Reorganized Southern Shores Town Council stays on top of traffic

Published 11:18 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Southern Shores Town Council was reorganized with the departure of Mayor Tom Bennett and council member Jim Connors. Council member Elizabeth Morey was elected mayor and Paula Sherlock was elected council member. Current council member Matt Neal was selected as mayor pro-tem.

In her new role, Morey plans to schedule a monthly “chat with the mayor” where residents can share concerns and, unlike the public comment portion of each meeting, hear back from the mayor.

Morey’s vacancy on the board must be filled and council members brainstormed ways to announce and select a new council member. While the rules state that council members can appoint someone, they opted to follow a self-nomination process whereby interested persons may fill out an application to be reviewed by the council. Applications will be accepted until December 31. The town council hopes to review all applicants and select a member by the February meeting.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion at the meeting centered around traffic.

Town manager Cliff Ogburn reported that the town is receiving a tourism impact grant in the amount of $30,260 for streetlight data, leaving $5,340 that the town would need to fund. The data will help the town to understand, among other things, the source and destination of traffic and the breakdown of the numbers by day and hour. Though council discussed ways to reduce the town’s portion of the cost though reduced access to data, they eventually decided to fully fund the remaining cost.

Said Sherlock, “It’s going to be a graphical and a textual information ammunition that we can use to demonstrate to people what’s happening in our streets. To some degree, the town appears to just be complaining about traffic and we’re getting yelled at for closing our roads. This will indicate that problem in a very visual manner.”

The goal of the new council member is to tackle the traffic problem, primarily through pursuing and encouraging the building of a Currituck-to-Corolla bridge. “I’ll just add to this conversation that if you’re going to attack that environmental lawsuit that’s holding up the bridge construction, that’s the kind of statistics that you really need because the lawsuit itself says a little bit of traffic a few weekends a year doesn’t justify building a multi-million dollar bridge, so you’ve got to have something to rebut that and the best thing is to rebut it with some statistics.”

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