Kill Devil Hills enters into partnership with Dare County to build fire and EMS station

Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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Kill Devil Hills commissioners entered into a lease agreement with Dare County for a joint venture to build a fire and EMS station at 1630 North Croatan Highway at the former Mako Mike’s Restaurant location.

The town was in need of a new fire station, and the county was in need of an EMS station, so they have partnered together to build one facility, saving both entities money in the long run.

Dare County owns the property, and the town will enter into a 20-year lease to pay for their share of the construction and design fees. The town approved a maximum of $24.6 million for the project.

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The architectural estimate by Oakley Collier Architects lists the fire department side of the building at 17,155 square feet and the EMS side at 15,658 square feet.

“So you’re really coming out ahead if you’d have gone about this on your own. Your cost would be greater and you would have a land cost built in there,” said Dare County manager Bobby Outten at the March 13 meeting of Kill Devil Hills commissioners. Outten noted that the town is saving on the land purchase cost because the county already owns it.

Financing is expected to be finalized next month.

Next, town manager Debbie Diaz was excited to announce grant money from the Outer Banks Visitor’s Bureau ($177,000) and Outer Banks Forever ($25,000) that contributed to the Wright Brothers Highway 158 Phase 5 sidewalk project.

According to the memo from Diaz, the project will provide an eastside pedestrian link along Highway 158 from Landing Drive south to Colington Road and taper to connect with the current sidewalk.

The contract went to Barnhill Contracting Company for $335,480. The estimated completion date is May 20 of this year.

Town engineer Pete Burkhimer informed commissioners that the resolution they passed in October requesting DOT to expedite the extension of the two right turn lanes for southbound Croatan Highway onto westbound Colington Road was approved.

“They’re going to widen it or extend it and move the taper up and also put a curb and gutter on it which will make our sidewalk work better down in that area, so it was a very gracious act on their part,” Burkhimer said.

Also at the meeting, historic cottage owner Julie Robinson expressed concern over the long-term consequences of the construction taking places two lots north of her property.

“This is an environmental concern for me but it’s also personal … I grew up as a child playing on that dune and we were taught – as I’ve taught my children and grandchildren – that the dune is our protection and we have to respect it and the vegetation that’s there. A couple years ago when we tried to move some sand so our deck wouldn’t be covered we were told we could only use shovels, no heavy equipment. So when I went up there and saw what the bulldozers had done removing that sand, removing all the vegetation there, it was shocking,” Robinson said.

Though she admitted that she knew the town had a limited ability to regulate the construction because the permit had been approved by CAMA, she said that through her research, other towns had found ways to deny permits if needed “to ensure safety or to protect natural resources, and I can’t think of any more important natural resources than our dunes, our beaches, and our ocean.”

Mayor Ben Sproul responded that the town cares about this situation and has made inroads to incentivize property owners on the oceanfront to build smaller homes.

“We have some of the smallest homes being built on the oceanfront right now that have been built in the last 30 years. So, slowly but surely. Sorry about your view of course, but we’re very concerned about that and we definitely know all the CAMA rules inside and out and are looking for every idea we can to reserve what we have,” Sproul said to Robinson.