The Duck Town Council Retreat was held on February 17 & 18, 2021
The Retreat was available virtually to the public, and during the two-day meeting, presentations were made by Town Staff as well as by community partners and contract organizations.
Below, please find Q&As submitted to staff during the retreat as well as links to recordings. For assistance, please contact Christian Legner.
The Town of Duck Comprehensive and Land Use Plan (CLUP) contains topics and goals required by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission for approval as a CAMA Land Use Plan. One of the required topics is how the community seeks to address public access to the beach and sound.
The Town’s adopted statement relating to beach access can be found in Goal 1.1 on page 30 of the CLUP and reads, “Remain open to partnerships and opportunities for increasing public access to the ocean.” This goal is further clarified by an additional statement, “This will require partnering with willing HOAs or other private property owners, seeking assistance from county, state, or federal government, or encouraging third-party partnerships that enhance beach access for homeowners, renters, or vacationers.”
The Town’s prior Land Use Plan contained the following goal: “Provide public access opportunities to beaches and public trust waters.” An initial draft of the current CLUP contained a similar statement. During review of the draft by the CLUP Advisory Committee, concerns were expressed about the statement encouraging a proactive, assertive approach by the Town to obtain public beach access. As a result of these comments, the goal in the adopted plan takes a more passive approach, suggesting that the Town work with willing property owners as opportunities for beach access arise.
While recognizing the importance of public beach access, the Town’s leadership understands that it is a complex and challenging issue. There are many different opinions and perspectives on how to consider providing greater public beach access in the future.
Some of the constraints and considerations the Town faces as it seeks to obtain property for public beach access include:
• Nearly all oceanfront lots in the Town are already developed.
• Nearly all access to the beach is through public or private neighborhood streets.
• Over 95% of all properties already have dedicated beach access.
• Many homeowners’ associations have covenants or deed restrictions that prevent use of property for public beach access.
• Owning and maintaining a public beach access is not as simple as providing a walkway to the beach. Provisions must also be made for a substantial amount of public parking and associated facilities, potentially including showers, bathrooms, trash cans, etc.
• Access and facilities must comply with ADA standards for handicap accessibility.
• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Field Research Facility conducts military and environmental research. Providing public beach access is not consistent with its mission and could interfere with ongoing operations and research.
To date, neither the USACE nor any HOAs or landowners have agreed to deed appropriate property to the Town or provide easements to further pursue a municipally owned and maintained public beach access. The Town remains committed to exploring options with interested parties.
Traffic congestion during turnover days is a problem that reflects the Town of Duck’s and Outer Banks’ success in creating a desirable destination for visitors to our community and beyond. Although certainly challenging for residents of the Town, the economic activity generated by these visitors substantially supports our Town, businesses, and local economy. Traffic statistics generated from the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system show that the vast majority of vehicles traveling into Duck on turnover days pass through to Corolla and beyond.
In 2014, the Town of Duck adopted a Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan that evaluated the balance between the needs of vehicles traveling in and through Town and the needs and safety of pedestrians in our community. The Town conducted a comprehensive public input effort that resulted in over 600 responses to a questionnaire from residents, property owners, business owners, and other stakeholders, as well as many additional opportunities for public participation throughout the planning process.
The resulting document, Duck’s Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan, places greater emphasis on vehicular and pedestrian safety, particularly in Duck Village. The Plan includes a great deal of background information and recommendations for improvements to public facilities and policies. These include recommendations concerning where crosswalks should and shouldn’t be located throughout the Town of Duck. Over the past 5-6 years, the Town has prioritized and partially funded many of the projects identified in the Plan, including the recently installed sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, crosswalks, signage, and crosswalk lighting throughout Duck Village.
Pedestrians crossing the highway can create a chain reaction that slows traffic. However, pedestrians crossing at marked crosswalks only account for a portion of the pedestrians crossing the highway. North Carolina General Statute 20-174 addresses pedestrians crossing a highway. That law, as written, only restricts a pedestrian to crossing a highway in a marked crosswalk if the crosswalk is located at an intersection controlled by a traffic-signal. As no such crossing exists in Duck, this creates a challenge for law enforcement. Additionally, many motorists voluntarily stop to allow pedestrians to cross the highway at other points along the highway. You may recall that prior to installation of many of the Town’s current sidewalks, crosswalks, and landscaping, pedestrians frequently attempted to cross Duck Road nearly everywhere in Duck Village, causing traffic disruptions in numerous locations. The crosswalks have helped define safer locations for crossing that are identified for drivers.
Additionally, the Town has worked to educate pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers about safe roadway use in Duck. These educational efforts occur weekly during the summer season as visitors come and go in our community. This information can be found in our brochures, on our website, and shared on social media. If you would like educational material for your home or rental property, please contact Christian Legner: firstname.lastname@example.org.
…and don’t forget that we have a significant project on the horizon that should alleviate a substantial amount of vehicular traffic through the Town once it’s complete. Although presently in the process of resolving a lawsuit, design and engineering are proceeding on the Mid-Currituck Bridge that will allow travelers to the northern Outer Banks to bypass most of the traffic issues on change-over days.
The 800 MHz radio system is solely owned, operated, and maintained by Dare County, as is the 911 Communications Center. The Town of Duck relies on both for essential radio communications, emergency dispatch services (911) and the countywide computer aided dispatch software platform.
As end users of the 800 MHz radio system, the Town of Duck and the other municipalities and agencies using the system are subject to Dare County’s control. However, the Town of Duck has worked with Dare County to adjust and improve the system wherever possible. After identifying locations within the Town where radio coverage was weak, Town staff worked with Dare County’s radio contactor to adjust the antennas mounted on the closest tower structures. This resulted in significant signal improvements within the Town. Along with working with the radio contractors to ensure the strongest possible signal, public safety personnel are able to use alternate non-repeated channels to improve on scene reception in some areas or switch to our higher wattage mobile radio.
The Town of Duck also identified the Town Hall, which serves as the Town’s emergency operations center during natural disasters, as a location with a radio coverage problem. To boost the radio signal strength at that location, a bi-directional antenna was installed.
The Town remains committed to working with Dare County to facilitate additional radio system improvements as they are identified.
The Duck Volunteer Fire Department has a had a long cooperative lease relationship with the Department of the Army/ Army Corps of Engineers since building on the property in 1982. The fire department currently holds the lease with a seamless renewal process every 5 years. Currently, the cost associated with this lease is a nominal filing fee. Discussions regarding options for a new public safety building have been in cooperation and collaboration with the local decision makers working at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (research pier), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District, VHB, RRMM Architects, and Town Staff. All parties agreed to allowing the Town to go through the required process to obtain permission to modify the current lease to provide adequate space for Public Safety. There were initial meetings to outline the project and to obtain the information required to proceed. This has included information gathering to submit an Environmental Assessment. We are currently waiting for the U.S. Army Corps to review the EA and issue a Finding of No Significance (FONSI) so that we may proceed with the process. All permissions will be in place prior to a commitment to build.
What makes this option better for the placement of the public safety building than purchasing property?
Duck has limited land availability that can accommodate the necessary space requirements for Public Safety. Duck Fire, and now the Town, have a 38-year history with this arrangement. The property is located linearly in the middle of our Town allowing for efficient response north or south. It provides the least amount of disruption to our commercial businesses and homeowners for fire operations and training, surf rescue, police, and potentially EMS in the future. Former use of the Corps property as a bombing range and its current use as a restricted research facility leaves it unsuitable for most development. Placement of the public safety building is an appropriate use of the land and leaves available buildable land in Duck free for other uses.
What is 21st Century Policing? 5. What is Proactive Policing?
What is Proactive Policing?
The Town of Duck Police Department’s stance on enforcement and community policing has been at the core of our mission for many years and has not changed under new leadership. Police officers have great discretion in how they enforce the law, but the stance of the District Attorney and our Judges often dictates how matters are handled. Our officers work closely with prosecutors to determine the best enforcement strategy. When minor offenses can be resolved without filing criminal charges, they are. However, when criminal charges are appropriate, our officers seek the most prudent criminal charges and present a solid case for prosecution.
What is 21st Century Policing?
The recommendations on the Evolution of 21st Century Policing were made by the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (NCACP) in September 2020. The NCACP has been focused on improving professionalism in policing for many years and their efforts have resulted in numerous positive changes at the local and legislative level. The Town of Duck has embraced many of these changes, such as being the first law enforcement agency in Dare County to implement an agency wide body camera program and implementing forward thinking training strategies and technological resources to combat and prevent crime.
The recommendations on the Evolution of 21st Century Policing were developed by a workforce group of North Carolina Chiefs of Police who each possessed significant professional policing experience. The recommendations made by the Workforce on Police Professionalism are built on two foundation principles:
Foundation Principal One: Preservation of Life
The sanctity of human life is at the heart of everything we do. To reinforce this principal the Duck Police Department has enacted policy that incorporates the duty to intervene and report misconduct and misuse of force by another officer. Further, we support reforms to improve use-of-force training, the addition of scenario-based reality training and de-escalation training.
Foundation Principal Two: Enhancing Professionalism
The Town of Duck Police Department seeks to create a culture of excellence and professionalism by maintaining trust and legitimacy in our community. Further, we support the creation of a North Carolina Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Program.
To read the full report by the Workforce on Police Professionalism, please go to: 20on20Evolution20Policing20Report_0.pdf