The Southern Shores oceanfront.

Patrina Chappelle, rental manager at Southern Shores Realty, advises non-resident property owners to email Dare County officials, asking them to “stagger” reentry to the county after access restrictions are lifted “like you do for a hurricane evacuation order”—with non-resident homeowners being given priority over visitors.

Non-resident property owners need time, Ms. Chappelle explained, “to be able to prep and get their homes ready”—or “as ready as possible,” considering the loss of weeks they would usually spend doing spring cleaning, maintenance, repairs, shopping for supplies, etc., etc.

It’s a long list. I know from experience.

Southern Shores Realty (“SSR”) is a rental agent for more than 400 properties, the majority located in Southern Shores. Ms. Chappelle herself is a resident of Chicahauk.

In a telephone conversation yesterday with The Beacon, Ms. Chappelle said that SSR is viewing the current shut-down situation “a week at a time.” Refunds to renters who cannot access Dare County and do not choose to book a later vacation time are being processed on that basis.

So, if the visitor entry restriction is lifted on May 16, for example, renters who have booked the vacation week of May 23-30 can take occupancy, regardless of the condition of the house they will occupy.

“We would ask them to please bear with us,” Ms. Chappelle said, just like after a hurricane evacuation, and to report any problems with the rental property.

Governor Cooper’s stay-at-home order is in effect until April 30, but he has already given indications in public remarks that he may extend the order to mid-May.

The number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina during the past 24 hours grew by fewer than 100, according to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, marking the first time in a week that the increase was not in the triple digits.

NCDHHS watches the “doubling rate,” which is how quickly the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide doubles. N.C. public-health officials believe the rate is slowing in large part because of the stay-at-home guidelines that are in place.

The peak case count in North Carolina has been projected to be around April 23.

Whatever occurs, Ms. Chappelle said she and the SSR staff, who are working fewer hours and often from home, are doing their best to be on top of a “fluid situation” that is likely to leave them scrambling at the last minute to prepare houses for renters.

SSR has expressed its “concerns,” she said, about the pressure-filled situation the company will be in once the entry restrictions are rescinded to the Dare County Control Group, which is chaired by Bob Woodard, chairperson of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

Ms. Chappelle suggests that non-resident property owners email Mr. Woodard and/or Dare County Manager Bobby Outten about receiving a priority reentry.

The Beacon notes further that the mayors of all Dare County towns are members of the Control Group. You may reach Southern Shores Mayor Tom Bennett at tbennett@southernshores-nc.gov.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I would like to express my empathy for non-resident rental-property owners, who undergo anxiety enough during the spring reopening crush without having to contend with being barred from the county.

As a local homeowner who also owns one rental home, and manages another that I own with (non-resident) family, I appreciate both “sides” of the entry restriction, but I believe, as time passes, that the scales of justice tilt more in favor of the non-resident rental-property owners, who drive the Dare County economy.

They are essential workers on the Outer Banks.

I am less supportive of non-resident owners who use their properties exclusively as second homes. Unless they live in Nebraska, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Iowa, they are living in states whose governors have imposed stay-at-home orders that I believe they should observe. We are all experiencing a national emergency.

Unfortunately, the reality is that we may be dealing with this new coronavirus for at least another two years, until a vaccine is developed and distributed. We are likely to be subject to intermittent social-distancing advisories and will need to rely on mitigation efforts, not containment by exclusion.

My first rental is not until May 23 (hence my hypothetical) because I have scaled back my summer season, and I am here to arrange repairs and maintenance, to purchase furniture and needed supplies, and to do the myriad other tasks that are required to prepare a rental for the season; but I am still anxious. And all I have is a modest three-bedroom beach box with no bells and whistles, like so many Southern Shores rental homeowners offer.

The uncertainty of this summer season, and the possible loss of anticipated income, can generate feelings of unease and tension in the coolest of rental property owners. I am not sure how well our elected officials understand this.


In a late post yesterday, The Beacon reported that 66 applicants, from 19 states, have applied for the position of Southern Shores town manager, according to search consultant Ellis Hankins of The Mercer Group in Raleigh.

The number of applications exceeds the projection that Mr. Hankins gave the Town Council in February of 40 to 50 applicants. We believe this success is a testament to Mr. Hankins’s considerable expertise, as well as to the appeal of Southern Shores.

“The Town Council has a good number of very well-qualified candidates to consider at their meeting on April 20,” Mr. Hankins told The Beacon.

We will be eager to learn from the Town Council generally—without it violating confidentiality—about the search progress that it makes in Monday’s closed session.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 4/15/20




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