No easy answers at Rodanthe community meeting

By on January 19, 2023

Dare County says funds not available for beach nourishment

County Manager Bobby Outten reviewed the history of beach nourishment. (Photo credit Kip Tabb/OBV)

Speaking before a packed Rodanthe community meeting, as well as a number of online participants, Dare County Manager Bobby Outten outlined the challenges facing a beach nourishment option for Rodanthe.

For Rodanthe residents, nourishment has become an increasingly critical issue as the ocean moves closer to shoreline properties and washes over dunes affecting roads and infrastructure and leading to the collapse of homes in the past year.

Outten’s message was straightforward—currently there are no funds for a nourishment project in Rodanthe. He explained that the county and towns have just completed the 2022 renourishment projects and the funds, which are raised through occupancy taxes and property taxes, are depleted.

Outten began his talk telling the audience that “The only way we can all work off the same sheet of music and get to the same conclusion is if we’re all working with the same facts. So tonight we’re going to try to lay out beach nourishment 101…where we’ve been and how we got here.”

His talk took the history of nourishment projects back to the 1980s, a time, he said, when “…almost no community in their county thought it was a good idea to do beach nourishment.”

Nags Head was the first town in the county to try beach nourishment, hoping originally to take advantage of a program that would have funded the project with 70% federal money, 20% state and 10% local funding. However, the federal funds were never available. The project finally moved forward in 2011 with the county and Nags Head equally sharing the approximately $36 million price tag.

At that time Nags Head created Municipal Service Districts (MSD), allowing the town to levy an additional tax on properties that would benefit the most from nourishment. That means of funding is key to how projects continue to be paid for throughout the county.

After the Nags Head project, the towns north of Oregon Inlet entered into an agreement with Dare County and the towns sharing the cost of nourishment. At that time the county also moved forward with projects at Buxton and Avon. The county and towns finished beach nourishment projects by October 2017.

Outten explained that currently, new sources of revenue do not seem to exist. Although a law establishing the 70% shared funding between the federal government and towns is still on the books, Congress has not authorized money for it. The county has asked state legislators about the possibility of raising the occupancy tax and the answer was an emphatic no.

“The last time we went to ask for that, we were told, not only no but ‘h… no” and don’t come back anymore,” he said.

Outten also pointed out that even if a Rodanthe MSD was created using the same formula the county uses for Avon and Buxton, that would only represent an additional $636,000, well short of the approximately $20-$30 million needed for the initial phase of a nourishment project for the 2.5 miles of Rodanthe beach.

Questions from the audience, though, called into question whether beach nourishment in Rodanthe is solely a county issue. Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) beach property extends to the mean high tide line, making all Outer Banks beaches from South Nags Head to Ocracoke part of the National Park Service.

Jeff Ferebee of Camp Hatteras said federal dollars for the NPS might be used for nourishment. (Photo credit Kip Tabb/OBV)

Following Outten’s presentation, Jeff Ferebee of Camp Hatteras in Rodanthe pointed out that as early as 1916, the National Park Service Organic Act mandated protection for NPS resources.

“Specifically, the Act declares that the National Park Service has a dual mission to conserve public resources and provide for use and enjoyment in such a manner and by making such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations,” Ferebee said.

He then told the audience that through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Great American Outdoors Bill and NOAA funds earmarked for climate change mediation, there is well over $3 billion in funding has been earmarked for the NPS system.

“Congress has billions and billions of dollars that is set aside for public service. We’re just looking for 20, 30 million,” he said.

But CHNS Park Supervisor Dave Hallac pushed back, pointing out that there are 424 national parks in the system and every one of them is vying for some share of the money. He also noted that much of that money will be applied to projects that have been put off for years.

“The existing deferred maintenance backlog the National Park Service…is 22 billion [dollars]. Just here at Cape Hatteras Seashore, we have tens of millions of dollars of maintenance backlog,” he said.

Additionally, Hallac told the audience, nourishment projects require ongoing funding for maintenance. The NPS, which is funded annually through Congress, would not necessarily be given the money for renourishment.

Although officials were not optimistic about the prospects for a nourishment project in Rodanthe, Outten did point out there is a study of the Rodanthe beach being done at this time.

“The next step for us is to get the study, which we should have in the next 60 days or so and put a price tag on it. Once we have a price tag, we know what we’re asking for,” he said.





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  • Kitty Hawker

    I’ve got a great idea – since Duck doesn’t really want to provide easy access for the equipment for their beach nourishment, let’s let Rodanthe have it!

    Thursday, Jan 19 @ 4:34 pm
  • Penny

    If we let Rodanthe go, there will be no vehicle access to Hatteras Island.

    Thursday, Jan 19 @ 5:08 pm
  • Bill

    Good for Superintendent Halleck. The dune system on the Outer Banks is the reason for the rapid beach erosion. They are MIGRATING Barrier Islands. Look at the “Canal Zone” at the north end of Pea Island. The road is on the beach. Or Under the beach during storms. You are living on a THIN STRIP OF SAND. You choose to live down there. It is not the job of the NPS to protect anyone’s house or rental property.

    Thursday, Jan 19 @ 6:32 pm
  • james

    If the road on Pea Island is under water most of the time, why did they build the Jug Handle Bridge? How is it possible to get to the Jug Handle Bridge if Pea Island itself is under water and impassable? Is the plan to build a series of bridges in the Sound from Oregon Inlet to Buxton like the Florida Keys or something? Seems like to me the best solution is Ferry Service from the North End of Oregon Inlet to the the largest land mass like somewhere in Waves or Salvo and to Buxton. Just make Cape Hatteras accessible the same way as Ocracoke is the only solution that makes sense to me in the long run.

    Thursday, Jan 19 @ 7:26 pm
  • Blind Eye

    Dare to live the Impossible Dream . Welcome to the graveyard of the Atlantic ……

    Thursday, Jan 19 @ 9:34 pm
  • Roy

    Why didn’t the new suction dredge the county bought be configured as a dual use vessel and be able to be used for beach replenishment too?

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 4:56 am
  • Blind Eye

    No Sand for you

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 6:51 am
  • GT705

    Not only is Bill corrent about dune migration, what is even more significant is simple, inevitable, and indisputable westward erosion. Back in the 1980’s when I attended college, I had unique access to both civil engineering and Army Corps of Engineer professionals. All of them stated this westward erosion as fact. Even then, constant westward erosion of the Outer Banks we very well known. Unfortunately since then, it continues to be underestimated if not virtually ignored.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 7:16 am
  • Lemonshirt

    While it is of no help to the current situation, we must acknowledge that it was a collossal mistake to EVER allow permanent development on this sandbar. The totality of the land should have been dedicated to the National Park Service. Bridges never built. Nothing more than campsites. Knowing this, out “solution” needs to point in that direction.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 7:57 am
  • Tri-village

    Get rid of the jetty on the south side of Oregon inlet. Ever since that was put in place the sand that naturally flowed stopped. All the dredging would no longer be needed. I might be wrong on the price but I think it might be a cheaper , longer lasting solution. Beach nourishment is a lot of money that gets washed away very quickly. The houses that are in danger of falling in are not homes of people that live here. Stop issuing those houses septic permits. They are investment properties. I don’t expect anyone to help me if I make a poor decision on an investment. Don’t expect the park service to help you. Maybe people should have paid closer attention when buying. Ocean front is different than in the ocean.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 9:30 am
  • Chris

    @ james I can assure you the jughandle bridge was built for the simple reason, the state will no longer maintain the section of 12 at S-TURNS when it washes out and becomes an inlet. So y’all need to start thinking of names for it and submit them to the state!!!!! Haha!!!! Should of seen this one coming.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 12:43 pm
  • Travis

    Good on Outten and Hallac for the unvarnished presentation. It is not easy to be the bearer of bad news. Just ask Stan Riggs. He’s been warning about the untenable situation with housing and erosion/migration for years, but nobody south of Oregon Inlet wanted to hear that noise, so he was shunned.

    The noise is now too loud to ignore: a noise that sounds much like an angry ocean clawing back big chunks of land and the occasional beachfront mansion. I wouldn’t buy a home south of Oregon Inlet now, and if I lived there I’d sure be looking at selling it.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 2:02 pm
  • Buck C.

    I wonder how much it would help Rodanthe if the “New” New Inlet Bridge and the Jug Handle Bridge had a breach and an inlet was cut through like it did during Irene in 2011. The S-Turn dunes will be decimated like they always are and now we have a huge bridge in 3 feet of water that could handle another inlet. I know there isn’t much beach left in Rodanthe, but it seems like an inlet(s) would take some pressure off of it.

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 2:37 pm
  • WindyBill

    Kitty Hawker got it right!! Should be no fed or state $ for areas without public accesses to the beach!

    Friday, Jan 20 @ 2:53 pm
  • democracy

    Rodanthe is in deep trouble, But then so is all of the Outer Banks. In several decades, all of it will be under water.

    Saturday, Jan 21 @ 6:55 am
  • james

    @Tri-village – You are correct! I remember 30 years ago the dunes at Pea Island all the way to Rodanthe were 40 feet high! They were some of the largest and tallest dunes on the entire Outer Banks and the Ocean was quite a ways from the dunes. There was no such thing as overwash. But as soon as they built the South Jetty they were flattened like a pancake in a matter of years and now Pea Island is essentially underwater when any decent storm that passes by. I guess they now plan to build a series of Jug Handle bridges like the Florida Keys because how can you get to the Jug Handle in Rodanthe when Pea Island itself is underwater?

    Saturday, Jan 21 @ 10:47 am
  • Greg

    All of these comments are interesting. However buildings North of Rodanthe Pier have been washing away since the 80s. The entire resort complex once at The Pier is now gone. A large building and a group of small cottages and a motel. No one made a big deal over it. Homes in S Nags Head and Kitty Hawk were also being washed away going back over 60 years. During the 80s and almost to the present homes were being built on the Rodanthe oceanfront. Building permits were not denied there. Starting in the 90s both NH and Kitty Hawk ceased oceanfront building permits and limited remodeling of oceanfront buildings. KDH ceased them North of Avalon Pier. Those bans are still in place. the same needs to be in Rodanthe. Once the houses are gone erosion will slow down. The wave wash through the pilings really causes the sand to wash out . I have Lived and surfed in this area for over 50 years and have seen this play out along the beach year after year. Route 12 has been diverted many times as well over decades due to being washed out by big wave events. Life goes on.

    Saturday, Jan 21 @ 11:28 am
  • Daniel Kerlakian

    Every other vulnerable beach community in Dare has received beach nourishment, including those on Hatteras Island. When NPS established the National Seashore, they committed to maintaining the shoreline and protecting the communities from the ocean. I’m fact they did this for 30 years until the mid 70s. If you’re property or community is benefitting from nourishment please don’t give an opinion here for why Rodanthe should not receive.

    Saturday, Jan 21 @ 11:58 am
  • Blind Eye

    Thanks Greg , you are 100 precent right… Double dunes, oceanfront parking at rodanthe pier ,free beach ramp for driving on the beach…restaurant , motel ,pool ,cabins, and employee oceanfront housing for the old down under restaurant…all gone from the ocean…Now you want to save a few private rentals ,Wow you should do a little research before you buy property… too late now….. make the move those houses and stop giving permits Thanks…Greg see you in the lineup

    Saturday, Jan 21 @ 8:05 pm
  • Look@See

    Funny that one commenter suggested that if you don’t live there you have no say… except you don’t mind taking our money I’m sure.. if we have no say then you shit your mouth and pay for it yourself… same attitude people have towards schools, I pay my taxes on time every year so I most certainly DO have a say in how you desire to waste my money all while blocking public beach access…. Can’t have it both ways Chief

    Sunday, Jan 22 @ 10:58 am
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