The Town Council will consider at its regular meeting Tuesday approving the installation of a crosswalk on Duck Road (N.C. Hwy. 12) at 10th Avenue, an action endorsed by the N.C. Dept. of Transportation after a traffic safety study recommended one.
The NCDOT would pay for the crosswalk installation, while the Town of Southern Shores would cover the cost for overhead solar lights up to $4,000, according to an agenda item prepared by Town Manager Cliff Ogburn for the meeting.
The Council will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center behind Town Hall.
The Council’s meeting agenda is remarkably light for its first post-summer session. Besides a discussion of the 10th Avenue crosswalk, the Council will hold public hearings on two matters that The Beacon covered last month in Planning Board reports:
1) a preliminary subdivision plat submitted by the property owners of 267 Hillcrest Drive, which is a 122,376 square-foot lot that they propose to divide into two lots; and
2) a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA 22-09) to amend the applicable Town Code sections to allow dance and assorted fitness establishments in the Town’s commercial district.
For background on the subdivision plat, which the Planning Board unanimously approved, and ZTA 22-09, which was introduced by Mila Smith, the owner of Atlantic Dance in Kill Devil Hills, and unanimously recommended for approval by the Board with amended language that would allow establishments for “fitness, aerobics, dance, karate, yoga, gym, and/or weight training,” see The Beacon, 8/16/22 and 8/11/22.
You may access both the plat and the ZTA in the Council’s meeting materials at https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Packet-e1c33f30c6c24b3b82242b2a4aac7f7f.pdf.
Proposed ZTA 22-09 is on pages 33-36.
Lest there be any confusion—which we have heard expressed—we would like to emphasize that ZTA 22-09 applies only to the commercial district and not to any residential districts. If the zoning change is approved, Ms. Smith will not be able to operate her dance studio or a gym or any other fitness business next door to your home or on your residential block.
The Town currently permits residents to operate “small-scale” home-based businesses, but it strictly controls them to ensure that their conduct is “subordinate” to neighbors’ “property right of quiet enjoyment.” (See Town Code secs. 36-239 to -42.)
Also Tuesday, Mr. Ogburn will give updates on the beach nourishment project and the street paving maintenance schedule. At the Council’s August meeting, Mr. Ogburn reported a projected start for beach dredging of mid- to late-September. We expect that timing to be delayed.
POTENTIAL 10th AVENUE CROSSWALK
The proposed new crosswalk has come about because residents who live on the west side of the northern end of Duck Road approached the Town Manager about the installation of an additional crosswalk. He responded to their request.
According to Mr. Ogburn’s agenda item, the State Traffic Safety Engineer and a consultant from VNB Engineering evaluated the Town’s crosswalks in a “cursory review” and recommended that one be installed at Duck Road and 10th Avenue on the southern leg. Crosswalks at Duck Road and west-side 9th and 12th avenues, which, like 10th Avenue, dead-end into cul de sacs, were also considered.
There is already a crosswalk at Duck Road and 11th Avenue, which intersects with Sea Oats Trail on its west end, although there is no traffic light control at this intersection. Traffic light-controlled intersections exist at Hillcrest Trail, which is just south of 9th Avenue, and at Sea Oats Trail, which becomes 13th Avenue on the east side. The Duck town line is just north of 13th Avenue.
It would appear from meeting agenda materials that the reason 10th Avenue was selected for a crosswalk instead of 9th Avenue or 12th Avenue is because of its distance from the traffic-controlled intersections. A 12th Avenue crosswalk, according to remarks in the materials, is of “lesser priority” because of the avenue’s “proximity” to the 13th Avenue crosswalk, from which it is 448 feet away.
Ninth Avenue is reportedly just 415 feet from the Hillcrest Trail intersection, whereas 10th Avenue is 883 feet from the Hillcrest intersection and 1393 feet from the Sea Oats intersection. It is 485 feet from the 11th Avenue crosswalk, but this crossing, as stated, is not traffic-controlled.
It seems to us that all residents on the west side of these avenues are deserving of crosswalks, especially in light of the fact that there is no sidewalk on their side of Duck Road. The approved reduction of the speed limit on all of N.C. Hwy 12 from 45 mph to 35 mph, year-round, will help make all pedestrian crossings on Duck Road easier and safer.
DIGGING DEEP BEACH HOLES
We conclude our preview of the Town Council’s upcoming meeting with mention of a rather unusual document that appears in the Town Council’s consent agenda.
The consent agenda is rarely discussed by Council members, who typically approve it perfunctorily at the beginning of their meeting.
The unusual document in next week’s consent agenda is titled “Town of Southern Shores Resolution in Support of Legislation Concerning Digging Dangerous Holes on the Beach,” and it “expresses” support of “state legislation [that] would increase our capacity to address the incredibly dangerous issue of holes on the beach.”
The whereas clauses of the resolution outline the dangers of “large beach holes,” including the possibility of their collapse resulting in the deaths of people and “marine life” (sea turtles are very vulnerable) trapped in them, as well as damage to vehicles driven on the beach by people who cannot see them, and conclude with a request that the State of North Carolina enact legislation that would “provide stronger enforcement mechanisms” than are available in local ordinances for their prevention.
In May, the Town of Kill Devil Hills issued a public plea to beachgoers about the dangers of digging deep holes on the oceanfront, just hours before an 18-year-old man was reported to have died when he became trapped in a hole he and his sister were digging on a New Jersey beach.
At that time KDH released a photograph of an Ocean Rescue supervisor standing in an abandoned deep beach hole, with his arms outstretched and a look of frustration on his face, and characterized such holes as a common hazard.
The proposed resolution mentions the N.J. fatality as well as data from a Harvard medical professor who studied sand-hole collapses and reported 52 cases in the United States from 1997 to 2007. We recall the death of a man in Salvo in 2014 who was trapped when sand collapsed on him while he was reportedly tunneling between two six-foot-deep holes he had dug.
The Town of Southern Shores makes “unlawful” the “excessive digging or mounding of sand” that “presents a present, dangerous condition [or is] left for any period of time . . .” Town Code sec. 35-55(b)(3). We would be curious to know the history of this ordinance’s enforcement and why the Town believes it needs State involvement to prevent this danger from occurring on its beaches.
GARBAGE WILL BE PICKED UP ON LABOR DAY: Town-wide trash collection will occur Monday, as usual, but please note that today is the last day for a trash pickup on Friday. The recycling collection day will not change: It will continue to be Friday.
Have a great holiday weekend, everyone.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/2/22