By Michelle Wagner on October 23, 2019
A group of four candidates is vying for three open seats onthe Southern Shores Town Council in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Incumbent FredNewberry, former Council Member Leo Holland, current Planning Board ChairElizabeth Morey and local general contractor Matthew Neal will face off for thethree spots. Incumbents Christopher Nason and Gary McDonald are not seekingre-election.
Soon after the newly elected members are sworn in, theCouncil will be charged with tackling some crucial issues, including how to proceedwith the municipalitys first ever town-wide beach nourishment project thatcarries an estimated $16 million price tag.
The board will also launch a search to replace Peter Rascoe,who retired this year from his post as town manager. And as public discontentwith summertime cut-through traffic in the town continues to mount, theresbeen increasing pressure placed on the Council to find and implement solutions.
Leo Holland, who retired after a career in sales, dealer accounting and finance and product support, served one term on Council beginning in 2013, during which time he represented the town on the Dare County Tourism Board. He has also served on the Southern Shores Civic Association and Chicahauk Property Owners Association.
Holland said he is a proponent of the beach nourishmentproject now being considered by Council. The beach is an asset and we have tomaintain it, he told the Voice. If we dont, theres always a potential that thebeach will not be there, and our residents and guests wont have a beach toenjoy.
He also noted that the Council will likely have to movequickly on the project to take advantage of county funds designated for beachnourishment.
Holland acknowledged that summer cut-through traffic was aproblem and he was open to solutions. Im searching like everyone else, henoted. But he added that while awaiting the recommendations from the recently formed traffic committee, itmay be time to hire a traffic consultant to look at the issue.
On his campaignFacebook page, Holland wrote that as the remaining vacant properties inSouthern Shores continues to be built upon, or existing improved properties aredeveloped, I am committed to making sure that growth happens in the way topreserve our Towns charm, culture and ideals. If elected, Holland said he would bringcivility, common sense and practically to its deliberations.
Elizabeth Morey, who has served on the Southern Shores Planning Board for eight years and is currently chair, is retired from the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services.
I really love my town and its just sort of in my makeup towant to try to see that it is maintains its unique charm, Morey said whenasked why she decided to run for the Council. Referencing the tone of politicsin the town, she added, I just feel like the town would be better served by aCouncil thats made up of individuals who have good relationships with eachother. They dont always have to agree, but they should definitely be able totalk with each other and listen to each other. And I do think there is room forimprovement on that front
In talking to voters, Morey said the two biggest issues thatcome up are summer cut-through traffic and the walking path along S. DogwoodTrail, bids for which were opened earlier this month and came in under theestimated $1 million price tag.
As for the traffic issue, Morey said shed like to see the town try some things without expending alot of resources. One approach she mentioned was to work with propertymanagement companies to get the word out that their clients would be betterserved not cutting through the neighborhoods. She also suggested posting signsthat share that same message.
When it comes to beach nourishment, Morey said that intalking to voters, she believed a majority supported such a project, but thatthere was a mix. I think there needs to be an exchange of ideas about how thisimpacts the budget, just like the impact of the new fire department building that mortgage will have to be paid off in the next twenty years, she said.
Morey said one of the most important things the next councilwill do is hire a new town manager. I think it should be done properly and,and with a robust effort to find the best candidate for the job, she asserted.
Incumbent Fred Newberry has served one term on the Council, two years of which were as mayor pro tem, and is vice chairman for the Dare County Airport Authority. Newberry is retired after 31 years of federal service, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
He said he is running for re-election because of unfinishedbusiness including the cut-through traffic issue. Newberry is the sponsor ofthe town-appointed committee charged with exploringsolutions to the traffic congestion problem that plagues someneighborhoods during the tourist season.
He also added: The council has not been very good aboutlong-range planning and developing supporting budgets. Most of the projects arefunded, almost from the time they are identified, from our designated fundWecant just keep taking money out of it and expect to maintain a healthy reserve.
He gave the example of the S. Dogwood Trail walking path. Hesaid he was a proponent of it but voted against the way it was funded. Itshould have been budgeted for there should have been a plan and budget tosupport it, he said.
Newberry also said that hed want to see more data on thebeach nourishment project before the town moves forward. Its always good toget a second opinion, and I would also like to know how the town is going tofund it.
Newcomer Matt Neal, a local contractor and current president of the Outer Banks Homebuilders Association, said he has become more actively involved in town meetings over the last two years, particularly when it comes to sharing his knowledge and perspectives on zoning issues. After being asked to run by several people over the last year, he said he decided to throw his hat in to the race.
On the issue of development, Neal is a proponent of updatingthe towns Land Use Plan to be a comprehensive plan to guide development andgrowth. You cant mothball everything, you cant hold it back the way it wasin 1967But we can try to have a guidepost. I really think developing acomprehensive plan is going to be instrumental in that.
On the subject of beach nourishment, Neal said hed like tosee the goals of such a project established and the financial side figured out.Then Id want to hear from my constituents about how much they want to moveforwardI think until somebody sees the actual dollar commitment, and what kindof levy will be placed on the constituency, we wont be able to make the finalone hundred percent determination.
Neal supports the idea of hiring a consulting company toadvertise for the town manager position, stating that, Its going to be reallycritical that the new manager is aware of the idiosyncrasies of SouthernShores, which has a very active population with a lot of civic engagement.
As for summer cut-through traffic, Neal is a proponent ofmore lobbying efforts toward N.C. Department of Transportation implementing passiveno left turn signs that report travel times, as well as town-initiatedadvocacy for the construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge.
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