Currituck commissioners discuss guideline limits

Published 11:50 am Monday, May 11, 2020

With social distancing and COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place, Currituck County commissioners spent much of their Monday night meeting discussing some of those guideline limits.

Complying with the 10-person assembly limit, only the seven member council, clerk, county manager and county attorney were present for the May 4 regular session, which was being live streamed.

In one of the first agenda items, clerk to the board Leeann Walton read more than a dozen public comments sent by email prior to the meeting with an assortment of support, advice and calls for concrete dates so visitors and homeowners can make future plans.

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Residents appear to be in two camps with one side pushing for an early opening date to reboot the local economy, with others fearful that opening the door will introduce the virus to a relatively clean area. Commissioners were reminded that shutting down the Outer Banks sends people to other areas and that the virus will be with us for a long time.

After hearing from one writer who advised that there should be more cooperation with Dare County, another insisted Dare County should not dictate how Currituck operates.

Comments also split between encouragement and condemnation with several writers advising they support many of the decisions made and that there will be criticism no matter what the decisions, only to have others voice concern that some commissioners need to recuse themselves due to financial interests and that back-room deals are being cut and that there needs to be an investigation

Chairman Bob White was quick to point out that there have not been any back-room deals and the recusal issue was dealt with at the April meeting.

“We covered this last meeting and can cover it again,” said White. “If we make a decision to open the Outer Banks it is something that affects the entire county.”

Voicing agreement, county attorney Donald “Ike” McRee Jr. advised that his opinion at the last meeting would be the same at this in that commissioners should participate in a vote because they are required by state statute to cast a vote.

“It’s important to understand,” cautioned White, “that the date that we reopen does not mean I can open my business. Currituck opening to visitors does not mean all the businesses can open. That is set by the state.”

White went on to dispel any notions of back-room deals, saying that while there is discussion behind the scenes, he talks with board to make sure all are on same page.

There have been other discussions as well.

White said to a point it is true Currituck did not work with Dare County, but that this board is not beholden to Dare.

White said there had been discussions with Dare County about opening up on May 1, but then the Currituck board decided to open up to non-resident property owners on an earlier date.

“Often they do not consult with us when they close the bridge,”  White continued. “We do what is best for us and they do what is best for them. Letting visitors in is a bigger picture. There have been multiple conversations with their county chair and county manager to discuss a coordinated effort. It will deal with a large volume of people and a coordinated effort is needed.”

In other business for the evening, a public hearing for the Baxter Station development, a 127 unit residential subdivision near Moyock, was rescheduled for the May 18 meeting and staff was directed to look into a request to build a fire training facility on county-owned property in Corolla with a community meeting in Corolla to gauge community support once assembly restrictions are lifted.

The meeting ended with a closed session to discuss two legal matters.

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