By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on June 7, 2021
As part of its 2021-22 fiscal budget, the Dare County Board of Commissioners on June 7 unanimously approved the creation two Municipal Service Districts (MSDs) in Avon that will be taxed to help foot the bill of a $12.68 million beach nourishment project that will pump roughly one million cubic yards of sand along 2.5 miles of beach in that community next year.
Property owners in those districts will collectively contribute an estimated $750,000 per year over a five-year period to stave off the encroaching Atlantic Ocean that, in recent years, has led to chronic ocean over wash and flooding during storm events that has threatened oceanside homes and cut off N.C. Highway 12. The remaining funds to pay for the project will come from the county’s beach nourishment coffers.
Service District A will include all properties in Avon east of Highway 12 and south of Due East Road, while Service District B will include all properties in Avon. Property owners in MSD A will pay 20 cents per $100 of assessed value toward sand pumping efforts in addition to a Service District B tax of 5 cents per $100 of assessed value.
County officials have stressed in recent months that the sand pumping project is necessary due to the extensive closures of N.C. 12 during recent storm events that create severe disruptions to the life, health, safety and welfare of the residents of and visitors to Hatteras Island. Meanwhile, the plan has attracted significant attention among residents of Avon, both for and against beach nourishment in the oceanside community.
The county has received hundreds of emails regarding the project and the special tax in recent months. And during a public information session earlier this year, dozens of residents spoke. But at the June 7 public hearing, only two Avon property owners spoke, with both opposing the project.
“I have a very modest cottage on Croaker Court that may parents bought in 1975,” Mary Ann Marsal told commissioners during the public hearing. “The dune is higher than it’s ever been since that time and we don’t get ocean flooding on our road. I think it’s really arbitrary and unfair that we would be put in both districts and consequently be charged five times the amount of tax as those who are in District B.”
Belton Gray, Jr. told commissioners that the county didn’t have the money “to continue throwing at beach nourishment.”
“It would appear that the answer to most of our problems now is beach nourishment,” he said after the commissioners approved the project. “I just would like to pose one question to the Dare County Board of Commissioners. When the sand is gone, and it will be, will you repeal this unjust tax?”