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Manteo commissioners agree to fund New Year’s Eve celebration

Manteo will host a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Eight town residents speaking at the Aug. 4, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting were solidly in favor of a town-sponsored event. Additionally, eight people emailed support, while one person sent opposition.

Those supporting the event – which has an “early ball drop” for children and concludes with music and fireworks at midnight – is lauded as a “small town celebration” that draws visitors to the town. The family-friendly children’s programming runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said one person.

Said Mike Peters, “I know our children love the event.”

The commissioners present unanimously supported the event and allocated $48,000 for the major event. Town manager James Ayers was authorized to sign a contract with Pyrotecnico for $44,000 for the fireworks show. The commissioners also authorized the manager to apply for and accept, if granted, a grant from the Dare County Tourism Board. The town has previously received tourism grants for this activity.

At the July 21 workshop, Mayor Bobby Owens raised the topic of police salaries, wanting to know if Manteo’s law enforcement officers were paid adequately and comparably to the beach towns.

On Aug. 4, Ayers reported back. In Nags Head, the starting salary for police officer is $47,213 and in Southern Shores, $44,354. Ayers reported that recent pay increases in neighboring jurisdictions caused the town’s starting salary to lag in compensation by an average of 10%.

“Increasing pay rates by two grades across all sworn positions would correct this situation, and the new starting pay for Police Officer would be $42,784.88 instead of $38,807.15,” wrote Ayers.

The commissioners supported the pay increase and lengthening the mileage limit on taking a Manteo Police Department vehicle home to 50 miles. A recently hired police officer could not find affordable housing in Dare County, but did in Columbia.

Mayor Pro Tem Betty Selby, an affordable housing advocate, warned “situations like this are going to keep happening.”

Later in the meeting, Mayor Bobby Owens said about affordable housing, “I’d like to see Manteo take the lead . . . I think we really need to start looking at affordable housing.”

In additional action, the Manteo town commissioners:

– Set a public hearing for Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. to consider an amendment to the town’s 2007 Land Use Plan. The amendment addresses upland wetlands. The current land use plan prohibits filling upland wetlands. The amendment adds “with the exception of those upland wetlands located adjacent to and abutting coastal wetlands or sound waters which shall be allowed to have new development and fill consistent with CAMA and USACE permits.”

After consultation with town attorney Ben Gallop the commissioners sent to public hearing the version of the resolution drafted by Gallop as opposed to that suggested by the town’s Planning and Zoning Board.

During public comment, Jo Etheridge with the Pirate’s Cove Homeowners Association and John Robbins spoke in favor of the resolution.

– Added “animal boarding facility” as a special use in the B-2 General Business District.

– Approved a contract for engineering and architectural services for Phase 2 at Town Common. The phase calls for restroom facilities and a shade structure. Albemarle & Associates and Beacon Architecture will accomplish the work for $47,440.

– Approved an $83,750 with Stewart Inc. to develop a comprehensive plan for the Town of Manteo, as required by state law. The firm is the preferred partner of the North Carolina League of Municipalities. The deadline is July 1, 2022.

During public comment, two people addressed the board regarding a proposed development on a 40-acre marsh island around Scarborough Creek owned by Ian Snider. The application for a CAMA general permit calls for a 70-foot pier, a 15- to 20-foot boat slip, an 18 by 18-foot platform and a boat lift, reported Kathleen Wisiackas, who opposes the development. Jennifer Harmon also opposed the development.

Not present at the Aug. 4 board meeting were commissioners Darrell Collins and Christine Walker.

The next Manteo Board of Commissioners meeting will be held Sept. 1, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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