An update on the process of establishing an early college for Dare County high school students, and a request by Manns Harbor residents for support of measures to address safety issues on U.S. 64 are among the major agenda items for the Dare County Board of Commissioners’ lone scheduled meeting of February.
Commissioners will also consider three resolutions at the Monday, Feb. 5, meeting that begins at 9 a.m. at the Dare County Government Complex:
- Sponsorship of a study of offshore sand along southern Hatteras Island for potential future beach nourishment.
- Request N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission hold at least one quarterly meeting a year on the Outer Banks
- Opposition to the latest draft amendment of the state’s Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Draft Amendment 2
Dare County Manager Bobby Outten and Finance Director Dave Clawson will give an update to the Board of Commissioners on a committee meeting held on Jan. 16 with Dare County Schools officials regarding both a facility and site for an early college.
Early colleges allow students to earn both a high school diploma and an associates degree at the same time, as they take classes that are taught both at the early college and through a community college.
Dare is one of just 17 counties in the state without an early college. Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Tyrrell, Washington and Hyde counties all have early colleges located in their districts.
The proposal discussed at the January Capital Improvement Projects Committee meeting would have the early college open for the upcoming school year with approximately 50 students, and utilize the former College of the Albemarle campus on Russell Twiford Road in Manteo.
Then a new building to accommodate up to 300 students would be constructed adjacent to the current COA-Dare campus along U.S. 64 for an estimated $25 million, if a contract is awarded in fiscal year 2025.
If the project were to be delayed to FY 2030, that price would go up to around $38 million, $52 million in FY 2033, and around $62.5 million in FY 2035.
Manns Harbor traffic safety issues
The Manns Harbor Civic Association has brought to the attention of the county a number of traffic safety issues at the U.S. 64/Old U.S. 64/Shipyard Road intersection near the foot of the Virginia Dare Bridge.
Discussions have been held with Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie and North Carolina Department of Transportation staff, and the association has presented multiple modifications they say could be effective in calming traffic through the village on the Dare mainland.
Those include message boards and speed indicators that alert drivers of the speed limit change in Manns Harbor on U.S. 64, lowering the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph through the village, a stepped-up law enforcement presence and trimming of trees and shrubs to improve visibility.
“We hope the general traveling public will eventually see this as a welcoming first contact with our businesses in Manns Harbor and an initiation to the slower pace of our community and the Outer Banks,” the associate writes in a letter to commissioners. “They’ve arrived! Slow down to “island time” and enjoy your visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina!”
The Board of Commissioners is asked to review the proposed modifications and approve a letter of support to be sent to NCDOT.
Avon rezoning public hearing
A zoning map amendment application has been submitted by Dale Petty of Surf and Sound Realty to have a portion of his property along N.C. 12 across from Avon Pier, along with an adjoining parcel Petty plans to purchase on Westerly Lane, to be rezoned from R2-A residential to C-2 commercial.
The Dare County Planning Board and county planning staff have given their recommendation to approve the change, which would allow Surf and Sound to expand their office and build a storage facility to service their properties.
That expansion would require a special use permit to be applied for at a later date.
Southern Hatteras Island Offshore Sand Assessment Study resolution
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources is now accepting applications for the Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation Fund.
This fund can only be used for costs associated with beach nourishment or other projects designed to mitigate or remediate coastal storm damage to ocean beaches and dune systems of the state, and provides a 50% match.
Dare County’s grant application would propose identifying sand sources for future beach nourishment events off Avon and Buxton.
The study would involve taking core samples and surveys of offshore sites and permitting coordination with designated agencies.
The survey is projected to cost a total of $500,000, with the county’s beach nourishment fund being used to pay the match if the grant is approved.
Request N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission to hold quarterly meeting in Dare County each year resolution
“According to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Dare County has the highest seafood volume and value of any North Carolina county,” the resolution states.
But the commission that is tasked with regulating marine and estuarine resources in North Carolina has not held a regularly scheduled quarterly meeting in Dare County since November 2018.
“(That is) making it a challenge for watermen in Dare County and northeastern North Carolina to participate in meetings and public hearings that impact their livelihoods,” the resolution says.
Resolution Opposing Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Draft Amendment 2
The Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Draft Amendment 2 has been completed and contains various proposed management options pertaining to the commercial and recreational striped mullet fisheries.
The catch of striped mullet was shut down in state waters from early November through the end of 2023 as a short-term management measure, impacting their use as a popular bait among coastal anglers in the late fall fishing season.
According to Dare commissioners, outdated and unreliable data was used as part of the Draft Management Plan currently under review by the Marine Fisheries Commission.
“The data being used on the biomass of the striped mullet for Striped Mullet Fishery
Management Plan Draft Amendment 2 was collected in 2019, and striped mullet biomass data was not collected in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions and modified work schedules,” the commissioners’ resolution states.
“Striped mullet reach maturity in two years, further emphasizing that the 2019 data used in the plan is outdated and unreliable,” according to the resolution. “The data included in the study for the recreational fishery is vastly incomplete and only accounts for approximately 2 percent of the fishery take.”
Other items that are up for consideration are a lease agreement for the construction of the Kitty Hawk EMS Station on Putter Lane that includes a bay for the Kitty Hawk Fire Department; approval of budget amendments to cover architectural fees for the Manteo and Frisco EMS stations; and the county will honor its service pin recipients and employee of the month.