Storm brewing in Outer Banks about non-resident homeowners, tourists

This flyer has opened a controversy in the Outer Banks, a popular tourist and vacation destination in North Carolina which sees many visitors from Central Virginia.

The Outer Banks in North Carolina have long been a popular vacation destination for central Virginians, but—no surprise here—things are different during the quarantine.

Storms are hitting the Outer Banks, particularly Dare County. And that statement comes independent of the weather forecast.

The brouhaha has arisen after person(s) unknown placed flyers on cars with out-of-state license plates. The message? “GO HOME!” The flyer emphatically declared, “You are NOT a resident of Dare county (sic.) The residents of Dare county do NOT WANT YOU or ANYONE FROM OUT OF STATE HERE DURING THIS PANDEMIC!”

According to local reports, the flyer appeared on vehicles parked on the owners’ private property.

While it appears that the anonymous poster speaks as if on behalf of the entire population of the county which is heavily dependent on tourism, residents and officials have been denying that the sentiment is universally held.

The Dare County Sheriff’s Office posted the following message on its Facebook page:

“From: The Dare County COVID-19 Control Group

Now is the Time for Compassion and Kindness

Post Date: 04/28/2020 2:45 PM

Dare County has received reports of flyers being placed, in some cases illegally, on cars with out-of-state license plates in parking lots and residences throughout the county. The flyer sends a hateful and negative message and Dare County does not condone this action or message. The flyer claims to be on behalf of Dare County residents, but that is not the reality.

Non-resident property owners and visitors are an integral part of our community. Next week, we look forward to welcoming property owners, and with time and as conditions allow, we will also welcome our visitors. The whole of our community is greater than the sum of its parts. Together, Dare County’s year round residents, property owners and visitors are what make it such a truly special place.

Tensions and stresses are high, but now is the time to act with compassion and kindness. Please respect your neighbors and visitors to Dare County, and create a warm and welcoming environment that is familiar to those who love and support our community.”

The message provoked a variety of responses, and discussion on various Outer Banks sites elicited a variety of opinions. Some locals expressed thanks to the Sheriff’s office for speaking up about the matter, and some outright condemned the letter and its hostile, unwelcoming attitude. Others said that tourists and non-residents “need to understand,” or should come back “when the time is right.”

One local wrote, “PLEASE! As a seven-generation native I DO NOT feel this way!! I am so angry with this person or group. To [a person who was targeted with a flyer], I am so sorry this has happened to you! There are WAY MORE people here that want our visitors, home-owner neighbors, and friends back in Dare County!!! It makes me so sad that there are people that live around me that feel this way.

Non-resident property owners pointed out that they pay taxes there, too, and that they have just as much right to visit their property as anyone else. One homeowner who was targeted with the note commented, “People don’t understand! I have a business and own a home on the island! But have been [banned] from both! But they want the taxes every month! So wrong!”

A regular visitor from Virginia wrote, “WOW I am in Virginia and have been going to OBX since I was 12 years old. I live in Chesapeake and have always spent tons of time and money here. I see plenty of OBX residents in my city but I always thought of us as just good neighbors.”

Another Virginian wrote, “so many Dare and Currituck County residents come to VA on a weekly basis, even during the lockdown, yet some in Dare want to keep everyone else out? How about nobody in/nobody out for a true quarantine?”

A tourist wrote that her large group of senior citizens from seven different states had spent over $6,000 for an upcoming reservation (placed last year). They couldn’t get a refund if the county is open for business and will have to travel in or lose their money.

The sheriff’s office advised that those who have experienced threats or had trespassers posting on their property should contact the department.

Neighboring Currituck County officially opened to non-resident property owners beginning April 23, while Dare County will begin on a limited (alphabetical order) basis on May 4. Neither county is open to tourists yet.

What do you think, Central Virginians who vacation in the Outer Banks? Do these incidents and comments influence your plans to visit the Outer Banks or not?