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New voter map a hit in lower Currituck

Paper: Daily Advance, The ( Elizabeth City, NC)

Date: August 15, 2007

POPLAR BRANCH - The latest version of Currituck's proposed voting district map appears to be getting good reviews - at least in lower Currituck.

A majority of the approximately 40 residents attending a public hearing at W.T. Griggs Elementary School Monday appeared to endorse the proposal, which redraws the county's four voter districts as five.

Commissioners earned the right to redraw the districts through a law passed by state legislators earlier this year. County officials had protested that the current districts, approved as a by-product of a voter referendum on the commission board's size last November, were unpopular with voters.

Although all current district lines would have to be moved in new plan - labeled Plan E among the options being considered - the biggest change would be the creation of an entirely new district. Residents of Jarvisburg and south to the Wright Memorial Bridge would live in what would become a new District 2.

Paula Lipman, who lives in lower Currituck, said she was pleased with the new district.

"We haven't had a representative in our area for a long time," she said.

Under Plan E, District 2 would start at the southern tip of Point Harbor and proceed north to Waterfront Drive and Uncle Graham Road in Grandy. The District 3 line starts there and goes northward, ending at parts of both Shortcut and Maple roads. District 4 then runs north of there to Tulls Creek Road. For the most part, District 5, the current Moyock Township, wouldn't change on the revised map.

Another proposed big change would be the inclusion of Corolla and Gibbs Woods with Carova and Knotts Island to create a new District 1.

County Manager Dan Scanlon said the district was drawn to add population to the current Fruitville Township. He said Gibbs Woods has always been a part of Moyock Township for voting purposes, even though its residents have a Knotts Island address.

Scanlon said the law allowing Currituck to redraw the districts contains three conditions. County officials have to hold at least two public hearings on the plan; the county has to retain "residency districts" in which commissioner candidates have to reside in a district but are voted on by the entire county; and that a new map be adopted no later than Oct. 1.

Scanlon said that unlike wards, residency districts do not have to be proportionate in population. He also said that redistricting would not affect the referendum voters approved in November increasing the five-member commission board to seven members.

Scanlon said county officials held a similar meeting with Corolla citizens last week, many of whom also seemed to approve of the proposed new map. He said several Corolla residents did say, however, that their community has more in common with lower Currituck than Knotts Island.

Commissioner Owen Etheridge, who previously said he favors the redistricting map approved by the previous Board of Commissioners, said Monday that he would agree to the map that the majority of citizens want.

Commissioner Barry Nelms said the proposed map's major flaw is that it divides some communities on U.S. Highway 158.

The next hearing on the proposed new district map will be Aug. 20 at the Historic Currituck Courthouse. Other forums are also planned in Moyock and Knotts Island before commissioners are expected to take final action on the proposal Sept. 24.

(c) 2007 Cox Newspapers, Inc. - The Daily Advance

Author: BRENDA KLEMAN Correspondent

Section: MAIN

(c) 2007 Cox Newspapers, Inc. - The Daily Advance