Southern Shores candidates cite cut-through traffic as major issue

By on October 14, 2021

Southern Shores candidates vying for the mayor’s job along with one other seat on the town council participated in a League of Women’s Voters Forum on Oct. 13. It was one in a series of virtual forums the League is hosting leading up to the Nov. 2 municipal elections.

Two candidates are vying to capture the mayor’s seat being vacated by Tom Bennett. Council Member Elizabeth Morey, whose current seat on council does not expire until 2023, will go up against political newcomer Rod McCaughey. Vying for the council seat are Ann Sjoerdsma, Paula Sherlock and John Carter.

Morey, a resident of Southern Shores for 18 years, is retired from the Dare County Health Department and is currently a member of council.

“My ten-year record of service on the town planning board and council proves that I have been doing the work to ensure that our town stays the special place it is, a residential community with a small commercial district,” she said. Morey added that she has heard three common concerns while campaigning — “one, we love our town and want it to stay the way it is; two, fix our aging and overused crumbling streets; and third, traffic – both speeding and the volume of seasonal cut-through traffic.”

McCaughey was a marketing manager for British Oxygen and later a partner in a regional mortgage bank before retiring to Southern Shores eight years ago. He has been a Southern Shores Community Association board member for five years and president for two years. He has also been a member and chair of the Architectural Review Board for the past six years.

“Let me be clear that having vision and being able to marshal resources as part of my skill set is important,” he stated. “But nothing would happen without great volunteers.”

Sherlock, a longtime property owner in Southern Shores, has been living here full time since 2017. Now retired, she served as a circuit judge in Louisville, KY, and as chief judge of Jefferson County, KY.

“During my time on the bench, I valued listening to people, knowing the law and striving to make fair and balanced decisions,” Sherlock said during the forum. “This is much the same work as our council, and I would like to give back to this community that I love so much in a meaningful way.”

Sjoerdsma, editor of the Southern Shores Beacon, has lived in Southern Shores for 30 years and has a background in journalism and law from UNC-Chapel Hill. Sjoerdsma said she believes it’s imperative that Southern Shores updates its Land Use Plan, adding that, “I am committed to preserving, protecting and safeguarding our precious community, our environment, our quality of life, the appeal of our town, especially by preventing cut through traffic. And I believe in planning proactively not just reacting to problems when they occur.”

Carter has been a Southern Shores property owner since 2009, but he moved permanently to the Outer Banks in 2020 when he retired after a 45-year career in Information Technology.

“If elected,” Carter asserted, “I’m committed to keeping our taxes as low as possible. I’ll advocate for using public and private partnerships, federal, state and charitable grants to fund improvements and desirable projects.” Carter added that he is an advocate for the use of referendums for “any large discretionary expenditures that would raise taxes…”

In response to a question regarding the three major issues the town faces, all the candidates named the cut-through traffic during the summer months among their priorities.

“Number one, hands down – cut through traffic. Also, traffic on NC 12 and on Ocean Boulevard…all of that is priority number one,” Sjoerdsma asserted. “I’m very open to some creative thinking and I’m committed to working on it,” she added, but noted she wasn’t keen on the concept of gating the community.

Carter said that he would address cut-thru traffic through a collaborative effort, but added it would primarily be focused on gating, using barricades, one-way signage of streets and possibly the use of a cut-through toll. “None of these solutions that I’m speaking to are necessarily ones that would stand the test of scrutiny and or stand alone, but I would ask that they be studied to see if they have merit and then put before the townspeople,” he said.

In response to a question on municipal spending, Morey said that Southern Shores has been fiscally responsible over the years. “I believe that we’ve gone eight budget cycles until we did the beach nourishment project without raising taxes, so we basically have the lowest tax rate on the beach,” she said. “I believe that we are managing our budget with our staff in a very sound fiscal responsible way, and I hope that we continue to do that.”

McCaughey concurred. “My sense of the budget is that it prudent and is responsible,” he said. “I think most of the people I’ve spoken to are more interested in additional services than they’re interested in trying to cut corners of cut costs.” While he said it’s important to pursue grants and other alternative revenue sources, he added, “I don’t know anyone who thinks we are overspending on projects right now.”

In response to a question about regulating large homes, Sherlock said that for 17 years, she had two flat top cottages, which were recently replaced with large vacation rentals. Along with lobbying legislators in Raleigh to advocate for the area when it comes to building codes, she also pointed to the important of local action.

“This has been mentioned several times here tonight, but I agree that it was critical to update the Land Use Plan to strengthen our commitment to low-density single- family homes with minimal commercial development in Southern Shores,” she noted.





  • Sick of elitism in SS

    It’s not cut through traffic it’s a public road.

    Thursday, Oct 14 @ 7:40 pm
  • Chris

    Just a reminder, if one candidate has worked here for 10years and is still campaigning about the traffic, probably not gonna get the job done. SMH

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 6:03 am
  • Bud

    elitism, Exactly,tourist public is cutting through, that’s the problem and it’s substantial.
    Speaking of elitism, it’s the entire northern outer banks, all snobs.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 6:14 am
  • John Carter

    First and foremost, thank you for the coverage you have given to all of the municipal forums over the past several weeks, they have been both informative and timely. Concerning the reporting on our Southern Shores forum; I have submitted a request to have a correction to be made concerning a statement attributed to myself, that is within quotation marks and yet is inaccurate. I did not use the word “harsh” concerning discretionary expenditures; I used the word “large”. Although one could perceive a large discretionary expenditure by our government that results in taxes being increased as harsh, I will leave that to the taxpayers to decide through referendums. Thank you.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 7:21 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    John, sorry about that and we have made the appropriate change.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 10:32 am
  • Mike P

    The chance to limit growth went away long ago, study that!
    Y’all can Study traffic all you want and spend as much as you want but common sense will tell you there is no solution. Fact is there are more cars than there are roads. You just can’t put 20 pounds s… in a 5 pound bag.

    I never understood why every 3 to 5 square miles of Dare county needed individual towns and mayors and boards and budgets anyway… more government equals more problems. Study that too.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 8:05 am
  • C heyward

    this is just silly-given the traffic it is apparent that people want to spend their time North of SS-this issue has become divisive-the money that is going to be spent to improve a beach that is even at the height of the summer gently used continues the pattern of ignoring the reality of the situation- the whole area would be better served by getting the bridge built in a timely manner…

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 8:14 am
  • Sandflea

    Mike P;
    I never understood all the different towns either. There are 8 different police departments: County, State Troopers, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo. Lots of government big salaries for such a small area.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 11:34 am
  • James

    @ Mike P. Myrtle Beach used to be exactly the same as Dare County. You had individual towns, mayors, boards, budgets, etc. There was starting from the North end: Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach, Atlantic Beach, Windy Hill.. They got rid of all this replication and named it North Myrtle Beach. more government does in most cases equals more problems and lifetime pensions with health care when average workers can only dream of a pension.

    Regarding traffic in Southern Shores. 99.9% of all traffic in the summer is going to Duck and Corolla. Neighborhoods with children playing, residents jogging, should not be used as a “FREEWAY” for the northern beaches that is what Duck Road (HYW 12) was built for. The simple solution is to gate South Dogwood north of Kitty Hawk Elementary School. This simple act and nothing more will CUT the CUT-THROUGH in it’s tracks and route the traffic to Duck Road which is THE route to the Northern Beaches. The Mid-Currituck bridge will be built in 2050 if we are lucky, but don’t hold your breath on that.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 12:12 pm
  • Karl

    “Sick of elitism in SS” – The roads in SS are privately maintained. The residents also paid for the new bridge on Dogwood Trail.

    Friday, Oct 15 @ 4:32 pm
  • Mike P

    Hi James.. I’ll spar with you
    First, aside from the towns governments there is no comparison between old nags head and myrtle. Also in myrtle the damage was done so consolidating after the fact is not a true comparison to it never should have happened here. What did happen is all these governments were formed and every few years there are new smarter more experienced people that move to the area and think they know what’s better or more profitable because for some reason everything must grow so they run for elected office.
    Fast forward to now and it’s overgrown and traffic is a problem not just in your neighborhood but all the way up through Currituck county and beyond. Did you know the stoplights are timed differently all through Currituck county on the weekends during the peak season? Try going to the grocery on Saturday afternoon 5 min rides turn in 20 minutes each way! Did you know google assistant sends people from all over to Tulls Creek road which is a curvy 2 lane county road that children live on when traffic is heavy 40 miles from SS.
    Yep it sux but we all have the option of moving to a gated community if we want gates.
    Life in a tourist town, who said it would be great? Probably a politician or a realtor.
    And the mid currituck bridge will just move the traffic jams but will not eliminate any real problems there will be a limited amount of people willing to pay the toll. Just look at the thousands that bypass the Chesapeake toll road… half a billion dollar bridge for a few weeks a year is pretty ridiculous. 2050 how much of the sandbar will be above water at that time ?
    Did I mention you live in a tourist town and not a gated community?


    Friday, Oct 15 @ 7:10 pm
  • Sean Mulligan

    It is real easy just put a policeman at the intersection by the baseball field on Saturday and Sunday from 9AM til 6PM. Allow only residents and individuals going to work to cut through.June through August. This would help the residents as well as those who unfortunately have to deal with this situation going to work.

    Saturday, Oct 16 @ 7:13 am
  • WindyBill

    When ‘cut-through’ traffic is your major problem, you have to be glad you moved here. Public dollars help maintain SS roads (Powell Bill) so gates will never happen. Do (any of) you really think that the huge cost of a 10 weekend a year tourist bridge for Corolla is the best use NC can have for that money? Really? Widen 158 by 2 lanes from the bridge to Duck Road and Duck Road at least to the narrow turns in Duck Town and your problem largely goes away.

    Saturday, Oct 16 @ 9:58 am
  • James

    @ Mike P. Actually I was agreeing with everything you said. You said it was silly for Dare County to have all these little towns. I agreed with you and pointed out Myrtle Beach as an example of where this issue was resolved back in the 1970’s. You said government rarely solves problems. For the most part I agree with you. Where I don’t agree is allowing private streets that are paid for and maintained by the residents (NOT NCDOT) of Southern Shores have their neighborhoods turned into a “FREEWAY”. Anyway, it does not really matter. Nothing you or I say will make 1 bit of difference. All the OBX needs is a few more strip joints (their is already in Point Harbor), a few more Breakfast Restaurants, and a Casio then Dare County is just another Myrtle Beach without the beautiful wide sand beaches and fabulous golf courses. Oh and by the way we don’t live in Southern Shores we live in Nag’s Head because Southern Shores is a highly undesirable place to live unless you like tourists pissing and defecting in your front yard, your children nearly being run over on their bikes, and traffic backups for as far as the eye can see all so someone can RENT out their home for a week.

    Saturday, Oct 16 @ 11:28 am
  • Stuck in traffic

    I don’t think SS is only getting. .1 percent of that traffic.
    The problem is duck. When you get north of the fire station it flows fine.
    And on the way out around 10:00 am it’s not even backed up to the county line.
    I’ve lived in both of those places SS and Corolla. For over 30 years. I drive it every weekend.
    When are we going to talk about a duck bypass?
    Stop letting bikers jam the road up on the weekends and those silly cross walks that hold up interstate commerce. You wouldn’t put a crosswalk on I95 !
    Don’t think that dream bridge will do anything but jam traffic up somewhere else. Not to mention that thing will help out of state workers come down and kill us guys that work here every day, and are used to our way of life. Think of the businesses in Currituck south of the bridge. Who’s going to stop there? If you’re staying in Nags Head , and you see a bridge over the sound. Your going to take that scenic route. At least once!

    I think it’s funny that SS is complaining about 15 weeks 2 days of those weeks. Try getting outta of Colington during school days. 180 days a year! No body wants to move the schools do they? Maybe we could get the Mid Colington bridge campaign going.

    Don’t make your problems someone else’s. Close your streets off and get some help from the duck cops. Try and find them on a weekend in the summer.

    Saturday, Oct 16 @ 7:57 pm
  • sandflea

    What about putting a couple pedestrian walkway bridges in Duck? Relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take that long to build. Where I am originally from, they did this and it dramatically improved the traffic issues. They even made them accent the look of the area and are relatively aesthetically pleasing. They will help traffic flow better in the Duck bottleneck area. They won’t completely solve the problem, but any improvement is a plus. Plus less dangerous and less possibility of people being killed “jay-walking”.

    Sunday, Oct 17 @ 8:35 am

    Hey Karl……First item listed in the revenue portion of the Southern Shores fy2020-2021 budget. Powell Bill funds. Read up on it.

    Monday, Oct 18 @ 6:24 am
  • Manteo Guy

    @Karl, you are wrong. Roads are publicly maintained by the Town of SS using my tax money.

    Monday, Oct 18 @ 9:04 am
  • Joan

    I think we just need to reduce the speed to 15 MPH in certain areas on the roads in SS on weekends. Let our vistors get to their rental homes. If it were not for our visitors , we would not have a prospering Island. I know some residents get upset with traffic, but remember cost would be so much higher without our vistors. OBX is one of the greatest place to live. Just saying.

    Monday, Oct 18 @ 9:14 am
  • WindyBill

    Too many towns? Lived here since 1978. The main reason SS and KH were created was so KDH, with its excessive taxes and interest in high density development did not annex these areas. Local control of land use is essential to trying to maintain a livable place. The local citizens then have more input into the $ their govt puts into specific services. Larger groups are easier for developers to manipulate ‘for the good of the whole’.

    Monday, Oct 18 @ 6:07 pm
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