Nags Head approves sand fencing, addresses Soundside Event Site
Published 2:24 pm Monday, March 23, 2020
The Nags Head Board of Commissioners met March 4 to address a large agenda. Public comment brought multiple town members in, such as Donnie King, president of Better Beaches OBX and owner of Ocean Boulevard Restaurant, as well as Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.
King advocated for sand fencing to be placed in South Nags Head along with more vegetation during public comment. He expressed that after learning that there was money left over from the beach nourishment project, he could “think of no better way to utilize those funds than to add sand fence and plantings where needed to augment the dune line.”
King said that the work being done by Better Beaches OBX cannot be completed on a strict volunteer basis and he “applauds the efforts in mitigating storm projects” sought out by the town.
Nettles came forward to ask for guidance with regard to planning discussions underway about future plans for the Soundside Event Site. A separate advisory committee had been put together to consider developments for the multi-use site.
After completing studies, consultants from local engineering firms had confirmed that the net usable space of the site was 30,000 sq. ft. According to Nettles, the uses discussed for the future of the site included concerts, sports tournaments, banquets, consumer trade shows, meetings and conventions in addition to outdoor events previously held on site.
Nettles said, “We want to support a year-round tourism economy and drive incremental visitation to existing businesses in and around the area.” Issues with the site included parking, which, if expanded, would compromise green space and stormwater runoff. To save green space, the advisory committee was interested in a reduction in parking, if approved by the town.
Nettles also explained that the advisory committee was interested in “tapping into an offsite sewage system.”
Addressing Nettles request for feedback, commissioner Mike Siers said: “I think with the money that the Tourism Bureau has, they could put that into a sustainable tourism feature which is our beach and we can have that around a little bit longer.” Siers felt that the county and federal governments would not prioritize beach nourishment, so the Tourism Board would be better suited to address those matters.
“I don’t know if we need to waste staff’s time on two things that we have proven track records haven’t moved forward before,” Siers added. The commissioners decided to take no action on the matter at that time.
As for sand fencing in South Nags Head, town manager Cliff Ogburn said there is a “window of opportunity here.” Staff had requested that the commissioners authorize Ogburn to enter into a contract to install sand fencing and beach grass in a 4-5 mile area. The cost would not exceed $150,000 for sand fencing or $75,000 for beach grass and as many as 45,000 plants.
The proposal to the board stated that “sand fence work must be completed by April 15, 2020 in advance of turtle nesting season. However, beach planting by hand can continue past this date while recognizing the window of time for plant growing success.”
In addition, staff had asked that the board considered a test project incorporating hay bales in place of traditional fencing along the beaches of South Nags Head. Commissioner Renee Cahoon explained that Figure Eight Island had experimented with using hay bales and found that they did not blow away/into ocean, they were biodegradable and cleanup after storms was minimal.
“I think we ought to do as much as possible if we want to be environmentally friendly, more resilient as well, too,” Cahoon said. Cahoon made a motion to adopt the budget amendment which would allow for sand fencing, additional vegetation and the funds to support a test project using hay bales.
Following the discussion on sand fencing, the board approved, asking the NC Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on NC 1234 from Juncos St. beach access south to NC Hwy. 12 from 45 MPH to 35 MPH. The motion carried unanimously after no discussion from board members.