At its meeting on Monday evening, June
20, Dare County's Board of Commissioners got a presentation on the
county's long-awaited new flood maps that will be released to the
public on Thursday, June 30.
In addition to the flood mapping
information, the board took action to support a study of a multi-use
pathway in Frisco and Buxton, hired a contractor to help with permits
for dredging Hatteras Inlet, and supported the Tourism Board in a
dispute over an auditor's report.
Steve Garrett of the North Carolina
Flood Plain Mapping Program reviewed with the commissioners the
process that is about to begin to revamp the county's flood maps,
which were last updated about 10 years ago.
As was expected, Garrett's brief
preview of the new maps confirms that they will bring some much
needed good news to many Dare County property owners.
"The good news is that a lot of
properties are coming out of the flood zones," said Dare's
planning director, Donna Creef.
Currently, she said, property in Dare
County now falls into one of three categories --
Garrett said that unincorporated Dare
County, which includes Hatteras Island, has had 1,800 structures in
the high-risk VE category, and that number will be reduced to only
124. The county has had almost 13,000 structures in the AE zone, and
that will come down to about 8,500. The others will move, perhaps
into the X zone.
In addition, the county will see two
new zones -- AH, which will apply to the area between the highways
that floods in Kitty Hawk, and AO will apply to some areas that are
subject to shallow flooding. The AO zone will include 893 structures
Garrett, who noted that the technology
available for mapping is vastly improved in the past 10 years, noted
that the new maps will not become effective for 18 to 24 months,
which is longer than some property owners will want to wait for a
"We would like that process to be
shorter, but there's nothing we can do about it," said Creef.
After the maps are made public, there
will be a period during which property owners can view them. Then
there will be public meetings in all of Dare's communities, and the
meetings will be followed by a 90-day public comment period and an
Once the maps are made public, they can
be viewed digitally through the state mapping program's website,
which is http://fris.nc.gov./fris/.
Dare County will make a videotape of
Garrett's presentation available to the public close to the June 30
release date. The video will help property owners understand how to
view their properties.
Among many other agenda items, the
Commissioners discussed an audit of the Dare County Tourism Board
that was requested by state Sen. Bill Cook and released by state
auditor Beth Wood on March 16.
The Tourism Board was created by the
General Assembly in 1991 and is funded by a 1 percent occupancy tax
and a 1 percent tax on prepared foods and beverages. Seventy-five
percent of the money is used for promotion of tourism and
administrative costs, and 25 percent is used for "services or
programs needed due to the impact of tourism on the county" --
the board's restricted special revenue fund.
The Board consists of 13 members,
appointed by the Board of Commissioners. Expenditures require the
approval of the county commissioners.
The report noted that the Tourism Board
spends its restricted fund money in accordance with its
interpretation of the enabling legislation but that is should seek
"clarification" from the General Assembly on the intent of
the restrictions on expenditures.
At the time of the audit, Lee Nettles,
executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, defended the
expenditures of what he estimated to be about $9 million in the past
25 years that has been "reinvested in the community."
Nettles disagreed that the law needs more clarity.
Bob Woodard, chairman of the county
Board of Commissioners, said the audit item was placed the board's
agenda for discussion at the request of Commissioner Beverly Boswell.
"I feel like we should clear up
the language and verbiage," said Boswell at last evening's
meeting. "There is not a target on the Tourism Board...We need
to be very careful as to how (taxpayers') money is spent."
The other six commissioners clearly did
not agree with Boswell.
Commissioner Allen Burrus of Hatteras
village has served on the Tourism Board and said he found them "to
be very fair."
What some people see as "looseness
in the law," he said, can also be viewed as the ability to
accommodate such changes as the rise of the popularity of
kiteboarding and sporting events.
"Why do we want to mess up
something that's working well?" Burrus asked.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it,"
added Commissioner Jack Shea.
"I agree," said Commissioner
Margarette Umphlett, adding that "flexibility was built into the
"Tourism is a business and it's
expensive," said Commission vice-chairman Wally Overman, who
noted that Dare spends much less promoting tourism than such
destinations as Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach. He also noted the
growth of tourism in Dare from $264 million in 1992 to $1.02 billion
"What concerns me about sending it
back to the legislature is their penchant for standardism," he
added. "Dare County's legislation is much more equitable to
everyone than the so-called standard legislation."
"We ought to be able to do what we
want to do in our county without the legislature telling us how to
spend our funds," Woodard said. "The ultimate authority
rests with the current board."
Warren Judge recalled Dare County in
1991 and how the men and women in the lodging and restaurant industry
came together to support the occupancy and food and beverage tax if
they could "have a say-so in how the money was spent.
At its last meeting, the board approved
a request from county manager Robert Outten to put out a RFQ -- or
request for qualifications -- for a firm to obtain permits for
long-term dredging of Hatteras Inlet.
Five contractors responded, and last
evening the commissioners voted unanimously to approve Coastal
Planning and Engineering of Wilmington, N.C., to work with the county
on permitting. The company is the one selected to work with the Dare
County towns -- Duck, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills -- on their
No funding for permits was discussed
last evening, but Outten noted at the board's last meeting that the
permitting is expected to cost about $55,000 to $60,000.
Outten said last night that short-term
dredging in the troublesome and shoaled up Connecting Channel in
Hatteras Inlet, which is being done by the N.C. Department of
Transportation's Ferry Division, has been held up by weather and
electrical problems. However, he said it is expected to start about
Wednesday, June 22, weather permitting.
Also, some budget amendments were
approved for the general fund, inlet maintenance fund, and beach
nourishment fund. The end result of the changes is that $221,000
remains in the inlet maintenance fund as of June 30, all of which is
eligible for use in Hatteras Inlet.
HATTERAS MULTI-USE PATHWAY
The board unanimously passed a
resolution in support of an application to the NCDOT for a study of a
multi-use pathway for bicycles and pedestrians that would extend
about 7.8 miles from about the location of Highway 12 and the Buxton
Back Road intersection (the Orange Blossom Bakery) to the Park
Service's Frisco bathhouse.
The presentation was made by Mary Helen
Goodloe-Murphy of Rodanthe for the Outer Banks Scenic Byway Committee
and Donna Creef of the Planning Department.
NCDOT is soliciting proposals for
planning studies for large-scale bicycle and pedestrian
infrastructure projects, and the county feels that the Hatteras
project would be a strong candidate.
The planning study would identify
design alignment alternatives and address other impacts associated
with the construction of the pathway. Creef said the study is
expected to cost $95,000. The DOT study is funded with federal money
with a 20 percent local match requirement.
It is expected that the 20 percent
local match would be funded by private donations, as was done with
the multi-use pathways in Avon and the tri-villages.
Goodloe-Murphy said about $4,000 has
already been pledged toward the local match of the study.
NCDOT would administer the study and
any consultants hired for the work. Dare County would be responsible
for public involvement and local project meetings.
If the study is approved, the county
would be notified in early August with a notice to proceed by Sept 1.
(To view a videotape of the June
20 Board of Commissioners meeting, go to the Dare County website,
Scroll down on the left hand side and click on "view archived