CURRITUCK — The flow of new residents into Currituck will likely only increase in coming years, requiring county officials to carefully manage the growth, say the two candidates for District 4 county commissioner.

Incumbent Paul Beaumont, a 58-year-old defense analyst, is seeking a second full term on the Currituck Board of Commissioners in the March 3 primary. He’s facing a challenge from fellow Republican Stuart Innes, 41, the director of a university criminal justice program.

Early voting for the primary begins today and ends Feb. 29.

Beaumont said commissioners spent considerable time talking about growth, especially in the northern part of the county, at their annual retreat last weekend at the county courthouse. He noted that state law prohibits Currituck from imposing a moratorium on growth.

“I’m a little cautious about slowing the growth, I refer to it as ‘managing it,’” Beaumont said. “There are only so many things you can do to control growth. The reality is, Currituck County is a great place to live. If they are coming, they are going to come one way or another. Part of managing that growth is reducing, or minimizing impact on current residents while managing how and why and where growth continues to occur.”

Innes said that protecting property rights should be part of any plan of managing growth and that property owners should have a say in the development process. He also said that correcting drainage issues and addressing school overcrowding in certain schools are also top concerns that need to be “addressed head on.”

“I don’t think the county government should be in the business of telling landowners what they should do with their property,” Innes said. “That is what we are seeing up here at the Moyock mega-site (Currituck Station), and they don’t agree with it. The funny thing about the Moyock mega-site: it is 3,000 acres and there isn’t a single acre of it for sale. I don’t know how the county is planning to get these people to sell their property.”

Innes said he decided to run for commissioner because he has “concerns about the way some things are being done.”

“Our schools are an issue and our drainage is a absolute major issue. I will absolutely mandate smart growth,” he said.

Beaumont said the county needs to look at promoting growth in some areas of the county noting that schools in lower Currituck have seen a net loss of students the past few years.

“You want to be more restrictive where we have the explosive growth,” Beaumont said. “I don’t think we need to do anything to discourage growth in lower Currituck. That is where we have the most capacity in schools, that’s where we would like to see more business stimulation, and more jobs created.’’

Innes also said that encouraging growth, including attracting new businesses, in the southern part of the county is important. Innes described lower Currituck as a bedroom community for Dare County. He said good-paying jobs are needed in lower Currituck to allow people to live and work there.

“I’m excited to be running because I think we have some great things that need to be done,” Innes said. “The southern part of our county is often forgotten. That is something I want to explore with the other commissioners.”

Beaumont said he has been an advocate of attracting jobs to the county. He points to his work getting a maritime training academy to relocate near the airport, noting it will bring dozens of good jobs to Currituck. BEI Maritime is slated to break ground on a 25-acre tract at Maple Commerce Park this summer for an indoor offshore survival training facility.

“BEI is a company the county has been working with, I have been working with, for a few years now,” Beaumont said. “BEI, and industries like that, are great for the commercial airpark.’’