Shooting The Breeze

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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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Rekindling the Affordable Housing Conversation

Friday 08 June 2018 at 7:42 pm

At the Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting on June 4, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Bob Peele read a letter addressed to the BOC regarding the need for affordable housing.

“The housing crisis on the Outer Banks is real,” he said. “Help wanted signs are seen everywhere, and we hear from businesses daily about their inability to find workers.  This is not just a seasonal challenge - it has become a year-round one.”

“Professional jobs go unfilled at our hospital and in our healthcare system; people are hired but can’t find reasonably priced housing options so they leave.”

This is by no means a new rallying cry.

When the BOC commissioned a year-long Economic Development study that was conducted by outside consultants in 2016, finding ways to establish more affordable housing was certainly on the to-do list for long-term goals.

And as any island local or seasonal worker will tell you, finding an affordable place to live is the hardest aspect of living here.

But the presentation of the letter, and the ensuing ideas that the Chamber of Commerce came up with via a committee’s research, rekindled the conversation of affordable housing by starting with more small-scale solutions.

“Basically, the Chamber had a three-pronged approach,” said Donna Creef, Planning Director for Dare County in a later interview. “The chamber asked for zoning changes when it came to ADUs [accessory dwelling units], duplexes, and multi-family structures.”

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The New Tools and Technology Available for the 2018 Hurricane Season

Saturday 26 May 2018 at 12:47 am

By CATHERINE KOZAK

It’s an annual ritual that most of us who live on the Outer Banks don’t pay much mind to: The start of hurricane season is June 1. Everyone is razor-focused on getting ready for the first big holiday weekend and the launch of the tourism season.

We all know the gig, and we take storms seriously.

But if experience has taught us anything, it’s to take the predictions of the upcoming hurricane season with a grain of salt, to say the least. On Thursday, NOAA weather forecasters predicted a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes. And of those hurricanes, one to four of them could be major – in excess of 110 mph.

Of course, this is as meaningful to the Outer Banks as saying it’s going to be hot somewhere in the Atlantic this summer. And the inevitable be-ready, be-prepared drumbeat from government agencies can sound Chicken Little-ish and nagging.

Yet . . . we live on a hurricane super-highway, and we need to know when to pay attention.

“I think many of us who live here, we tend to think about the storms from the past,” said Drew Pearson, Dare County Emergency Management Director. “I encourage people to look at the storm that’s coming. They need to be focused on the forecast, not the storms they’ve lived through in the past.”

Yes, it’s easy to sound cynical about the weather service and especially the Jim Cantore sightings with every tropical puff. But the truth is that Outer Banks residents follow the forecast obsessively in hurricane season, and it’s improved a lot over the years.

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The Land Use Plan Survey, and Why You Should Take It Now

Friday 18 May 2018 at 9:14 pm

The Dare County Planning Department is in the early stages of a massive project that takes a couple of years to complete, and which requires the public’s input to proceed.

The project in question is the Land Use Plan for Unincorporated Dare County, (which includes Hatteras Island), and it’s a project that has technically been ongoing since 1974, with updates occurring every 5-10 years.

The project stems from Dare County’s status as a CAMA county. As part of the twenty coastal counties in the state, Dare County is required to prepare and update comprehensive land use plans for participation in the NC Division of Coastal Management’s CAMA program.

Work on the update is currently underway by the Planning Department and Planning Board, however, the public has an opportunity to provide their own feedback via an online survey, which is available until May 25.

And public input is essential, because the Land Use Plan covers a far-reaching array of issues that can range from zoning and building, to use of county land and properties, to hot topics that effect everyone on the island.

“The survey is one tool that we use – it’s not the end all for how we develop our policies, but it is the number one public participation tool that we utilize for the process,” said Donna Creef, Dare County Planning Director.

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