Fourteen applicants express interest for Southern Shores council vacancy

Published 9:27 am Saturday, January 15, 2022

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Southern Shores Town Council received 14 applications for the town council member vacancy left by Elizabeth Morey when she was elected mayor. Interested persons were encouraged to self-nominate by the end of December to serve on the council.

Said Mayor Morey, “What is heartwarming and really amazing is the number of people who would like to join this hearty group up here and also the breadth of accomplishments and skills and desire to be more active in their community and to work to make the town an even better place to live. It makes you feel really good about where you live when you have people like this that want to step up and join the council.”

“I’m just stunned by the applications,” said the newest council member Paula Sherlock, who was voted in by the community at the November municipal election. “They are just amazing. We have entrepreneurs, international business executives, attorneys, medical doctor, professors, a restaurateur, intelligence people from the intelligence community, we’ve got retired folks, we’ve got parents of young kids and it’s just, it’s wonderful. I mean it really is wonderful.”

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At the second monthly meeting scheduled for January 18, council members will select the next member by a vote of consensus.

In new business, the council had three items to discuss. The first was a zoning text amendment requested by the council to clarify the language regarding maximum allowable lot coverage. “This language that is suggested is clarifying that the first line of stable natural vegetation is used to establish lot coverage by using a portion of the lots and not for calculating the seaward boundary or area of the lots,” said deputy town manager Wes Haskett.

Council member Matt Neal commented that it seemed like the language they were redacting was effectively the same as the language they were replacing it with. Town attorney Ben Gallop noted that the main change was the removal of the word “area” to calculate lot coverage.

Council member Sherlock wanted reassurance that it was only the language that was changing and not how lot coverage is calculated, to which Gallop affirmed. The amendment passed.

Next, the council voted to approve produce stands in commercial districts in Southern Shores, which was previously a restricted activity according to the zoning ordinance. Members made a few small changes before approving the amendment, notably striking the clause that limits the market dates from April 15 to November 15, in the event that there is interest in setting up a Christmas tree lot, or simply to allow the property owner to dictate based on interest. “I think anything we can do to add a little vibrancy to our community is a good thing,” said Sherlock.

In the last item of new business, council members approved a capital project ordinance for beach nourishment, which will authorize all necessary appropriations to complete the project rather than needing to readopt each year.

In other discussion, Gallop updated the board on the lawsuit filed against the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation by the North Carolina Wildlife Foundation and a group of citizens and visitors who oppose the project. Though the judge ruled in favor of the Federal Highway Administration, Gallop said plaintiffs have 60 days to appeal, and even if they don’t, with the extended permitting processes, it’s likely it will be several years before the project is even approved.

Council members discussed ways to expedite the process if possible. “We’ve got to make some noise here in Southern Shores about getting this because there is all this infrastructure money coming to North Carolina. It’s going to go somewhere, and I’d like to see us get part of it,” said Sherlock.

At the conclusion of the meeting, council member Leo Holland commented on the tremendous tourism growth Dare County has seen in the last two years, as reported by the Dare County Tourism Board. Occupancy tax has seen record growth for 17 straight months; prepared meals tax has seen 10 months of record setting figures. “The thing that we’re all recognizing is that type of growth is not sustainable,” said Holland. “The infrastructure is stretched now and from what we see that growth isn’t going to slow down . . . somewhere it’s going to adjust we just don’t know where.”