Breaking the silence on Kitty Hawk’s beaten shore

By on March 24, 2013

N.C. 12 flooding after March 7 storm. (Brian Morgan)

N.C. 12 flooding after March 7 storm. (Brian Morgan)

We’re hearing some encouraging news from Kitty Hawk.

At the town’s last Planning Board meeting, citizens were informed that Kitty Hawk is taking the threat to its beleaguered shoreline seriously.

In an April 9, 2012 article on the N.C. Bar Association web site, Stacey Carless reiterates North Carolina’s preferred “concept of maintaining natural beaches by not allowing hardened structures” on the state’s coastlines.

Ironically, that is the exact situation prevailing in Kitty Hawk today, with one glaring exception.

The hardened structure serving as the last line of defense between the town’s infrastructure and the Atlantic Ocean isn’t a groin, a jetty, a seawall or an offshore artificial reef.

News analysis

The hardened structure that defines the town’s boundaries between the land and sea is a road, specifically N.C. 12.

Over a decade ago the dire status of the town’s shoreline was revealed when the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a study on the efficacy of beach nourishment along Dare’s northern beaches.

It was that study and an initial funding promise from Congress that prompted the so-called “sand tax” to be considered to generate the local portion of revenue needed to fund the mostly-federal project.

Even then, it was uncertain if much of Kitty Hawk’s oceanfront would be covered by a federal project. The Army Corps bases some of its qualifications for nourishment programs on the value of the infrastructure the wider beach would protect.

In much of Kitty Hawk, the oceanfront infrastructure of revenue-generating rental homes had already been lost to the ocean.

Hurricane Isabel in 2003 decimated the Beach Road as the image on this page demonstrates:

The damage was so severe because wave action, rather than flood surge, struck the road and buildings, both commercial and residential on the west side of N.C. 12.

Irene threatened the road in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy caused the road to buckle and close last year.

This year’s nor’easters overwashed the road and caused temporary closings.

The road closures are not the only concern, although N.C. 12 is the only north-south alternative for traffic besides U.S. 158.

The sand beach in Kitty Hawk has become so narrow and hard to access, tourists have moved south to Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head.

Constant flooding has not only eliminated most of the town’s oceanfront — and the revenue oceanfront properties generate — it now threatens homes and businesses on the west side that no one could argue were built “too close to the beach.”

Popular spots such as The Black Pelican and Ocean Boulevard have been slammed by these storms.

If one drives along the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk and in the areas between N.C. 12 and U.S. 158, one will notice a deterioration of the physical infrastructure.

Homes “between the highways” in Kitty Hawk rent for considerably less than in towns to the south.

Driving through the town’s rental district, certain trends are noticeable. Homeowners are not maintaining, upgrading or otherwise improving their rental properties in Kitty Hawk to the extent seen in other towns.

We’re not talking about or advocating the lack of 15-room “McMansion” homes in Kitty Hawk. Instead, the rather melancholy look of Kitty Hawk’s rental market indicates property owners are reacting to the condition of the town’s beaches.

Uncertainty about the future is likely affecting investment decisions as far west as U.S. 158, which is also increasingly subject to flooding as the beach continues to disappear and wave energy is not absorbed until it reaches the Beach Road.

Whether the answer lies in beach nourishment, the relocation of the Beach Road, a change in the state’s position on offshore storm abatement structures — or some combination of all three — we leave to others to decide.

But a basic rule of economics is that uncertainty causes more economic damage than onerous regulations and even taxes. Investors may not like rules and taxes, but they and the market can adapt.

But no business can adapt to uncertainty or silence — and Kitty Hawk has been silent about the situation along their oceanfront for too long.

We are encouraged by the recent discussions on the Planning Board.

Our hope is those discussions continue and advance to the Town Council and public meetings and hearings.

Silence isn’t always golden. Sometimes it has the opposite effect.


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 823 9069 2985

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