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And just like those “Gray Ladies”, I fear the local character is equally threatened. Not by erosion or sealevel rise, but by another equally constant force: the pressure to grow. To change. To cash-in on maximum short-term, financial gain without considering the full long-term cost. To adopt those very “plundering propensities” and “Christian vices of polished communities” that we’ve avoided for so long.

The whole reason people connect so powerfully with the Outer Banks is it’s literally like no place on earth.

In Nags Head, they’re filling the beach despite two referendums that said, “please don’t.” (More like, “Hell no.”) In Kitty Hawk, residents hoping to replace an empty building with a farmer’s market were originally told that the council preferred something more “high end.” In Kill Devil Hills, a panel spent eight months debating flexing the hotel height limits — even though 89% of locals and visitors thought they were plenty big already. (We won’t even begin to talk about the Lowe’s debacle.) And whether it’s dumping sand on the beach like VB or just trying to pave the horizon like Pensacola, I’d argue these growing pains represent an ongoing conflict between two distinct groups: those who flocked here to escape traditional, urban woes — and those who grew up wishing the Outer Banks was more like “the big city.” Both sides are well-intentioned. Both want “what’s best” for the future. They just have different visions of what that future looks like. The irony? The best way to ever truly gauge any location is from the outside — even if only for a brief time. And while people who’ve been here forever will routinely lament the things they never had, what makes the Outer Banks so loved is all the things it lacks: be it another big box store, an

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Stuck here on purpose

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Stuck here on purpose

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