Board inaction sinks Avon seafood vendor’s plan

By on January 23, 2013


A request for zoning to allow open-air seafood sales on Hatteras Island was met by silence at Tuesday’s Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting, deep-sixing the idea unless someone comes up with another plan.

Two commissioners recused themselves because they are associated with retail grocery businesses, leaving the other five to hear pros and cons in a public hearing, discuss the issue, then vote.

But when Chairman Warren Judge asked for a motion, no one proposed a yes or no vote on the request and it died for lack of action.

County Manager Bobby Outten said Hatteras Island resident Mark Rawl could come back with another request, but unless it is a different plan it would likely see the same outcome. So the board’s inaction amounted to a rejection of outdoor seafood sales in unincorporated areas of the county.

Opposition from established fish markets on Hatteras Island appeared to be the force behind the board’s reluctance to entertain Rawl’s proposal, which would be allowed under new Health Department Rules. Dare County has long prohibited outdoor seafood sales, unlike the state’s other 99 counties, and local zoning would still have to be changed to allow them.

Opponents speaking in a public hearing said Rawl’s plan to sell fish from a stand at Coastal Harvesters’ farmers market and in the parking lot of Koru Village, both in Avon, amounted to unfair competition.

More people spoke in favor of the idea. Among other things, they cited the opportunity for an entrepreneur to get started, another option for buying seafood and competition that would raise the standard for every dealer.

Mark Rawl.

While Rawl would be limited in the species of fish he sold, fish dealers argued that they had been subject to a long-standing requirement to operate in an enclosed structure and strict specifications for equipment, sanitation and preparation.

Aside from an enclosed structure, Rawl would have needed to abide by most of the same rules. He was the first to propose a plan since the Dare County Board of Health eased the prohibition on outdoor sales.

Rawl’s plan was laid out in detail, and some objections focused on itinerate dealers moving in with less scrupulous preparation.

Commissioner Jack Shea said he was concerned about roadside dealers undercutting business people who had invested in the county and paid taxes over the years. He also said unwary customers could be victimized by dealers willing to skirt the rules.

But Rawl argued that he should not be denied on the possibility that someone else might later start operating illegally.

“To do it legally, somebody’s got to be committed,” Rawl said.

Outten said that even with the new Health Department rules, state law requires county ordinances that would allow outdoor sales. He said the local ordinance could be stricter than the health regulations.

Outdoor sales also would require conditional use permits, which could specify additional requirements such as signage, parking, by-product disposal and locations.

Commissioners Allen Burrus, who owns a grocery store in Hatteras, and Max Dutton, who manages the Harris Teeter in Kill Devil Hills, did not participate.

Rawl, a retired Army helicopter pilot, said he was not sure what he would do next. He said he had been asked to pursue the idea by Coastal Harvesters and commercial fishermen and his decision would partially depend on their wishes.

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February 2, 2013 8:49 am

Fishing Fool – your statement above is incorrect. You are listening to or spreading rumors. Please read the Dare County Health Department rules on retail seafood sales. It is on their web site. Temporary seafood sales are inspected initialy and no less than twice in a year. They too can also be inspected with no notice. Also the same inspectors inspect both seafood markets and temporary seafood sales. Please read the rules.
Mark Rawl
Rawl Seafood

Fishing fool

February 1, 2013 8:42 am

Mr.lay you also left out that these road side stands get inspected the day they open, and that is it, then They are free to do what ever they want,where retailes get surprise visits from the health department all the time. To Sam, thanks for the FYI on the hot dog cart, apparently you know this guy I appreciate the info and I agree the bridge and inlet are a much bigger concern.

Fishing fool

February 1, 2013 8:28 am

Common sense, you dodged every question and now call me a POS, it sounds like you just another out sider looking in, you name drop a few places here and that is suppose to make you “revelant” to the discussion? To be honest you seem to be a key board tuff guy, that runs his soup cooler about things he doesn’t know about, so go find a new topic that is more fitting for you like dumpster diving, or wannabe. To commercial fisherman, I’m not scared of competition, I have a built in clintel that appreciates my services, and I appreciate them . This is for the record, I go to bat for commercial fisherman on a regular basic I appreciate what you guys do, your Battle isn’t with the retailers, it should be with the federal goverment. I don’t need to meet Mr.rawls again, we have already met, unlike common sense I go to the meetings, and have a reason to be up in arms.. I’m glad to see this topic is still going, like we don’t have any thing else to worry about in dare county. Last but not least common sense If you think 35% is gouging, I truly feel sorry for you and your education level. I just returned from a place where yellow fin tuna is being sold for 43 bucks a pound, the place is loaded with commercial fishing boats and tuna is native to this place, so I think me charging 10.99 to 12.99 is pretty fair. Think before you type and possibly you won’t look like a moron that just Vents about things he doesn’t know.

Local Fisherman

January 31, 2013 9:06 am

FISHMONGER,your against this man selling Seafood on the open air market because of freshness and so on…… say you buy from fish houses,well in the summer his fish straight from the fisherman off the boat will be handled less and cared for better and quicker in ICED COOLERS than the ones you pick up up in wax boxes thats most likely took long truck rides(not all commercial fisherman lives close to fish houses) or boat rides to market with zero ice in July thats handled 2-3 times before you even think about handling the same fish,plus you don’t know how long they been in the cooler at that fish house(you aren’t always there when they’re packed)Don’t get me wrong not all fish houses are like that but theres a few around!!


January 30, 2013 2:12 pm

Commercial fisherman don’t say every fish market sells imported frozen product as a seafood owner for over 20 years I do not or will not sell imported anything I buy straight from fisherman and from fish houses everything I buy is whole and cut I to sell I don’t think it is right for someone to sit on the side of the road sell something that could get somebody sick and give everybody else a bad name if he wants to go to currituck or hyde county the man has the same opportunity’s as I had to get going


January 30, 2013 9:30 am

People said the same about online sales. That they would kill stores and wholesale distributors, and that they wouldn’t collect taxes. But I think we all just ended up with more stuff.

Russ Lay

January 29, 2013 9:32 pm

Butch: I get it completely. Just because the county created this mess by not allowing the sale of seafood to take place in a free market where different types of outlets could evolve together doesn’t mean we need to continue the practice. Two wrongs and all that jazz.

It is occurring now with open air produce stands. Hell, one of them is located in a retail seafood market parking lot. How ironic is that? Another sits in the same parking lot as Food Lion.

It happens all the time with restaurants–the hot dog cart competes with the walk-up only outlet that has a building, which competes with the drive thru only Rally’s which competes with the fast food Burger King which competes with the full service restaurant. Even taking out the mobile eateries, these businesses all require widely different levels of investment. And they all differ in what they have to offer. The selection at Rally’s is smaller than the selection at McDonalds which is turn is smaller than Bob’s Grill. But they coexist and find their own niches.

Mr. Rawl cannot fillet or prepare food onsite. He cannot cook or sell cooked food. His inventory will be infinitely smaller in choice of seafood and in the actual amount of inventory he can carry. He will lack visibility and be far more affected by weather. And by people who simply refuse to buy seafood from an open air vendor.

I get it. And while I understand your concern, the county created the situation and that is no reason to continue a bad practice.

Nags head bob

January 29, 2013 6:13 am

After you meet butch you should try to have a sit-down with fool too. If I remember correctly they opened their businesses about the same time……


January 28, 2013 1:40 pm

What is the chance of you and i meeting? I am in Mantio today. We have never met and I do not know where you are located, but I will travel to where you are. Thanks
Rawl Seafood

Russ A.

January 28, 2013 9:55 am

Not having the courage to vote is a cowardly stance. I really have no dog in this dispute but believe our county needs representatives with the guts to vote. Hiding behind a “no motion” to kill a citizens is not the way to conduct business and perpetuates the “old boy” ideas, even if that is not the case. My advice is grow a pair!

Butch Austin

January 28, 2013 8:59 am

Russ, as usual, you just don’t get it. What you have been and continue to promote is that Open Air Seafood Markets should get a break from the county and be allowed into the seafood business as cheaply as possible, while holding brick and mortar seafood businesses to a different standard. The established seafood businesses have had to operate under rules that the county has had in place for decades. They have also had to locate suitable locations to set up their businesses, which also requires in most cases remodeling the place that they rent or own to support a seafood business. This can be very expensive, as one of your readers pointed out and reason why open air markets should be allowed to open. The main point that I am trying to make is the established markets have over the years have had to sink a ton of money into their businesses to stay compliant with the county. Plus taking a huge risk on whether their business will make it or not. I think it is very short sighted to allow the open air guys come in and now be in direct competition with the brick and mortar guys. It all comes back to even playing field, one crowd gets in for a small fee the other crowd has to pay a substantial amount of money, that isn’t fair. My other concern is the “Shoulder Season” that open air claims they will only be open during, my guess Easter thru Thanksgiving. The one thing that gets to me more than anything else is why Mark Rawls status as a Army Veteran keeps coming up. It’s as if in some way, the message is the county is trying to hold back a vet. I am all about supporting vets, US Air Force and Merchant Marine Veteran on my part. Instead of supporting one vet trying to get into the retail seafood market I choose to support three that I know for sure are vets. One in Buxton and two in Hatteras, they have established seafood markets. Now for jallopies and spray painted pieces of plywood, has anyone traveled to Currituck and elsewhere and seen some of the open air markets there? I don’t want it to look like that here. I am all about local harvest and wild caught NC seafood, it should be promoted. I don’t like the idea that the standard that the established markets have had to operate all these years should be lowered or changed so that it will be easier for someone starting out in the retail seafood business to get in, nobody made it easy for the brick and mortar guys to start out, so why should it be any easier for open air ?


January 27, 2013 8:57 pm

It took a team of concerned citizen less than 60 days to put the Dare County Commissioners in their place and lay the groundwork for a repeal of an unfair sales tax for beach nourishment. This most recent action by the board is an equally unfair representation of the people of Dare County. Someone needs to get the ball rolling and take the to task over the way this matter has been handled. Don’t expect help from the printed press. A strong, grassroots movement can do it. Hold the local commercial fishermen’s feet to the fire and let them know they will lose a lot of respect if they don’t speak out. Outer Banks Catch??? That movement has been smeared by the very same board that took it own as a county initiative. What a farce~! Who’s going to step to the plate? No one?


January 27, 2013 8:50 pm

Russ, the point you made in your final paragraph is spot on. This sort of thing is prevalent and ridiculous.


January 27, 2013 6:22 pm

Damn good response, Russ. Kudos.

Sandy Semans

January 27, 2013 5:16 pm

Russ, Amen, brother!


January 27, 2013 4:47 pm

The Board treated Mr Rawl with total disrespect, and they don’t care. They KNEW Judge would make a motion to vote and Mr Judge KNEW would be zero response. It was all in fix before the meeting. None of the board members has the guts to stand up to their good boy constituents.

Frank Moore

January 27, 2013 2:09 pm

Well said Russ. Keep up the good work.

Russ Lay

January 27, 2013 11:23 am

Sam: A perfect point. And my point. The free market will sort things out if we let the invisible hand do its thing.

John: I suppose you are correct, but what got my dander up was Mr. Austin making the assumption that illiterates and hayseeds would be the one’s to follow Mr. Rawl and Mr. Daniels accusing me of creating that stereotype. But, I see your point. However, lot’s of things are part of a culture without being predominate among the population. Surfing, deer hunting, duck hunting and eating grits are part of our culture but not practiced by the majority of residents. But I stick by my point that it was one local who opined that other locals would set up shop using an unflattering cultural stereotype and another poster took me to task without acknowledging where the original point was raised.

Mr. Austin and others: My article was an opinion piece and labeled as such. The above article was written by my partner.

My opinion was based on facts. Those facts are, and remain, that Dare County’s Health Department acts in the case of open air sales of seafood as a countywide zoning entity, trumping even the ability of municipalities to decide what kinds of seafood, if any, can be sold in such venues.

Mr. Austin, your original commentary had nothing to do with facts. You imagined some sort of future where guys in jalopies using hand painted signs would be the norm.

So, let’s talk facts. Currently under Dare County zoning there are two types of allowed business uses–permitted uses and conditional uses. All other uses are prohibited.

Dare County has no provision in its current zoning rules for open air sale of seafood, so Mr. Rawl needed to get a text amendment to the code first, and the county decided that text amendment, if passed, would make open air markets a conditional use.

Now, further facts. Mr. Rawl only wished to operate his business on Hatteras Island and he applied to operate his business in a traditional C-2 zoned area–commercial.

The county zoning department, perhaps afraid of “spot” zoning took the proposed text amendment to the Board and required Mr. Rawl’s proposal to apply not only to the entire county but to other types of zoning areas such as industrial and other mixed use areas not sought by Mr. Rawl.

This opened his proposal to all sorts of new opposition and concerns about other unincorporated areas of Dare, such as Wanchese, Colington, Manns Harbor and even Martin’s Point.

But let’s say the county had allowed open air seafood sales as a conditional use. A conditional use means every single person wishing to open such a market would have to come before planning boards and most likely the commissioners who possess a lot of power to set those “conditions”.

They can set rules on signage, distance from public roads, requirements for proximity to water and restrooms and, by the way, prohibit anyone from operating “on the roadside”.

So your assumption of a Jed Clampett atmosphere was not factual or even a threat. This conditional use would not open a floodgate for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to set up shop without going before the Board of Commissioners, the Planning Department and the Planning Board.

And this use would only apply to unincorporated Dare. The town’s can, at this time, set their own rules, confined only by the health department’s prohibition of the sale of histamine prone fish.So none of this would force a municipality to even allow such sales.

Another fact, Mr Austin, is that objections raised by commissioners such as Jack Shea were not within their jurisdiction. The health issues are the domain of the Health Department and they had approved the proposal. Other concerns about his insurance, his business plan, etc are also none of the Board’s business. The questions Mr. Rawl couldn’t answer were not relevant to a text amendment and are not asked of any business by any board. Those are questions better suited for his banker or landlord.

While you or I may share those concerns, they should not have been part of the text amendment discussions nor used as reasons to approve or deny the request.

Mr. Daniels, I moved here in 1993 when I was 37 years old. I spent 20 years here as a banker, served on many town boards (such as the Board of Adjustments in Nags Head) civic boards and other pursuits. The Voice employs reporters and sales people providing wages and income to those folks.

I have no idea where you got the idea I “retired”here, recently and just decided to write a hobby blog.

But more to the point, I don’t care if one is a native or only been a local for one day–if you are a resident here and especially a taxpayer, you are entitled to your opinion. And yes, I am short-tempered when people suggest “transplants” aren’t entitled to opinions or don’t “understand” the area like those born here do. It is an attitude I have heard far too often in this county and you bet it makes me angry.


January 26, 2013 11:18 pm

fishingfool, “A prime example of this, is the hot dog cart in nagshead 300 yards away from a guy who just opened “King tuts Weiner hut”


The hot dog cart was there and permitted to do so more than a year before the guy opened up the weiner hut place.

As long as each business operates within the ordinances, the free market will decide which one or if both will stay.

Seems like this street side selling issue is taking away attention from the larger issue of the inlet conditions.


January 26, 2013 11:26 am

so mr. burrus and mr. dutton are against seafood sales but not fruits and veggies? i mean really? I guess gouging tourists and locals should be left to the “professionals”. what a shame.


January 26, 2013 10:44 am

Russ, in your response to Tim Daniels a couple of days ago, you were really reaching. You took him to task when he wrote that you said misspelled words were part of the norm. Not so, you retorted—–you had said the signs were part of the culture but not part of the norm or even common. Seriously, if something is part of a culture, it’s by definition the norm or common, isn’t it? BTW, I agree with your overall postion on this issue, but, you can make your points without resorting to symantic sleight of hand.


January 26, 2013 10:28 am

Maybe Mr. Rawls should change his last name and try again.

Butch Austin

January 26, 2013 6:24 am

Russ Lay, I have signed my name on everything that I have commented about in this article and in the commentary article on this same subject in your commentary section of this online paper. I don’t hide behind screen names or sign what I say with no last name. I also do not twist other peoples words around as you seem to have a knack for doing.”Try a different approach” would that translate into start agreeing with you? I don’t see that happening. Do yourself a favor and read my commentary on this article and your previous article in the commentary section. More than once you have twisted something that I have said around, while taking offense if you are misqouted. As an online reporter or as a reporter in general,you don’t have much credibility and won’t until you start getting all your facts in order.

Nags head bob

January 25, 2013 10:20 pm

Fool is a native just like graybeard. He has a stake here as much as the rest of us. Good local seafood comes from everywhere from Duck to Hatteras. Not just through cheesevile. True most of your restaurants buy shrimp by the ton at the beginning of the season and it’s not local. But if you know what you’re doing you can find out what’s in season and get a decent price. Remember, the people south of the bridge have been hit hard by a bad economy, multiple storms and a departnment of the interior that would just as assume the
y all starve. Their pie has shrunk drastically. Try and see it through their eyes.

tim daniels

January 25, 2013 9:54 pm

mr Lay
I do sign my name and I did read your story. Your too close and your temper is too short. No true reporter would ever write this way . It is yellow jouralism. Report the facts and step back. Oh , and bye the way, driving from out side the area and fishing no matter how often still makes it a vacation. Building a career, a biz paying taxes , coaching ball, paying taxes ,morgage,mowing biz lawn, employing up to 30 people and cleaning up after storms makes you a local no matter when you arrive. Coming here starting a blog and writing about your feelings makes it a retirement.


January 25, 2013 8:56 pm

Well then so called seafood lover… don’t.

seafood lover

January 25, 2013 7:56 pm

As a tourist who buys and cooks seafood for 12 people everyday for 2 weeks in Avon, I would not consider buying any fish out of a cooler on the side of the road.


January 25, 2013 6:29 pm

There aren’t enough shrimp caught here locally to supply to all the seafood markets, grocery stores and restaurants anyway. Also, most of our seafood gets shipped North where it is sold for more $$$ than you can get locally. Everybody need to stop crying…you guys set it up like this a long time ago!

Commercial Fisherman

January 25, 2013 5:14 pm

The majority of the retail markets in dare county sell imported shrimp. Retail markets know that people being able to sell seafood on the side of the road would shut them down because you cant compete with the man who actually catches it.

Condescending Bob

January 25, 2013 5:00 pm

The concerns expressed by the two RINOs on the BoC apply to nearly all businesses in the county and only served as convenient excuses to poo-poo Mr. Rawls’ request.

When 99 of 100 counties allow such operations something isn’t quite right with the one that doesn’t. Of course this shouldn’t surprise the savvy observer because one of the BoC members handled a similar situation just as poorly prior to being elected to the county board.

Russ lay

January 25, 2013 4:08 pm


“Junk”, “crap” “coward”. Try another approach and maybe folks won’t take shots at you. And remember, I sign my name to what I write, so I don’t t hide behind anything.

Common Sense

January 25, 2013 12:44 pm

Jim that’s what I have been trying to explain to “Fool.” The government isn’t just handing out loans to small businesses any more either. If you were lucky enough to own your business and the property its on because you have been here all your life, good for you, but it shouldn’t stop Rawls from getting what he wants just because you feel it isn’t fair!

Common Sense

January 25, 2013 12:40 pm

You’re really reaching there Butch! My goodness!

‘Fool’ it was obvious you were an owner. Unless you are in Wanchese, you are a gouging POS that wants to continue to buy real cheap from the fishermen who actually do the work and sell at an extraordinary profit to the unknowing tourist. And your reasoning to do this is just because you have been here longest!

Barking Dog is on the mark! And Lorri Chambers I couldn’t agree more! If you want to get the best cheapest seafood in the area GO TO WANCHESE! Love the salt of the Earth people, and you just can’t get any better a price for the freshest North Carolina Seafood!Oh and stop by the Great Gut Deli for lunch in Thicket Lump Marina. They have the best hot sandwiches (Love the Rueben)on the East Coast and a tremendous view too!


January 25, 2013 11:45 am

I can probably tell you why he does not go after one of the many empty retail spaces: costs. If he were to lease a retail space he will have to sign a contract obligating him to the rent and triple-nets (basically a condo fee). If the business makes enough to pay his expenses then he will have something left over for a salary. If the business does not make enough to cover the rent then he will have to come up with the difference, furthermore if it does not work out and he decides to close the business he is still liable for the rent and triple-nets for the length of his lease.

The bottom line is that the lease is a binding legal agreement. He might be able to negotiate a month to month lease or a one year lease. The problem with these is that are significant more expensive and at the end of the term you don’t have as much negotiating room as the landlord knows that you are successful (they usually have require that they have option of seeing your business and personal tax returns).

In addition to that if there will be costs related to building out the space and this is even true if it is already built out. It also comes into play if the space was originally built for a different use class. The remodeling costs are not inexpensive and represent a substantial investment. If the money is borrowed then you are personally obligated to pay back the loan if the business fails.

That said it is not “simple” to just open a business in an existing empty location. If the commissioners were competent and unbiased they would have voted Yes. Unfortunately they decided to protect the other two commissioners and the other existing seafood markets from any competition and screw over the watermen who would have supplied Mr. Rawl. It’s time to run them all out of office and start fresh.

The better move would have to been to let him open his seafood market. If it was successful, he would most likely move to a retail space to grow his business.

Opening a small business in a leased or owned space is a non-trivial move. The owner has a lot to lose if it does not work out and even if it does they may not be able to draw a decent salary for some time.

Local Commercial Fisherman

January 25, 2013 11:24 am

Fishingfool,You’re just afriad of competion!!!!!!!!I bet you sell imported dyed red tuna as fresh local,imported shrimp as local,and a few other imports on your shelf you try to pass as fresh local seafood!!!!!!!!We want to sell FRESH WILD LOCAL CAUGHT SEAFOOD on the open air market something you most likely aren’t doing 100% of the time.This man wants to sell ALL FRESH LOCAL SEAFOOD,AND YOU WANT TO BELITTLE THE GUY FOR SOMETHING YOU MOST LIKELY CAN’T DO and won’t do for lack of product on your shelf during Tourist season!!!!!!!!

Local Commercial Fisherman

January 25, 2013 10:36 am

This is all bullsnot about cash made and not reported,you think those waiters at resturants are reporting their cash,how about those charter mates that get cash tips some times more than there daily pay,thats money N.C.will never see,the same with waterfowl guiding,you think they report the cash made??????Lots of other examples so lets not hear about cash money made won’t be reported to the state!!!!!Theres not 1 person in this county that reports and pays all there earnings without looking to or cheating the system somehow or another!!!!!!!!I should be able to sell my seafood i caught with proper lic to anybody anywhere i want,but god forbid if you step on the toes that give tons of money to these local so called politicians.There won’t be many left in those seats on the commision,if this mess keeps up!I guess some people forgot about the Commisioners letting tourist back in our county after hurricane Irene,when the locals homes and businesses where destroyed,and most of the vendors HOMES that cater to the tourist where destroyed and had to worry about losing accounts with homeowners because our ELECTED OFFICALS SEEN FIT TO GET A FEW MORE BUCKS for the last part of tourist season,and open up the gates for tourist ONLY A FEW DAYS after Irene to just flood threw the OBX like Irenes Water,when our residents went threw the worst flooding since Ash Wednesday storm.Everyone sitting in those seats need to be AXED and soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Some of us will never forget that scar they put on local legit small and large business owners in this county.


January 25, 2013 10:30 am

Bunch of “Boss Hogs” for commissioners.


January 25, 2013 9:17 am

I wrote and asked Burrus Red & White when they were going to put fresh local fish sandwiches on their daily luncheon menu, but got no response. :(


January 25, 2013 9:04 am

This story begs for more than steno-typing the events as they happened. I urge the Voice to do more investigative reporting and insist the commissioners answer some hard questions regarding overstepping their bounds by pounding Mr. Rawls about matters over which they had no jurisdiction. The public needs to know why, for example, Burrus and Dutton recused themselves. They had no real conflict and were only playing dirtball politics. Come on Voice, get comments from these people and give them to us.
Otherwise, its business as usual in Dare County, both from our elected officials and what little legitimate press we have here.


January 25, 2013 8:42 am

People you need to open your eyes to change. No one would buy seafood from a stand on the side of the road? Funny thing is that’s the way a lot of things were sold back in the day! I’m all for supporting at veggies stands (on the side of the road), flea market venues (on the side of the road), baskets from SC (on the side of the road)…and I would be more then willing to purchase seafood from a responsible individual on the side of the road. This man is giving locals another option to sell their catch..not taking business away. Get of your high horses and actually consider the idea! We live on an island.. Selling goods is part of our survival & part of history! It’s a shame to see so many “locals” against the concept..

Butch Austin

January 25, 2013 8:17 am

As for my last post, I was refering to my “Shrimp Four Sail” comment on Russ Lay’s comment and did’nt read down to the last shot that he took at me. Russ do you see where I am coming from on putting words in my mouth and you take offense on being misqouted. First I was not portraying locals as illiterate purveyors of junk as you try to twist it into. I also like how you took the cowards way out by saying that neither you or this newspaper said it, a native son did. Outside of my shremp four sail comment, where did the rest of it come from? Not from this article or any of the comments that I wrote on your crap commentary article on the seafood plan. Ok, let’s pretend the open air seafood plan got passed. Who enforces that they are in compliance with every aspect of such sales from harvest records,health inspections and on down the chain. Easy answer Dept of Marine Fisheries, Health Dept and all other associated agencies. Who pays for the additional staffing, because they will need it to make sure everyone is in compliance. We do, the tax payers. I think most people would like to not see their taxes go up any higher. Mark Rawls seems legit in what he wants to do,he has put in the foot work on covering his bases. Here comes the real problem, the ones who will grab hold of his coat tails and set up shop, because open air seafood markets are now legal. A few might go through the same process of obtaining the proper clearances as Mark did, many more will not. They will skirt the enforcement problem by networking, the first stand that gets checked they will call their buddies down the line so that they can close shop and high tail it, before they get caught. A seafood market that is in a building does’nt have the shut and run option. Enough on that for now. I keep hearing hot dog cart in Nags Head, let’s look further north to Norfolk VA and the proposal they have going on up there Food Trucks (cheap eats on wheels) operating near established eateries. Same fight in a sense different set of players. Established restaurants are mostly against it and the food trucks are complaining city government is picking on them and holding them back. See the similarities? Let’s ok hotdog carts and food trucks on Hatteras Island also. Let’s help save the tourists some more money by allowing them to pitch a tent any where that they can find a spot. Before long there is’nt any Seafood Markets, Restaurants, Hotels, Rental Houses etc etc. Where did they go? Open air seafood markets killed off the brick and mortar market. Hot dog cart and food trucks put the restaurants out of business and since you can pitch a tent, hotels and rental properties are also gone. In other words when it seems like such a small thing to do, allowing open air seafood markets. What is the overall impact on the local economy?


January 24, 2013 10:34 pm

Sorry, I would be reluctant to buy finned seafood on the side of the road. Didn’t know U could anymore ?


January 24, 2013 9:22 pm

Wanchese sounds like a plan. Thanks, Lorri!


January 24, 2013 8:23 pm

Truly embarrassing for our county. This is worthy of a John Stossel episode.

Hopefully a FOIA request for all communications by and among the commissioners related to this topic might shed light on whether the silence was a pre-arranged conspiracy or whether they were really just too afraid to do their duty and give the guy a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’

Way to stifle innovation, commissioners.

Barking dog

January 24, 2013 7:40 pm

What about Outer banks catch that the commissioners endorsed several years ago? Isn’t that what Mr Rawls is trying to sell? Aren’t our grocery stores packed with tourists in the 3 months that Mr Rawls wants to be open? And aren’t the grocery stores selling salmon , that is not a local fish? The dare county commissioners are endorsing a monopoly by not acting to allow local seafood to be sold in roadside stands! The actions of the Dare county commissioners are a violation of the Sherman anti-trust act! I hope Mr Rawls contacts the American Civil Liaberties Union! Perhaps a federal judge will remove the Dare county commissioners for their lack of action to enable free trade!

Lorri Chambers

January 24, 2013 6:32 pm

As one who started a business in 1999 that never existed on the Outer Banks and opened it in a little “Shack” in Colington in the unincorporated area of Dare County…I am not only not surprised but dismayed beyond words that the commissioners have not checked the pulse of the area to see how much a service such as this is and was truly needed. I have worked the Farmers Market in Manteo the last few years and one of the main questions I was asked at least a dozen times a day was,,,,why is there no fish for sale …we had to explain that the health dept regulations were backwards , we get that straight and now its the county that is backwards. So this is what I will say…Tourists if you want good fresh seafood right off the boats come to WANCHESE , visit Gray Beards buy your shrimp 10 pounds at a time and save …hand pick your flounders or whatever you want cut out the middle man…and enjoy a delicious meal ….while you are there enjoy the views…and have a real experience. Oh and the business I opened in 1999, well 4 others jumped on the boat and between my sales and theirs I am sure the county received a nice bit of ka-ching in taxes…etc, plus it was a great draw for tourists. Commissioners start acting on your constituents behalf or you could be the next Stan White …voted out of office.


January 24, 2013 5:38 pm

what is truly disgusting is the facts that a citizen could not get answer, they just sat there like CLOWNS, Please ya’ll dont forget how the treated a VET, Hey Sharon please exsplain to everybody how this is a Republican HYPOCRISY, Please ENLIGHTEN US??


January 24, 2013 5:14 pm

Selling product out of a vehicle is not a business it’s a cash hustle that dare county will never see any taxes from.

Fishing fool

January 24, 2013 5:05 pm

Sharon if that’s the republican way, then I suppose the democrat way would be change the rules for every one, and screw the people that have been playing by the rules for the last 30 years, or don’t work for it, complain to every one till you get what you want?

Fishing fool

January 24, 2013 5:01 pm

Common sense before I get in to this issue with you, do you live in dare county? I do own a seafood market, and have been in the business for 15 years, serving the public properly and saftey in an establishment. Where you at this meeting? Do you know any of the health guide lines? If you don’t, then there is no sense in talking with you, if your thing is cooler shopping then stick to currituck county where plywood signs litter the road, and trucks in parking lots making cash tax free sales… Ill day this to you though, did you know that they can sell seafood on the side of the road in currituck county, but a business owner such as my self can’t put an open flag out with out being fined every day? Your comments were ill thought out and you can’t point fingers on how they were inturpited, read them your self you will understand.

Nagshead bob, I knew you would bring up the tax year, I’ve been in other topics on here and you normally have a good point, however ill have to disagree on this one, your shrimp transaction you talked of describes this whole operation, a cash tax free exchange, while the retailers have to have paper work for every thing. At the end of the day bob, the rules in dare shouldn’t be bent, every thing has worked fine with the way it is, no illnesses in dare in 30 years from seafood and we can thank the owners and employees of these structured businesses. I do have a dog in this fight, along with a lot of other things, so until you own a seafood market the legit way I guess you will never understand.


January 24, 2013 4:26 pm

This is one of the many reasons why I am totally disgusted with the county board. As for any concerns about Mr. Rawls business being an eysore, how about that big pile of crap, abandoned amusement park in Waves? I can take you all over the unincorporated parts of Dare County and show you eyesores. Just take a ride down to Wanchese, Colington or Hatteras Island and look at the abondoned mobile homes, junk cars and other junk. Some of the places I have seen are not only eyesores, but are also potential health and environmental hazards.


January 24, 2013 2:54 pm

So, Rawls would present “unfair competition?” But isn’t it quite “unfair” to keep him from starting his business? That kind of hypocrisy sounds very Republican to me.

nags head bob

January 24, 2013 2:38 pm

I don’t have a dog in this race, but I do like to watch people squirm….

nags head bob

January 24, 2013 2:36 pm

Well, fool. If you really want to get technical, the brick and mortar expenses are just that,expenses. Able to be written off. Yes, they are overhead, but as every business owner knows there is a balance between income and expenses. This time of year we are all looking at closing out the last year and if Mark were operating at a low overhead that would also mean he would have very few write offs.

Common Sense

January 24, 2013 2:30 pm

You missed the point Fishing Fool. Tourist season and seafood harvest season is three months long. Are you the owner or friend of a family with one of those gouging seafood markets fishing fool? I think you should change your moniker to Stinkin Tool. Don’t call yourself a fisherman b/c you don’t act like it. Bottom line is it is not right that the rest of the state allows this practice and Dare County doesn’t, so that the locals and tourists can continually be gouged.

Fishing fool

January 24, 2013 1:36 pm

Hey common sense, I guess your calling every small business owner in dare county a moron? Every business you ride by and shop at has year round bills boss man unless your a dumpster diver. If your going to point some thing out, try not to make your self look like a fool.

nags head bob

January 24, 2013 12:04 pm

Can’t say I’m surprised. Having felt like I was in the middle of a drug deal the last time I bought a hundred pounds of shrimp that were still being culled out. I suspect there were a lot of local fishermen that were hoping for a different outcome.


January 24, 2013 11:54 am

and we expected anything less from the board of inaction?
its a rather commonplace deal in this county,always has been most likly always will be.
most the brick and morter,or broken down wood,fish markets are either closed this time of year or are selling non local fish.
even during the summer most the fish are not local fish.
I think our elected officials need to look forward and stop the cronyism.
maybe we will remember come next election time, but I doubt it.

Common Sense

January 24, 2013 10:38 am

If Mr. Rawls owns property or has permission from someone who owns property, he should be able to set up an open air market on that property! How is it that guy is able to sell hot dogs in NH in that parking lot?

Common Sense

January 24, 2013 10:36 am

Please just shut up about starting a retail shop too. The ‘season’ is three months long and you are suggesting taking a twelve month lease! Moronic!

Common Sense

January 24, 2013 10:33 am

People take note again. It is about the money. These commisioners know it too. LET YOUR OPIONION BE KNOWN NEXT ELECTION. DONT LET THESE CLOWNS GET RE-ELECTED! They do not have the voter’s interests in mind obviously.


January 24, 2013 10:30 am

Mr. Rawl should test his idea in the parking lots of Lone Cedar or Sugar shack and also at the east end Currituck bridge. Why not sell to every tourist and do it in NH, KDH, and KH.

Butch Austin

January 24, 2013 10:13 am

Russ Lay, thank you for getting that portion of what I said right. As for being insulted for being misqouted, you should look back on your own commentary article and at the way that you tried to twist my words around. I am glad that it failed for all the right reasons Even Playing Field. Self proclaimed Hatteras Islander is easily proven, I guess you are still a little P/O that I called you a transplant. (Boo Hoo) Found an apt in Hilton Head yet? My happiness for this failed plan has nothing to do personally with Mark Rawls and from one vet to another thank you for serving our great country Mark.


January 24, 2013 9:06 am

Why was the proposal written to allow sales only on Hatteras Island? Why couldn’t Mr. Rawl sell in front of Lone Cedar or Sugar Shack on US 64, and east of the Currituck Bridge on the north end of the island, where he could possibly sell to every tourist entering the beaches?

If his plan is not suitable for Manteo, KDH, KH, and NH, why is it sufficient for Hatteras Island?

Every shrmp sold on HI comes across the OI bridge or the Ocracoke ferry. Once of twice a year a few are offloaded and sold with heads on to locals. We do not have any shrimp boats, graders, headers, or establish shrimping operations on Hatteras Island, so Mr. Rawl would not be helping our fishermen. Maybe he could help the north end of the county much more.


January 24, 2013 8:51 am

How come we vote for less goverment and yet that same goverment won’t let a person make a living. It is so sad that we want people to work but Dare county loves to see people on unemployment rather than at least trying to make a living. Dare county must love the fact that there is lots of drugs, no jobs and just wants a bunch of Beach Leeches hanging out to suck the blood off the working man. How sad!


January 24, 2013 8:31 am

The issue is not with Mr. Rawl personally. From what I could see at the meeting he’s an honest man who would live up to the standards and requirements required of him by the county. He truly seems like a sincere individual. Unfortunately approving this amendment means approval for not just Mr. Rawl but for anyone who so desires to set up shop who may not be as honest,sincere and scrupulous as Mr Rawl is. That’s my biggest concern. It has nothing to do with an individual try to start his own business. Let’s not be like our current government is in Washington where we vote something in and figure out the details later. From what I could see there are a ton of unanswered questions that need to be resolved before this issue comes before the commissioners again.

Fishing fool

January 24, 2013 8:01 am

Mr.lay since you will jump on here to defend your self, and keep writing these articles that make Rawls sound like a guy just trying to make an honest dollar, tell the people on here the business plan that was proposed, his set up, his understanding of taxes and the guide lines that he falls under compared to the guideline retailes have to follow. The articles you have wrote on this issue have been pretty one sided, and last time I checked a journalist is supposed to be telling both sides not just the side of the band wagon he rides on.


January 24, 2013 7:37 am

Meet by silence GUTLESS!!


January 24, 2013 7:14 am

When Republicans say they are business friendly, they forget to mention that only applies to EXISTING businesses. Good luck to any up and comer who wants to truly innovate and compete. The GOP in Dare should rename itself the GOB since they are just Good Ole Boys protecting their buddies.

OBX beachBUMinVA

January 23, 2013 10:44 pm

As a weekly visitor to the OBX, weekends from MAY – OCT, since 1965, and an employee of local government (in VA), I am floored at such “in-action” by an elected group of officials.


January 23, 2013 9:53 pm

Listened in online just because I know and like the man, he’s really not asking for much. But what I came to realize while listening to the heartbreaking situation on Hatteras is that this place is in the predicament it’s in because we have no leaders on this board. What kind of a Board can’t even look the guy in the eye and vote his proposal down? The same one that appears helpless to deal with the inlet issue and the issue on NC-12! They are so obsessed with being politically correct and so reluctant to take stand that may be unpopular with somebody that they not only do nothing, they now don’t even say anything! We elected them, I guess we get what we deserve. But it is the absence of political backbone that has allowed third-party interest groups to bully their way into and over so many of us. I kept waiting for action and all I heard was silence.

Russ Lay

January 23, 2013 8:15 pm

Tim Daniels: I truly don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I do take offense at people misquoting me. You stated I was “claiming misspelled words were the norm here” Nowhere did I say that. I said, and I quote: ‘ I remember the Outer Banks from the 60′s and 70′s and spray painted signs were part of the culture, complete with misspelled words.”I didn’t say it was the norm, nor even common. In fact, I see misspelled words on signs here at least once per week even today and even in “big cities”.

I merely said that in the “old days”, they existed and there was no strict sign zoning. In those days, off-site signs were allowed. A-frame signs and hand paintedsigns were quite common along the road side. You had restaurants shaped like flying saucers, geodesic domed houses, businesses run out of trailers next to nice homes. Spray painted signs announcing “closed for the season” were persent. I have lived here over 20 years and I was not writing about “my vacations.” Since I was old enough to drive (1972) I came down here often, sometimes every weekend to surf or fish since I grew up in Virginia Beach. During bluefish season, we left school on Friday and came back on Sunday, five, six, seven weeks in a row. In the summer, we preferred to surf and swim here rather than at home.

And, the reason I even wrote these words was because one of our own, a self-proclaimed multi-generational native of Hatteras Island who suggested, and again, I quote: “Now comes in a fleet of half broke down jallopies (sic), because you know momma is’nt (sic) going to let them peddle fish out of her car. The jallopies (sic) will very likely have ” Shremp Four Sail ” spray painted on a sheet of plywood proped (sic) against their mode of transportation. ”

So how do you, Mr. Daniels, feel that I am insulting anyone, including the entirety of the Outer Banks? OTOH, if you read the story and studied the facts, Mr. Rawl is a resident and nowhere in his business plan does it suggest he will be driving a jalopy with “Shremp” painted on the side. And since every one of these operations, under the county rules would have to come before the Board of Commissioners for approval, the idea that a bunch of weekend hucksters would invade the beach is simply misstating the facts.

If anyone portrayed locals as illiterate and purveyors of junk, it was a native son. If anyone cast pejoratives on locals, it was another local.

Not me or this news site.

James C.

January 23, 2013 7:05 pm

At Retail: he and anyone can open any business they well please. That’s the beauty of America.


January 23, 2013 7:01 pm

un. real. i guess we are the 1%. 99 counties allow and regulate seafood sales from trucks successfully. our commissioners should be ashamed of themselves. i know i am ashamed of them.


January 23, 2013 6:35 pm

When will the people finally start to win here and the “good ole boys” lose? Wake up people and start to vote these folks out of here!


January 23, 2013 6:28 pm

This whole issue is about the silliest thing I have ever heard of. Next thing you know, little kids will get a big bag of hooey about their lemonade stands. Sometimes I wonder if any native Hatteras Islander has ever seen anything outside the Outer Banks. I have heard of cultural isolation and strange politics before, but this takes the cake.

Larry D

January 23, 2013 6:01 pm

The reason the board doesn’t want the local fish markets is that it will cut out alot of sales that go hand to hand cash by the esablished seafood stores and they can not easilly get thier hands in those pockets…

tim daniels

January 23, 2013 5:59 pm

obx voice,
You are doing Mr.Rawl such a disservice I beg you to stop trying to help him. I am sure Mr Rawl plans on a 1st rate Biz. I am sure he wants proper signage that reflects well on him. You are living in the past sir. I am not saying this is bad, just not for everyone. Claiming miss spelled words were the norm on Outer Banks signs is an insult. You forget all the beautiful motels shops and restaurants of the era. the Beacon, the old Wilbur wright Inn,Hatteras Drive Inn, Vivianna , Daniels Cafe ,Sadler Cottages, Spensers, Gazebo Bikini Shop, Cavalier Motor court, etc etc.
You make us sound like ignorant hay seeds with nothing more than a paint pail a piece of driftwood and a fishing pole. Please dont refer to your vacations as a referance of our past. We have always had class here.
Mr Rawl, it does not matter where you are from. This is not about you. It is about zoning. We need to project a reasonable appearance to the visitors. Your project may be beautiful but others { the ones Mr Lay hopes for} may not have your taste. It takes several days or weeks to correct zoning violations. During this time the offending biz hurts others. For some a couch on the front porch and a fridge in the yard is beauty. This is not what the average person likes to see. It is a sign of a impoverished area. So zoning laws protect property values by restricting this. Hopefully the county will catch up with these changing health codes and come up with plan to allow projects like yours and prevent eye sores.
As a brick and mortar restaurant owner I am bias against transient road side merchants. Most ,but certainly not all, in my humble opinion look poorly concieved. Not agaist competition just hate the look


January 23, 2013 5:51 pm

True this is a free website.I would like to see how they do without all of the ads that are on here… I’m pretty sure that they are not free.
If you can’t afford the start up cost of a business or are afraid of getting a loan because of failure then it looks like you need to find another line of work as an employee.

Fishing fool

January 23, 2013 5:35 pm

Hey dude, where are the farms in dare county? Dare county has managed to do just fine of being able to fill the visitors needs with the local shops we have had, and with the new ones that plan to open the legit way, not coolers on the side of the road. If his heart is really in selling seafood rent one of the many places that are for lease. A prime example of this, is the hot dog cart in nagshead 300 yards away from a guy who just opened “King tuts Weiner hut”


January 23, 2013 4:49 pm

Because in any other county in the state, it IS a legal business. Red tape is the only thing stopping this. The county has the power to regulate the outdoor markets against unsafe practices and can license vendors should they so choose. They chose not to.

This is favoritism and behind the scenes power brokering.

And it smells like fish.


January 23, 2013 4:22 pm

“With all the vacant retail spots why dosen’t Mr. Rawl just start a legit business ???? Not a CRAP one …”

I can think of a few hundred thousand reasons why someone would want to start an open air market instead of trying to occupy an expensive retail outlet, and they all have to do with the cost! What is less than legitimate about an open air market? What if there were no farmer’s markets? Do farmer’s markets interfere with the business of the grocery stores? I have yet to ever hear of a story where a farmer’s market managed to put a grocery store out of business. This is just another outlet, and potentially market where local small operators can sell fresh products. You wonder why there are so many empty retail outlets available? Because of decisions like this with such lack of foresight. Push to open up the beaches and free up your businesses to do business and grow, watch what happens next! Very disappointing. You hurt the entire county with this decision in more ways than you can imagine. Tourists love open air markets for a story, for variety, for something local. They will go to the grocery store too.

Fishing fool

January 23, 2013 4:01 pm

Nagsheader, because that would take true commitment, not 3 coolers and a half assed business plan. Thank you dare county for keeping it classy. I wish Mr.lay would interview a retail owner and have their aspect of the story, not just the “former military pilot who got shot down by the evil republican commissioners”.

Sunnyside of the street

January 23, 2013 3:46 pm

We’ve supposed to buy the bunk about the county supporting its fishermen? Really? They might make a show of that, sending pitiful resolutions off to the feds who no doubt shrug and laugh. But when it comes down to it, the county is always going to back businesses higher up on the food chain than the folks who break their backs harvesting seafood and prevent folks like Mr. Rawl from paying fishermen a little more. This isn’t just a seafood issue though – it’s bigger than that – pay attention folks.

Carol Dawson

January 23, 2013 3:39 pm

Wow!! Just wow!!


January 23, 2013 3:32 pm

NagsHeader – In the counties around us, it is a legit business, the state says its a legit business and so does the Dare County Board of Health.

Sandy Semans

January 23, 2013 3:22 pm

NagsHeader and Retail, why is the only acceptable mode of enterprise the only one that should be considered? If that is the case, then should this site shut down until it finds a building, pays rent, utilities, etc. as do traditional print media. If the Outer Banks is ever to recover and move forward, it will take innovation, determination and losing the fear of competition. It’s hard to take a retail store into a farmer’s market…


January 23, 2013 3:05 pm

Retail said, “With all the vacant retail spots why dosen’t Mr. Rawl just start a legit business ???? Not a CRAP one …”

Good question.


January 23, 2013 2:48 pm

Without taking either side on this topic… why is it that every story that I read about this, the guy’s military service, status, & history is detailed?
While I’m grateful, as most probably are, for his service… what does it have anything to do with the issue at hand?
It’s almost as if there is an insinuation that it should make a difference in the outcome.


January 23, 2013 2:44 pm

With all the vacant retail spots why dosen’t Mr. Rawl just start a legit business ???? Not a CRAP one …


January 23, 2013 2:40 pm

Spineless, shameless, inept, incompetent,These are your Dare county leaders. They remind me of the joke about Teddy Kennedy getting a girl acros a bridge. These are some the same leaders that keep filling the road in Rodanthe with sand, really? What a bunch of baffooms.! That grocery store clerk at the red and white is pathetic.

KDH Rezident Evil

January 23, 2013 2:32 pm

Wow. Just wow. I mean, if you’re going to plunge a dagger in the man’s dreams, at least have the huevos to put it up for a vote and look him in the eye.
What an arrogant bunch of sissies.
I’m not a single issue voter, but this one will go some ways to informing my choices at the voting booth next election.


January 23, 2013 2:14 pm

Shame on each and every commissioner. Protectionism and anti-capitalism at it’s worst. Dare county needs innovative entrepreneurs; we get one, and then favor a few individual businesses over the public and private benefit.

Shame on all of them.

Imagine if government actually helped start businesses rather than find ways to keep them from operating.

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