Dare board takes no action on seafood sales change

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — A Dare County man who has tried for 10 months to get permission to sell seafood from a truck says he doesn't know what his next steps will be after a public hearing ended with no action from commissioners.

Mark Rawl of Avon had asked the county to change its zoning regulations so he could sell his seafood. Commissioners were supposed to act Tuesday after listening to opinions at a public hearing.

Commission Chairman Warren Judge asked three times for a motion, Rawl said in a phone interview Wednesday. The other four commissioners who would have voted — two recused themselves — didn't say anything and Judge recessed the meeting, Rawl said.

"I'm thinking it over," Rawl said, when asked what he planned to do next. "I came down here to surf fish, to enjoy life. I've been asked by the local community to pursue this because I had time on my hands. I've put a lot of hours into this thing and driving north from Avon to Manteo."

Judge didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Other counties, including Craven and Currituck, allow such sales.

Locals unhappy with government interference in other aspects of their lives, such as beach driving restrictions, supported Rawl. At least two businesses said they would allow him to sell from their parking lots.

"In a time when so many restrictions are making people question why they should come here rather than elsewhere, it is important to show visitors why this place is so special," Avon resident Wendi Palmer wrote to county officials last year.

Some store owners who sell seafood cite their costs of maintaining buildings and regulations that affect them as reasons to oppose Rawl.

"This will give these people an unfair advantage because they will not have to invest the monies I was required to do over all these years," L.B. Fulcher wrote. "This will allow them to sell seafood at a cheaper cost and therefore put me out of business. Why would Dare County legislate a rule that would close down a tax-paying family business."

Rawl noted that he wouldn't be allowed to sell certain kinds of fish that cause histamine toxicity, a form of food poisoning, under certain conditions. They include tuna, bluefish and wahoo.

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