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Avon beach nourishment project moves forward

On April 19, 2021, the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted four required findings to push the Avon Beach Nourishment Project forward.

County manager Robert L. Outten read the findings, which apply to both service districts proposed to fund 30% of the project. The findings state:

– a demonstrable need exists;

– it is impossible or impracticable to provide these services on a countywide basis;

– it is economically feasible to provide the proposed beach erosion control and flood and hurricane protection works services in the district without an unreasonable or burdensome annual tax level;

– there is demonstrable demand for the proposed services by persons residing in the district.

Two service districts are proposed.

District A runs from Due East southward to the end of Avon on the Oceanside. At the April 19 meeting, Outten explained that this district is expected to have a tax rate of 20 cents plus five cents applied to all of Avon for a total of 25 cents per $100 assessed value.

District B is all the rest of Avon, which may be taxed at five cents per $100 assessed value. The tax rates have not been set by the Board of Commissioners.

Outten said if a mailing to all property owners in Avon is mailed in a timely fashion, the required hearing will be held May 17. If not, the hearing will be shoved to June 7. A report about the proposed service district is required to be available four weeks before the public hearing. The notice of the public hearing must be mailed four weeks before the hearing.

During public comment, Avon property owner Stephen Day hand-delivered a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

An online petition, found at nonewpropertytaxes.org, went live Feb. 13. By Feb. 23, it had garnered 51 signatures. The petition, as of April 22, has 74 names opposing the tax increase for beach nourishment. Day reported the petition was emailed to Outten on Feb. 23. On March 17, the county, when asked by Day, reported 22 not in favor of the tax increase.

The FOIA request asks for an opportunity to “inspect, review, and audit any and all communications (“Communications”) that the Dare County Board of Commissioners (“Commissioners”) and/or the Dare County Manager (“County Manager”) have received from Avon property owners and residents expressing their support for or opposition to the Avon beach nourishment project currently proposed by the Commissioners.” The request goes on to list the various types of communications expected to be produced.

On Tuesday, April 20, Day received an email from Dorothy Hester, the county’s public information officer and the person who handles FOIA requests. She told Day she was in the process of collecting materials and would let him know when they were available for review.

Speaking from Buxton, Bruce Miller read an email from Mark Bissell and Ray Hollowell.

The subject was the Avon Kinnakeet Mine, a 38-acre sand mine located a quarter mile from the eroded Avon beach. The email says the “mine appears to have sufficient sand to complete the Avon Renourishment project.” The email says permits are nearly in place to allow the sand to be used this year. Hollowell, who owns the mine, “believes this solution can also save Dare County and Avon residents as much as $3 million.”

Outten quickly said that he had responded multiple times to this solution. He said issues are how to get the sand to the beach and that the mine’s sand grain size is not compatible with the beach.

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