Southern Shores increases lifeguard wages, hears updates on town projects

Published 11:20 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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The Southern Shores Town Council met Tuesday evening, April 4, at the Pitts Center to approve the sale of police K-9 dog Echo and to approve an increase in lifeguard wages.

In attendance at the meeting were Mayor Elizabeth Morey, as well as councilmembers Paula Sherlock and Mark Batenic. Leo Holland and Matt Neal were absent.

In the consent agenda, the town passed a resolution approving the sale of police K-9 Belgian Malinois Shepherd Echo to the Dare County Sheriff’s Office. Echo’s handler resigned from the Southern Shores Police Department, and the town determined that it was not in their best interest to board Echo while they sought a new handler for him.

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Dare County Sheriff’s Office is purchasing Echo from the town for $3500.

In new business, the town passed a budget amendment allotting more money to ocean rescue contractor Surf Rescue, LLC for the remainder of their contract. Surf Rescue owner Mirek Dabrowski said he’s having trouble recruiting lifeguards because the neighboring towns and the National Park Service are offering more competitive wages.

The town approved a $3 hourly increase, which equals another $9,749 for the remainder of fiscal year 2022/23, and an annual increase of $29,245 for the next three years. With the increase, the town will spend $221,245 on lifeguard services for fiscal year 2023/24.

Town manager Cliff Ogburn updated the council on several projects in the works.  The renovations to the Public Works building, located behind the fire station, are underway, reconfiguring the layout and adding air conditioning to the meeting room.

Numerous community clean-up events are planned for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. A list can be found on the town’s website and Facebook page. The main event is the town cleanup on April 16. Residents are invited to meet at the Hillcrest parking and beach crossover access where they will be given gloves and bags and directed to different areas of town. Award winning food truck Fork’et Me Not will be there to add to the festivities.

The Trinitie Culvert replacement project is moving along, with subsurface utility investigations completed last week. The town anticipates hearing back from the Coast Guard about whether they will be able to lower the height of the culvert in the next few weeks.

The sidewalk relocation that was planned along Chicahauk Trail and NC 12 has been postponed due to unrelated construction taking place in the area. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to try and move a sidewalk in the midst of all that construction happening,” Ogburn said, but he added that in the meantime the town will put additional delineators in place to help separate pedestrians from the traffic.

The sidewalk from Triangle Park to East Dogwood is in the surveying and design stages. The town is planning for construction of the 5-foot sidewalks to begin after Labor Day. Concrete is preferable over pavement, but Ogburn said they will see what the bids look like before deciding on material.

Weeks Marine was to arrive in Duck for beach nourishment April 10 for approximately 30 days, after which they will arrive in Southern Shores to complete nourishment there. Ogburn will update the board at the May meeting on where specifically the sand will be placed.

During public comment, three residents from Southern Shores Landing spoke up requesting that the town reconsider the setback requirements. The neighboring property is owned by SAGA Developers and is zoned for mixed use, which means commercial development with a residential component (for example, a retail shop with apartments above). Southern Shores Landing is a planned unit development and is zoned commercial, which allows both commercial uses and residential. Areas zoned residential generally have 50-foot setbacks; while commercial properties are only required to have 15. Though the council listens to concerns, they do not generally respond to public comment.

Marshalls opened Thursday before last at The Marketplace Shopping Center. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.