July 3, 2017

Passage of New Bill Paves the Way Towards
Hatteras Village Multi-Use Pathways

By JOY CRIST

A joint press conference was held on Monday, July 3, by Senator Bill Cook and Representative Beverly Boswell to announce the passage of House Bill 415, which addresses the proposed formation of multi-use pathways in Hatteras village.

The bill provides for an election in the Hatteras Village Community Center District to decide whether part of the property tax revenue generated in the district may be used for the construction and maintenance of multi-use pathways around the village.

The Hatteras Village Community Center District is a special tax district in Hatteras Village that was established in 1981. The district is subject to a special ad valorem tax on all taxable real property for the purpose of maintaining and operating the Hatteras Community Center and other district owned properties.

Until now, this money could only be used towards these properties alone, and not for other projects like the proposed multi-use pathways.

The bill opens the door to allow the district to spend tax funds to design and build these pathways - or sidewalks - in the village.

In addition, the bill does not change the current maximum tax rate that may be imposed for this district. “Taxes are not going to be raised,” said Ricki Shepherd, a trustee for the Hatteras Village Community Center District. “Now that major repairs to [our] buildings are done, we have monies that we can start budgeting towards this [project.]”

The Dare County Board of Commissioners passed a Resolution on March 6, 2017, supporting this legislation.

“This legislation will continue to revitalize and enhance Hatteras Island,” said Sen. Cook at the press conference. “…Walkways, pathways, and bikeways can add a lot to a community, and especially to a tourist community.”

Both Sen. Cook and Rep. Boswell stated that safety concerns were a big motivator for moving the bill forward, with Sen. Cook noting that more than 2,000 pedestrians in the state of North Carolina are involved in police-reported motor vehicle crashes.

“Hopefully, this will help us [address] this concern,” he said.

Rep. Boswell, the primary sponsor on the bill, said that she was originally approached by Dare County Board of Commissioners member Danny Couch to push the bill through. “Nothing is ever simple… I learned never to say ‘This is a simple bill,’” she said, “[but we] sold this as a public safety bill, which it is.”

The bill, which was originally filed on March 21, passed unanimously and was ratified on June 26. The bill in its entirety can be viewed here: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2017&BillID=H415.

Now that the bill has passed, the special election that is authorized under the bill will held at the same time as a county general election, which will more than likely be the primary election of 2018.

If a majority of voters in the upcoming election vote in favor of expanding the uses of the property tax, then the local session law that established the special district in the first place will be amended to expand the powers of the district and its governing body to allow the use of the property tax revenue for this purpose.

The Hatteras multi-use pathways will be the next step in a series of pathways that have been implemented throughout the island through initiatives by the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Advisory Committee. The Buxton pathway from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the school was the first installment, followed by the multi-use pathways in the tri-villages and in Avon.

“Putting pathways in all Hatteras Island villages was one of the first things we tried to do,” said Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy, Committee Chair and a leader for the byway project since the very beginning. “…We are really excited to have the Hatteras village portion of this plan come this far.”

The press conference was also attended by representatives from the Hatteras Village Community Center District Trustees, the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Advisory Committee, and Dare County Board of Commissioners Steve House, Jim Tobin, and Danny Couch - who originally pushed for the bill.

“It’s the kind of legislation that helps both economic development and enhances public safety,” said Sen. Cook, “so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

            
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