Duck votes to extend declared emergency accommodations

Published 8:27 am Saturday, January 15, 2022

Duck Town Council on January 5 gave unanimous approval to a recommendation that temporary accommodations for businesses during a declared emergency be extended through the rest of this year.

In March 2020, Governor Roy Cooper declared a COVID-19 state of emergency for North Carolina with restrictions limiting the operations of restaurants and other businesses. Duck responded with some temporary measures aimed at helping businesses remain in business. Among them were additional signage, fee waivers and use of tents and outdoor seating.

With many of the restrictions limiting the capacity and operation hours being lifted, and temporary accommodations set expire at the end of this month, Duck town staff sent a survey out to all 127 Duck businesses asking if accommodations were being used, were effective and opinions on returning to business as usual or incorporating some of the accommodations for post pandemic operations.

Although only a handful of survey responses came back, there was enough support in favor of extending the temporary accommodations to sway council.

In favor of an extension, a couple of council members also felt there needed to be some way to monitor compliance.

“I’m not sure about enforcement,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Monica Thibodeau. “I have not heard of a lot of problems, but I have to agree that people are getting used to being outdoors. I think people find it more comfortable and a lovely experience.”

Rob Mooney added that while you cannot cure apathy, he felt the town needs a better way to connect with businesses.

“If we know this is important we need to make the effort to contact more people,” explained Mooney. “We need to figure out a better way to connect with people on these important issues. Restaurants will get the best benefit, but we need more input from more people.”

Joe Heard, director of community development, pointed out that timing might have been a factor in the low number of responses. After a busy summer season most area businesses are closed at this time of year.

Thibodeau added that the holiday season may well have been a distraction because she was busy and missed the deadline herself.

The council recommendation will now go to Mayor Don Kingston, who was unable to attend the meeting, and he will direct the town manager on what steps to take.

Other business for the evening included a swearing in ceremony for Town Council member Mooney, who was absent from the December council meeting, approval of a consent agenda with minutes from the November 3, November 17 and December 1 meetings in addition to a resolution setting micro-purchase thresholds for the purchase of goods and services using federal funding.

Council also approved a capital project ordinance to properly account for revenues and expenditures specific to the upcoming beach nourishment project.

According to town manager Drew Havens, the capital project ordinance is very similar to an annual budget except that the project is likely to extend from one fiscal year to another.

“This is similar to the annual budget you approved,” explained Havens. “A major difference is that the budget has an end date and this does not. It will live on with our current beach nourishment project to show specific project revenues and expenditures.”

He then added that it is important to report these separately from the town’s general finances any debts issued and grant monies coming to the town specific to the
project.

Council also heard a report that the Duck Trail improvement project between Blue Heron Lane to Oyster Catcher Lane has begun and is expected to be completed before March. The Rain Garden and Wetland area sign is finished with a temporary sign is up now and a permanent sign expected later in January.

During public comments, there were also thanks offered for the steps council took to help business during the past year and concerns voiced that overflowing garbage cans may be contributing to a growing number of rats and coyotes in the community.

Thibodeau concluded the meeting, saying that while public comments are not responded to they are listened to and that the next scheduled meeting will be the 1 p.m. mid-month meeting on Wednesday, January 19.

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