Nags Head commissioners discuss withdrawing from NCBIWA

Published 3:52 pm Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Nags Head Board of Commissioners met October 2 for their monthly regular meeting. Mayor Ben Cahoon and commissioner Mike Siers were not in attendance. The meeting was led by Mayor Pro Tem Susie Walters.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for Todd Krafft, who had worked in and around the Town of Nags Head for over than twenty years. He passed away September 16.

Town manager Cliff Ogburn attended the North Carolina Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association (NCBIWA) meeting the previous day, October 1. He reported there was a motion passed during the board meeting to table a particular resolution in a vote 9-3. The resolution was to oppose offshore planning and oil exploration.

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Ogburn mentioned that as a town, Nags Head has always been opposed oil and gas exploration. The mission statement of NCBIWA is as follows: “Our mission is to work on behalf of NC’s coast, and those who love it, by seeking to encourage government action and funding, educate and advocate for effective Federal and State policy, and facilitate environmentally sound scientific and engineering solutions for our threatened beaches, inlets and waterways.”

Commissioner Renée Cahoon said, “Given that this board has consistently voted against offshore gas and oil exploration, I find it pretty amazing that the Board of Directors wouldn’t even allow this question to come before their membership, since they have a membership meeting in November.” She then asked that an agenda item be added to their November meeting regarding withdrawing from NCBIWA and no further monies be expended by the town to the organization. That way, all commissioners will be present to discuss the issue.

Walters agreed the agenda item be should be added to their next meeting. She commented, “It’s hard for me to vote to expend funds to an organization that fails to stand up for the coast. I look forward to having that discussion in November.”

Ogburn presented Nags Head’s new Fire Chief Randy Wells. Wells started working for the town September 4, right before Hurricane Dorian hit. According to Ogburn, Wells asked to start early to help him better understand how the town works during a hurricane. Wells graduated from Columbia University in South Carolina and is one of only 43 people in the country to earn the title of Executive Fire Officer, Chief Fire Officer and Chief EMS Officer.

Superintendent Joy Greenwood of Jockey’s Ridge State Park gave a recap of the park’s Capital Improvement Project that took place this past year. The sand relocation project was completed in May 2019 after 220,000 tons of sand was moved from residential areas back to the dunes in Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The project cost was $1 million and was completed on time and within budget.

The Fire Prevention Week proclamation was presented by Wells. The annual Nags Head Fire Department’s “Youth Night Out” open house took place October 8 from 5:30-8 p.m. with and open house at the Douglas A. Remaley Fire Station 16.

During a public hearing to discuss the proposed text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance/UDO to eliminate minimum lot size requirement for “large residential dwellings,” members of the public came forth to express their concerns. Michael Flynn, coastal advocate for the NC Coastal Federation, had concerns with an increase in density. “The elimination of minimum lot size would result in an increase in density, and therefore, increase in the volume of storm water runoff,” he said. This would “negate many of the advances the town has already made in storm water management,” he said.

Meghan Lambert of the Nags Head Planning Board came forth with concerns regarding affordable housing, staffing and water drainage issues. She believes the average home price will increase with the elimination of minimum lot size and a new tier of people will be unable to afford to live in the area.

After listening to all the members of the public that came forward, Cahoon made a motion to continue the public hearing during the November meeting so that all commissioners are present and the people that were unable to attend the meeting could speak at the upcoming one. With a second from commissioner Webb Fuller, the motion was approved unanimously.

Ogburn made two requests to the board. The first regarded adding two positions to the on-call policy. These positions include Water Operations and Facilities Maintenance. The second was to designate three positions as “essential” during emergency situations: deputy finance officer, code enforcement officer and IT coordinator. His reasoning was that “water lines never break between 8:30 and 5. They always break in the middle of the night and on the weekends.” Cahoon made a motion to accept these new additions to the on-call policy and the essential positions. The motion was approved by the board in a vote 3-0.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting and public hearing is scheduled for November 6 at 9 a.m. All are welcome to attend.



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