to second-guess him.

As a practical matter, neighbors may not complain about homeowners using their beach houses for large holiday gatherings or family reunions, so distinguishing between second homes and vacation rental cottages may prove a moot point. But I can appreciate Mr. Conners’s concern that the new single-family dwelling-vacation cottage distinction, as a permitting matter, “may come back to bite us,” as he said Tuesday.

In public comments before the vote on the zoning ordinance, I urged unanimity among Council members, not because I was convinced the Town Attorney had delivered a perfect solution. No, I thought it was important that the Town Council send a clear signal that, as Councilman Fred Newberry said, the Town wants to “prevent the proliferation of large event-type houses in town,” such as those being constructed now at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd. (See photo above.)

Mr. Newberry stressed the importance of doing something, without further delay.

The new law “may not be perfect,” he said, but “I strongly favor passing it.”

To a member, all five agreed that the new zoning restrictions are not “perfect,” but all five felt compelled to act.

Mayor Tom Bennett remarked that “we can go back with an amendment later if we have to.” But a stop-gap measure now is necessary.


The Mayor’s point is a very important one with which The Beacon agrees. His point indirectly calls into question the Town’s lawmaking—or, if you prefer, zoning chapter-amendment—process.

I attended and reported on every Planning Board session held after news of SAGA Construction’s proposed structures became public last October. I believe it is fair to say that the Planning Board, whose members are, without exception, conscientious and civic-minded homeowners, struggled with deriving a solution for controlling high-occupancy dwellings, apart from limiting septic capacity–which Mr. Gallop did not recommend.

I also believe it is fair to say that the Planning Board deferred to the Town Attorney on the drafting of ZTA 19-01PB and, otherwise, to the legal judgment of Professor David W. Owens of the UNC School of Government, who is a North Carolina land-use expert.

I am not suggesting that the Board’s deference was wrong, per se. I am suggesting, however, that asking five legal laypeople to come up with a fine-tuned legal solution is too much to ask. The Town would be advised to investigate other methods by which intricate legislation is drafted.

It became evident during one of the Planning Board’s meetings on large houses that the Outer Banks Home Builders Assn. had been discussing proposed zoning-text amendments for Southern Shores within its legislative committee.

The Town could form its own legislative committee, chaired by the Town Attorney, and peopled with retired or active attorneys and other legal professionals who live in the community. This committee, which should have no elected officials on it, could report to the Planning Board.

To appreciate how inefficient the current zoning-amendment process can be, you need only look at the history of ZTA 18-07, which addresses nonconforming lots and was enacted into law Sept. 5, 2018. The language of ZTA 18-07 replaced the existing language of Town Code section 36-132, which the Town Attorney interpreted as insufficient, in part, to carry out the intent behind regulating nonconforming structures and uses.

Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett gave a report Tuesday on the Planning Board’s “on-going work” on nonconforming lots, announcing that the Board will consider a new ZTA, which seeks to amend section 36-132, at its June 17 meeting. (See The Beacon, 4/24/19)

In public comments during the Town Council’s meeting, Planning Board member Andy Ward, speaking as a private citizen, asked the Council to “reexamine the event side” of the large-house problem. He characterized the Town’s event-facility regulation as having been “watered down” and in need of strengthening.

Councilman Gary McDonald picked up on Mr. Ward’s suggestion and eventually requested an agenda item on the matter at the June 4 meeting.

But the Planning Board does not need a directive from the Town Council to revise a zoning ordinance or ordinances. Pursuant to Town Code sec. 24-27, the Board has the power to do that on its own, without intervention by the Council. The Board could have looked at “the event side” while it was considering septic capacity, occupancy, and other regulatory controls during the past months.

An event facility is defined in Town Code sec. 36-57, which is the definitions section of the zoning chapter, and listed as a permissible use in the C general commercial district, Code sec. 36-207(b)(10). Event facilities are not allowed in the residential districts.

Section 36-57 defines an event facility as a property “designed, maintained, advertised or actually used for the primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events.”

It does not take a legal education to see the flaws in this definition.

The remainder of the “event facility” definition defines what is meant by “events,” “private parties,” and other gatherings. Certainly, the Planning Board can tackle these terms without the Council’s help.

Also Tuesday, Mr. Conners mentioned, as he did at the April Town Council meeting, his desire to “look at impacts” of large houses, including parking, trash, and noise buffers.

“There is more that we can do,” he said.

I agree with Mr. Conners and have advocated before the Planning Board that more be done to deal with large houses and density problems wholistically, rather than on a piecemeal basis.

If the Planning Board is uncomfortable with viewing a regulatory issue wholistically—as lawyers are adept at doing—a legislative committee could perform that function, too.

Food for thought.

The Beacon will return in the weeks before the Town Council’s June 4 meeting to address the Town Manager/Budget Officer’s proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget and options for traffic reduction on the cut-through route.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/11/19



Enjoy these beautiful spring days.


In yesterday’s blog, I promised to publish today a detailed report of Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to deliver on that promise. Please check back over the weekend for the report.

While I do have a moment, I would like to say a word about the possibility of a legal challenge to the new septic-capacity and overnight-occupancy restrictions that the Town Council enacted Tuesday.

You may have read in comments on this blog as well as on Facebook pages elsewhere that the 14-person restrictions indirectly serve as a limit on the number of bedrooms in a dwelling, which the Town legally cannot impose. The premise is that both septic capacity and occupancy are determined by multiplying the number of bedrooms by two.

I believe this argument is faulty, and a challenge based on it would fail.

First, let me say that it is the Dare County Health Dept. that certifies septic capacity for a dwelling, not the Town of Southern Shores. The Town does not participate in the Health Dept.’s permitting process.

Second, the factual evidence simply does not support the bedrooms-times-two contention.

Before the Town Council’s vote on ZTA 19-01PB, I said in public comments that I am a co-owner of a vacation cottage that has four bedrooms and a septic capacity of six persons, NOT eight (4 x 2) persons.

I also informed the Council that I had examined rental listings in the 2019 Southern Shores Realty bulletin/vacation planner and quickly found numerous homes that have a septic capacity that does not equate to twice the number of bedrooms. For example:

16 Pelican Watch: 3 BR, cap. 7

30 Pelican Watch: 4 BR, cap. 7

31 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 14

53 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 14

105 Ocean Blvd.: 5 BR, cap. 12

153 Ocean Blvd.: 4 BR, cap. 10

159 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 18

163 Ocean Blvd.: 7 BR, cap. 21

5 Purple Martin Lane: 5 BR, cap. 13

5 Fourth Ave.: 6 BR, cap. 16

6 Eighth Ave.: 5 BR, cap. 14

2 Eleventh Ave.: 5 BR, cap. 12

I spent just five minutes on this exercise and did not consult other rental companies’ vacation-cottage listings.

Southern Shores Realty (SSR), which is the rental agent that my family has used for nearly 50 years, specifies “capacity” in its listings, rather than “occupancy.” In response to an email that I sent her, SSR Rental Manager Patrina Chappelle, said: Cottage “occupancy is based on the septic capacity. The Health Department would have this information for any property.”

I believe the Town is on firm legal ground.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/9/19




The Town Council voted unanimously last night to limit septic-system capacity and overnight occupancy in vacation cottages to 14 persons—zoning changes that culminate the Town’s efforts since last October to prevent development like the high-occupancy, event-house-type dwellings that SAGA Construction Inc. is building now on the oceanfront.

(Please note: SAGA’s structures are currently the subject of pending litigation initiated by property owners. See http://www.nominihotels.com for details.)

The five-member Council, which includes Mayor Tom Bennett, approved the septic and occupancy restrictions, as written in zoning text amendment (ZTA) 19-01PB. No one sought to amend the language of the ZTA, which the Planning Board unanimously recommended.

As The Beacon has previously reported, the new 14-person overnight-occupancy limit does not apply to residential dwellings that are not used as vacation cottages, a term defined in the new Town Code ordinance by its use for “transient occupancy.” The maximum septic capacity of 14 overnight occupants applies to all dwellings, regardless of their use. (Please see The Beacon’s report 5/6/19 for more details.)

Here is the text of the new law:


The Beacon will elaborate tomorrow on the Town Council’s deliberations in a more detailed report of last night’s meeting.


In other noteworthy action, Councilman Fred Newberry requested that discussion about how to alleviate the summer weekend cut-through traffic be added to the Council’s June 4 meeting agenda, and Councilman Gary McDonald added review and reconsideration of the Town Code’s regulation of “event facilities” to next month’s agenda.

Characterizing the cut-through traffic as the no. 1 complaint that he hears from residents, Mr. Newberry reacted favorably to a suggestion made by homeowner Tommy Karole in public comments that an exploratory committee be formed to consider all options for traffic reduction.

“There may be some new ideas that we haven’t thought of,” Mr. Newberry said.

Mr. Karole, who has lived for nearly 19 years on East Dogwood Trail near its intersection with North and South Dogwood Trails, said he would like to head up such a committee.

After the vote on ZTA 19-01PB, Mr. McDonald keyed on the Town’s regulation of event facilities, which are not permitted in the residential districts, just the commercial district.

The Town Code defines the term in pertinent part as a property “designed, maintained, advertised or actually used for the primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events.” See Town Code sec. 36-57:  https://library.municode.com/nc/southern_shores/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH36ZO_ARTIIIINDETE_S36-57DESPTEWO.

The Town Council also unanimously approved transferring consideration of the problems created by the recent reconfiguration of the Yaupon Trail-South Dogwood Trail intersection to the Capital Infrastructure Improvements Planning Committee; and establishing a committee, with representatives from Southern Shores, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Martin’s Point, to explore the possibility of a Dare County library branch in Southern Shores.

Homeowners on Yaupon Trail had petitioned the Mayor to cut down the iconic tree at the intersection of Yaupon with South Dogwood Trail in order to resolve what they said were driver sight-line problems. Mayor Bennett and others on the Town Council, however, identified the real issue at the intersection as a narrowing of the entry to/exit from Yaupon, created by recent road construction. (See The Beacon, 5/6/19, for further details.)

Mayor Bennett also announced last night that the Mallard Cove Assn. had withdrawn its request that the town assume ownership of its private road.


Construction of the new fire station was halted recently because of a design problem and is now behind by 30 days, according to a spokesman for contractor A.R. Chesson Construction who addressed the Council last night. The fire station had been projected to be completed in January 2020. The spokesman said work would resume this week.

Town Manager Peter Rascoe announced the filing yesterday of the Town’s proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget and the scheduling June 4 of a public hearing on the budget. The proposed budget calls for expenses of $7,450,846, an increase of more than 12 percent over the previous fiscal year’s expenses. (See The Beacon, 4/24/19, for background.)

Homeowner Paula Sherlock announced in public comments the formation of an oceanfront property owners association, in response to recent discussions about the prospect of beach nourishment in Southern Shores.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/8/19


Any sight-line issues created by the newly configured Yaupon Trail-South Dogwood Trail intersection can be addressed with a stop sign or a mirror. The iconic tree need not be destroyed.

The Town Council will decide tomorrow whether it will approve the enactment of septic-capacity and occupancy restrictions on residential dwellings, which are designed to prevent structures like the 12-bedroom, 24-person-capacity structures being built by SAGA Construction Inc. on the oceanfront and to preserve the town’s low-density environment.

The Council voted, 3-2, at its April 3 meeting to approve a zoning measure that would limit the septic capacity in all houses in Southern Shores, and the overnight occupancy in all of the town’s “vacation cottages,” to 14 persons. But a “supermajority” of four of the five Council members was required upon “first reading” to pass the measure, known as zoning text amendment (ZTA) 19-01PB, into law.

The vote tomorrow on the measure’s second reading requires only a simple majority of three members for approval. The Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

ZTA 19-01PB was unanimously recommended by the Town Planning Board, which spent months hearing from the public about options for curtailing large high-occupancy houses before it drafted the ZTA. The zoning text amendment amends three sections of the Town Code: sections 36-57 (definitions); 36-202 (RS-1 single-family residential district); and sections 36-204 and 36-205 (other residential districts).

On first reading last month, Mayor Tom Bennett and Councilmen Fred Newberry and Gary McDonald voted to pass ZTA 19-01PB. Councilmen Christopher Nason and Jim Conners opposed it. (See The Beacon’s reports on 4/3/19 and 4/4/19.)

The public will have an opportunity to comment on ZTA 19-01PB, which The Beacon has covered extensively, before the Council votes. There will not be another full public hearing, however.

Here is the text of ZTA 19-01PB:


A key provision of the ZTA is the creation of a new permitted use in the town’s residential districts of a vacation cottage, which is defined by its use for “transient occupancy.” The ZTA defines transient occupancy as follows:

“overnight occupancy in a residential structure for periods of less than thirty (30) days for vacation, leisure, recreation or other purposes by a person or persons who have a place of residence to which they intend to return including when such property or structure is offered in whole or in part for rent or use by the day, week, or other period of less than thirty (30) days.”

In imposing the 14-person overnight-occupancy limit, the zoning measure provides that vacation cottages shall not be “advertised to accommodate, designed for, constructed for or actually occupied by more than fourteen overnight occupants.”

The overnight-occupancy limit does not apply to residential dwellings that are not used as vacation cottages. But the maximum septic capacity of 14 overnight occupants applies to all dwellings, regardless of their use.

Despite some reservations about its wording, The Beacon supports enactment of ZTA 19-01PB and would like to see the Town Council unanimously support the Planning Board.


Also on the Town Council’s agenda tomorrow are:

*A vote on a resolution to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing (The Council has previously expressed opposition);

*The appointment of a town representative to the Dare County Land Transfer Tax Appeal Board (The term of current representative, Michael Stone, expires June 30);

*Consideration of a request by the Mallard Cove Association that the town assume ownership of its private road;

*Consideration of the possibility of a Dare County branch library in Southern Shores and the appointment of a citizen committee to explore this possibility;

*A request by Mayor Bennett that the Council authorize removal of the iconic Yaupon Trail tree at the road’s intersection with South Dogwood Trail for safety reasons.

See the agenda here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Agendas_2019-05-07.pdf

And the meeting packet here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Meeting-Packet_2019-05-07.pdf

The Beacon would support the establishment of a Dare County branch library in Southern Shores if the county assumes all of the costs for establishing and operating it. The library proposal that Councilman Conners has presented to the Council states that the county would fund it. The Beacon would not support a donation of land by the town for this purpose.

The Beacon further finds commendable the idea of dedicating space within a Southern Shores-based library to a children’s room, a community meeting room, and public-access computers. (See the meeting packet for Mr. Conners’s report on the library proposal.)

The Beacon strongly opposes the destruction of the large iconic tree at the intersection of Yaupon Trail and South Dogwood Trail—a move that a group of Yaupon Trail homeowners seeks through a petition presented to the Mayor. The Beacon empathizes with the homeowners’ frustration over having their intersection reconfigured, but would like to see less invasive means taken to address it.

The Beacon supports the reinstallation of the stop sign that stood for decades on the south-bound side of South Dogwood Trail, at this intersection, or, alternatively, the installation of a mirror, similar to the one erected at the intersection of Tall Pine Lane and South Dogwood Trail, which enables drivers turning right (south) from Tall Pine Lane to see northbound traffic on Dogwood.

In developing the roads in Southern Shores’ maritime forest, the town’s developers, especially David Stick, sought to preserve the environmental aesthetics as much as possible by saving the trees. Hence, part of North Dogwood Trail has a large treed median strip in the middle of it, many of the streets are narrow, and, until the recent completion of the Yaupon Trail repaving project, Yaupon Trail had an unusual split entry/exit to and from South Dogwood Trail.

The engineering plan for the Yaupon Trail repaving eliminated the fork in the road, thus narrowing the entrance to/exit from Yaupon Trail. Before this re-engineering occurred, Yaupon Trail homeowners wanted to preserve their signature tree, according to Mayor Bennett.

(I have test-driven the new intersection and did not find the tree to be an obstruction. I could see northbound traffic, but I had to stop fully and emerge slowly. I found the narrowing of the road to be more annoying.)

A two-way, or even a three-way, stop at this intersection would give Yaupon Trail residents the protection and space they need when they emerge from their street and turn right (south) on to South Dogwood Trail. It also would serve as a calming device for other motorists on the road, especially during the heavily-traveled summer weekends.

Short of that, a strategically placed mirror is an easy fix.

Mayor Bennett has said publicly that the Yaupon Trail tree is alive and healthy. It should not be sacrificed because of engineering error or oversight. The Beacon urges the Town Council to bring back the stop sign or to install a mirror.


Resident homeowner Tony DiBernardo, who complained at the March 5 Town Council meeting that SAGA Construction had advertised its proposed structures at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd. for rent through Carolina Designs Realty as “special-event houses” with a capacity for housing 100 guests, heard from Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett after The Beacon published its 4/29/19 blog asking what the Town had done about his complaint.

According to Mr. DiBernardo, whom The Beacon contacted last week for a followup, he also filed a written complaint with the Town about SAGA’s advertised event houses on March 14. Until last Tuesday, however, a day after The Beacon’s blog appeared, he had not received any word from the Town about a resolution.

Mr. DiBernardo told The Beacon that Mr. Haskett contacted him by email last Tuesday, and he was “satisfied” with the action the Town had taken.

In an email with The Beacon, Mr. DiBernardo said Mr. Haskett told him the Town had notified Carolina Designs that the property owners cannot use either structure as an event house, and, if they do, the Town will “move forward with enforcement.”

In an email exchange that The Beacon had with Mr. Haskett on Friday, May 3, he reported that “Carolina Designs was contacted directly by the Town and warned of the definition of Event Facility as defined in Section 36-57 of the Town Code.” He also said that a “condition will be included in the Certificate of Compliance/Occupancy for both properties that states that the property shall not be used as an Event Facility as defined in Section 36-57.”

In my inquiry, I asked Mr. Haskett with whom Town staff communicated at Carolina Designs, what mode of communication the Town staff used, and when (what date) the Town staff took action. I assumed that Mr. Haskett had initiated contact because the complaint was a matter of code enforcement. I also assumed that a written report of the disposition of the complaint would have been prepared for the official record and given to Mr. DiBernardo.

Mr. Haskett advised me that “the Town Manager [Peter Rascoe] called and verbally discussed the advertisements with a principal of Carolina Designs on the morning of March 6th, and warned her the advertisements were worded such that they possibly could be interpreted as advertising for a facility with a ‘primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events.’”

The definition of event facility in the Town Code is “an establishment, structure or property designed, maintained, advertised or actually used for the primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events.”

Event facilities are not permitted in Southern Shores’ residential districts, only in its commercial district, which is on the south edge of town.

Mr. Haskett referred me to Mr. Rascoe with any further questions.

It is The Beacon’s opinion that Mr. Rascoe and/or Mr. Haskett should have contacted the property owners of 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd. directly, not their rental agent. The Town should have written to SAGA’s investor groups, 98 Ocean Blvd. LLC and 134 Ocean Blvd. LLC, informing them of the complaint that had been received and quoting provisions of the Town Code regarding permissible uses in the RS-1 single-family residential district.

The Town’s warnings should have been directed to the property owners.

As for further questions of the Town Manager, I will leave them to the Town Council, to whom Mr. Rascoe reports. Mr. Rascoe made no mention of his followup with Carolina Designs during the report he gave at the Council’s April meeting. Perhaps he can include details of his communication in his report tomorrow.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/6/19


5/2/19: OUT OF PUBLIC’S NOTICE: TOWN COUNCIL CONDUCTS BUDGET BUSINESS FOR 23 MINUTES AFTER END OF APRIL 23 SPECIAL MEETING; Plus, More Details From Official Budget Meeting about South Dogwood Trail Sidewalk, Traffic Reduction


The Town Council conducted business April 23 for 22 minutes and 56 seconds after the special meeting-budget work session that morning had ended and Council members had returned from a closed session for the sole purpose stated on the agenda of adjourning, The Beacon has learned.

Only the word “adjourn” appeared on the agenda that was posted on the Town website and available at the meeting for action to be taken after the closed session.

During the highly irregular “extracurricular” 23-minute budget session, the meeting videotape reveals that the Council picked up where the official noticed meeting left off. The five-member public body voted on two motions, including one in which they unanimously agreed to submit by email a list of priority projects for budgetary funding to Mayor Tom Bennett before their May 7 meeting.

In the official meeting about the proposed FY 2019-20 budget, which The Beacon covered 4/24/19, the Council touched on the matter of project and funding priorities, during an extended discussion about long-range planning. But it reached no resolution.

In the other motion, Councilman Jim Conners moved to cancel the Council’s April 30 budget work session, whose scheduling was approved by resolution last December.

The usual majority of Mayor Bennett, Mr. Conners, and Councilman Christopher Nason voted in favor of cancellation, while Councilmen Fred Newberry and Gary McDonald opposed it. There was no discussion about a postponement.

The inappropriate impromptu 23-minute session, which has to be scrutinized in light of North Carolina’s open meeting laws, was held in front of only Town Clerk Sheila Kane, who is seen in the first frames of section 2 of the meeting videotape collecting herself and resuming her seat. (The videotape of the day’s discussions is divided into two segments, the second one of which consists only of the session that was not noticed in the agenda.)

Although Mayor Bennett is clearly speaking during the first 20 seconds of this tape section, his words were not recorded.

All members of the audience and all previously assembled Town staff, including the Town Manager/Budget Officer, the Police Chief, the Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director, the Finance Officer, and the Public Works Director had dispersed.

The Beacon learned about this “extra” session upon investigating how it was possible for a meeting cancellation notice to appear on the Town website the afternoon of April 23, when there had been no Council vote on cancellation during the official budget work session.

I emailed an inquiry to Town Manager Peter Rascoe, asking him to “please advise” how “a majority vote” for cancellation “was obtained,” when no vote had been taken in “open session.”

Mr. Rascoe’s reply was: “You may view the Council’s actions in its open meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcGu9RuTGEY&feature=youtu.be.”

When I pointed out in an ensuing email that he had not answered my question, he said: “Your email does not contain a question,” apparently not being familiar with the phrasing, “Please advise me.”

When I asked directly when the vote was taken, he replied: “During the special meeting of April 23, 2019.” But he failed to supply a time, which is the commonly accepted definition of “when,” or any context. I decided not to keep restating the question until I finally hit on phrasing that would compel his disclosure.

Mr. Rascoe was rude and unhelpful. Three times he referred me to the videotape. In response to my inquiry about how a majority vote was “obtained,” he answered: “You will need to research with any of the members of the governing board how a majority vote between themselves was obtained.”

Come again? You mean they didn’t just put their hands up after someone made a motion and someone else seconded it? And weren’t you there?

At no time did Mr. Rascoe–whose high-level municipal office vests in him a clear-cut responsibility to inform Southern Shores property owners/taxpayers, as well as members of the press, about public business–advise me that the motion and the vote to cancel the April 30 budget work session occurred after the closed session during the 23-minute add-on session.

The Beacon urges you to watch segment 2 of the videotape. You will learn what your Town Councilmen have to say, and what they really think, when they are relaxed and candid and don’t believe anyone is listening.


During the official, noticed budget work session, Town Councilmen Newberry and McDonald tried to commit the Town to long-range planning. Mr. Newberry brought up the same concept, which he characterized as “good business practice,” at the Town Council’s Feb. 26 planning session, but no discussion occurred among the four Council members who attended.

The Town Council did not hold its annual springtime retreat this year. The retreat is traditionally a time for planning.

Mr. Newberry repeatedly said he would like a “wholistic plan” for budgeting that would extend out over a period of years, not just “bits and pieces,” as he referred to piecemeal budgetary planning that is dependent on the projects supported by a Council majority in any given fiscal year.

Mr. Newberry suggested that the Town Manager to do an “analysis” of future projects that would include various “scenarios” for funding and scheduling them—an idea that was opposed by Mayor Bennett and Councilmen Conners and Nason, who said they did not believe such an analysis was Mr. Rascoe’s job.

These same three Council members defeated a motion that Mr. Newberry made to direct the Town Manager to develop a “proposed plan” for managing the funding of beach nourishment, walking trails, no-left-turn weekends and traffic reduction, building improvements, roads, and any other projects that “we foresee over the next several years.”

After the defeat, Mr. Newberry said, in frustration: “So you’re saying you don’t want to plan.”

The Beacon believes the exchange among the five Council members and Mr. Rascoe, who said of Mr. Newberry’s request for a proposed plan, “I’ve heard it and heard it for four years,” demonstrated a lack of fundamental communication, as well as unnecessary animosity.

While listening to the discussion, we thought that the public body would benefit from a mediator’s intervention—from someone who recognizes the disparate ways in which each participant thinks and can facilitate understanding among them.

In the unauthorized 23-minute session, Mr. McDonald spoke of “dysfunctionality” in the group, and Mr. Newberry actually suggested having a facilitated meeting for the purpose of planning—an idea that Mayor Bennett approved.


The same three elected officials who rejected Mr. Newberry’s motion for a proposed plan voted to appropriate almost $1 million from the Town’s General Fund (GF) unassigned fund balance for a five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on South Dogwood Trail. (See The Beacon, 4/24/19.)

The GF pays for nearly all of the Town’s budget and includes monies to operate the different Town departments (administration, public works, police, code enforcement), to purchase fire-protection services, and to pay for capital improvements.

As The Beacon reported, the GF’s unassigned fund balance held $4,752,187, as of June 30, 2018, according to auditor Dowdy & Osborne. The auditor will provide an updated balance as of June 30, 2019.

These unassigned or “undesignated” funds historically have been regarded by the Town as reserved for emergencies related to storm relief, not for discretionary purposes, such as nonessential capital-improvement projects.

(In the 23-minute session, Councilman Conners brought up the possibility of applying some of these monies to a “tax rebate.”)

The Town Council has required by resolution that a minimum of $1.75 million be maintained in the GF’s unassigned fund balance for natural-disaster emergencies.

I thought Mr. Rascoe informed the Council last week that the auditor has advised the Town to maintain at least $3 million. Having now listened to the videotape of the meeting, which is of unusually poor quality, being impaired by a buzzing sound, I now know that Mr. Rascoe said it was his (“the Manager’s”) recommendation.

(Mr. Rascoe has a low, often inaudible voice that I find difficult to understand. The same is true of Police Chief David Kole and of the Mayor and members of the Council, at various times. All would benefit from speaking into microphones.)

Based on the videotape, I believe Mr. Rascoe reported the following engineer’s cost estimates for construction of the proposed South Dogwood Trail sidewalk:

$332,782.56 for the sidewalk section from the intersection of North, South, and East Dogwood Trails south to Fairway Drive;

$620,119.81 for the section from Fairway Drive to the cemetery.

According to the minutes of the Jan. 30 meeting of the Town’s Capital Infrastructure Improvements Planning Committee, the cost estimate offered then for the southern Fairway Drive-cemetery section was $664,000.

Mayor Bennett made a point of saying during the budget meeting that the sidewalk job would be done in two phases, with the first phase being the northern end. He left open the possibility that the Council could decide after phase one is complete not to do phase two, urging his colleagues to “be careful.”

Regarding opposition from homeowners who live on the east side of South Dogwood Trail, the Mayor said: “We could have a battle on our hands.”

Mr. Conners, however, adamantly advocated “doing the whole thing,” saying it was “critical” to link the community by sidewalk to the Kitty Hawk Elementary School so that children can walk to school.

The Beacon wonders if Mr. Conners, who lives on Duck Woods Drive, is aware that Southern Shores children take the bus to school. (In the 23 years that I’ve lived along the South Dogwood Trail/Hickory Trail route, I’ve never seen a child walk to school, but I’ve been stopped behind school buses many times. A bus drops schoolchildren off in front of their homes or at stops where they either leave their bicycles or meet a parent.)

Mr. Conners also analogized the objection that potentially dozens of homeowners on South Dogwood Trail might have to the devastation of their front yards, the destruction of dozens of trees in their lush woods, and the ruination of the character and calm of their picturesque street to the objection that he and several of his neighbors have to a new storm drainage system in front of his house.

Of the $1 million sidewalk construction project, he said: You can’t “hold it up” because of the objection of “five or six or whatever number of people.”

The Beacon believes that if the Town Council were to hold a public hearing about the proposed South Dogwood Trail sidewalk—coupled, perhaps with a hearing about cut-through traffic—Mr. Conners would discover that more than a handful of people oppose it. And not all live on South Dogwood Trail.

In his own analogy, Mr. Nason brought up the recent “horrific accident” on N.C. Hwy. 12 in Kitty Hawk that resulted in two pedestrian fatalities, suggesting that a sidewalk on South Dogwood Trail would protect pedestrians on it from a similar fate.

N.C. Hwy. 12 is a heavily traveled state thoroughfare with a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit. The 25-mile-per-hour South Dogwood Trail is a residential street, not a thoroughfare.

No traffic collisions resulting in death or injury have ever occurred on South Dogwood Trail, according to The Beacon’s research. In an informal survey of residents who live on or near South Dogwood Trail and were out walking Tuesday, The Beacon encountered no one who could recall even a fender-bender on the road.

During the 23-minute extra session, Mr. Nason was more candid about the freak nature of the accident in Kitty Hawk that killed a young couple from Virginia and admitted that having a sidewalk would not have prevented the tragedy. Mr. McDonald simply stated: The beach road is a “different animal.”

Relying upon his own anecdotal evidence, Mr. Conners said, “South Dogwood is even worse than the beach road.”

During the official meeting, Mr. Newberry said he thought a special meeting about the South Dogwood Trail sidewalk project should be held in order to give the public an opportunity to comment. Mr. Conners disagreed. No motion was made to hold such a meeting.


Along with the Mayor and Mr. Nason, Mr. Conners rejected, without comment, any attempt to relieve the stress, inconvenience, noise, and peril the cut-through summer traffic causes resident homeowners, as well as walkers and bicyclists.

The Bennett-Nason-Conners majority voted against a motion made by Councilman McDonald to include funds in the budget for no-left-turn weekends during the summer and did not otherwise suggest any relief.

How about two no-left-turn weekends during the first weeks of July? Or Saturday-only no-left-turn restrictions? No alternatives were suggested.

Similarly, no one on the Council mentioned trying well-known traffic-calming measures on South Dogwood Trail and other sections of the cut-through route, such as lower speed limits, more stop signs, speed humps, speed cushions, speed tables, raised pedestrian crossings, and other measures that have been brought up in public meetings.

After Councilman McDonald made his motion, the Council asked Police Chief David Kole for his opinion.

The Chief said that he would have to hire another full-time officer in order to staff the Hwy. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection for such weekends and “guesstimated” a new hire would cost $120,000. He also said other expenses would run $6,000 per weekend, or about $60,000 for the summer.

No one on the Council questioned the Chief’s data or suggested ways to lower costs. Currently, the Town police department has a commitment to assist Kitty Hawk with traffic oversight at the U.S. Hwy. 158-N.C. 12 intersection in front of the welcome center.

Mr. Rascoe observed that the Town has no place to store the barrels that would be used to block the left turn at the Hwy. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection.

The Beacon notes that a storage facility could be erected on the unused Town-owned lot on Skyline Road, if the public works department’s storage space is full. It is also possible that a nearby town, such as Kitty Hawk, would be willing to lend the storage space that Southern Shores lacks.

Town Manager/Budget Officer Rascoe will submit his proposed FY 2019-20 annual operating budget to the Town Council on May 7. He also will file a copy of the proposed budget with the Town Clerk, who will make it available for public inspection at Town Hall. The public may submit written comments about the proposed budget to the Clerk.

Mr. Rascoe will propose to the Town Council at its May 7 meeting that a public hearing on the proposed budget be held June 4. The Town Council must adopt a budget no later than July 1, 2019, the first day of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/2/19