Cliff Ogburn

The Town of Southern Shores has hired Cliff Ogburn, the current longtime town manager of Nags Head, to be its new full-time town manager, the Town Council announced this morning at its workshop meeting.

Mr. Ogburn is expected to start in his new position no later than July 1.

Interim Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett will likely continue as deputy town manager and planning director, Mr. Haskett told The Beacon after the Council’s meeting.

In other big news, the Town Council voted unanimously, after a robust, wide-ranging discussion on the issue, to hold a public hearing on beach nourishment on June 16, presumably to start at 9 a.m., when its mid-month workshop session usually starts.

The Council will vote after the hearing on whether to approve beach nourishment of the entire Southern Shores coastline, and, if so, which consultant-recommended option it will endorse. A project has been estimated to cost upwards of $16 million.

The Council also approved having Mr. Haskett prepare and send a mailer about a potential beach-nourishment project and its property-tax consequences to all Southern Shores property owners, inviting them to send written comments to info@southernshores-nc.gov.

Mr. Haskett will be publicizing the public hearing and the opportunity to submit written comments in the Town newsletter and on the Town’s Facebook page, starting this Friday, he told The Beacon. The electronic communications will link to the website’s beach nourishment materials.

Town Councilman Matt Neal, who played a lead role in the Council’s discussion today, zeroing on the question of the coastal engineering consultant’s potential conflicts of interest and on project cost calculations and concerns, said he has been “struggling” with his decision on beach nourishment, which he views ultimately as a “subjective judgment for our long-term future.”

Councilman Neal said he would be “soliciting [property owners’] feedback fervently.”

“I’d like to hear from people with the closest proximity to the ocean,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey, who was the chief driving force for the public hearing, also expressed keen interest in hearing from property owners, especially those who would have to pay more in property taxes than others if the municipal service district taxation method is used.

The June 16 public hearing will likely be handled just as public comments have been handled in recent Town Council meetings—with comments submitted in writing in advance to the Town Clerk or given remotely through Zoom videoconferencing.

The Town will “adhere to whatever state guidelines are in place” for indoor mass meetings, Mr. Haskett said.

There is no time limit on comments given at a public hearing.

The Beacon will follow up as soon as possible with an article about Mr. Ogburn, whom we know to be a highly capable town chief executive officer, experienced with beach nourishment and progressive in his problem-solving, most recently in seeking recycling solutions on the Outer Banks.

The Beacon views the Nags Head town government as the standard-bearer in Dare County municipal governments.

According to Ellis Hankins, the professional job search consultant hired by the Town, 66 applicants from 19 different states applied for the town manager’s job.  But the Town apparently only had to look down the beach road for its top candidate.

 Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/19/20




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