Pine Knoll Shores
April 29, 2020
TO THE EDITOR:
As a reader of the News-Times you are well familiar with the swirl of discussion involving the decision of Bogue Banks mayors to impede the use of property by second home owners. Agreeably, their purpose is well intentioned. It is intended to benefit the small population that calls the island a permanent home. Unfortunately, the mayors are using the property of second homeowners to benefit permanent residents.
The headline of the Sunday, February 23 News-Times declared that “Primary Shareholders of Beach Towns Are Second Homeowners”. In that article, Pine Knoll Shores Town Manager Brian Kramer informs us that second homeowners provide 72% of the town’s tax base. Mr. Kramer estimates that 2,700 individuals represent second homeowner families in the town. He also estimates the town to have 1,400 permanent residents. Mr. Kramer reports that “the people (second homeowners) … believe it is unfair that they pay taxes but have no representation.” Mr. Kramer informs us that “…in my 13 years here I have never seen the elected body (the Town Commissioners) take action specifically in the interest of one group or another.” I will speak to the actions of Pine Knoll Shores, since this is the town within which my property is located.
While ennobled by the interest of maintaining the health of permanent residents, the mayor and town commissioners have denied second homeowners the right to use their property. In effect, second homeowners cannot use their property while the town is using the management of that property for the purposes of protecting a small population of town residents.
My issue here is not to debate whether the Town of Pine Knoll Shores was right or wrong to seize control of private property. The issue is that second homeowners lost that control via a decision of the town’s elected officials. We live in a democracy, and we value the ownership and use of private property. If circumstance commands government action that stops us from using our property, we too, as property owners are owned some form of recompense. My property has value. We all pay utility bills, taxes, insurance bills and mortgage payments. If we cannot use our property due to the decision of a municipal government, we should be compensated for the loss of that usage.
North Carolina is a Dillon’s Rule state. In a Dillon’s Rule state, local governments have no constitutional authority. They are special purpose organizations empowered by the Legislature. In effect, they are corporations. They do not have traditional rights to seize control of private property. In times of necessity, such as now, they, like any other corporate entity have a responsibility to reconcile their incursions into the rights of property owners. In sum, pay me for the use of my property.
As a good citizen, I have honored the issuances of Mayor Ken Jones. I have had no problems with not visiting my property. The Mayor, in return, has shown no hesitance to bill me for municipal utilities and to continue with tax assessments that charge me for property the town is using.
There are reciprocal expectations here. If I cannot use my property and I am still faced with paying for the cost of it, the Town of Pine Knoll Shores should compensate all second homeowners for the use of their property at a fair market rate. Let the taxpayers who benefited from the actions and decisions of the town absorb the cost.
If a unit of government takes control of your property and uses it for its chartered purposes, are you willing to sacrifice the financial loss? Or, would you expect government to provide fair compensation for that loss?
John Mandeville, Ph.D.
PKS Second Homeowner