From an Outer Banks Sentinel report.
The fate of ocean-battered Seagull Drive in Nags Head remains unresolved after the town’s board of commissioners voted during its June 1 meeting to table until September a plan to close part of the street.
The Seagull Drive dilemma involves a balancing act between the town’s concern that maintaining the street is costly and ineffective and the homeowners’ fears that closure means public health and safety problems and the loss of crucial rental income.
Located near the southern edge of Nags Head, and with a section just yards from the ocean, the U-shaped street has had accessibility problems for years. Badly damaged by storms in 2009, the oceanfront section was repeatedly cleared and repaired and remained passable until early this year, when a persistent northeast wind exacerbated the problem. At an April 6 meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution of intent to close the street as a first step in the process.
During the June 1 public hearing, Seagull Drive property owner Lucas Munn told the commissioners it would be “premature” to close the street now and asked the board to consider the hardships that decision could bring. That included mortgage companies “calling our note due,” leading to the owners’ “possible financial ruin.”
Calling the town’s actions “rapid” and “arbitrary,” owner Donna Fohs said, “It is a little concerning that, if a road gets washed out, we are faced within two months with notices … of our road being potentially closed.”
At the meeting, Nags Head Mayor Bob Edwards called Seagull Drive “an extremely complex issue.” He also indicated that the commissioners were sensitive to the homeowners’ financial concerns, stating the board will “make a commitment, so these property owners can have their rental season, that we we’re going to maintain that road until October.”
Several residents stressed that the homeowners are trying to come up with solutions. Donna Fohs said she and her neighbors are working to find solutions, including easements, but “we need a lot more time.”
Residents say they may consider applying for a town permit that will enable them together to build an alternate access road on the back portion of their property behind their homes.
Town Manager Cliff Ogburn plans to visit Seagull Drive with Public Works Director Ralph Barile and determine what maintenance will be needed to keep the road open and passable by vehicles.