Nags Head to move forward with beach renourishment project planned for 2022

Crews work on the beach off Nags Head in June 2019. [photo courtesy Mere Crockett]

Town leaders have approved moving forward with a nearly $14 million beach renourishment project for South Nags Head to replace sand lost during 2019’s Hurricane Dorian that they hope can take place along with other beach widening efforts in Dare County planned for 2022.

Town commissioners also began the process of creating a new set of special property tax districts to help pay for future beach nourishment work.

The project proposed for next summer will place approximately 567,000 cubic yards of sand on 4.45 miles from about Jennette’s Pier near mile post 16 to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore border at mile post 21.

“We’re grateful to both the State of North Carolina and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their generous grants to replace sand lost during 2019’s Hurricane Dorian,” said Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon. “Because the sand loss per linear-foot in the south end of town was so much greater than what occurred north of Jennette’s Pier, the hurricane restoration project will focus on that area.”

Contractors completed Nags Head’s second beach nourishment project just a few weeks before Dorian struck the Outer Banks on September 6, 2019.

The estimated $13,952,137 project cost will be funded by a FEMA/North Carolina disaster assistance grant of $12,063,269, a North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Resources Coastal Storm Damage Mitigation grant of $1,408,247, and a contribution of approximately $480,480 from the Town of Nags Head’s beach nourishment capital reserve.

The project, currently planned for next summer, is engineered to provide enough healthy, protective beach to allow the town to align its regularly scheduled beach nourishment maintenance as early as 2027.

Widening of the beaches of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Avon are also in the planning stages by the towns and Dare County for the spring and summer of 2022, with an estimated total cost of all the projects of around $90 million.

The dates for the project is dependent on the county and towns finding a dredging contractor available at the price they can afford.

Financing for the future

Also during their meeting last Wednesday, Nags Head commissioners agreed to start the process of creating four additional municipal service taxing districts related to beach nourishment.

A municipal service district is a defined area within a town where additional property tax is levied to provide projects or extra services that benefit the properties in that district.

“Prior to 2011’s initial beach nourishment project, the Town established two oceanside municipal service districts to generate revenue for the project,” Cahoon said. “In addition, the overall town-wide tax rate was increased so that all property owners in Nags Head, all of whom benefit from a healthy beach, played their part in protecting our town’s future.”

“However, the Board feels the town would benefit from a more sustainable and proportional funding plan,” Cahoon said. “The supplementary revenue from the new tax formula will build up the Town’s beach nourishment fund balance to support future projects and provide more stability for future tax rates.”

“This plan better recognizes the benefits of nourishment that extend well beyond the immediate oceanfront,” Cahoon said. Properties adjacent to, but not directly on the ocean, benefit from reduced overwash flooding and impacts to infrastructure, such as streets, as well as increased property values due to their proximity to a well-maintained recreational beach. And, we know our beach is a key piece of infrastructure from which the entire town benefits.”

Current Municipal Service Districts:

  • All properties east of NC 12/South Virginia Dare Trail from Bonnett Street south to Gulfstream Street
  • All properties east of NC 1243/South Old Oregon Inlet Road from Gulfstream Street south to Nags Head’s southern town limits.

Proposed Additional Municipal Service Districts:

  • All properties east of US 158/S. Croatan Highway from Bonnett Street south to Gulfstream Street
  • All properties south of Gulfstream Street to Nags Head’s southern town limits
  • All properties east of US 158/S. Croatan Highway from Eighth Street south to Bonnett Street
  • All properties east of NC 12/South Virginia Dare Trail from Eighth Street south to Bonnett Street.

The town noted in a press release two key points:

  • To include a property within an MSD, the project or services delivered must be provided within the MSD boundaries. Therefore, in the future, all properties east of NC12/South Virginia Dare Trail and NC 1243/South Old Oregon Inlet Road will be included in two municipal service districts. The Town believes that the newly established MSDs could be taxed at a nominal rate to pay for current and future planning activities.
  • Nags Head’s Board of Commissioners has not yet discussed tax rates; at this time, additional MSDs are being put into place to give the Town more flexibility for future beach nourishment activities.

“Because beach nourishment maintains a healthy and attractive recreational beach, protects infrastructure like roads, water lines, sewage systems, electrical services, and beach accesses, while also protecting properties on and adjacent to the oceanfront, every Nags Head property owner realizes benefits,” said Cahoon.

For more information on the proposed beach nourishment project and beach nourishment financing, visit nagsheadnc.gov/shoreline.