“Extreme circumstances” required to allow non-resident owner into Dare County

By on March 22, 2020

County Manager Outten says “something dire” is required in order to get an exception. (Photo credit: CURRENTtv)

Dare County can approve an exception to its current restrictions on non-resident property owners entering the county. But it is one that would only apply to “something dire,” according to Dare County Manager Bobby Outten.

This issue emerged into public view on March 21 when the Nags Head Board of Commissioners called an emergency meeting to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a post that appeared on his Facebook page, Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon explained that one of the actions taken at the meeting was “to ask the Mayor to ask the County if there is a mechanism to allow non-resident property owners, who may have been in the middle of a project when they were barred from entry Friday night, and whose property may be in a compromised state, to finish what they were doing. And to do so without adding excessively to the Deputies’ burdens at the checkpoints.”

In his post, Cahoon added that in regard to that question, “I have learned, and reported to the Board, that the County was already responsibly addressing this issue on a case-by-case basis countywide.”

In an interview with the Voice, Outten stressed that any such exception to allow a non-resident property owner into Dare County would require “extreme circumstances…For the most part, the Control Group has said that that non-resident property owner is out.”

Outten added that, “We have a team that is evaluating [requests for exceptions] on a case by case basis.”

At the same time, in an apparent acknowledgment of the passions and tensions that have erupted over the county’s move to restrict non-resident property owners, Dare County Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard posted a message on the morning of March 22 on the OBX Locals site.

“As you know, the Control Group voted to restrict visitors and non-resident property owners form entering the OBX,” he wrote. “These are hard decisions but the right decision…Please know we have to make tough decisions during tough times. This is hard on our businesses, but they are behind this decision too. There are now 6 States locked down and I’m sure there will be more coming.”





  • MJBowling

    Buncombe County – Asheville NC (College Town) Has confirmed several COVID-19. From close contact from recent OUT-OF-STATE-ERS.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 9:10 am
  • outis

    I have been reading the comments on this online discussion, and several others, since Saturday morning. I have been resisting the urge to join in and vent, but I can’t stand it any longer. I am appalled at many (most) of the comments made by non-resident property owners, regarding their “right to access their property”. What about my (and my family’s) right to live? I don’t want one of my family members to be one of the locals (full time residents) who dies because they couldn’t be seen fast enough at the hospital, because it is filled up with people from NY, NJ, PA, MD, VA, etc. who should have stayed home at their legal, permanent residence, like they were asked to do.
    We were all asked (in some places ordered) to stay home and not travel in an effort to help each other stop the spread of the virus. My family canceled some travel plans because we took this seriously. We have stayed in our home and have not left Dare County for three weeks. Like most Dare County residents this is our only home, not a second, or third home. We have no where else to go. This is home!
    So what do all you NRPOs do, instead of staying home like you were asked to do? You pile into your cars, with every relative or friend you can fit in, and drive hundreds of miles, stopping at gas stations, rest areas, etc., picking up germs, and spreading your own, on your way to Dare County. Why? Because you figured it would be better to be here, where you could have more fun while you “hunkered down”? Where you could party through the pandemic? Or simply because you thought it would be safer here?
    Most of you who keep harping about the fact that Dare County residents can leave and then come back in, or that adjacent county workers can come in, and therefore bring the virus in, are correct. The virus will almost certainly hit Dare County. I don’t think we can prevent that. But what we don’t need are thousands of additional people (visitors and NRPOs) here that will be filling up our very limited medical facilities. We are likely to be in very bad shape on that score with the permanent residents alone. Why would we want thousands of additional people here? You NRPOs were probably better off on medical care back home where you belong in this emergency.
    Many of the comments from NRPOs, besides being ignorant and selfish, are insulting to locals. Words I have seen used about locals include “heathens, low-lifes, dumb a** rednecks, idiots, stupid idiots, and selfish. If this is what you think of the locals then maybe you should stop coming here. I would suggest that you are the selfish ones, only thinking of yourselves. I don’t see how you are any different that the mobs of young adults piling on to the beaches in Florida, and elsewhere, for spring break. They wouldn’t listen to the request to stay home, and the Governor finally had to close the beaches and force them to leave. Selfish!
    It may interest you to know that other beach communities, in NC and elsewhere, have closed their beaches and taken other measures to limit the influx of non-residents to their areas. Tourist locations all over the country are having to deal with this issue. Why is it so hard to understand why we needed to close off Dare County? Or is it because you are so selfish you can’t think beyond the level of a four year old child – “I want it now. I want It (my beach house), I want it, I want it now. I am going to throw a big tantrum if I don’t get what I want.”
    This is a real emergency people. Get real. People are going to be dying around here soon.
    Then those of you who got into Dare County before it was closed off (how many?) will be wishing you had stayed in your “other” home, where medical care was probably more available.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 9:39 am
  • greg

    The selfishness expressed here is truly mind-boggling and really just proves the decision to keep non residents out is the right one.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 10:45 am
  • Pete Graziano

    As a NRO since Apr 2, 2012 completely understand most of the Pro & Con inputs and some decisions Dare County Execs have made at this time. However, there will come a time very shortly for the benefit of Dare County’s very specialized economy that NROs need to have a clear procedure online to apply for the Re-entry exemption! We, who do our own Beach Home maintenance including being in the middle of repairs (Decks, Flooring & Siding repair), supplies already ordered being delivered will need to reenter. We all (Residents & NROs) pay Property Taxes & NC Sales Taxes. Again, need clear online procedure to apply for NRO re-entry!
    Fr a SE Asia Combat Vet (BSM), Pentagon 9/11 player 24/7 war-on-terror, DoD Tech Dir (Ret:-)
    All Stay Vigilant…

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 10:58 am
  • nick

    What if you live in a crowded city condo building where you need to pass people daily in order to take your dog outside, get to your car, etc., but you own a home in the outer banks which is far more secluded and more comfortable for your family, children, and grandchildren (less than 10 of us for the fact checkers), to “weather the storm.” I think the basic fact is, if you own property and are a tax paying citizen to Dare County and the State of North Carolina, you should be allowed to access your home. At times like these, I am looking out for general public, but I am always going to do whats best for my family and maybe the best place for my family, is my home in Pirates Cove.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 11:08 am
  • Keegan Mark Arsenault

    I firmly support the right of Dare County to block entrance to it’s beaches. As a NC and US taxpayer I think if they are going to block entry for non-residents then let them stop paying state and federal taxes and take care of all their needs on their own. So when they get hit by a hurricane this fall let the tax payers in Dare County pay to rebuild the roads, replenish the beaches, and take care of the damaged property throughout the county. It will save our state and federal government millions and I am sure that the fine citizens of Dare County will be able to afford it. I feel this is a fair remedy to this situation. This is fair to the taxpayers in NC outside of Dare County but the property owners who help maintain the quality of life in Dare County through property taxes still cannot access the beach.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 1:11 pm
  • Ken

    Some comments here are valid. Others are comical. These are my thoughts:

    1 A lockdown for some period of time isn’t unreasonable. Especially last week, when the amount of unknowns were very high. We – as a county – didn’t really know where the virus was present and out of control, and where it wasn’t. We also had no options for treatment, no idea if all the hospitals in the nation would face simultaneous crisis or not, what the US mortality rate would be, etc, etc etc. but now some things are better understood. And with each passing day, more will be understood. As our knowledge increases our tactics should shift to reflect that knowledge.

    2). To allow residents to travel anywhere and return defeats the purpose of restricting access. If the public health policy the County is trying to enact is designed to prevent the virus from entering, you don’t allow residents to leave and return without unrestricted.

    3). There is zero chance the virus never gets to Dare. Zero. Statistically speaking, it’s probably already there. I think the County commissioners should keep that in mind. You don’t want to have almost no herd immunity when things reopen. And folks, things WILL reopen at some point.

    4). I seriously doubt the courts will allow an extended lockdown if the rest of the country (excluding hot spots) “reopens” for business. Denying legal land owners access to their property when THEIR health or safety is not legitimately in question is going to be a tough sell legally, economically, and one could say morally.

    5). If the County is actually considering sacrificing the entire season in a misguided and flawed “public health” policy, you will economically destroy your own citizens and tax base. Note I didn’t say “hurt” your citizens….i said destroy. The health, safety, and well being of Dare county citizens is correlated to the economic health of the County. How many citizens will stop eating right, taking meds, suffer mental health issues, or face other consequences if their income stream is lost, and the county tax base is destroyed?

    6). Most of the United States is “sharing the pain” of this virus, health wise and economically. Most of the country is facing and absorbing some of the risk and some of the pain. It’s morally questionable to destroy your economy and later expect everyone else to bail you out for years to come because you voluntarily had a one-way at extends significantly beyond the norm, scope, or duration of the average US community.

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 2:00 pm
  • Nancy

    This is just so sad for everyone! We were at our home that I stay at and love in Nags Head last weekend! I completely understand the need to protect the people of Nags Head but we were just there and I left on the day that they made the decision to prohibit visitors. You may consider us a visitor but we consider it home to us too. We pay our taxes just like you do and never rent our home there. If we aren’t there, then no-one is at our place. We support and love the restaurants that we frequent and many of the employees are like family to us now too. We are still supporting them by buying gift certificates for when we are able to return. My husband fishes several times during the year and supports those guys. I get my hair cut there and support the local businesses all the time. For all of the locals who are calling names I wonder if you would be able to make a living ok for you and your family without the visitors and homeowners. I truly hope that you are able to. I just think that if we are being banned from our property then we should be compensated on our taxes for the time period that we aren’t allowed to enter. You can’t have it both ways! Like it or not we are members of the community that bring a lot to the community. Hopefully we will all come out of this healthy and will be able to enjoy the outer banks as usual soon. Stay healthy and please try to be nice to each other!

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 2:16 pm
  • CheetahOBX

    To: “outis” & all like simple minded individuals

    I am a NRPO… And I work from home anyway… I have been here, first & foremost, checking out finalized property repairs… Now… Here… Simply. That I feel safer here! I traveled. 3 hours here… Did NOT stop on the way… And have been ordering from local restaurants to help support the staff …are YOU doing the same?!?!? I pay taxes… Support all the local retail places here….. Always!!!
    FYI… The outer banks will not be the same… Due to idiots…. Like you with your simple minded comments…
    I bet you love it when vacationers come and spend their money here though….
    Do NOT assume… That every person lives &/or works where there are tons of people…..as a side note… I was in harris tweeter on Saturday and watched some “locals” hugging & kissing each other… So much for intelligent social distancing…

    Tuesday, Mar 24 @ 3:13 pm
  • Pedro

    Mind blowing stuff here! There are some that own homes and do not rent them out. Good for you, but you should be happy that you are fortunate enough to have a “second home” and you should be happy to stay in your “first/main home” while we wait this out and do what the CDC asked the whole country to do.

    One NRPO says their primary care physician and specialty care provider are here and you spend 50% of your time here…I think if my doctors were here, I’d probably make this my actual residence. What a strange idea that is.

    To the other NRPOs who are crying and pointing the finger and carrying on how they pay taxes and visit local restaurants (supporting local businesses) and should be extended the same rights as residents. Absurd and childish arguments. We spend ALL our money here! That’s the real definition of supporting the community! You have properties here to make $$$, and on average you rake in 30 to 200+K a year, from visitors, depending on your house, and you make this money because your properties are cleaned and serviced and rented by locals. Your guests/renters are serviced by locals. You take far more than you give and if you don’t like it, sell your property. If you didn’t own it the house would still be there and someone else would own it. Show a little respect for the people that make it possible for you to have an investment property…the people that put up with all the garbage in the world, so you can take home the big winnings…back to your “real home”. If you have a mortgage you can’t pay/afford on your second home, then you took a big gamble and your not quite right in the head.

    Oh, and on a far less important side note…just a little thing…but since you had your say on this and flexed your droopy muscles and made your legal threats and put forward no rational arguments at all…as of today…the virus is here now, and who was it that brought it in????? Thank you for your contribution.

    Wednesday, Mar 25 @ 11:34 pm
  • Julie

    Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Thursday, Mar 26 @ 6:42 pm
  • Amazing non grace

    Local residents: 1. A local residents brought corona. 2. Don’t assume all non-resident homeowners are germ infested with corona. I live in MD in a county with a few reportings. If I was sick I would not be out and about. 3. A repeat is expected in winter. Is the controlling control board going to ban homeowners thru winter? 4. If you consider tourists garbage why don’t you move to a no tourist area. 5. With everything closed how could an NRO infect you on the small chance the NRO was even infected? One European country that has refused a lockdown has less cases than those on lockdown. Some experts say lockdown is not the cure. 6. We plan to sell. We will go where there is no controlling control board and where the locsld are not paranoid thinking NROS offer nothing but germs.

    Friday, Mar 27 @ 12:54 am
  • Grin and bear it

    In response to Amazing non Grace
    Longtime year round resident here,
    I had to re respond to your ludicrous comment
    1. A local DID NOT being the virus. It was a non resident home owner from a northern state that arrived before the ban.
    2.locals dont hate or consider tourists or NRPOs garbage. Ridiculous comment on your part
    3. They dont know if a repeat will happen in the winter. You have a crystal ball GYPSY?
    4. We locals DO NOT assume all folks from different areas are infected. It’s a matter of limiting exposure and preventing a run on supplies and taxing our small local healthcare system.
    5. Who are your so called experts? You and your hubby? Lol
    6. Dare county and locals are not paranoid as you called us. NC State, Virginia and many other areas near you are asking residents to shelter in place. Many areas along the East Coast win resort areas are calling for mandatory 14 day quarantine where you cannot leave your house if you enter from another area. Many tourists and NRPOs would come unprepared and not be willing to quarantine for 14 days cause their and their tummies would start rumbling and need food for their bellies…lol.
    You are ridiculous with your comment. This is a temporary ban and we applaud Dare county for being proactive. Many areas and states are following suit. If you plan to sell I may even buy your property to get you…and just you not all NRPOs… off the OBX sooner. Your comments were uneducated and out of line. Hopefully one day this will blow over and all folks on the OBX can kick back and take as load off. For the meantime…man the line and hold the line!!! It’s a temporary measure put in place to limit possible exposure and spread as much as possible!!

    Saturday, Mar 28 @ 11:07 pm
  • @sean

    @Julie.. well done. These are OUR rights! !

    Sunday, Mar 29 @ 5:36 pm
  • Worried NRPO

    I Would love someone that actually works at the hospital to explain to the locals that if someone needs a ventilator from the virus they will be transferred to another hospital…..ummm and cared for at another community either in Norfolk VA , or East Carolina. Greenville ….not your local Dare Co hospital! I am a health care worker and have owned property at the OBX for over 20 years and family that resides at OBX . I seriously doubt Dare Co hospital will be taking care of COVID-19 patients … just ask the people who work at the hospital…they will be off the OBX so fast across the bridge to get to another communities’ hospital if they get sick and Non residents will be caring for them !

    Again someone explain how the residents can come and go across the bridge but keep NRPO’s out?
    Our taxes should be forgiven if we can’t access our properties .

    Blessings of health to everyone !!!
    Be well OBX ‘rs NRPO’S and visitors 🙂

    Monday, Apr 6 @ 9:15 am
  • ken

    Right on the money Julie! This is an infringement on our rights. Like it or not, the NRO of these properties is the OWNER, holds the DEED, PAYS the TAXES and has every right to access THEIR home.
    Dare County will pay a hefty price in legal fees once this is over. A Dare county commissioner cannot usurp the U.S. Constitution.

    Monday, Apr 6 @ 1:52 pm
  • Kay Power

    True, it not the time for visitors, which would put stress on the communities here. At least that is something on which we can all agree, even though homeowners are losing a lot of money. That’s okay. We want to support the people in the OBX and the rental income losses are part of that.

    I understand the property tax argument. Property taxes are used for roads, access, and infrastructure. Since NR homeowners are no longer allowed to access their property, perhaps tax forgiveness for the month of April would be in order. Neither we nor renters are allowed access, so there is no strain on those.

    The limited resource argument doesn’t wash. Truckers are allowed down here and my son drives to the OBX and says they’re keeping things stocked. So if the stores are out of toilet paper, wouldn’t it make sense that it is the residents hoarding it since homeowners aren’t allowed on the islands anyway?

    I applied and got a permit (we were here already) for entry. That means nobody thought anything of it until three days later when we were deemed unfit to enter Dare County for no reason other than arbitrary arguments, all of which have since been discounted.

    Another point is that not all property owners would suddenly appear were the restrictions lifted. My husband and I were already at our property and working, not vacationing. I carefully read the NC governor’s order and it states we must stay at our place of abode; it does not designate “primary residence” as said abode. Which means now we are stuck here. But the small percentage of homeowners who need to work on their properties (not vacation, not “check”, but keep up the maintenance, which adds to property values) would not cause a strain on the resources.

    I’d gladly go home to Virginia, but if the argument is NRPOs should follow the governor’s order, then the order is we stay where we are. I thought to do my very small part to support local restaurants by ordering takeout and buying gift cards, but apparently people like us are unwelcome to do that. I ordered “Nutrisystem” (which had no trouble delivering) so I am not buying hardly any groceries. I do, however, go out only when absolutely necessary, and keep my head down like I’m ashamed I got stuck here during this unexpected order. I understand both sides, but there is no reason for the nastiness and the dog-in-the-manger attitudes of some people.

    I have found MOST locals to be sweet, friendly, accommodating people. I wish the best for the OBX and hope everyone can take a look at both sides of this issue without the negativity. I wish I could say we are all in this together. But it’s apparent we aren’t.

    Wednesday, Apr 8 @ 1:00 pm
  • Peter

    These comments are interesting, for many reasons. Our own experience was extremely frustrating as well. We live here, and wanted to bring our daughter down from Norfolk to visit for Easter, but were summarily refused at the checkpoint because she is not a permanent resident. We noted that, had she still been in college and her college closed down (as most have), she would have no place to go, because her license is from Virginia.
    In my humble opinion, the entry restrictions are absurd, for all the reasons people have mentioned above, but they could be made less onerous instead of forcing a “one size fits all” solution. Suppose that’s too hard. Oh well. We will likely be much more involved in local politics going forward, hoping to prevent something as nonsensical as this entry restriction action in the future.

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 11:26 am