Chairman discusses county
issues on radio show...WITH AUDIO
By IRENE NOLAN
Bob Woodard, chairman of the Dare County Board of
Commissioners, talked about county issues on Sunday, Jan. 3, on the
Radio Hatteras Interview show, "To the Point," hosted by Island Free
Press editor Irene Nolan.
Woodard of Kill Devil Hills was elected to the county board in
2012. In December 2014 after Republicans took control of the
board in the November general election, Woodard was elected
chairman. He was re-elected last month.
In this interview, he discusses a number of county issues, especially
those of interest to Hatteras Island.
Woodard began the interview by talking about how the board will reach
out to make it easier for islanders to communicate with
First, Woodard has already announced that the board will conduct its
second annual Town Hall meeting 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday,
Jan. 19, after the regular meeting in the Commissioners' Meeting Room
in the county Administration Building in Manteo. As at the meeting last
year, all are welcome to come and make comments to the board with no
time limit for the speakers.
During the radio interview, Woodard announced that this year, the board
will have a second Town Hall meeting on Hatteras Island. The
Hatteras Island meeting is set for Thursday, Feb. 4. More details
will be announced soon.
He also said that the county is exploring streaming the meetings of the
board to a site on Hatteras Island, so that islanders can attend
meetings and make public comment. Woodard said that the
commissioners recognize the long travel time to Manteo, especially in
the summer months, and that the technology is now available to have
meetings streamed to a site on the island.
Hyde County has been using a live hook-up between Swan Quarter and
Ocracoke for its meetings for some time. Ocracoke residents can
attend the meetings and participate, and in Hyde County, the
commissioner representing Ocracoke can attend at either location.
County manager and attorney Bobby Outten said special legislation was
passed by the General Assembly to allow Ocracoke's commissioner to
attend in either location. Without the legislation, Outten said
the legality of Hatteras Island's commissioner attending at a remote
location is questionable.
Woodard also said that the Dare County Public Relations
Department is working on setting up the hook-up with the board
meeting. He said after the interview that he hopes it can be done
in about 60 days.
Other issues discussed in the interview include:
Hatteras Inlet shoaling -- short term. Woodard said he is pleased
that the county was able to move as quickly as it did to start dredging
in the inlet --- even though, he said he realizes it wasn't quickly
enough for the fishermen. A project using the state dredge is now
underway and should be completed later this month. Fishermen are
already finding that traveling through the inlet is easier, even with
the dredging in progress. The county is paying about $132,000 of
the $400,000 project.
Hatteras Inlet shoaling -- long-term. Woodard discussed the need to
amend the existing federal authorization to be more inclusive of the
entire waterway that is known as Hatteras Inlet. Because of changes to
the inlet over time, the current federal authorization, established in
the 1940s, has boundaries that are no longer relevant. The board has
recently passed a resolution requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, as well as state and federal entities, expand the federal
authorization to include all channels between Hatteras Island and
Ocracoke Island and to also include the Inlet Gorge and the sandbar for
access to the Atlantic Ocean. The expansion, the resolution says, is a
matter of public safety and economic necessity. He also supports
an economic study of the impact of Hatteras Inlet commerce.
Economic Development. Woodard said economic development will be a
priority this year for the board, which received an economic
development proposal from North Carolina State University at its Jan. 4
meeting. "We're totally a tourist economy," he said. The
question, he said, is whether there is an opportunity for further
Price of gas in Dare County. In January 2015, Woodard, on behalf
of the board, asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Consumer
Protection Division, to investigate "exorbitant" gas prices in Dare
County -- prices that are, he said, much higher in Dare County than in
surrounding areas. Woodard said he continues to have the clerk to
the board call the Attorney General's office every two weeks to check
on the status of the investigation. The response is always the
same, he said. He is told that the investigation is still
underway but not completed.
Buxton Beach Nourishment. Dare County is planning a project to
nourish the beach in north Buxton to protect Highway 12 from the
encroaching Atlantic Ocean. County officials have asked the
National Park Service, which owns the beaches, for a special use permit
to get this project done. Woodard said that the county expects to
get the permit from the Park Service and start pumping sand in late
spring or early summer.
The commissioners are currently considering whether to create a special
tax district to help pay for this project. And, if they do create
a special tax district, they must decide who must pay and how
much. Potentially Hatteras Island and/or Buxton property
homeowners could see a tax increase to pay for part of the nourishment
"I feel strongly that we need to at least explore this," Woodard said.
The county manager has presented seven options to the board members,
and, Woodard said that in fairness to the board, he wants them have
time to consider the options before making a decision.
"There's nothing in stone right now," Woodard said. "We will see where
it goes, according to a majority of the board."
The board is required to have a public hearing before it can enact a
special tax district but not before it passes a proposal. Woodard would
not be specific about whether the board would discuss the issue in
public again or seek public input before considering whether to propose
a tax district -- or not.
Woodard mentioned that Hatteras Island property owners will be able to
raise the issue at the Feb. 4 town hall meeting.
He also discussed other issues ranging from the county's recent very
positive audit -- "the best one in eight years," he said -- to the
possibility that the issue of sales tax redistribution issue will come
up when the General Assembly meets gain this spring.
"To the Point" airs on the island's community radio station, FM 101.5 ,
at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month. It is
repeated on the second and fourth Sunday. Those who don't live on
Hatteras can listen to the show on Sundays through live streaming at www.radiohatteras.org.
Scroll down and click on the appropriate "To the Point" logo to listen
to the audio of the interview.
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