Currituck commissioners urge caution on roads as busy season approaches; cleverly amend noise ordinance
Published 6:29 am Monday, May 31, 2021
The Currituck commissioners meeting opened up with a presentation from Brad Stroud, the president of the North Carolina Association of County Veteran Services, explaining what a County Veteran Service Officer program does and encouraging the commissioners to consider investing in a program as a way to serve the 3,255 veterans in the county. “Why should you have a county service office?” Stroud asked commissioners. “I’ll put it in one word: accountability. Accountability to your veterans,” he said.
During the commissioner reports portion of the meeting, in honor of EMS and law enforcement appreciation week, commissioner Kevin McCord commended county employees: “Our county is very, very lucky. That’s a thankless job – the sheriff’s department.” When recalling the recent automobile fatality of a 17-year-old boy from Virginia Beach, McCord became visibly emotional. “Those guys live with that kind of stuff. The father was trying to save his kid, and he watched his 17-year-old son die right in front of him. That’s the kind of stuff [the sheriff’s department] deal with.” In response to criticism for law enforcement, McCord said, “The keyboard warriors – if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up . . . Until you’ve done it, walked it, lived it – be kind.”
Commissioner Paul Beaumont added, “To tag team on what commissioner McCord said, the worst part was that the family was in a trailing vehicle and watched the whole thing go down. We can’t help what happens in our county – accidents happen – but we don’t need to add to the insanity that is sometimes out there. I’ve seen it. I’ve had to resist it – the whole road rage thing. People – leave room between you and the car in front of you. And then when there’s no gasoline, people lose their mind.”
Chairman Mike Payment also urged caution as the busy season approaches. “This past year it’s been the busiest I’ve seen. Be mindful. Pay attention – people are in a hurry. We just thank people who are involved. Thank your sheriffs, first responders, dispatchers. If you can get involved, get involved.”
Commissioner Bob White offered a special thanks to the owner of Outer Banks Gas in Corolla regarding the recent fuel shortage. “Last week, Jack kept enough gas to make sure sheriffs, EMS were ready to go. He limited it to $25 per person to make sure everyone could get somewhere. That really was a thankless job, he was out there all day long directing traffic through the parking lot, it was pandemonium.”
Regarding EMS and law enforcement week, White said, “My first call was a vehicle fatality and it’s something no one wants to see or wants to deal with but it is part of our lives . . . thank you for everyone who continues to serve this community.”
Kitty Etheridge reported on a private memorial service for Amanda Wood, who was killed in automobile accident March 21. Wood worked in child welfare over seventeen years and worked in the Currituck foster care unit. “On behalf of Currituck County, we celebrate the life of Amanda Wood and her service to our county and the children of Albemarle Regional,” Etheridge said.
County attorney Ike McRee, who now gives a report to commissioners to share different aspects of his position, explained his office’s role in collecting delinquent taxes. According to McRee, the county utilizes all legal means necessary to collect taxes including attachments to bank accounts, seizure of personal property including vehicles, garnishment of wages, and in extreme situations, interim foreclosure. Currently, the county is owed $984,142.72 in delinquent taxes, the highest of which is $88,000.
After a budget presentation from the county manager, the meeting continued with old business to consider amending the noise ordinance. Previously, a concern raised by Sheriff Matt Beickert that the county does not abide by its written ordinance regarding issuing permits. The law states that only two permits may be issued to the same commercial address in a one-year period. Permits to exceed the stated decibel levels are not granted in residential areas, though much of the tourist-dominated area is within residential areas. Commissioners were concerned about the economic impact local wedding venues and event businesses would face if the two-permits-per-year rule was enforced, and yet they did not want to see a rise on the mainland of noisy parties if the ordinance was amended to allow noise permits in residential areas.
Commissioners voted to solve the conundrum by adding into the ordinance the term “transient residential” use which means “Residential use premises where the term of occupancy, possession, or tenancy of the property is for less than thirty (30) consecutive days” and then further amended the ordinance to allow transient residential space to request noise permits. They also removed the language entirely limiting the number of permits that can be requested.
Though the motion carried unanimously, commissioner Selina Jarvis said, “I still have qualms, but it’s my hope that if this does become an issue this board will act immediately to undo this. I hope we don’t have any irresponsible ones, but if we do get complaints it’s my hope we’d immediately act to change the language of this ordinance.”
“Corolla is a wedding destination,” White said. “The county spends a considerable amount of occupancy money to woo people here to celebrate weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs. It’s not something new that we’re doing; it’s fixing something that we’ve been doing for 20-plus years.”
In new business, commissioners approved an amendment to the code regarding the prohibition of parking on 1.5 miles of beach strand from the north beach access ramp northward. The practical effect is the same, but the code is changing because previously Fish and Wildlife had jurisdiction over one of those 1.5 miles.
The board then approved $644,000 for design costs for the new Moyock Elementary School, as well as approved the consent agenda.