Shooting The Breeze


Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!




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Devildog (Protecting N.C. H…): Steve, Devildog, it is not a philosophy, but proven facts that Mr. Scott speaks of.. Negative. Dr…
John G (Year In Review – …): 100th Anniversary of the Mirlo Rescue.
Steve (Protecting N.C. H…): Devildog, it is not a philosophy, but proven facts that Mr. Scott speaks of..
Devildog (Protecting N.C. H…): Steve, I respectfully take issue with this statement: Overwash may be an inconvenience, but it is …
Steve (Protecting N.C. H…): Well said Michael Scott! More people need to realize that dune lines have been strangulating Hatteras…
Salvo Jimmy (Protecting N.C. H…): Michael Scott, Good analysis and I pretty much agree. Especially the dunes. Seemingly a long t…


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El Niño and our Outer Banks winter

Friday 27 November 2015 at 4:31 pm

NOAA's National Weather Service Southeast and Caribbean regional teams presented a webinar for reporters, emergency managers, businesses, and others affected by the weather last week to give us a look at what the current very strong El Niño will mean for our winter here on the Outer Banks.

The take-away in a nutshell is that we can expect a very wet winter, but it's not yet clear if all that extra precipitation will come in the form of rain or something frozen. The temperature forecast for this El Niño is less clear for our area.

There were three presenters for the webinar:

  • Victor Murphy, NWS Southern Regional climate service program manager.
  • Chip Konrad, NOAA's Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch of the NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center.

The message from all three was quite clear -- we are currently in a very strong El Niño, one that may set a record before it ends, perhaps in the spring or early summer.

Just for background, an El Niño event occurs when warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures persist across the equatorial Pacific Ocean for periods of six to 12 months or longer. Typically, according to the Weather Service, El Niños occur every two to seven years.

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Hatteras islanders need to be heard on taxing for beach sand

Friday 20 November 2015 at 4:56 pm

Dare County's Commissioners were briefed by county manager Bobby Outten at their board meeting on Monday about creating a special tax district to pay for restoring the beach in north Buxton.

Outten presented only information -- facts, figures, and legal requirements -- and made no proposals or recommendations for how the county should pay for nourishing about 2.5 miles of beach to protect Highway 12 from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

The county is awaiting a special use permit from the National Park Service, which is expected to be granted in time to get sand pumped this summer, and the project is expected to cost somewhere between $20 to $27 million.

The Buxton project is one of four scheduled for 2016 that will be paid for partly from the county's Shoreline Management Fund, which includes collections from a 2 percent occupancy tax.

The other projects are in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Duck, and in those towns, taxpayers will also contribute to paying the bill for nourishment, as they did in Nags Head a few years ago.

The towns created special tax districts that included a combination of oceanfront and town-wide properties -- with oceanfront owners paying the most.

At the time the Buxton project was proposed and designed, Democrats controlled the county Board of Commissioners. Warren Judge was chairman during that time, and Allen Burrus, Hatteras Island's representative to the board, was vice-chairman.

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Pondering the future of the tri-villages

Friday 13 November 2015 at 6:36 pm

On Monday, Dec. 16, the Dare County Board of Commissioners will hear the county Planning Board's recommendation that no change be made to the S-1 zoning in Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo.

The Planning Board voted unanimously on the recommendation at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, after board members traveled to the tri-villages in late October for a public meeting on proposed changes  to the current S-1 zoning that would have established a stricter plan for land use in the tri-villages.

That the meeting did not go well is an understatement. It has been described as raucous, loud, contentious, mean-spirited, and threatening.

The bottom line is that residents of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo made it very clear to the Planning Board that they are not interested in site-specific zoning, and it's almost a sure thing that the commissioners will agree on at their meeting on Monday.

Zoning in the tri-villages will remain as it is, for better or worse -- at least for some time to come.

Here's a little of the background.
All of Hatteras Island was zoned S-1 in 1987.  The S-1 zoning addresses setbacks and building heights but not site-specific uses for property.  Basically, all uses are allowed on all properties.

The tri-villages and Frisco remain the only two communities in all of unincorporated Dare with the S-1 zoning only. The other communities have all adopted some form of site-specific zoning.

The impetus to look at stricter zoning in the tri-villages began in the spring of 2014 when the Planning Board recommended that the Board of Commissioners approve a controversial plan to construct a concrete plan in Waves because zoning permitted it. The Commissioners approved the concrete plant with as many restrictions as they legally could in terms of such things as hours of operation, setbacks and buffers, and the like.

However, some villagers remained upset and unhappy about the effect the concrete plant would have on the "coastal village atmosphere" of the area -- such things as appearance, traffic, congestion, air quality, and lighting.

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Heads Up, Hatteras Island: Who pays for sand in Buxton?

Friday 06 November 2015 at 11:06 am

The issue of who will pay for a beach nourishment project for north Buxton -- expected to cost between $20 million and $27 million, depending on how long it is engineered to last -- will be front and center at the next meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Nov. 16.

And it's likely that raising taxes on property owners in Buxton -- or all of Hatteras Island or even all of unincorporated Dare County -- to pay for all or part of the project will figure into the conversation.

At its meeting last Monday, Nov. 2, Chairman Bob Woodard asked county manager Robert Outten and finance manager David Clawson to return to the board at its next meeting on the "possibility of establishing a tax service district for the Buxton area...or for all of unincorporated Dare."

Dare County has asked for a special use permit from the National Park Service to restore about 2.5 miles of the beach in the area of north Buxton to stop ocean overwash that threatens Highway 12.

A joint environmental assessment by both the Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is underway before the permit can be issued. The project, Woodard said Monday, is on schedule to begin in the late spring or early summer of 2016, pending the permits.

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