The Town Planning Board will hold a special meeting today at 5 p.m. to review the results of the public survey for the Land Use Plan project and discuss “potential goals for the plan” with the Town’s consultant, Stewart, Inc., according to a late meeting notice published on the Town website, most likely yesterday afternoon.
The N.C. open meetings law requires 48-hour notice of all special meetings of public bodies, which the Planning Board is. The Beacon checks the Town website every morning for news; no notice of this meeting was online when we checked yesterday.
Town Clerk Sheila Kane routinely sends The Beacon emails about upcoming meetings, as she does other members of the local media. Ms. Kane has yet to send us one about today’s special meeting.
The Board’s meeting will be held in the Pitts Center.
According to a link posted with the notice, Planning Board Chairperson Andy Ward requested the special meeting on Friday, Jan. 20—with the time of day not indicated. No corresponding official grant of the request appears online.
Also included with the Town’s late notice of the meeting is a link to the Land Use Plan survey results. Dated Jan. 9, 2023—one day after the deadline for completing the survey—the file summarizing the results may be accessed here:
A list of draft goals and preliminary recommendations submitted by the consultant on Jan. 19, appears here:
We are very disappointed with the Planning Board’s and Town staff’s scheduling and handling of this important meeting. Not only is the Town’s notice to the public procedurally inadequate, the substantive nature of the meeting lacks the urgency to justify it. What’s the hurry?
We also fault the Town for not announcing in a special news item or in the Jan. 13 newsletter that the results of the survey had been compiled and posted online. A resident should not have to skim through the supporting document links on the Town’s Land Use Plan Update Project page to ascertain whether they are available.
Adding to the irregularity, Mr. Ward proposes to conduct regular Planning Board business today that the Board was scheduled to take up at its regular meeting Jan. 18, which it canceled. Thus, today’s meeting is also an unnoticed rescheduling of a regular meeting.
See the full notice of today’s special meeting here:
We are unable to attend or to live-stream today’s Planning Board meeting or to report on it this week because of preexisting commitments. We welcome informative reports from Beacon readers about the meeting.
The misdistribution of sand on the Southern Shores beaches during the nourishment project—which left the northern beaches with a shortfall—occurred because of erosion in the southern end of town between Sept. 15 and Oct. 7, 2022, which caused the dredging contractor to over-fill in that area, according to Town Manager Cliff Ogburn at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
(See The Beacon, 1/4/23, for our first report on Tuesday’s Town Council meeting and the Town Manager’s beach nourishment update. We add to that report here.)
After a preconstruction survey of the beach was performed in August 2022, the Town Manager explained, Coastal Protection Engineering (CPE), the coastal engineer/manager for the project, “redesigned the project” to reflect “natural changes” to the beaches that had occurred since the previous survey in 2021.
Accretion of sand actually occurred on the northern beaches between the surveys, Mr. Ogburn said, noting: “As everyone knows, we have a very dynamic beach,” which is constantly changing.
CPE’s redesign, he said, was submitted to Weeks Marine, the dredging contractor, on Sept. 15, but it did not start dredging in Southern Shores until Oct. 7; in the interim, the Outer Banks experienced a prolonged period of wind, rain, and elevated ocean waters, the effects of which, he said, were not accounted for in CPE’s new template.
As many of you may recall, the storms were brought on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 by a stalled front off the coast, high pressure to the north, and the passage of Hurricane Ian to the west and south.
While the Town received the 894,000 cubic yards of sand for which it contracted—in fact, Mr. Ogburn said, it “got in excess of that”—the beaches north of 5th Avenue did not receive the agreed-upon 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot because of Weeks’ overfill in the south. Instead, they received only 13 cubic yards of sand per linear foot, as we have previously reported.
As The Beacon reported on 1/4/23, Mr. Ogburn announced at the Town Council meeting that Weeks Marine will place an additional 37,500 cubic yards on the northern beaches in March, when it returns to do the Duck nourishment project, which it had to postpone. The new sand, the Town Manager said, will ensure a “uniform density” of 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot.
Left unaddressed by Mr. Ogburn was the issue of how Weeks Marine’s heavy equipment will access both the northern Southern Shores beaches and the 1.6 miles of shoreline in northern Duck that are to be nourished.
According to our sources, the Southern Shores Civic Assn. Board of Directors has not approved Weeks’ use of the Hillcrest Beach, which the SSCA owns, as an access for the Duck project, which extends from the Army Corps of Engineers’ research pier to north of Skimmer Way and is estimated to take at least six weeks.
The Board may revise its position, subject to certain contractual conditions, now that Southern Shores beaches are included in the dredging work, or it may not.
There currently is no open site in Duck for Weeks’ equipment to access the area of the Duck shoreline that is in dire need of nourishment. Duck oceanfront property owners have refused to accommodate the dredging contractor.
MILITARY ORDNANCE DETONATED
A loud boom that could be heard around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, coming from the Chicahauk area, was the sound of an “unexploded ordnance” being detonated, according to Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Ed Limbacher, who reported on the detonation of the World War II ammunition at the Town Council meeting.
According to Chief Limbacher, a Southern Shores resident called the SSVFD station at 11:54 a.m. to report finding the old ordnance in his/her yard. When the Chief arrived at the scene, he said, he found an ordnance that “was not normal for me,” having never seen one like it.
Limbacher called the U.S. Dept. of Defense, which safely detonated it in place, after the SSVFD secured the area, later that day, the Chief said.
Limbacher showed a photograph of the discarded military ordnance, which looked to us like a long, rusty, iron artillery shell. We would estimate its length to be at least four feet.
“If you find something like that,” the Chief said, “please don’t touch it.” And how.
Southern Shores is on the site of a former WWII practice range, Mayor Elizabeth Morey pointed out. The Chief said the ordnances he has removed in the past have usually been practice flares.
CAMPAIGN TO CREATE ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUNDS
Kitty Hawk Elementary School (KHES) principal Dr. Lisa Colvin and Kellie Flock, a local physician’s assistant who has an elementary school-aged child with cerebral palsy, presented Tuesday a project they are heading up to convert the two playgrounds at KHES into areas that all children can access, regardless of their mobility.
They aspire to remove “barriers of conventional playgrounds,” Dr. Colvin said, so that the school’s play areas are “inclusive and accessible” for all children.
The KHES playgrounds have soft mulch and uneven surfaces that Ms. Flock’s daughter, Nola, who walks with a wheeled walker and previously used a wheelchair, cannot traverse. When Ms. Flock learned that her daughter, then in kindergarten, could not play with her friends on the school playgrounds, she contacted administrators at KHES and set into motion the accessible playgrounds project, which already has $120,000 in funding.
According to Dr. Colvin and Ms. Flock, the renovation of the two KHES playgrounds, which consist of three areas, according to designs on the website, is estimated to cost $805,000. They are hopeful that they will be able to break ground on phase one of the project by the end of this year.
The two organizers said they sought the “support and guidance” of the Town of Southern Shores, which all Town Council members assured them they had.
Dredging contractor Weeks Marine will finish the job on the northern beaches of Southern Shores in March when it returns for the Duck beach nourishment project, according to Town Manager Cliff Ogburn who reported the “good news” at the Town Council meeting last night.
Weeks will place an additional 37,500 cubic feet of sand on the beaches north of 5th Avenue, Mr. Ogburn said, a deposit that ensures the area receives the agreed-upon 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot to meet the goal of creating a “sufficiently wide useable beach.”
In a Nov. 30 meeting with Ken Willson of Coastal Protection Engineering, who managed the project for all of the Dare County towns, and representatives from Weeks Marine, it was revealed that the northern Southern Shores beaches only received 13 cubic yards of sand per linear foot.
Mr. Ogburn promised at the Town Council’s Dec. 6 meeting that “I’m going to do everything I can do make sure we get what we should have gotten, and that there’s a remedy to this.”
(The Town Manager identified 5th Avenue as the dividing line between the northern section of the beaches and the central section, whereas Mr. Willson cited 4th Avenue. In past beach surveys, 3rd Avenue has served as a cut-off line.
(It has been known for years that the northern section has a better beach profile, with a more-than-adequate volume of sand, than the sections south of it—regardless of what the visible beach looks like. There was considerable discussion among the Council members who approved the project about omitting this area.)
Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal praised the Town Manager last night for his persistent, round-the-clock effort in the past month to promote the resolution—which was reached among Weeks Marine, CPE, and Dare County—and Mr. Ogburn, in turn, credited Mr. Neal and Mayor Elizabeth Morey with doing the “heavy lifting” to “mak[e] sure that we were made whole.”
“It took a team effort,” the Mayor modestly said, adding that anyone who has any “follow-up questions” about what is to happen should email Mr. Ogburn, Mr. Neal, or herself.
The remediation effort in March will be done without further cost, Mr. Ogburn said.
The Beacon congratulates and thanks all those involved in bringing about this swift and equitable resolution.
(For background on the beach nourishment shortfall, see The Beacon, 11/28/22, 11/30/22, 12/1/22, and 12/30/22.)
IN OTHER ACTION, the Town Council, as expected, unanimously approved 1) the special use permit application submitted by the engineering firm tasked with building a new EMS/fire station at 28 East Dogwood Trail and 2) the Town Code Amendment (22-04) that adds a section on conflicts of interest (COI) to the Code. (See The Beacon, 12/30/22, for background.)
The language of the COI ordinance, which will be codified as section 1-13, is the same language as currently appears in the N.C. General Statutes, Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett confirmed last night. In past instances of suggested conflicts, former Town Attorney Ben Gallop relied on this State language to make decisions. Although the Town has not had its own ordinance, it has not been without legal guidance.
LAND USE PLAN UPDATE SURVEY: We remind you again that if you have not yet completed the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Land Use Plan update public survey, you have until Friday to do so. You will find the survey at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/planning/page/land-use-plan-update-public-survey. Your views on future planning in Southern Shores are vital to preserving the environment that we have, as well as improving it.
The survey is also accessible by clicking on a link at the top of the Town website home page. As long as the Christmas tree disposal link is at the top, however, you will have to click on the right arrow to advance to the survey link.
According to Mr. Haskett, as of yesterday, only 354 people had completed the survey, which is open to people who live or work in Southern Shores, full- or part-time; all property owners; “frequent or long-term” visitors who do not live here, but would like to; and people who otherwise “relate” to the town.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the year-round population of Southern Shores is 3,107.
Asked by Mayor Morey whether Friday’s deadline was a firm one that could not be changed, Mr. Haskett indicated it was. (We would not be surprised if it were extended.)
For background on the Town land use plan, the plan update process, and the public survey, see The Beacon, 11/12/22, 12/7/22, and 12/9/22.