History of the Town of Duck

About the Town of Duck

The Town of Duck is Dare County’s northernmost community, and one of the most popular resort destinations on the east coast of the United States. Incorporated on May 1, 2002, Duck is also the Outer Banks’ newest town.

The Town was formed by an act of the North Carolina legislature. To view House Bill 882, click here.

Duck is a sound to sea community and offers visitors outdoor recreational activities, summer events and concerts, watersports, fine dining, world class shopping, art galleries, and a nationally-known jazz festival. Of course, the beach is fantastic and the sunsets are not to be missed!

With the opening of Duck’s Town Park, facilities and soundside boardwalk which extends .62 miles and in 2014 was completed to connect the Duck Commercial Village, Duck has become the Outer Banks’ most vibrant recreational, cultural, and entertainment center. The Duck Town Park is designed to be a premier community recreational facility enabling visitors to partake in the natural beauty of this 11-acre soundside maritime forest and willow swamp.

Park amenities include a soundside boardwalk, amphitheater, gazebo, boardwalk, public kayak/canoe launch, four-slip boat pier, picnic shelter, playground, and various walking trails throughout the park’s natural habitat. Park visitors can take in an evening summer concert; stroll the boardwalk; have a picnic lunch; or just kick back, relax, and enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

A Timeline of Duck’s Incorporation History

In 1984, The North Carolina General Assembly established Duck as a North Carolina Beautification District. As a beautification district, an ad valorem tax could be levied to beautify the district and/or protect its citizens. Initially, a tax was levied for the purpose of providing for the underground installation of power lines throughout the community. This action prevented the power company from installing 30-foot high concrete poles along Duck Road. The resulting project resulted in an uncluttered skyline, increased safety for evacuation from the area (no downed poles or wires), and maintaining household power through major storm periods.

From 1986 to 1988, the community agreed to the levy of a tax for a two-year period to pay for the construction costs of a seven-mile multiple use trail. These funds were augmented by a $30,000 grant received by the Duck Civic Association (DCA) from the Dare County Tourism Bureau. The State Department of Transportation was also a major participant in obtaining easements and contracting for the trail installation.

In 1987, The Duck Civic Association was established to represent the community in matters of public safety, land use, and other public interests. The association management was set up with a nine-member Board of Directors and the usual complement of officers.

On July 18, 1994, the Dare County Commissioners adopted a resolution “to preserve our coastal village atmosphere through land use management and the policies and implementation strategies contained in the 1994 Land Use Plan update…”, signed by Robert V. Owens, Jr., Chairman.

In February of 1999, the Dare County Planning Director made the DCA aware that a plan was being submitted by Food Lion to build and operate a 31,000 square foot supermarket in Duck Village, behind Herron’s Deli.

From June 15 to August 14, 1999, the DCA prepared a petition objecting to the introduction of the proposed supermarket into Duck Village. The petition was circulated within the community and made available at many of the businesses in Duck. During the two-month period, a total of 3,311 signatures was received. The majority of the full-time residents signed the petition. A large number of tourists (2,266) signed the petition and many expressed dismay at the thought of a supermarket in Duck. The sign up list contained names of people from 32 states and the District of Columbia. Also, there were four different United Kingdom parties and residents of Norway, Poland and Russia who signed. The results of the survey were passed along to Food Lion, Armada Hoffler (a Virginia Beach-based commercial real estate and construction company), and local and state political leaders.

On September 27, 1999, the president of the DCA received a conference call from the vice president of real estate and store development for Food Lion the vice president of development for Armada/Hoffler. They confirmed that Food Lion had bought the property in question, but said they were abandoning their present plans to build the proposed store. They mentioned that they hoped to develop the property in the next one to three years.

In late 1999 and early 2000, the President of the DCA had a number of discussions with Food Lion executives concerning the potential for DCA to buy the property from them, using grants and other means to raise the funds.

At the DCA meeting on January 6, 2000, the membership, in response to the Food Lion scare, asked the DCA Board to develop a set of materials relating to the possible incorporation of the community into a separate town.

On February 7, 2000 the DCA Board developed the requested information, including detailed financial projections, and sent it to all Duck property owners and registered voters. The revenue projection was based on making no changes in taxes that were currently being paid to Dare County for Duck-unique services. That total was 17 cents per $100 valuation (11 cents for waste disposal/recycling, 4 cents for fire department, 1 cent for ocean rescue/lifeguards, and 1 cent for trail maintenance). A questionnaire was part of the package.

In April of 2000, responses to the questionnaire were tallied. The 1,051 respondees were overwhelmingly in favor of incorporation. Duck residents were 62% in favor and non-resident owners were 74% in favor.

In June of 2000, the DCA Board appointed a 10-person Incorporation Committee.

In the late summer and early fall of 2000, the voter signature process to petition for incorporation was carried out. In late October, the Dare County Board of Elections certified the signatures (55% of registered voters) and the package was mailed to the Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporation.

On October 1, 2000, the president of the DCA received a call from the new director of real estate for Food Lion. He indicated that they were prepared to talk to the Duck Community about purchasing the property at the price they had paid for it, plus minor costs since the purchase.

On January 30, 2001, Food Lion and DCA executed an agreement which gave DCA the right to buy the property or to find a third party purchaser acceptable to Food Lion. Terms of the letter of intent were in force until December 31, 2001. The purchase price was $4,100,645.30.

During the 11-month period, serious discussions were held with many potential funding sources, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Division of Coastal Management, Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Even with a seven-person team working on the project, it was not possible to find a fast way to raise $4M.

In February of 2001, the Joint Commission completed its review of the Duck petition and forwarded it to the legislature with no recommendation for a referendum. The Commission sent an email to the Interim Council stating that it was “the most professionally done” petition of any they have ever received.

On March 28, 2001, Representative Bill Culpepper introduced the Duck Incorporation Bill in the House.

On August 29, 2001, after clearing the Senate on August 28 and the House on August 29, the bill became law.

On November 6, 2001, voters voted “for” the incorporation of Duck.

Duck was incorporated as the sixth Town in Dare County on May 1, 2002.