|Nags Head beach during renourishment last summer. Although there is some disruption, only small areas of the beach are closed at any time.|
Beach nourishment may become the norm along Dare County beaches in the next few years. With the passage of a 1% increase in the occupancy tax to pay for shoreline mitigation efforts, the county has taken a significant step toward creating a county-wide policy on how to preserve our coastline.
Except for Nags Head, beach nourishment is not a reality anywhere in Dare County; however, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Duck are well into the planning stages and Kill Devil Hills is about to begin the permitting process.
Although beach nourishment is viewed of a way to widen and beautify beaches, its primary function is to stabilize the shoreline and protect property–the effect on the beach is a byproduct of the process.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Nags Head provided an excellent example of how well nourishment works; Kitty Hawk’s experience in the same storm demonstrated what can happen if inadequate measures to protect property have been taken.
Kitty Hawk in particular views nourishment as a way to protect property between the Beach Road and Bypass. The north end of the town in that area, from just about the Post Office to the Hilton Garden Inn is either at sea level or slightly below. When the dune line is breached a small shallow lake can form. In the past, DOT has provided pumps to move the water out, but it looks like the town will finally be permitted for an outflow system. KDH and NH already have outflow systems in place. Just as a side note–KH tried to permit an outflow system once before, but there is a story for another time with that one.
The additional funds for shoreline protection are needed for a number of reasons. Certainly the upfront costs of nourishment are extraordinary, but to be successful, a regular maintenance schedule must be maintained–and the ongoing costs are significant.
One of the town planner interviewed did point out that because the whole county is involved, it is possible that there could be some savings by combining projects. KDH and KH would seem to be in the best position to do that. Duck’s neighbor to the south, Southern Shores, has some of the most stable beaches in the Dare County and is not exploring nourishment at this time.
At this writing only the northern incorporated towns of the county are moving plans forward. There is some discussion regarding nourishment for areas on Hatteras Island, but nothing active going forward.
The impact of the tax on our guests will be relatively minor . . . on a $4000 weekly rental, it’s only $40, and as someone remarked to me, “If I’m going to San Francisco, I’m not going to stay in Oakland because the occupancy tax is lower.”
The tax applies to Dare County only. Currituck County’s occupancy tax has not changed and at this point in time there are no plans to nourish the county’s beaches.