Commissioners discuss Buxton beach, housing; special meeting set for Tuesday

Published 2:37 pm Sunday, April 7, 2024

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At the opening of the April 2, 2024 Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting, Chairman Robert L. Woodard announced that commissioner Rob Ross was out of town and asked the board to approve an amended agenda to accommodate a presentation by David Hallac, superintendent of the National Parks in Eastern North Carolina. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of those parks.

Woodard during his opening remarks listed several events such as State of the Child, the opening of the new Southern Shores Fire and EMS station and the Senior Games set for April 19.

He touched on the Hatteras Island situation, where three-tenths of a mile of beach are closed due to petroleum contamination and remnant infrastructure.

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Woodard described the closure as a federal government problem. “They are not stepping up to the plate.”

Woodard, board Vice Chairman Wally Overman, commissioner Danny Couch and county manager Robert L. Outten spent several days in Washington, D.C. addressing specific issues with staffers in the offices of U.S. Senators Thom Tillis and Ted Budd. One of those issues was the Buxton Beach Access. The quartet also attended the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association meeting.

And then, Woodard raised the issue of housing, one of the toughest topics on the board’s agenda. For three and half years, the board has worked on the issue.

He briefly summarized the situation. The county has a $35 million grant from the North Carolina General Assembly and Coastal Affordable Housing has not been successful thus far in building housing units. Woda Cooper, hired to build a particular type of housing with income limits, has pulled out of Dare County.

“It’s evident to the board, perhaps the public is not supportive of housing,” said Woodard.

He announced a special board meeting for addressing housing. The meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 in the newly designated Robert V. “Bobby” Owens Jr. Meeting Room, which was previously titled the Commissioners Meeting Room, in the Dare County Administration Building, located at 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive in Manteo.

The meeting announcement had this quote from Woodard:

“We will make a decision that day of where we go from here, and I encourage you to attend. We’ll open it up and have everything on the table with respects to three and a half years ago when we started, what’s been done, what hasn’t been done and what the future might look like. This board needs to make a decision on what direction we’re going to go from moving forward with respects to essential housing in Dare County.”

The public is invited to attend the special meeting.

For those unable to attend in person, the special housing meeting will be livestreamed on Dare County’s YouTube channel at as well as An on-demand video of the meeting will also be available on the county’s YouTube channel at a later date.

During public comment at the April 2 meeting, Justin Bateman defended the work of the Board of Commissioners. He challenged two publications about how much has been spent by Coastal Affordable Housing. He said “do your homework.”

Katie Morgan alleged that zoning legislation affecting all municipalities in Dare County was mentioned in paid invoice entries from an attorney; and that the position of county manager and county attorney was about consolidating power.

During commissioners comments, Overman defended the county manager and remarked about housing with “finding fault is easy. Finding a solution is not.”

Outten pointed out that the contract limited pre-development expenses up to a $5 million cap.