Decision 2014: GOP candidates weigh in on Moyock issues

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

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CURRITUCK — Residential growth that outpaces county services. Development on small lots. Additional taxes.

All are concerns Republican candidates for Currituck’s Board of Commissioners have as county officials assess what to do about the county’s fastest-growing township in Moyock.

Mike Hall, one of three candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the county’s at-large commission seat, said he wants to make sure Moyock doesn’t turn into a “little Virginia Beach.” As a member of the stakeholders committee for the Moyock Small Area Plan, Hall said the blueprint for improvements over the next 10 years will promote “responsible growth.”

He said the county needs to cut out regulations that discourage new businesses from locating in Moyock.

Incumbent At-large Commissioner Paul Martin says Moyock was on the verge of attracting new business growth before the economic recession, and he’s expecting a comeback in the next 10 years. Moyock needs a commercial district, not necessarily on Caratoke Highway, to foster that growth, he said.

Owen Etheridge, another of Martin’s GOP challengers in the May primary, said Moyock’s future, like Currituck’s future as a whole, will depend on diversifying the tax base with more commercial growth. The county needs to have a plan in place for enlarging the wastewater treatment plant so that the county can react quickly to that growth, he said.

Commissioners will need to keep watch of residential growth to make sure it does not outpace the county’s ability to provide services, Etheridge said.

Commissioner Marion Gilbert, who’s also facing two GOP challengers in Currituck’s 5th District, said Moyock will grow because development from the metropolitan area in Virginia is spilling across the state line. She is looking for fresh ideas on ways to attract business from a newly merged advisory board, previously the economic development board and the airport board.

Keeping taxes low in Moyock is a key concern for Arnold Argandona, one of Gilbert’s two challengers. Argandona said commissioners need to think ahead before adding services that will cost taxpayers more money.

Cameron Tabor, another Republican challenging Gilbert for her seat, said responsible growth in Moyock will be the big challenge ahead. Without a plan, Moyock may change in a way that residents don’t want, he said.

Several of the candidates said they oppose small lots being proposed for a new subdivision near Shingle Landing Drive.

Residents in nearby neighborhoods recently packed the Currituck courthouse to protest quarter-acre lots they say are too small compared to the half-acre to acre lots that already exist in the area.

Hall was among those concerned about the proposal.

Small lots are also a concern for Tabor, who says denser residential growth could quickly overburden county services.

Tabor said his major concern is that residential growth would surpass the county’s ability to provide services. Moyock needs to learn a lesson from other cities that grew too fast and could not provide services to meet the needs of residents, he said.

Argandona said commissioners need to keep watch on the impact growth could have on the county property tax rate. Many retired people in Moyock live on fixed incomes and do not want higher taxes, he said.

Argandona says if the county allows growth to go unchecked, Moyock could become “overtaxed and mismanaged” as he believes to be the case in Elizabeth City.

He said smaller lots in Moyock will add to flooding and traffic problems that already make it difficult for residents to get around.

Gilbert said strategic planning will be key in helping Moyock grow. She said the Moyock Small Area Plan is also a step in the right direction because it was formed with broad community input.  Commissioners are expected to consider the 10-year improvement plan at an upcoming meeting in April.

District 2 Incumbent Butch Petrey said he has three major concerns for Moyock: stormwater problems, the need for a community park, and making sure lot sizes in new subdivisions are compatible with existing neighborhoods.

Mike Payment, Petrey’s GOP challenger for the District 2 seat, said supporting existing business in Moyock should be a priority. As the businesses grow, they will add new jobs and attract other businesses that support them, he said.