Letter to the Editor: The smell of progress

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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To the Editor:

Seems like Spring has rolled in relatively nicely this year, summer’s almost here. Enjoy the serene streets of Southern Shores while you can. And, enjoy the widened beaches in Southern Shores, which is happily receiving the extra ummmph in our northern tip to line up smoothly with the new sand being blown in Duck.

Not sure if it’s just the glare off all the new sand but does it seem like this season is about to roll in like none other in a while? I know Covid was still lingering last year, but the “masks are off” this year. Good thing the infrastructure projects are inching towards completion, and there’s been a lot of hard work and decisions made to make these sand islands ready to quickly go from start to wide open …?

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New shopping for sure and thanks for no longer having to drive to Chesapeake for a Target run. Thanks to WalMart for y’all’s reinvention. And bring on the sweetness Sugar Kingdom. We can’t miss y’all’s new location; it’s right across from where the new Kitty Hawk Police Station is going to be built.

What about the pending flow of traffic? I try to not think about it, and what must be going through all the service providers heads besides got enough staff?? I think after going almost an entire year that one recurring “challenge” that our islands have is the same problem we had last year this time? Where can service providers, town employees, teachers, and other often entry level workers live?

Even with the renewed focus on the building of the seemingly mythological mid-Currituck bridge, revived recently by the Southern Shores town council, and given that “saturation” is in no town’s vocabulary, nor Dare County’s, the increased efficiencies to get here will only exacerbate what is a continuing finger pointing approach to a governance of growth without managing the real affordable housing elephant in the council room. While a week in an oceanfront cottage helps generate considerable profits for developers and owners, and it’s great for the local businesses and town treasuries, how many “affordable” homes have been added to the towns in Dare County since this time last year? How many more beach homes?

I have not done any extensive search to see how many have been, but I have followed the passion and discussions in the town halls regarding the on/off progress of the towns to try and get something going. But there’s been sand in the ointment every time the county, a town, or some mega developer tries to ease the motions to yes for acceptance of an “affordable” but not “low income,” “cluster home” development.

But hold on, in the latest edition of this esteemed newspaper on the front page we see that the: “The Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the special use permit for a cluster house development in Wanchese.” Ok and that gives us what exactly? An end-run around whatever town officials and townsfolk want?

Will the potential for a less towering Pirate’s Cove in the seafood-rich Wanchese marsh fill some part of affordable housing’s completion box? Beware the new pull of TV’s Wicked Tuna’s cool sets, beautiful boats, and the need for a second home for all the other wealthy weekend fishermen in this culturally and ecologically special area.

Something doesn’t seem to add up, didn’t Nags Head – or was it Manteo? – change some operating parameters … or something like that … and set up higher goalposts for zoning to protect their rich histories but basically ended that affordable housing push? Are the pleas of the Wancheesians unheard, ignored, or is there a ten-day dead croaker in the council house and Wanchese gets the short end of the straw again? (Remember Wanchese was the brother not favored by the new English government originally). Or have I mistaken the smell for progress again?

Soft crab time … eat the whole crab!

Russ Watkins

Southern Shores