Southern Shores Confines Size, But Not Fundamental Values

Nestled between the Town of Kitty Hawk and the Town of Duck, is the Town of Southern Shores. Prior to being incorporated as a municipally in 1979, Southern Shores was a piece of the Kitty Hawk community until it was founded as a resort in 1946. According to the Town of Southern Shores CAMA Land Use Plan Update, “The Town of Southern Shores is a quiet seaside residential community comprised primarily of small low density neighborhoods consisting of single family homes primarily on large lots (i.e., at least 20,000 sq ft) interspersed with recreational facilities (e.g., marinas, tennis facilities, athletic fields, and parks), beach accesses, walkways and open spaces. These neighborhoods are served by picturesque local roads (rather than wide through streets) along the beach, in the dunes or in the sound-side maritime forest. The scale and architecture of new development and re-development is compatible with existing homes.”

Standards of the residential community were kept high and town ordinances and covenants were put in place, such as restricting the number of bedrooms in a home to seven and the septic capacity to no more than 14 people. During a town meeting, Ike Sherlock told the Outer Banks Sentinel, “We were attracted and decided to buy in Southern Shores [in 1979] because of your covenants and land use planning.” He then discussed the town ordinances from the 1970’s and 1980’s, which defined the concept of the town on, “A low density, family and residential community with a slow, carefully planned growth.”

A new North Carolina law, that became effective in 2015, prohibits that local government cannot regulate certain building design elements. The law limits local government to restrict design standards on residential construction, thus not allowing the Town of Southern Shores to have a say on the number of bedrooms permissible.

With all the seasonal visitors the Outer Banks draws it is understandable the Outer Banks is an enormously popular wedding destination. To accommodate events, such as weddings and family reunions, some of the towns have allowed the building of event homes with as many as 28 bedrooms. These homes often hold entire wedding parties and even wedding receptions.
With the buzz of an event home being proposed in Southern Shores residents were outraged. The subject property had plans to be built on Ocean Boulevard with 16 bedrooms, a 1,000 square foot deck, and 2,500 square foot ballroom. Residents believed such a property would deface the fundamental personality of the town. However, with the new law in place no longer allowing restrictions on number of bedrooms, the town was forced to assess options for attaining control over larger homes.

One of the apprehensions with such a sizable home was the safety and traffic it would procure with a larger number of guests staying in the home. Sprinkler systems and marked exits are requirements for commercial buildings; nonetheless, despite the size of the home, these safety precautions would not be required due to the residential class. According to the Outer Bank Voice, “Already on the town’s books is a regulation that restricts event venues to the commercial district. Other than small changes in the language, the council kept that rule in place. Under it, a house advertised as an event home could not be built or operated in a residential zone.”

Good news came to the residents of Southern Shores at the end of January with the decision to limit the size of new houses to 6,000 square feet. The town council made the decision after weighing out other proposed options being the town was no longer allowed controlling the amount of bedrooms. Along with the decision regarding square footage, the council also replaced the parking specification to no longer reflect the number of bedrooms but instead base it on septic capacity, the Outer Banks Voice reported.

As for the other towns on the Outer Banks, ordinances vary heavily. The towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills have no limits. The Town of Nags Head has a maximum of 5,000 square feet and on home sites less than 16,000 square feet, a maximum of 3,500 square feet. These square footage laws have been in place since 2003. North of Southern Shores, the Town of Duck has added an amendment to their ordinance that factors home site size and septic capacity to determine occupancy numbers.

The Best Real Estate MarketDanielle-2015-10-14-1For more information please feel free to call Danielle and Danny Fenyak at (252) 256-1818 or email Danny at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.

The Outer Banks Rallies for Sea Turtles

outer banks sea turtlesThe cold winters eve came quickly the first week of January and caught many off guard as it had been in the high 70’s the week before with warm waters and flip flops in the sand. The tides turned quickly and brought in extremely cold water temperatures which while we can predict and forecast marine life cannot and in turn got caught in the cold.

Over 349 cold stunned green sea turtles were rescued from the Outer Banks coastlines from Hatteras to points north. These turtles were transported by many volunteers and trained staff from area state parks, NEST (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles), OBX SPCA, and the National Park Service. The calls were made and the troops rallied…. They scoured the beaches to collect, tag and eventually transport to their temporary hospital housing at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Several of the NEST Volunteers brought in more than 200 of these injured turtles on the 6th of January and didn’t have to look far to find them… every time they would tag one they would walk up on another…

Once they were brought to the facility they were separated into three groups (Active, Lethargic, and Shows No Signs of Life). The emergency veterinary team took vitals on all of them including temperature and weight, they were examined for other wounds needing any attention and then they were placed in dry containers (plastic tubs and cardboard boxes) on top of a towel, many of which were donated by the local real estate companies and families from the area, and then placed in temperature controlled settings where their body temperatures were raised very slowly.

After a night of rest and temperature regulation the turtles that responded well were placed in the aquariums “swim tanks” to see if they were capable of swimming vs just floating. The swimming turtles were moved to another holding tank and on January 7th – two days after the cold snap, 85 turtles were deemed strong enough to return to the open water and were shipped to Florida on a US Fish and Wildlife Service truck. The next 120 left on January 11th via a NC Wildlife Resources truck. To date only 9 have been reported to have died from the cold stun event.

The North Carolina Aquarium System has issued an urgent request for donations to help cover the costs of the unpaid and unforeseen expenses for this rescue operation. To assist in this effort please contact Jennifer Gamiel at the aquarium. (252) 475-2307.

If you find a stranded turtle contact the Stranding Hotline at (252) 441-8622. This is a 24hr hotline of certified and trained team members that will care for and remove the turtles as needed.

If you are interested in volunteering for or donating to the local NEST (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) organization or just finding out more details on them or the turtles please go to their website at www.nestonline.org – they have a wide variety of options for anyone interested in becoming a “team member”.

kim endreKim Endre, Sales Manager, Broker, ABR, GREEN, RSPS, SFR, SRES, REALTOR®
(252) 202-3696
kim@outerbanksblue.com

Bonner Bridge Construction Underway

The Outer Banks is one of the most unique and desired beach locations for visitors from all over the United States and the world. These visitors flock to the Outer Banks for many different reasons such as surfing, recreational or sport fishing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, family reunions, and weddings. The southern portion of the Outer Banks is Hatteras Island, which includes the villages Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. In order to cross over onto Hatteras Island, from the north, visitors must cross the Bonner Bridge. The Pamlico sound and Atlantic Ocean join under the two and a half mile bridge that connects Bodie Island and Pea Island. The Bonner Bridge, which was built in 1963, is the only highway connection from mainland North Carolina and Hatteras Island.

The Bonner Bridge was once expected to have a 30-year life span and has since exceeded those dates. Between local traffic and seasonal tourism traffic the bridge handles about two million cars a year. Together with the high volume of traffic, steady beach erosion, and turbulent storm seasons, the state is persistently forced to defend the integrity of NC Highway 12. Even though it is considered to be safe for travel, because of the constant maintenance, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has given the Bonner Bridge a four on a scale out of a possible 100 for structural integrity.

Due for replacement many years ago, the construction of a new bridge has been continuity hindered attributable to environmental lawsuits brought by means of the Southern Environmental Law Council. After many years a settlement agreement between lawyers from two conservation groups and NCDOT was reached, on June of 2015, with lawsuits officially being dropped on August 14, 2015, allowing a new bridge to be built parallel to the Bonner Bridge. The building of the new bridge will come as a relief to the many that live, travel, or own businesses and rely on the bridge as a necessary lifeline to the mainland.

On November 20, 2015, Governor McCrory announced utility work required to begin construction of the new Bonner Bridge replacement is underway. In the press release from November 20, 2015, Governor McCrory stated, “After decades of delays and court challenges, the people of Dare County and North Carolina will finally begin to see construction on the replacement for the Bonner Bridge. The Bonner Bridge has been a lifeline for the residents and visitors to the Outer Banks, and this first step toward building its replacement is a historic milestone for the region and entire state.”

According to the press release, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative is doing the utility work and PCL Civil Constructors Inc. and HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas will be in charge of designing and building the bridge. The bridge is expected to cost $216 million dollars and take three years to fully construct.

The Best Real Estate MarketDanielle-2015-10-14-1For more detailed information on the current state of the Outer Banks real estate market, please feel free to call Danny Fenyak at (252) 256-1818 or email him at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.

The 4th Annual Seafood Festival

It’s always great when seafood is involved!

The 4th Annual Seafood Fest is this weekend, October 17th, at the new and improved Outer Banks Event Site at milepost 16 in Nags Head. Not only with there be local seafood prepared in many different ways by local restaurants to enjoy but there will also be live music, local artisans, cooking demos, educational booths, marine life exhibits, boats, and non-profit vendors. They recently announced they will be having the Outer Bank’s Captains from Wicked Tuna to meet and give their autographs. The Captains scheduled to appear are Capt. Britt Shackelford of the Doghouse, Capt. Greg Mayer of Fishin’ Frenzy, Capt. Charlie Griffin of Reels of Fortune and Capt. Tami Gray of the Reel Deal. Captains Griffin & Gray will also be doing activities with Outer Banks Catch in their tent throughout the day. There will be something for everyone to enjoy!

This event was developed with the mission to provide a fun and educational way to promote, honor and celebrate the coastal seafood heritage and community here on the Outer Banks. So many folk’s lives here on the Outer Banks revolve around our waters and our local seafood industry. Whether they fish, shrimp, or crab; have a restaurant or seafood market; build, repair or maintain boats; or one of our roadside crab shedders, it is truly part of life on the Outer Banks. This isn’t an easy way of life and there are many challenges each and every day. It could be weather, politics, nature or personal challenges that impact their way of life, but it is a very proud part of life here on the Outer Banks. This Festival is a great way to get out to learn more about it and show appreciation for the seafood community.

The Seafood Festival is just one way to come out and enjoy our great local seafood while supporting that part of our local community. You can also make sure to support our local seafood industry by eating at restaurants that serve locally caught seafood and to purchase your seafood from a market that sells locally caught seafood. There will be many local restaurants there serving all different types of seafood as well as breweries & vineyards that will be there at the Fest so you have something to wash your seafood down. Parking is very limited at the site, but there are many locations all around town for free shuttle service to and from the event site to make sure it is convenient for everyone to be able to attend. This is an all day event from 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission is $3 and children under 12 are free. All food and drink must be purchased with Sea Bucks which can be purchased online in advance or at the Festival. You can find all kinds of additional information at the official Seafood Fest website at www.outerbanksseafoodfestival.org.

not the answer Outer BanksCara Muglia, REALTOR®
OBX Home Group at Outer Banks Blue Realty Services

Dowdy Park, Coming Soon!

Do you remember Dowdy’s Amusement Park? I do, and what a great place it was for all, young and old. Those rides, the arcade games, plus the popcorn and cotton candy. I can still see it now. Ah yes, those were the days when we enjoyed just being out with the family and looking at the roller coaster even if you did not ride. It was a sad day when it closed, back in the early 2000’s, after being a fond part of Nags Head for so many years.

Not long ago it was announced that Dowdy’s Park would be returning to Nags Head, not as the old amusement park we remember, but as a beautiful park to be enjoyed by all ages even without the rides! The Town of Nags Head purchased the land several years ago with the intent of making it a park to be enjoyed by residents of Nags Head and everyone else who passes by the old site on the corner of Bonnett Street and Croatan Highway. To continue to carry the name of the original owner it will be called “Dowdy Park”.

New Dowdy ParkA committee worked long and hard with residents of all ages, including children, to come up with the best design that would give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the new park. At this time the plan includes an informal trail park with play equipment, a multi-use playing field and turf area, restrooms, an event plaza, pavilion, boccie/lawn sports and a multi-use court. Keeping an eye on environmental concerns there will be a wetland garden, small dunes with vegetation plus a separate garden. There are also proposed benches, tables and chairs and fitness stations.

Funding is always the question that comes with financing such an undertaking. Currently the Town is hopeful of receiving a grant from NC Parks and Rec Fund. In addition the Outer Banks Tourism Board has been a tremendous help in the miles of sidewalks built throughout the Town and other amenities. Nags Head will be applying again for their assistance. Let’s hope they are successful!

It’s location alone should draw from the neighborhoods nearby plus those biking the wonderful sidewalks along the area. Our summer visitors will see the activity as they drive by another great addition to all the amenities in Nags Head. Way to go those of you in charge!

The Mid-Currituck Bridge: Will It Happen?

Anyone who has ever lived or visited the Outer Banks has heard about the Mid-Currituck Bridge. Opinions vary depending on whom you talk with at the time. Some swear that the bridge will be built and still others claim that it is never going to happen.  The truth is actually somewhere in the middle.  Let’s take a second to separate the facts from opinions.

The plan to build a bridge that connects Corolla to the mainland has been around since the 1970’s. The bridge would greatly relieve traffic congestion on NC 12 though Duck and Southern Shores and cut an hour off of trips to Corolla. On January 19, 2012, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released by the N.C. Turnpike Authority. It recommended the construction of the bridge as well as limited improvements to existing NC 12 and Us 158.  This project was slated to begin in late 2012. In June 2012 the NCDOT recommended not to fund the project.

This debate has gone back and forth from the very beginning. The opponents have cited costs as being the biggest obstacle with the bridge costing between 500-600 million to be built. There are many opinions that the funding allocated for this bridge should be used for the Oregon Inlet Bridge since many feel the Oregon Inlet Bridge is a hazard for everyone who crosses it. The question of funding has always put a damper in this project.

According to Jeff Hampton , “[As of December 2015,] the mid-Currituck bridge connecting the mainland to Corolla, N.C., is back on track”.  Kip Tabb writes, “With each hurdle that is passed, the Mid-Currituck bridge edges closer to realty”.  The feelings from many are positive that a toll bridge will eventually be constructed.  I can’t help but think that maybe some of these thoughts are more wishful thinking, but I agree and support that the bridge would supply jobs and stimulate our economy.

There are other issues that could impact the bridge being build. I’ve seen more and more closures of our beaches in recent years due to environmental activism. This same group may align itself with another species that is not in trouble to serve it own agendas to control our environment.

The question to whether the bridge will be built or not has many variables that aren’t easily answered.  Funding and environmental impact are its biggest opponent. Still most wish to dream of a time when they didn’t sit in traffic on Saturdays and early check in’s were available at every house. Whether fact or opinion, the hope for the Mid-Currituck Bridge lives on for locals and tourists alike. To build or not to build, that is the question.

mid-currituck bridgeFor more insights about the Outer Banks and surrounding area please feel free to contact Ken or Pete with Best Buy OBX of Outer Banks Blue.

Ken Baittinger
Ken (252) 305-5255
ken@outerbanksblue.com

or

Pete Salitore
Pete (252) 202-4868
pete@outerbanksblue.com

To Drill or Not to Drill On The Outer Banks

not the answer Outer BanksThe big talk on the Outer Banks right now is all about #NotTheAnswer or #NotTheAnswerNC or #KilltheDrill.  I have been a member of the Surfrider Foundation for over 15 years now and remain active with our local Outer Banks Chapter (http://outerbanks.surfrider.org; and check out their Facebook page).  They are making a lot of noise and making national news by saying no to offshore drilling off the coast of NC.  They started a “Clean Beaches = Healthy Businesses” campaign a few years back but since there wasn’t a real risk of offshore drilling being a reality, it didn’t gain too much momentum or press.  However, that has significantly changed over the past couple months since Obama agreed to open up federal waters for leasing of off shore plots to oil & gas companies to drill.

The local Surfrider Chapter has really stepped up to this challenge of saying NO and many in the community are agreeing.  You see sign marquees of many businesses saying in various ways “to keep our beaches clean” or “say no to big oil”.  The main argument that many are saying is economics – we have proven data on tourism money compared to the numbers that we are being told that offshore drilling will bring to our economy.  One spill, or even just the stigma related to offshore drilling, can negatively impact our tourist economy which is what most locals make their living from.  One spill, think the Gulf Coast, can stop tourism which will kill our local economy.  We can not afford to allow this to happen.  It also isn’t just a “not in my backyard” stand, it is also about protecting and conserving our coastline which is vital to our lifestyle; about having policies that encourage conservation; have improved energy efficiency and incentives and policies going to renewable or alternative sources for energy for future generations.

not the answer Outer BanksThis battle is just beginning and you don’t just have to love the Outer Banks to get on board to help.  This concern is all along the eastern seaboard.  You can start by letting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) know that they need to protect our coasts from not expanding offshore drilling to the Atlantic.  Click here to comment.

Tell them to drop offshore drilling in the Atlantic from their five year oil and gas leasing program.  Also, let Congress know as well.  You can use this Surfrider link to do so.   We had record numbers at the public comment meeting here on March 16 where at least 670 people came to speak out and show their support against drilling.  More voices need to continue to be heard!  The deadline is March 30, so make your comment personal as to why you do not want this to happen, before it may be too late.

not the answer Outer BanksCara Muglia, REALTOR®
OBX Home Group at Outer Banks Blue Realty Services

Outer Banks Real Estate Market Snapshot

As we approach the 2015 spring selling season here on the Outer Banks, it’s the perfect time to take a look at the overall health of the real estate market. Where have we been and where may we be going? Since the single-family homes make up 65% to 75% of our annual unit sales and 75% to 85% of our annual dollar sales volume, this article will only be referencing single-family homes from Carova to Ocracoke, including Colington and Roanoke Islands. All data is taken from the MLS of the Outer Banks Association of REALTORS.

Over the past 5 years, the annual number of sales has increased 11% (up from 1,029 in 2010 to 1,143 in 2014). The average active inventory in that same period has decreased 12% (down from 1,544 in 2010 to 1,358 in 2014). This constitutes a 21% improvement in our absorption rate which is the time it takes to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate. In 2010, our average absorption rate was 18 months. In 2014, that number improved to 14.3 months.

Outer Banks Real Estate TrendsSimple economics would tell you that an improving absorption rate would warrant upward pressure on sales prices. See the chart below for the average price per square foot (blue line) versus the number of annual sales (red line). There has only been a very modest gain in pricing since the low in 2011. That is an average of 1.4% annual appreciation. I would call [even] this small gain a victory after 6 years of 5% – 15% annual declines. The fact that the prices are slowly and steadily increasing is reassuring that we do not get into a “bubble” situation as we did prior to the peak in 2005.

It also appears that sellers are getting closer to what they are asking in 2014. I would attribute some of this to the sellers pricing accordingly on the front side, but also to buyers’ willingness to pay more for the property as our market has shown signs of strength. The average sold price / ask price ratio in 2009 was 93.2% when the foreclosures and short sales were peaking. In 2014, that ratio had risen to 95%. That is an average of $7,500 more in seller net proeeds!!

With the Outer Banks current market conditions, it makes a great time to both buy or sell. As a buyer, you can take advantage of relatively low pricing, strong rental income and very low interest rates that can be locked in over the life of ownership. As rents and prices rise, the mortgage stays the same, only increasing return on the investment. As a seller, you have a stronger command over your price, especially when you have strong rental income to justify the buyers’ investment.

outer banks real estate teamI hope you enjoyed this general market snapshot. For more detailed information on any segment of the market, please feel free to call Adam (252) 256-0086 or Shane (252) 202-1193 with OBX Island Guys of Outer Banks Blue. adam@outerbanksblue.com or shane@outerbanksblue.com