The Southern Shores Town Council voted unanimously last night to start the no-left turn weekend program on June 12, instead of June 26, as originally planned, in light of the crush of cut-thru traffic that jammed residential roads for hours over the Memorial Day weekend.
The Council also gave Town Manager Cliff Ogburn authority to initiate road closures to try to further mitigate the traffic problems created by vacationer traffic entering Southern Shores at South Dogwood Trail, traveling to East Dogwood Trail and Hickory Trail, and then coming to a standstill on Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail.
The dates when eastbound motorists will be prevented from legally turning left on to South Dogwood Trail from U.S. Hwy. 158 are as follows:
June 12, but not Sunday, June 13, as of yet;
July 31-Aug. 1
As Councilman Matt Neal explained—and the Town Council finally made clear—the Council’s intent is to evaluate the effect that prohibiting the left turn at South Dogwood Trail-U.S. Hwy. 158 has on the volume of residential cut-thru traffic before deciding to close roads.
The Council is well aware of where vacationers “jump the line” on Duck Road by turning into the residential area and would like to see traffic counts on these roads, as well as on South Dogwood and Hickory trails, when the no-left-turn is in effect.
Mr. Ogburn was delegated the authority to restrict entry to Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail at their intersections with East Dogwood Trail to “local traffic only,” a measure that would force all other traffic to join N.C. Hwy. 12 at the East Dogwood Trail intersection.
Although the Council did not discuss enforcement measures, in the event that these roads are closed, it indicated an awareness that police presence is necessary.
The Town Council also discussed closing Ocean Boulevard to through traffic at the Duck Road split/cell tower park. Diverting off of N.C. Hwy. 12 on to the section once known as the “low traffic area” of Ocean Boulevard and then rejoining Hwy. 12 at Hickory Trail has become increasingly popular among vacationers headed to the northern beaches.
According to Mr. Ogburn, week-day closures of the section of Sea Oats Trail now under construction are scheduled to start today.
The Town Council further directed that Sea Oats Trail be closed to through traffic on the weekends, during the duration of the road project, preferably at its intersection with Hillcrest Drive, but it did not take a formal vote to authorize such a closure. Presumably this closure, too, is within the discretion of the Town Manager to execute.
BEACH NOURISHMENT TAX RATES SET
In other action last night, the Town Council approved the fiscal year 2021-22 town budget with the following tax rates to fund the 2022 beach nourishment project:
Properties in municipal service district (“MSD”) 1 (oceanfront): 7.15 cents per $100 of property value
Properties in municipal service district 2: 3.0 cents
Remaining properties townwide: 4.0 cents
These rates compute to cumulative totals for each property category as follows:
MSD-1: 14.15 cents for every $100 of property value, for a total tax in FY 21-22 of 33.73 cents (14.15 cents plus the general tax of 19.58 cents)
MSD-2: 7 cents, for a total tax of 26.58 cents
Townwide: 4 cents, for a total tax of 23.58 cents
These rates are only in effect for the next fiscal year and may be changed by the Town Council in subsequent years of the five-year debt cycle for the project.
The Town’s annual debt for the project is about $1.4 million, of which the Town will pay $200,000 from its undesignated fund balance.
According to Mr. Ogburn’s figures, the tax rates approved by the Town Council mean that of the remaining $1.2 million, MSD-1 property owners will pay 20 percent; MSD-2 owners will pay 17 percent; and the remaining property owners in town will pay 63 percent.
While last night’s meeting was unusually sluggish and the Council adjourned after 3 ½ hours without finishing its agenda, The Beacon appreciates and commends members for the decisions they made.
PLEASE NOTE: Mayor Tom Bennett announced that the Council will no longer accept written public comments transmitted to the Town Clerk and read aloud at meetings. Henceforth, the Council will observe its customary pre-pandemic policy of receiving only in-person verbal public comments, which are limited to three minutes.
The Council will not meet again until July 6, so I will have ample time to attend to the demands of my real life and put The Beacon on the back burner.
Yes, I lied about not reporting on the meeting, but I just couldn’t leave you in the dark, especially about the cut-thru traffic.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/2/21