The Southern Shores Civic Assn. will hold a volunteer and membership open house on Monday (3/27), from noon to 4 p.m., in the Pitts Center behind Town Hall. The event will provide an opportunity for people to learn about SSCA membership, spring and summer volunteer work for the association, and the SSCA itself.

The SSCA is an unusual organization of property owners in that it is not comprised exclusively of homeowners and its membership is not mandatory. Membership dues in part support a legion of volunteers who maintain many of the benefits of living in Southern Shores.

The SSCA is a major landowner in Southern Shores: Its holdings include the 33 beach access/dune crossovers, the town’s boat marinas and parks (except Chicahauk’s Trinitie Park), the Hillcrest Beach and parking lot, the Hillcrest Tennis Court, and a number of large tracts of vacant land.

The SSCA will hold its next general membership meeting on Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m., in the Pitts Center. Monday’s open house will give you a chance to ask board members in an informal setting about the SSCA budget, priorities, projects, etc., as well as how you can participate in its many activities, if you’d like.  

For more information about the open house, contact

Despite impressions otherwise, The Beacon is still on hiatus with no definite plans to resume reporting, although we are aware that the Town Council will soon be discussing a property tax hike and expect to cover that news.


Since we made an exception for the SSCA’s open house and are “on the page,” so to speak, we thought we would pass along some Southern Shores history.  

It occurred to us that newcomers to town, of whom the recent housing boom would suggest there are many, may not know the name, Kern P. Pitts, that adorns our town meeting center.

If you were here in the 1980s and 1990s, you probably recognize the name as synonymous with Southern Shores in that era. Everyone who was here then knew Kern Pitts.  

Mr. Pitts was the first elected mayor of Southern Shores—but he was not elected mayor by the people. He was elected by popular vote in November 1979 as a member of the Town Council and then chosen mayor by a vote of the five-member Town Council.

The Town did not hold mayoral elections until 2001, when voters elected Rear Admiral Paul E. Sutherland Jr. (1932-2017), who had been serving as the Council-designated mayor. Until the 2001 election, the Town Council chose the mayor, a system that the Town of Duck, which was incorporated in 2002, still employs today. (Hence, Duck Mayor Don Kingston has been entrenched in office since 2011.)

The November 1979 election was the first election held in newly incorporated Southern Shores. David Stick, the son of the founder of Southern Shores, artist and real estate developer Frank Stick, and Southern Shores’ chief planner/designer/visionary, served by appointment as town mayor until Mr. Pitts was sworn into office.

Mr. Pitts, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, held the mayor’s office from 1979 until 1997, when he left Southern Shores for health reasons to be near family in Texas. He died in 2000 at age 80.

Don Smith succeeded Admiral Sutherland as mayor, followed by Hal Denny (2009-2013), Tom Bennett for two four-year terms, and now Elizabeth Morey, who was elected in 2021.

This year voters of Southern Shores will elect three people to the Town Council, as the terms of Leo Holland and Matt Neal, who were elected in 2019, and Mark Batenic, who was appointed  in 2022 to complete the Town Council term Ms. Morey was serving when she was elected mayor, are scheduled to expire.

The terms of the other two Town Council members—Mayor Morey and Councilwoman Paula Sherlock—will expire in 2025. 

And that’s your Southern Shores history lesson for the day.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/23/23


Weeks Marine will return in May to place 37,500 cubic feet of sand on the beaches north of 5th Avenue, according to Town Manager Cliff Ogburn, who presented a timeline for the contractor’s springtime work in Duck and Southern Shores at last night’s Town Council meeting.

Mr. Ogburn had previously indicated that the remaining sand fill on the northern Southern Shores beaches would occur in March, when Weeks returns to perform the nourishment project in Duck that had to be postponed from last year. (See The Beacon, 1/4/23.)

Weeks’s equipment mobilization is set to start in March and will take seven days, Mr. Ogburn said last night, without mentioning where the mobilization will occur. We consider this a significant omission.

Presumably, the contractor will use the Hillcrest Beach, which is owned by the Southern Shores Civic Assn., for its access to Duck’s beaches, as well as the northern beaches.

According to The Beacon’s informed sources, the SSCA Board of Directors had not been keen on allowing the Hillcrest Beach to be occupied by equipment for months in the springtime, but that apparently is what will occur. We believe Mr. Ogburn or Mayor Elizabeth Morey should have clarified these circumstances.  

Mr. Ogburn said the contractor will give the Town a week’s notice before it mobilizes.

Once mobilization is complete, Weeks will go “straight to Duck,” he explained, to do the project there, and then return to Southern Shores in May to start the demobilization process and place the additional sand on the northern beaches.

Weeks must be “out of here” by “no later than June 15,” Mr. Ogburn said. That is its “drop dead” date.

The 37,500 cubic feet of sand that the contractor deposits will ensure that the northern section of Southern Shores’ beaches receives the agreed-upon 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot considered necessary to meet the project goal of creating a “sufficiently wide useable beach” in this area.

YES, WE’RE ON HIATUS . . . We are acutely aware that we announced last week that we were taking a hiatus, and, indeed, we are. Ordinarily, we would do further reporting on the above news item and check in with the SSCA. We currently do not have time to do so, but we do think it is of value to residents to know Weeks Marine’s timetable, as presented by the Town Manager. Hence, this blog post.

We also would like to report that, as expected, the Town Council appointed Planning Board First Alternate Jan Collins as a regular member of the Board, to complete the unexpired term of Lynda Burek, who resigned on Jan. 16.

Ms. Burek’s three-year term began on July 1, 2022 and will end on June 30, 2025.

Currently, the Town has no volunteer applications on file from which to choose someone to serve out Ms. Collins’s term as a Board alternate, which runs until June 30, 2024. Second Alternate Dan Fink will likely be promoted to First Alternate, so the new appointee will be behind him in seniority.

We strongly encourage residents to consider applying for a position on the Planning Bord or the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC). Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett confirmed last night that an opening exists on the HLC. The Town’s Jan. 27 newsletter alluded to vacancies on both boards, but did not provide details.

The Planning Board has become more proactive during the past year—an approach we welcome—and will “begin discussing additional requirements for accessory structures that contain living space,” according to Mr. Haskett in a preview last night of the Board’s Feb. 22 meeting, which will be held at 5 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

The Board has already embarked on a discussion of potential commercial design standards and is integrally involved in the update of the Land Use Plan.

We encourage anyone who is interested in applying for a Planning Board position to attend or live-stream this meeting. The Board’s work is exceptionally important to the developmental and zoning regulatory future of the town.

You may learn about both the Planning Board and the HLC, and find a volunteer application, at

Finally, we note that Councilwoman Paula Sherlock did not attend last night’s meeting and was formally excused by a unanimous vote of the Council. Mayor Elizabeth Morey explained that Ms. Sherlock had a scheduling conflict, but she did not explain why a formal vote of excusal was taken. We are unaware of any requirement for such an unusual action—it had nothing to do with the Council’s voting—and would have appreciated an explanation.

Ms. Sherlock also missed the December Town Council meeting because of family medical concerns. Both she and Councilmen Mark Batenic and Leo Holland missed meetings last year, during which no formal vote of excusal was taken.

We do not mean to criticize Ms. Sherlock. Rather, we believe that Ms. Sherlock’s absence leaves a critical void on the Town Council, which tends to be rather tight-lipped. In our opinion, the Town Council too often does not adequately represent the public by asking the questions that the public wants asked and answered. We appreciate the questions that Ms. Sherlock asks. She might have inquired about the Hillcrest Beach.

That’s all, folks. Enjoy your Wednesday.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/8/23                                                            


The Town Council will meet for its second regular monthly meeting of the year on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center, after observing a quiet January.  

You may access the Council’s agenda at MEET-Agenda-a5de9886bc1342a18e7242a225b8e19f.pdf (

The meeting may be live-streamed at

Among the noteworthy items on the agenda are the anticipated approval of Planning Board First Alternate Jan Collins’s appointment as a regular member of the Board, to complete the unexpired term of Lynda Burek, who resigned on Jan. 16.

Ms. Burek’s three-year term began on July 1, 2022 and will end on June 30, 2025.

This vacancy was alluded to in the Town’s Jan. 27 newsletter, which did not mention Ms. Burek’s resignation or the length of her unexpired term. There apparently also is a vacancy on the Historic Landmarks Commission.

The Planning Board is vitally important in maintaining the comprehensive plan of the town’s development and in acting on zoning text amendments to the Town Code, conditional use permit applications, and other planning/zoning business. It is heavily involved, for example, in the on-going Land Use Plan update and is a vital advisory body to the Council.  

Unique among all Dare County towns, Southern Shores has a Planning Board that also serves as the town’s Board of Adjustment, which is a quasi-judicial body that functions like a court would. In this capacity, the Board hears appeals from decisions by the Zoning Administrator (Planning Director Wes Haskett) and requests for variances from the Town’s zoning ordinances.

The Board’s five members are volunteers without any particular expertise in planning or zoning. They are advised by Mr. Haskett.

Currently, the Town has no volunteer applications on file from which to choose someone to serve out Ms. Collins’s term as a Board alternate, which runs until June 30, 2024. Second Alternate Dan Fink will likely be promoted to First Alternate, so the new appointee will be behind him in seniority.

We strongly encourage residents to consider applying for a position on the Planning Board, as well as the Historic Landmarks Commission. You may learn about both boards and find an application at

In other business Tuesday, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn will give updates on the Juniper/Trinitie Trail Bridge replacement project and the unfinished beach nourishment project. He also will request the scheduling of a budget discussion at the Town Council’s February workshop meeting, which will likely be at 9 a.m. on Feb. 21.

VIETNAM MEMORIAL REPLICA: The Council’s meeting also will feature a special presentation by Wally Overman, Vice Chairperson of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, and Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Services Officer, concerning the arrival in Nags Head this fall of a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is in Washington, D.C., and a mobile education center that accompanies it.

Called “The Wall That Heals,” the replica is 375 feet long and 7.5 feet tall at its highest point, according to materials in the Town Council’s meeting package. The more than 58,000 names on the wall of U.S. service members who died or remain missing in action in Vietnam or elsewhere in Southeast Asia are lit by LED lighting so that they can be read day and night.  

The actual memorial wall was designed by U.S. architect Maya Lin and completed in 1982. It honors all members of U.S. armed forces who served during the Vietnam War and is located in Constitutions Gardens, adjacent to the National Mall in Washington. 

The Wall That Heals will arrive at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head on Nov. 14 in a 53-foot trailer that transforms to become an education center. Included among the Wall’s educational displays will be one about the “hometown heroes” who died during their service in the Vietnam War or after the war due to a war-related injury or illness. The Wall will be available for public viewing Nov. 15-19, 24 hours per day.

You will find more information about The Wall That Heals in the background materials for the Council’s meeting at MEET-Packet-a5de9886bc1342a18e7242a225b8e19f.pdf (



In April of this year, The Beacon will mark the fifth anniversary of its publication debut. At the time of its launch, Town officials were struggling with what to do about residential construction on 50-foot-wide lots, which are “nonconforming” under the Town Code. The Planning Board played a key role in fine-tuning the language of the Code to clearly prevent such development.

We founded the blog in order to inform Southern Shores property owners and residents about town-government business, especially zoning decisions by the Planning Board and Town Council, and we enthusiastically did so for the first four years of its publication. During the past year, however, we have found it increasingly difficult to devote time and energy to reporting for The Beacon, and we have arrived at a point where we must step aside.

We do not know yet whether our hiatus will result in a permanent retirement. We only know that we do not anticipate attending any town meetings in the near future and cannot maintain the blog.

We encourage you to stay abreast of town news by reading the Town’s biweekly newsletter and news items on the Town of Southern Shores website and by attending or live-streaming official town meetings.

We thank you for your readership.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/4/23   


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.

See Ward’s request at

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.   

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/24/23

1/7/23: EROSION IN SOUTH LED TO SAND SHORTFALL IN NORTH, TOWN MANAGER SAYS; NO WORD ON ACCESS AT HILLCREST BEACH; Plus Detonation of an Abandoned Ordnance and the Launch of an Accessible Playgrounds Project.

The first full moon of a new year is known as a wolf moon, and ours last night was spectacular. There will be 13 full moons in 2023, including a blue moon on Aug. 31. We wish we had taken a photo of the moon rising over the ocean yesterday–which we saw–but alas, we did not. The moon above is in a stock photo.

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.


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.


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.

For more information about the project, see

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.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/7/23


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 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.

We will try to provide more details about last night’s meeting, which lasted about 80 minutes, on the weekend. You may view the meeting videotape at       

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/4/23


2022 was the year of beach nourishment in Southern Shores. Will the Town Manager tell us at Tuesday’s meeting more than we already know about what went wrong with the project and how it will be fixed?

The Southern Shores Town Council will meet next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. for what its agenda suggests will be a light business meeting, with the Town Manager’s update on the beach nourishment project being the item of most interest to residents and property owners.

Although there are two public hearings scheduled, they concern matters that The Beacon would characterize as perfunctory and likely to be approved unanimously by the Council.

The meeting will take place in the Pitts Center and be live-streamed on the Town’s You Tube website at

To access the agenda, click on

The background meeting packet, which is largely about a request for a special use permit to construct a new Dare County Emergency Medical Services station/SSVFD fire station at 28 E. Dogwood Trail—the subject of one of the public hearings—may be accessed here:

We regret that we will be unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but we will live-stream it and report on highlights as soon as possible.


It has been a month since the Town’s beach nourishment program manager and coastal engineer, Ken Willson of Coastal Protection Engineering (CPE), acknowledged at a public meeting that dredging contractor Weeks Marine “over-filled” the Southern Shores beaches south of 4th Avenue with more sand than they needed, and, as a result, under-filled the beaches north of 4th Avenue.

While Weeks Marine and CPE delivered the contractually agreed-upon 894,000 cubic yards of sand per linear foot to the Southern Shores oceanfront, Mr. Willson said at a Nov. 30 meeting, that volume was not distributed as the Town expected it to be. Instead, too much sand was deposited on the southern beaches, leaving the northern beaches short of volume.

The beaches north of 4th Avenue were to receive 22 cubic yards of sand per linear foot, Mr. Willson informed an active in-person and Zoon audience that attended the meeting a month ago.

In fact, he clarified in response to a homeowner’s question, those beaches only received 13 cubic yards of sand per linear foot—which was deposited over a three-day period, from Nov. 20-22.

The speed with which the dredging occurred caused alarm among northern Southern Shores property owners, who posted comments on the social media site, Nextdoor, expressing their concern. (See The Beacon, 11/28/22, 11/30/22, and 12/1/22 for background.)

The Nextdoor commenters essentially “broke the story” of this project failing.  

While Town Manager Cliff Ogburn showed empathy for property owners in remarks he made at the Dec. 6 Town Council meeting about the nourishment project, he did not detail any facts about the sand shortfall on the northern beaches nor did Mayor Elizabeth Morey or any other member of the Town Council address what happened.

Anyone who attended or viewed the Council meeting without having read The Beacon or attended/viewed the Nov. 30 meeting would not have known what was going on.

According to Mr. Willson on Nov. 30, a “significant discrepancy” occurred between a survey of the beach that was performed in 2021 for design purposes and an August 2022 survey of the beach that was performed before construction began. Conditions of the beach changed, as they so often (and predictably) do. But the project design did not change to accommodate this “discrepancy.” No adjustments were made. Weeks Marine operated with a “template”— as Mr. Willson called it—for construction that was appropriate for the 2021 beach, but not for the August 2022 beach.

CPE was “in discussions” with Weeks Marine about how to address the shortfall in the northern beaches, he said a month ago.

About a week later, Mr. Ogburn replied in response to public comments at the Council’s December meeting: “I understand completely the accountability that the Town has to the taxpayers and to those in the MSDs, but at this time . . . we’ve got questions that we need to get answered.

“It’s a complicated process,” he continued. “There’s a lot of contracts associated with this. There are a lot of missing pieces, and so we’ve got some work to do, and I want to promise you 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.”

Mr. Ogburn concluded by saying that he will meet with representatives from Weeks Marine and CPE this week [by Dec. 9] “so we can start those discussions.”

The Beacon believes it is time for the Town Manager and the Town Council to provide some answers to Town property owners about what actions will be taken—or, at least, what actions are being considered— to remedy the contract breach.

While we appreciate that negotiations can be sensitive and some communications should remain confidential, we strongly believe that the public has a right to know the status of discussions among the parties to date and the direction the Town, whose interests are being represented by Dare County, is pursuing.

A month ago, Mayor Morey said about the dredging shortfall, “We’re not going to be satisfied until we’re satisfied.”

It is time for the Mayor to elaborate upon actions by Weeks Marine and CPE that would satisfy the Town and whether any steps have been taken toward arriving at that satisfaction.


In addition to holding a public hearing Tuesday on a special use permit application submitted by the engineering firm tasked with building a new EMS/fire station on East Dogwood Trail, the Town Council will hold a hearing on a proposed Town Code Amendment (22-04) that would add a section on conflicts of interest (COI) to the Code.

The new COI ordinance is a requirement of the N.C. General Assembly. We discuss it below.

For the first hearing, we refer you to the meeting packet for the site plans submitted by engineering firm, Timmons Group, on behalf of Fire Service Real Estate, Inc., for a proposed 8,756-square-foot station. Fire Service is the owner of the property at 28 E. Dogwood Trail. Dare County EMS shares the current facility with the SSFVD.

The new station is part of an ambitious $18.8 million renovation/new construction project by Dare County to improve its eight EMS facilities.

According to the Southern Shores Town Code, fire stations are a permitted use in the R-1, low-density residential district in which the East Dogwood Trail property is located. For a station to be built in R-1, however, the Town Council must grant a special use permit, imposing conditions as it deems appropriate—after the Town Planning Board has first recommended approval.  

Both the Town staff and the Planning Board have recommended conditional approval of the Timmons Group’s application, according to Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett’s summary in the meeting agenda packet. Among the conditions recommended by the Planning Board is the submission of a light plan with Timmons’s application for building and zoning permits; no lights are shown on the plans filed with the special use permit application.

Another Planning Board condition that restricts the number of wall signs at the new station to two, not to exceed 64 square feet, has already been satisfied by Timmons.

The proposed conflicts of interest ordinance, which would be codified at section 1-13 of the Town Code, addresses participation by Town Council members; members of appointed boards, such as the Planning Board/Board of Adjustment; and Town administrative staff in decision-making on development and zoning matters.

The language of TCA 22-04 derives from N.C. General Statutes Chapter 160D, the Local Planning and Development Regulation, which consolidated and clarified development regulations for municipalities and counties and took effect in 2021. We quote TCA 22-04, in pertinent part, below:

Town council: A town council member shall not vote on any legislative decision regarding a development regulation adopted pursuant to this Town Code where the outcome of the matter being considered is reasonably likely to have a direct, substantial, and readily identifiable financial impact on the member. A town council member shall not vote on any zoning amendment if the landowner of the property subject to a rezoning petition or the applicant for a text amendment is a person with whom the member has a close familial, business, or other associational relationship.”

Proposed sections on “appointed boards” and “administrative staff” use similar COI language.

Another section on “quasi-judicial decisions,” which the Town Board of Adjustment makes, specifies that:

“A member of any board exercising quasi-judicial functions . . . shall not participate in or vote on any quasi-judicial matter in a manner that would violate affected persons’ constitutional rights to an impartial decision maker. Impermissible violations of due process include, but are not limited to, a member having a fixed opinion prior to hearing the matter that is not susceptible to change, undisclosed ex parte communications a close familial, business, or other associational relationship with an affected person, or a financial interest in the outcome of the matter.”  

Although the proposed ordinance defines what constitutes a “close familial relationship,” by listing relatives, such as spouse, parent, child, etc., it does not define a “business” or “associational” relationship. We view this as a major omission, especially in regard to what constitutes an “associational” relationship.


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 here:

The survey is also accessible by clicking on a link at the top of the Town website home page. As long as the holiday information link is at the top, however, you will have to click on the right arrow to advance to the survey link.  

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.

It appears from the update process timeline graphic on the Town website that survey results will be compiled by Jan. 18 and draft recommendations for the Land Use Plan will be completed by Feb. 20.

We find the timeline chart very burdensome to use—its enlargement is fleeting—and would prefer to have a written-word schedule of update task deadlines.  


We conclude our last post of 2022 with a reminder that you may place a Christmas tree, cleared of all decorations, in the Town right-of-way for pickup during the regular sector-based limb and branch collection. Wreaths will not be collected.

You will find 2023 limb/branch service in your sector here:

Collection this week is supposed to be occurring in sector four, which includes addresses on Duck Road and streets generally north of the Duck Road split, but east of Sea Oats Trail. Wax Myrtle Trail is in sector three.

You also may recycle your tree by disposing of it at the Hillcrest Beach parking lot. Trees collected from the site will be used as sand fencing to help rebuild and stabilize dunes on the beach.


Monday, Jan. 2, may be a national holiday, but Bay Disposal will pick up the garbage. You gotta love that. Its consistency takes the guesswork out of our rollouts.

Happy New Year, everyone. Peace, joy, and good health to all.  

ANN G. SJOERDSMA, 12/30/22

12/16/22: SANTA CLAUS TO PARADE THROUGH SOUTHERN SHORES ON SUNDAY. Plus Town Services Over Long Christmas Weekend.

A festive yard in Chicahauk.

Santa Claus is coming to town Sunday in a brand-new fire truck and will be making his rounds for two hours, starting at 1 p.m., if the weather permits.  

Santa’s parade, which is sponsored by the SSCA, will start at the Southern Shores Fire Dept. station on South Dogwood Trail and then travel to stops at Sea Oats Park, the Hillcrest Beach parking lot, the Chicahauk Trail parking lot, and the Kitty Hawk Elementary School, before moving on to Martin’s Point. Children and their parents may wish to wait for Old St. Nick’s arrival at one of these locations.

In other holiday news, Southern Shores town offices will be closed Friday, Dec. 23, Monday, Dec. 26, and Tuesday, Dec. 27. Trash and recycling will be picked up on the usual days. (Dec. 26th is a federal holiday.)

Christmas trees cleared of all decorations may be placed in the Town right-of-way for pickup during the regular limb and branch collection, according to sectors. Wreaths will not be collected.

You may find 2023 limb/branch service in your sector here: Collection during the last week of 2022 will occur in sector two.

Happy holidays to all.



The Southern Shores Land Use Plan Update public survey—which is open to anyone who would like to live in Southern Shores “in the future” or simply has heard of the town—is now online and may be accessed here:

The Town’s first Land Use Plan was locally drafted and approved by the State of North Carolina in 1980. Since then, there have been four updates of the plan, the latest one occurring in 2008, even though the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission did not certify it until 2012.

At no time during any of the previous updates was the public workshop/meeting/survey/other method of soliciting community opinions and perspective open to people who do not live in Southern Shores, but “would like to in the future,” as this survey is. One need have no familiarity with Southern Shores in order to submit answers to the questions in this survey. One need only “relate” to the town.

To wit, the first question of the survey is “How do you relate to Southern Shores?” The answers offered are:

*Live here full-time

*Live here part-time

*Work here

*Own property here

*Business owner

*Frequent or long-term visitor, but not a resident

*I don’t live in Southern Shores, but would like to in the future

*Other (Such as I’ve passed through town before? I’ve heard of the town? I live in Kitty Hawk and have a beef with Southern Shores?)

(The lack of parallel structure in the answers to all of the survey questions drives us crazy, but we imagine our grammatical cringing makes us old school. Just stick with the verbs.)

The next question asks how long one has “lived, worked, or owned property or a business” in Southern Shores. In the event one has done none of the above, there is the catch-all response: “Not applicable.”

We wonder how respondents who have no familiarity or history with the town can respond to the next questions posed by the survey about the relevancy and achievement of goals identified in the last land use plan. Is the point of these questions to suggest that some of yesteryear’s goals are no longer relevant in today’s Southern Shores?

The survey also asks one to prioritize goals and concerns that the survey identifies as such. If you would like to know where these goals and concerns came from, we suggest you watch the videotape of the Nov. 15 roundtable discussion that planning consultant Jay McLeod of Stewart moderated with members of the Town Council and Planning Board.

(For background on the land use plan update process, see The Beacon, 11/12/22, 12/7/22.)

The idea of constructing a community or civic center in town—on what land?, you may justifiably wonder—came from Planning Board chairperson Andy Ward. This idea has been kicked around in the past and been rejected because of space/location issues. More than 25 years ago, there was a movement to develop the SSCA land on which the Sea Oats Park is now located into a community center/swimming pool/recreational area. No one who lived anywhere near that property supported the idea.   

We forget who brought up increasing the boat slips at the marinas, but it was someone at the Nov. 15 roundtable who is associated with the Boat Club. Is this truly a pressing concern for anyone?   

We have issues with the content and phrasing of the questions that ask one to prioritize goals and concerns, but we will not get out our fine-toothed comb now. We do wonder, however, how we’re going to change land-use policy to improve “access to healthcare” and what exactly the concern is about short-term rentals. The vacation rental business is Southern Shores’ economy. Is the concern here actually Airbnb rentals? If so, say so.

Interestingly, the two words that you will not see in the questions about the goals and concerns of Southern Shores land-use growth and development are “low density,” which are the defining words in zoning that have set Southern Shores apart from other Dare County towns. But you will read about “housing affordability and availability,” twice.

The survey poses some open-ended questions, which we favor, about what the responder values the most about Southern Shores and what he/she thinks are the most important issues facing the town in the next five, 10, or 20 years.

The chicken question also made the survey, although we fail to see how the keeping of chickens by residents has anything to do with land use and the preservation of natural resources.

A concluding question asks how “willing” the responder is to being “inconvenienced by attempts to mitigate summer traffic”: The choices are very willing; willing; somewhat willing; and not willing.

We see Mayor Elizabeth Morey’s handiwork here.

This is another political question, like the chickens. Any question on a land use survey about traffic in town should address the damage to the natural environment and to the roadways caused by congestion and suggest, or seek, ways to reduce it.

You have until Jan. 8 to complete the survey.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/9/22


Sunsets over the Currituck Sound draw spectators, but it can be difficult to sit soundside when a rotten-eggs stench emanates from the water, as it does sometimes with a west wind. Water quality is one of the issues that needs to be addressed in the new land use plan.

A community survey that Stewart Inc., the Town’s land use plan update consultant, will use to help define the goals and vision of Southern Shores’ future, is in draft form and expected to be posted online soon, Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett announced at last night’s Town Council meeting.

The survey will remain online for a month, Mr. Haskett said.

Surprised by the speed with which this survey was prepared, we checked the project timeline on the Town website today and learned that the survey is to be posted Friday, and all responses are to be submitted by Jan. 8. This is a revision of what was posted on the page in November—as well as just yesterday.

See the Land Use Plan Update page at

It appears from the timeline that Stewart, whose five-person update team is headed by planning manager Jay McLeod, will have the survey results analyzed, community goals drafted, and a proposed town vision statement written by Jan. 18.

The N.C. Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) requires each of North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties to have a land use plan that accords with guidelines established by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. Each plan includes local policies about growth, such as the protection of natural resources and the desired types of economic development, as well as pertinent maps.

Although CAMA does not require coastal towns to have land use plans, 72 such towns and cities had them as of 1997, according to the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality. They are used in the determination of CAMA permit decisions and in regulating growth. Southern Shores has had a Land Use Plan since 1980. The 2023 update will be its fifth update.

The N.C. General Assembly gave the Town Council additional incentive to update the Town’s 2008 Land Use Plan, which it had talked about doing since 2017, when it enacted a new law requiring all local governments to have a “reasonably maintained” comprehensive plan or a land use plan in order to retain authority to adopt and enforce zoning regulations. No longer could the Council kick the can down the road.

(For background on land use plans and the Town’s update, see The Beacon, 11/12/22.)


The Beacon believes it is unfortunate that Stewart and the Town have decided to draft the community survey without giving residents more time to contribute to its content, as well as to post the survey during the holiday period, when people are extremely busy and often out of town or visiting in town with relatives and friends.

It was just three weeks ago that Mr. McLeod, assisted by Stewart planner Andrea Radford, held a public open house to explain what a land use plan is and the process by which the 2008 Southern Shores Land Use Plan would be updated. The open house, promoted as a “kickoff meeting” for the Land Use Plan Update project, offered attendees an opportunity to share their thoughts and perspectives with Mr. McLeod or Ms. Radford in informal chats or by comment cards that posed the following questions:

*What do you love about Southern Shores and never want to change or lose?

*What needs work or the Town government should focus on improving?

*What is your biggest concern about the future of Southern Shores?

Only 22 people signed the attendance sheet for the open house, of whom four were members of the Town Council, who gave their views on land-use issues in a roundtable discussion that morning with Mr. McLeod that also included Town Planning Board members. The Planning Board is serving as the steering committee for the update project.

(You may view a You Tube video of the Town Council-Planning Board discussion at

There are only 10 resident comment cards posted on the Land Use Plan Update page.

Among the issues and priorities identified by the Town Council and Planning Board in their roundtable were protection of the maritime forest; improvement of water quality, especially in the Currituck Sound; preservation of low-density residential neighborhoods and a small commercial district; prevention of stormwater runoff; and improvement of the navigability of the canals.

In light of the problems associated with beach nourishment this year, the public may wish to reconsider maintenance of the project, which, according to Ken Willson of Coastal Protection Engineering, means doing another sand fill in five years.

Is the desirability of beach nourishment going to be on the community survey, which Mr. McLeod said on Nov. 15 will be primarily multiple-choice?

Will the survey address cut-through traffic in town, which is surely a land-use issue? The Town Council and Planning Board did not bring it up.  

The Land Use Plan, whose format and content are defined by the Coastal Resource Commission’s rules, is to be used by the Town and its elected officials as a guide to decisions about land development and rezoning; growth and development priorities; public services and infrastructure to support development; the protection of environmental and other natural resources, and other planning topics.

We trust the community survey will be thorough and wide-ranging and reflective of a variety of perspectives. We will direct you to its location on the Town website when it is online.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/7/22