By Dee Langston on July 26, 2016
Currituck County now has a legal solution to the problem of abandoned vessels in the county’s navigable waterways.
During its last regularly scheduled meeting at 5 p.m. — future meetings will begin at 6 p.m. — the Board of Commissioners gave unanimous approval to an ordinance that allows the county to deal with abandoned watercraft in the same way it handles abandoned or junked vehicles.
The county’s code enforcement department will attempt to track down the owner of a boat that has been abandoned or is a hazard to other vessels and ask the owner to remove it. If the owner doesn’t comply, the county has the right to remove and dispose of the abandoned vessel at the owner’s expense.
Under the ordinance, abandoned vessels are those that have been moored for 30 days or more without the permission of a marina owner, dock owner, slip owner or property owner, county attorney Ike McRee told the board during its July 18 meeting.
The ordinance also covers vessels that are in danger of sinking, have sunk or are a hazard to navigation and an immediate danger to other vessels, McRee added. The new law won’t apply to shipwrecks or cargo that have been underwater for more than 10 years.
To report a boat that is abandoned or otherwise a safety hazard, residents should call code enforcement at (252) 232-6027, or file an online complaint.
While the board took steps to remove old boats, it took the opposite tack with old structures, voting unanimously to create a historic commission to identify national, state and county landmarks and structures in Currituck County. Once identified, the properties may be eligible for federal and state historic preservation funds.
Local historian Barbara Snowden, vice president of the Currituck County Historical Society, addressed the board prior to the vote on creating the commission.
The society had hired a historic structures architect, who had identified and recorded 300 buildings in the county that were considered to be of historic value, and could be considered to become part of the National Historic Register, Snowden said.
Before the vote on creating the historic commission, some members of the board said they were concerned that property owners might be forced to participate and comply with burdensome requirements.
Snowden reassured the board that participation was completely voluntary. “No property owner will be forced to become a part of this,” she said. “Only people who come to the commission and asked to be considered, will be considered,” she added.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the commissioners gave preliminary approval to a 103-lot subdivision on almost 113 acres off Tulls Creek Road in Moyock. The lots will be slightly under an acre, and homes there are expected to fall into the $225,000 to $300,000 range.
The developers will donate 53 acres of open space, which will be behind the Moyock Library. The open space — or possible future park — will connect to the eastern edge of the subdivision by a 8-foot-wide, multi-use path.
Before the subdivision is given final approval, the applicants must provide a plan for adequate drainage and easements through the adjoining property. The land is the center parcel of the planned Currituck Reserve subdivision, which never came to fruition. In the future, developers may seek approval for subdivisions on the adjoining parcels on either side.
The board also voted to change its meeting time. Future meetings will be held at 6 p.m., unless the board votes to change the time again. The board will continue to meet on the first and third Mondays of each month, except for holidays.
Several years ago, the board’s meetings were at 7 p.m., which resulted in a long, late-night drive for residents of the county’s outlying areas — including Knotts Island, Carova and Corolla. So the board changed the time to 5 p.m., which proved too early for residents who didn’t get off work in time to make the meetings.
After quite a bit of discussion, and hearing from some members of the audience, the board voted 5-1 to change the meeting time to 6 p.m., with Commissioner Mike Hall casting the dissenting vote.