News

AARP tax prep begins in February

The free AARP Tax Preparation service will be offered to Currituck County residents from February 10 to April 14. Through this free service, county residents may receive assistance from trained specialists with preparing their tax returns. Tax preparation is geared towards low to moderate income levels and certain filing restrictions may apply. This service is available to all county residents, regardless of age.

Tax preparation assistance will be offered on Thursdays at the Currituck Senior Center, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. No walk-ins will be accepted. To make an appointment, call the Currituck Senior Center at 252-232-3505.

The Currituck Senior Center is located at 130 Community Way in Barco, next to the YMCA.

Winter weather facility updates

Tuesday, Jan. 25 , 2022:  Currituck County Government offices will open on a regular schedule of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All county facilities, recycling centers, and the transfer station are also operating on a normal schedule.

County residents should stay informed of the latest weather developments and be prepared for winter weather. Useful resources include:

Anyone with questions about winter weather preparedness may also contact Currituck County Emergency Management, at 252-232-2115.

Candidate filing resumes in February

The candidate filing period for the 2022 North Carolina primary elections will resume on February 24, the NC State Board of Elections announced on January 11. The candidate filing period will now be February 24 – March 4, 2022.

The North Carolina primary election is scheduled for May 17. Currituck County residents who plan to run for office must file as a candidate at the Currituck County Board of Elections office, located at the Judicial Center in Currituck. Anyone with questions may contact the Board of Elections office at 252-232-2525.

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The North Carolina Supreme Court on December 8, 2021 suspended candidate filing for all offices for the 2022 primary election. This includes filing for rescheduled municipal contests, and any separate filing period in January for those contests.

The Supreme Court also pushed the date of the primary election and rescheduled municipal elections back more than two months – to Tuesday, May 17, 2022. It had been scheduled for March 8.

More information from the NC State Board of Elections regarding this decision.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers regarding the delayed election.

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Currituck County citizens who wish to run for elected office in 2022 must register at the Board of Elections. There will be several local offices up for election on the 2022 ballot, including:

  • Board of Commissioners, At Large
  • Board of Commissioners, District 3
  • Board of Commissioners, District 5
  • Clerk of Superior Court
  • Sheriff
  • Board of Education, At Large
  • Board of Education, Crawford Township
  • Board of Education, Poplar Branch Township
  • Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor

In addition to these Currituck County races, there will also be elections of local interest for the United States Senate and House of Representatives, North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeals.

If you have any questions regarding candidate filing, voter registration, or other election matters, contact the Currituck County Board of Elections at 252-232-2525.

Board approves Phase 2 of dune walkover replacements

The Currituck County Board of Commissioners on January 3, 2022 approved moving forward with the second phase of a project to replace aging wooden walkways that provide pedestrian access to the beach in Corolla. In Phase 2, the dune walkovers at Coral, Dolphin, and Mackerel streets will be demolished and replaced with new, safer structures.

Demolition of the current walkovers in Phase 2 will begin soon. The new dune walkovers are each 8’ wide. Citizens are asked to use caution while in the vicinity of the construction sites and to not allow children to play in the work zones. The county aims to have Phase 2 completed in time for the summer vacation season.

Aerial view of new Perch St. walkover

Phase 1 of the project was recently completed in 2021. The initial phase replaced the dune walkovers at Barracuda, Perch, and Sailfish streets. The overall project includes the demolition and replacement of 12 dune walkovers.

The project timeline calls for Phase 3 to be done during the winter of 2022-2023 at Bonito, Marlin, and Sturgeon streets. The project will conclude with Phase 4 at Herring, Shad, and Tuna streets during the 2023-2024 winter months.

Webcams to collect coastal data, increase public safety

Currituck County will be one of the first U.S. coastal communities to participate in a project utilizing coastal web cameras for quantitative scientific analysis, public safety, and resource management for coastal municipalities. This project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through a program called Webcams for Coastal Observations and Operational Support (WebCOOS).

Currituck County is partnering with Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of California Santa Cruz, Axiom Data Science, NOAA (CO-OPS), U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to install new web cameras on the oceanfront in Corolla. Staff from the Emergency Management Department are representing the county in this project.

The two cameras will have integrated cutting-edge technology with scientific and public health applications. Collected data will be used to alert and inform residents, visitors, and scientists about flooding, beach usage, beach and surf zone conditions such as rip currents and coastal inundation, and water quality for swimmer safety. The system will use a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) software to monitor, assess, and report on beach hazards and activities. Additionally, live beach footage from both cameras will be available to the public to view from their desktop and mobile devices.

The project is anticipated to launch in Spring 2022 and a special announcement will be made when the live feeds are ready for public viewing.

Court sides with county in occupancy tax lawsuit

Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons, Jr. recently delivered a favorable ruling for Currituck County in a lawsuit regarding the use of occupancy tax revenue. Following arguments during the December 6, 2021, session of Pasquotank Superior Court, Judge Sermons granted the county’s motion for summary judgment while denying the Corolla Civic Association’s partial motion for summary judgment. The decision in favor of the county, and dismissal of the Corolla Civic Association’s complaint, was entered on December 22, 2021.

Interim County Manager and County Attorney Ike McRee stated, “The county is pleased with the court’s ruling which is an affirmation that the county has used occupancy tax revenue in accordance with state law and is a good steward of public funds.”

This lawsuit was originally filed by the Corolla Civic Association (CCA) in 2019 and claimed that Currituck County did not spend occupancy tax revenue in accordance with state law.  However, the court has consistently sided with Currituck County regarding its use of occupancy tax revenue.

In an October 3, 2019 order, Judge Sermons denied CCA’s request for a preliminary order enjoining Currituck County’s use of occupancy tax revenue for public safety purposes.  On July 19, 2021, Judge Sermons dismissed the CCA’s North Carolina constitutional claim that Currituck County was improperly spending occupancy tax revenue. Judge Sermons also granted the county’s motion to dismiss former County Manager Dan Scanlon and the members of the Board of Commissioners as defendants from the lawsuit to clarify the defendants as Currituck County and the Tourism Development Authority.

The CCA’s lawsuit hoped to prove that Currituck County improperly spent occupancy tax revenue on items such as law enforcement and public safety services. It also requested that up to $40 million be transferred from the county’s General Fund back to its occupancy tax fund.

NC Supreme Court denies challenge to campground regulations

The North Carolina Supreme Court issued a ruling on December 14, 2021, denying a private business’ petition for the court’s review of a Court of Appeals decision affirming Currituck County campground regulations. The dispute between 85’ and Sunny, LLC, owners of the KOA Outer Banks West campground in Waterlily, and Currituck County involved the owner’s application to increase the number of campsites and build a swimming pool and other new facilities on the property at the campground not permitted by the county’s development regulations.

The Supreme Court order affirms a decision made by the NC Court of Appeals, which ruled in Currituck County’s favor on August 17, 2021. The Court of Appeals decided that under Currituck County development regulations, the county was correctly limited the number of campsites to 234 and denied the construction of a swimming pool or other new facilities.

Originally, Currituck County’s Planning Department applied the county’s development ordinance requirements and an appeal by 85’ and Sunny, LLC to the Currituck County Board of Adjustments was denied. A subsequent appeal to NC Superior Court in 2020 was decided in favor of 85’ and Sunny, LLC, allowing an increase in the number of campsites but not allowing construction of a swimming pool. Both parties appealed that decision to the NC Court of Appeals.

With the final ruling by the NC Supreme Court, the KOA Outer Banks West campground will be limited to 234 campsites for RVs, trailer, or campers and a tent camping area with the number of spaces to be determined based on minimum site size. The owners will not be allowed to add a swimming pool or other new facilities to the property.  Currituck County will assess the campground to determine if any structures do not meet county regulations and may need to be removed

Assistance available for water, heating bills

Local citizens may be eligible to receive financial help with water and heating bills through two programs offered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) each provide a one-time payment to help low-income households afford their utility bills.

For more information and assistance with applying for financial aid, contact the Currituck County Department of Social Services at 252-232-3083.

Low Income Household Water Assistance Program:

  • If your water or wastewater services have been cut off or if you have received notice that your services are in danger of being cut off because your bill is past due, you may be eligible.
  • Households that currently receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Work First services, or those that received Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) services between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, are automatically eligible to receive this benefit.
  • If your water has been cut off, or if you have received a notice that your water is going to be cut off, you can apply online at https://epass.nc.gov beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, all households who need help paying their water bill can apply for assistance if they meet the eligibility  requirements. LIHWAP runs through September 30, 2023 or until funds are exhausted.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program:

  • Households including a person aged 60 or older or disabled persons receiving services through the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible to sign up for assistance from December 1 – 31.
  • All other households may apply from January 1 – March 31 or until funds are exhausted.
  • Contact the Department of Social Services, 252-232-3083, for information on eligibility requirements.
  • You can apply online at https://epass.nc.gov.

Pyle recognized by state emergency management group

Steven Pyle, Currituck County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, is the recipient of the 2021 Vance E. Key Award from the North Carolina Emergency Management Association. This award is given to one person annually throughout the state who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in Emergency Management at the local level.

Pyle has helped Currituck Emergency Management implement several initiatives to improve the use of technology in order to provide better services to the public and increase staff efficiency. These include the county’s transition to online re-entry permits, which offers citizens and businesses a speedier method to receiving permits.

“Steven has a great can-do attitude toward any task and an incredible talent of pulling people together to see how projects can improve our current ways of doing business,” said Mary Beth Newns, Currituck County Emergency Management Director.

Pyle’s accomplishments also include creating the SafeCorolla.com webpage that provides real-time information for the public on beach conditions and public safety. He has also expanded the use of Currituck Alert, which is the county’s emergency notification system that provides alert messages to citizens via text message, email, or voicemail, and he works with the Public Information Office to post timely public safety messages on the county’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Citizens can register for Currituck Alert online and access more information from Emergency Management on the county website. If you have any questions, contact the Emergency Management office at 232-2115.

Partnership working to protect Currituck Sound

Currituck County is one of several stakeholders working to conserve and protect the Currituck Sound ecosystem. The group, known as the Currituck Sound Coalition, released a Marsh Conservation Plan on November 30, 2021 that provides guidance for protection of the freshwater marshes in this unique habitat.

Currituck’s partners in this effort include Audubon North Carolina, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, Coastal Studies Institute, Chowan University, Ducks Unlimited, North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, National Wildlife Refuge Association, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Sea Grant, The Nature Conservancy, Town of Duck, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Located between the North Carolina mainland and the Outer Banks, Currituck Sound spans 153 square miles and is unique in its diverse biology, fresh water, and shallow depth. The freshwater marshes of Currituck Sound provide habitat to a wide variety of wildlife. These marshes face many threats, including increased erosion, encroaching development, and sea level rise. Audubon North Carolina estimates the marshes are reducing at a rate of 70 acres per year.

The Marsh Conservation Plan helps to identify threats to the Currituck Sound and offers solutions to restore and protect the sound. Strategies include conserving existing marshes as well as identifying and protecting areas that could become wetlands in the future as seas rise and the sound changes.

“The Currituck Sound and its marshes are tremendously important, not only to the history of Currituck County but also to its present and future generations,” said Laurie LoCicero, Planning Director, Currituck County. “We are a coastal community with a dynamic environment and the Marsh Conservation Plan will provide valuable input for effective decision-making as the county continues to grow. The Currituck Sound Coalition is a great partner in helping us maintain the vitality of the Currituck Sound.”