For the purpose of the Town’s project, beach nourishment is the process by which sand is brought by a dredge from offshore sand sources and pumped onto a beach. The sand is placed according to an engineered plan with specific criteria for a built beach (berm) and storm protection. At the Council’s November 5, 2014, Regular Meeting, the Council approved the construction of the project from the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility (ACOE-FRF) property north to Skimmer Way and a 500 foot taper on the northern terminus. Due to the ACOE-FRF’s concerns about damage to its equipment in the original taper area, the southern taper was modified to provide the same results as the 500 foot taper without impacting the Army Corps property.

The end project scope consisted of 1,180,000 cubic yards being placed along a 1.7-mile area (~ 8,500 linear feet) from just north of the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility north to 140 Skimmer Way, which also included a northern taper. The dune crest was constructed to an elevation of 20 feet with a 20 foot width sloping down to the design beach at a 5 to 1 slope. The design beach elevation is 6 feet with an approximate width of 70 feet.

To learn more about how beach nourishment projects work, click here for an informative document from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.

In May of 2013, the Town’s consultants, Coastal Planning and Engineering (CP&E) completed an “Erosion and Shoreline Management Feasibility Study” for the Town of Duck.  The study recommended that in the “hot spot” areas of the Town, north of the Army Corps property, a long term erosion mitigation (beach nourishment) project utilizing a dredge and an offshore sand borrow source was the most effective way to mitigate against the erosion occurring in this area, both in terms of cost and efficacy.  In the area immediately north of the Army Corps property referred to as Segment 7 (from north of the Army Corps property to Dianne Street) erosion has been a long term trend with over 150 feet of shoreline having been lost since 1980, this trend is expected to continue without a beach nourishment project.  The structures in this area were becoming increasingly vulnerable to storm damage due to their proximity to the shoreline, the width of the beach, and the lack of protection provided by the dune structures that remain in this area.  The area referred to as Segment 8 (from Dianne Street north to Martin Lane in the Sanderling subdivision) also experienced significant erosion in the years after 1980.  While the Erosion and Shoreline Management Feasibility Study indicated that all of Segment 8 should be a part of the project, additional engineering analysis refined the project area to only include a southern portion of Segment 8 (from Dianne Street to slightly north of Oyster Catcher Lane). Although recently the erosion in this area has been limited, models indicate that this portion of Segment 8 is still vulnerable to future erosion and storm damage, which can also only be mitigated through the construction of a beach nourishment project.

On March 17, 2016, Dare County (the contracting entity for the project) awarded the bid for the project, which included the Towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. A contract with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company was executed on April 19, 2016. The bid totaled $38,596,850. The contractor was given a 17 month window (April 2016- December 2017) to complete the Duck, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk projects. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company started the project in Duck on May 23 and completed the project on June 28. The project was completed in Kill Devil Hills around July 28 and continues on in the Towns of Southern Shore and Kitty Hawk with anticipated completion in October, 2017. The latest project updates are available on an interactive project map available at www.morebeachtolove.com.

In order to get a permit for a beach nourishment project, such as the one that the Town of Duck proposed, many items had to be completed.  These included, but were not limited to, offshore sand sampling and compatibility analysis, sand borrow area survey sampling and compatibility analysis, updating models related to shoreline change rates and storm damage, and completing environmental documentation and assessments, which included mandatory comment periods.  These items had to be completed before the Town was in a position to submit permit applications.  Once permits were submitted for review, various State and Federal agencies required sufficient time to comment on the applications and the Town had to review and respond to those comments. The Town received its Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Major Permit December 1, 2015 and the Army Corps of Engineers Permit on May 25, 2016. An update on the project the the permitting status was provided by CPENC during the Duck Council Retreat on March 9, 2016. The slides presented may be view by clicking this link: , Beach Management Project Update  and click here to view a video of the presentation given by CPENC.

Easements were required and secured from all oceanfront properties where sand was placed.  The easement was required solely for activities related to the construction and maintenance of the project including sand placement and associated earthwork, installation of sand fencing, and planting of beach grass associated with the project.  The easements provided the town and its contractors with the ability to work in the area of the beach generally waterward of the dune vegetation line, erosion escarpment, or toe of the frontal or primary dune for the life of the project.  The easements are not used for the purpose of acquiring public beach access in the project area.  Requests for easements were sent to oceanfront property owners beginning in the spring of 2015. All 120 required easements were been finalized by early 2016.

As mentioned above, the easement is and was for the purpose of constructing and maintaining the project. It did not change the boundaries of your property, convey property to the Town, or change your ability to access or use the property as you currently do, except in limited instances during the construction phase of the project. You are still allowed to maintain private access to the beach. However, since this project involved the design and construction of an engineered beach profile, certain restrictions with regard to hardened structures have been put in place and beach pushes are no longer permitted within the project area.

Dredging operations offshore of the Outer Banks typically take place in the summer months because it is much safer for the crews working on the offshore dredge.  The increased risk of safety and anticipated decreases in productivity in the winter months when sea conditions can shut down dredge operations were found to drive the costs of the projects up to a point where they would have no longer been financially viable.

The project cost was approximately $14,057,929 and was funded through revenue derived from the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund ($7,094,929), with the remaining $6,963,000 funded through a combination of General Fund appropriation and Municipal Service Districts (MSDs). That is, the Town’s portion of the cost of the project was funded by a contribution from all of the taxpayers in Duck (no tax increase occurred for this portion of the funding) with additional funding provided by property owners in the project area, both oceanfront and non-oceanfront (MSDs).  The Town issued Special Obligation Bonds to pay its portion of the project cost with debt service for the bonds to be paid back over a five year term, ending in FY 2022.  The debt service cost to the Town is $1,221,390 per year for the five year term with additional funding being provided from the Dare County Beach Nourishment Fund.

A Municipal Service District (MSD) is a tax district where property owners in the district are taxed at a higher rate to fund improvements (in this case beach nourishment) that are of a direct benefit to property owners in the affected district.  In this case, the Town Council approved on March 4, 2015, to establish two MSDs for the project area.  One MSD consisted of all oceanfront properties from the Army Corps of Engineers property north to just north of Oyster Catcher Lane (see map here).  The second MSD consisted of the oceanfront and non-oceanfront properties in this same area (see map here).   At its March 4, 2015, Regular Meeting, the Council held a public hearing and approved a plan which apportioned the payment of the debt associated with the project as follows: 20 to be paid by oceanfront property owners (through two MSDs) and 40% to be paid by non-oceanfront property owners (through one MSD).  This plan was approved with a unanimous vote and it was estimated that the additional tax per year for oceanfront property owners would be $0.463 ($0.148 in MSD A and $0.315 cents in MSD B) and for non-oceanfront property owners the additional tax would be $0.148 (in MSD A).  It is important to note that the amount of tax paid is directly related to the assessed value of the property as determined by the Dare County Tax Assessor’s office as the tax levied is based on each $100 of a property’s value.  For example, an oceanfront property valued at $1,000,000 would pay an additional tax of $4,630 per year for the five year debt period and a non-oceanfront property valued at $600,000 would pay an additional tax of $888 per year for the five debt period.  The approved MSDs took effect July 2, 2015 for a five year period. At the end of the five year period, the Council will determine the tax rate of the MSDs. The rate will be determined by factors such as the scope of the maintenance of the project and the time period when the maintenance begins.

Since the properties in the two MSDs benefit more directly from the beach nourishment project than those properties not located in the project area, it was logical that the property owners in the project area should pay additional taxes for the construction of the beach nourishment project. In addition to protecting the properties immediately adjacent to the beach in the project area, the beach was designed to provide for a dry beach area in all normal tidal conditions, thus allowing for the enjoyment of the beach for all users in the project area. By providing property protection and a dry beach, it is expected that both property values and rental rates will stabilize and remain competitive with other areas of the Town and the County.

The Town of Duck actively worked with the Towns of Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores to share in costs associated with permitting and construction for the four Towns. In addition, all four Towns and the County worked together to develop a plan to communicate information regarding the project to the public. The result of this collaboration was the development of the website www.morebeachtolove.com which hosted information on all of the projects with construction maps, links and general updates.

The sand that was used for this project, over 1,180,000 cubic yards of sand for the Duck project, came from an offshore borrow source. The Town’s consultants, Coastal Planning and Engineering, identified two offshore sand borrow source areas for this project. One location was offshore near Kill Devil Hills and a second location was offshore of Duck. For the Town of Duck project, the sand came from both borrow sources.

Coastal Planning and Engineering of North Carolina (CP&ENC) was contracted to do all the work associated with permitting and engineering of the project. DEC Associates assisted the Town with the financial aspects of the project. The contractor responsible for the actual construction of the project was Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. .

The Duck beach nourishment was designed to sustain a minimum of five years protection before maintenance is required. This period is influenced strongly by the number and strength of hurricanes, storms and nor’easters. At the end of the 5 year period, it it expected that some portion of the project will require renourishment.

Please refer to the Town’s website for additional information sources on the project.  In addition, you may call or email Christopher Layton, Town Manager (clayton@townofduck.com), Sandy Cross, Permit Coordinator (scross@townofduck.com) or Betsy Trimble, Public Information Officer (btrimble@townofduck.com) at 252.255.1234.