Moyock residents want the best of both worlds — small-town living in a rural atmosphere with all the conveniences of a bigger town.
The question is whether that’s possible or likely — and how soon.
Finding a solution is a tall order, but it’s up to the county commissioners to deliver as best they can.
Growth will continue to impact the border community, adding people, businesses and a greater sense of identity to residents. That’s why the Board of Commissioners has a vested interest in finding how to deliver what residents seem to want — all the conveniences that towns enjoy while maintaining the rural atmosphere that drew many there in the first place.
At a planning session last week, about 100 residents jammed into the Moyock library for a county-hosted planning meeting. The large turnout is a barometer of public interest in their community and its future. Residents took turns saying what they’d like and what they would not like.
“I like having a chicken coop and a garden,” said Sherri Regan-Smith, who said growth has her concerned about the possibility of school overcrowding.
Other desires mentioned included having grocery stores and other small-errand businesses nearby, without having to battle traffic jams to get there.
Longtime resident Sheila Tyler, a former county clerk of court, said what was on many residents’ minds: The county should accommodate growth, but keep it at “a respectable level.”
The purpose of the meeting was to gather residents’ input in developing a Small Area Plan for Moyock. It was in response to a gathering of residents earlier this year at which the possibility of turning Moyock into an incorporated community was discussed. Leaders of the group said Moyock’s needs were being ignored by the county.
Indeed, Moyock’s population has more than doubled since 1990, according to Planning Director Ben Woody. About 7,000 residents live in what’s generally considered the greater Moyock area — almost a third of the county’s 23,547 total population in 2011.
When incorporation was discussed as an option to provide specialized services for Moyock residents, research showed that residents who already pay a property tax rate of 32 cents per $100 of valuation to Currituck County would see their tax rate go up at least 5 cents under incorporation.
That 5 cents would generate only $312,000 in revenue for a town of Moyock, which would then be eligible to receive a share of the state sales tax — about $350,000 — which could then be enough to hire a four-person staff and offer limited services.
But many residents were cool to the idea of shelling out more money for services they feel the county should already be providing.
“I don’t need more government in my life. I don’t need more taxes,” said Jerry Maleski, an Eagle Creek subdivision resident.
As we pointed out last spring, Moyock could improve its situation by gaining political clout on the board of commissioners and various county commissions. Changing either the number of seats Moyock has on the elected board or changing the at-large system to a true district system could give Moyock the greater political clout residents seek.
Meanwhile, as the growth rate continues, local residents are more inclined to seek their own identity. Last week’s meeting was a big step. County planners outlined an eight-month process to create a plan. Participants filled out a survey, and some signed up to become members of a stakeholder committee that will help develop a plan.
The first step will be compiling survey results. Next, the planning staff will call for another community meeting to discuss the outcome with residents. Then residents and the county will figure out how best to achieve results.
It will take some patience on everyone’s part, and a lot of cooperation. The wheels are turning, growth continues and county officials must respond if Moyock is to become the great place to live and raise a family or retire that its residents envision.