The Town of Southern Shores has contracted to purchase the historic flat top at 13 Skyline Road currently owned by the Outer Banks Community Foundation, which operates from the location, but is moving to Manteo after more than 15 years in Southern Shores, Mayor Elizabeth Morey announced at the Town Council’s April 4 meeting.

The purchase price for the property, which is adjacent to a now-vacant lot at 7 Skyline Road that the Town bought in 2015, is $400,000, the Mayor said.

The Town Council, which has met in a closed session during five of its past six regular meetings, did not hold any open public discussion about the desirability of purchasing 13 Skyline Road or about its potential use. The Mayor simply made an announcement about the transaction after the Council returned from a closed session, which was held after a 38-minute public business meeting. 

In contrast, the Town Council amply discussed the purchase of 7 Skyline Road in several meetings, thus giving the public an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process—including by suggesting ways in which the property might be used—and to learn all of the Council members’ opinions about the acquisition.

Only three of the five current Council members voted in favor of the flat top purchase: Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal and Councilman Leo Holland did not attend the April 4 meeting because of family “issues,” the Mayor said.

The Town paid $205,000 for the 7 Skyline Road property, which is adjacent to the Kern Pitts Center. It subsequently demolished a small single-story house in need of rehabilitation that was on the site and has yet to use the property in any capacity.

The public sentiment about that purchase was decidedly mixed, if not tending toward opposing it. The Beacon can recall when one of the ideas for the property’s use was as a parking lot.

The Town and the OBCF jointly issued a press release about the purchase of 13 Skyline Road, which was published in the Town’s April 6 newsletter. The release did not disclose the purchase price.

The OBCF, a charitable organization established in 1982 by a group of community leaders, including author, historian, and Southern Shores developer David Stick, actor Andy Griffith, attorney Martin Kellogg, and businessman George Crocker, acquired the property in 2007 as a gift from longtime owners, Dr. John R. Tietjen and his wife, Norma F. Tietjen. As the covenants in the deed of gift make clear, the Tietjens, who are now deceased, sought with their largesse to preserve Southern Shores history and to benefit non-profit causes.  

Neither the Mayor nor the two Council members who were present April 4 elaborated upon the covenants that run with the title to 13 Skyline Road and are set forth in the July 19, 2007 deed of gift between the Tietjens and the OBCF.

According to the deed, Southern Shores founder and original developer Frank Stick constructed the flat top in 1953, making it the “first cottage on the dune.” As a condition of their gift, the Tietjens required the OBCF to erect an “appropriate and permanent memorial plaque on the existing cottage” or a “memorial monument” on the grounds to commemorate Mr. Stick’s life and contributions to the Town of Southern Shores and the Outer Banks.

The Tietjens also restricted the use of the property to the offices of the OBCF, the offices of “any similar organization or entity” qualifying as a section 501(c)(3) [non-profit] organization under the IRS Code, or any federal, state or local government offices.   

Dr. Tietjen, a public-health physician formerly with the Central Intelligence Agency, died in 2015, two months shy of his 99th birthday. You may read about his extraordinary life here: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/washingtonpost/name/john-tietjen-obituary?id=6045891.

Norma Tietjen, a nurse and homemaker, died last year just six days shy of her 99th birthday. You may read about her extraordinary life here: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/washingtonpost/ name/norma-tietjen-obituary?id=34687216.

The couple were featured in Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.”   

The Mayor’s suggestion at the April 4 meeting that the historic flat top might be used as temporary housing for newly hired Southern Shores police officers while they seek a more permanent residence—a suggestion repeated in the April 6 newsletter item—is clearly contrary to the Tietjens’ covenant. A temporary residence for a new hire is not a local government office.

We also question the Town’s assertion in the newsletter that it is fulfilling the “wishes of the donors [the Tietjens]” by “maintaining” the property’s “non-profit use and ownership.” A government is not a non-profit organization. A public use is not equivalent to a non-profit use.

Characterizing herself as initially skeptical about purchasing the OBCF property, Town Councilwoman Paula Sherlock said after her vote that she changed her mind after touring it and considering the possibilities for what could constitute a governmental “campus.”

It is a shame that Councilwoman Sherlock did not inform her constituents in a public meeting about her tour and the possibilities she envisions to justify spending $400,000 of the public’s money. But she said more than her colleagues did—just after the fact.  

We have never heard a Town Council member refer to a governmental “campus” before. The newsletter item similarly refers to expanding the “Town’s footprint in the government and institution zoning district.”

According to the Dare County GIS, both Skyline Road properties are currently zoned RS-1 (low-density), but Planning Director/Deputy Town Manager Wes Haskett said at a recent meeting that they are in the Government and Institutional zoning district, which is defined in Town Code sec. 36-206. The minimum lot size in this district is 10,000 square feet.

We are strongly in favor of preserving Southern Shores’ architectural and human history and in honoring founder Frank Stick. We also are strongly in favor of safeguarding the wishes of Southern Shores homeowners who seek such historic preservation through gifts of property conveyed with protective covenants. We are grateful for the stewardship of Southern Shores by previous generations.

We daresay the Tietjens never imagined that the OBCF would sell their flat top for $400,000 just 16 years after receiving it and that taxpayers would foot the bill. As their online Legacy obituaries attest, both were very public service-oriented.    

The point of the Tietjens’ covenant limiting property use is clear from the deed as a whole. If a government were to operate offices in the flat top, it would conduct business that inures to the benefit of the public. If the home is open for public access, many people would enjoy and appreciate it and learn about and remember the visionary builder who constructed it.    

The Mayor encouraged Town residents to submit their ideas for the flat top’s use to the Town. We encourage you to do so, as well, bearing in mind the wishes of the Tietjens and their covenant.


Dredging contractor Weeks Marine has set up its staging at the SSCA’s Hillcrest Beach and parking lot and was expected to start its beach nourishment in Duck on Monday (April 10), Town Manager Cliff Ogburn announced at the April 4 meeting.

The Duck job should take Weeks Marine 30 days to complete, Mr. Ogburn said, after which the contractor will finish filling the Southern Shores beach from 4th Avenue north to the Duck-Southern Shores line.

Mr. Ogburn has previously forecast the work in Southern Shores to be done by mid-May. According to in-the-know/on-the-scene Southern Shores homeowner and volunteer Len Schmitz, the sand pumping started in Duck on Tuesday. Mr. Schmitz told The Beacon that the Southern Shores work should be done by the end of May.

Regardless of delays due to weather conditions and other factors, Weeks Marine must be “out of here” by June 15 at the latest, Mr. Ogburn has said.


In Chicahauk: The Town’s plan to move the sidewalk on Chicahauk Trail, near its intersection with Ocean Boulevard, back from the road to make it safer for walking has been delayed because of housing construction at the vacant lot at 97 Ocean Blvd., according to Mr. Ogburn.

On Duck Road: Construction of the 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of Duck Road from Triangle Park, where the cell tower is, to East Dogwood Trail will occur in mid-September, Mr. Ogburn said.


The Town Manager will present his recommended 2023-24 Town budget at the Town Council’s May 2 meeting.

The Council has the option of holding a budget session at its mid-month workshop meeting on Tuesday, April 18, but it did not vote on April 4 to schedule one.


The Town will hold a public workshop to receive comments on the draft of an updated Town Land Use Plan on Wed., April 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Pitts Center. The plan draft will be posted on the Town website a week before the workshop, according to Mr. Haskett. 

*PREVIEW: In our next posting, we consider the zoning dilemma at the Southern Shores Landing.



Southern Shores’ springtime bulk-waste collection will be held on Friday, April 14. The Town asks that you not place any items on the roadside until April 7.

For more information about the collection, in particular, the items that are acceptable for pickup, and those that are not, see:


We call your attention to the prohibition against building materials, which include lumber, windows, screens, roofing, doors, cabinets, toilets, and demolition debris. Rugs and carpets are also unacceptable.

Chicahauk Bridge Lane To Be Closed Wed.-Thurs. Next Week

A lane will be closed on Trinitie Trail in Chicahauk at the Trinitie/Juniper Trail Bridge Wednesday (4/5) and Thursday (4/5) for survey work to be done in preparation for reconstruction of the bridge and culvert, according to an announcement on the Town of Southern Shores website.

Contractor Kimley Horn of Raleigh has previously said that the bridge replacement project will take at least a year to complete.   

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn will give an update on the bridge/culvert replacement construction at the Town Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

The Town Manager’s report is the most newsworthy portion of the Council’s meeting. He provides updates on projects that you will not see in the Town newsletter or on the Town website.    

For Tuesday’s meeting agenda, see: https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/ MEET-Agenda-a85b803f928b43bc97ebbc1a920c2148.pdf.

April 10 Groundbreaking Set for New EMS Station/SSVFD at E. Dogwood Trail

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Dare County EMS Station 4 and fire department building at 28 East Dogwood Trail will be held Monday, April 10, at 10 a.m., according to an announcement by Dare County. The new facility is part of a major capital improvement project by Dare County to renovate or replace all of its EMS stations.

According to the Dare County website, the new East Dogwood facility will be completed by spring 2024.

Town Seeks Grant Manager

The Town is seeking an individual or firm to serve as its Grant Manager, an independent contractor position for which applicants must submit a proposal to the Town Manager by 5 p.m. on Wed., April 19.

According to a Request for Proposals posted yesterday on the Town website, the “Grant Manager will seek out and apply for grant funding that fits within the identified needs and goals of the Town. Tasks consist of grant writing and management and coordinating program initiatives in compliance with state and federal government requirements. Training and helping staff determine eligible projects and accounting for and reporting the use of grant funds [are] also required.”

The requirements of an applicant’s RFP are listed at:


The Town states that the position “requires a diverse experience with grant writing and management, as well as financial organizational skills,” and that it intends “to award a contract to a highly qualified firm or independent grant writer with experience in successfully securing grant funding and other grant-related services.”

Applicants are asked to provide a minimum of three references for grant writing services they have provided within the past five years and to describe their payment terms.


The Beacon is still on hiatus, but we thought we would pass along some town news tidbits.

Happy springtime.

THE BEACON, 3/31/23


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 coordinator@sscaobx.org.

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 https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/page/2485/10-14-16-board-volunteer-application.pdf.

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 (usgovcloudapi.net)

The meeting may be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/@SouthernShores/streams.

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 https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/page/2485/10-14-16-board-volunteer-application.pdf.

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 (usgovcloudapi.net)



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 https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/planning_board/meeting/2993/1-24-23_special_pb_mtg_request.pdf.

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 www.khesplayground.com.

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 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.

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 https://www.youtube.com/@SouthernShores/streams.       

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 https://www.youtube.com/@SouthernShores/streams.

To access the agenda, click on https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Agenda-79323b51e79b4bfe9e0230e8a41d8de9.pdf.

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: https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Packet-79323b51e79b4bfe9e0230e8a41d8de9.pdf.

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: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/planning/page/land-use-plan-update-public-survey.

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: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/town_services/page/2273/limb_branch_calendar_sector_info_flyer_2023.pdf.

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