Beach Town in a Forest

Beach Town in a Forest
Beach Town in a Forest, Pine Knoll Shores located in Carteret County on North Carolina's Crysal Coast. Photo compliments of Bill Flexman and Dave Prutzman

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Shoreline on Population Growth: 1973-1983

A newsletter named “Shore-line” first appeared in 1973, a year before the Town of Pine Knoll Shores received official recognition of its incorporation. Early residents Betty Hammon and Mary Doll had the foresight to realize the importance of having a vehicle for neighbors to get to know one another and stay in touch with what was happening locally. Pine Knoll Shores Shore-line (later Shore Line then The Shoreline) has, with a few short interruptions, existed ever since, changing formats over the years as the newsletter eventually became a newspaper. During most of this publication’s history, local volunteers have served as editors and writers. Its pages provide a documented story of the town and help us understand how Pine Knoll Shores’ population grew.

Photo of Eleanor and Ted Roosevelt, Jr. Family from Eleanor's Memoir, The Day Before Yesterday

The Roosevelt Interests, an entity consisting of the adult children of Eleanor and Ted Roosevelt, became involved in developing property on Bogue Banks after the death of their grandaunt Alice Hoffman in 1953. Their development efforts began before the first Shore-line and proceeded generally from east to west for about 30 years. When the Shore-line story begins, what was considered the “new” western section of Pine Knoll Shores was today’s central section, designed by A.C. Hall around the construction of canals. The Roosevelts’ involvement would continue through the mid-80s. After they left, the direction of development would move full circle back to eastern Pine Knoll Shores and to the Shutters complex, but that takes us well beyond the ten-year timeframe of the following story.


To imagine population centers in Pine Knoll Shores at the beginning of 1973, remove all of the Homeowner Associations on the above map except PKA and PIKSCO.  Even though PKA preceded PIKSCO,  the eastern section of town—including parts of Oakleaf, Knollwood, Juniper, Yaupon, Willow and Holly—developed first, about ten years before A.C. Hall designed the canal neighborhoods. Pine Knoll Townes I and II were also on the map in 1973.


In 1973, the Shore-line estimated that slightly more than 100 families lived in Pine Knoll Shores. Most were from the north, though some North Carolinians were in the mix. In 1974, that number would more than double. The Shore-line reported 235 houses, 122 condominium units, 42 apartments, and at least one alligator in Brock Basin Canal—“surfacing occasionally, sunning himself on the sand.”

Despite the increase in residences, Pine Knoll Shores had only 199 qualified voters for the November 1974 election, and only 160 turned out to vote. The disparity between total population numbers and voting-population numbers would continue as more multi-family complexes brought more second-homeowners to Pine Knoll Shores—a disparity that also largely determined the mix of northern transplants and southerners.

Throughout 1974, quality of life concerns related to growth, especially of multi-family units, sparked ordinances on a range of issues such as zoning, parking, signs, noise, traffic, etc. Included among these was the first attempt to restrict motels and multi-family dwellings.

The year began with commissioners passing a zoning ordinance addressing both the height and density of structures in Pine Knoll Shores. For height, “No building or other structure of any kind shall exceed either five stories or fifty feet in height….” The “density clause” limited “…all structures to no more than ten dwelling units per acre…” and specified additional limits for commercial buildings and off-street parking.

In 1974, motels outnumbered condominium complexes. Pine Knoll Townes and Reefstone were among the first condominium complexes mentioned in Shore-line stories. Among the motels were the Atlantis,; Iron Steamer, Seahawk, John Yancey (which later became the Royal Pavillon and, then, Roosevelt Beach); Holiday Inn, Carpetbagger (which became the Whaler Inn) and Clam Digger (which became a Ramada Inn). The latter was under construction when the above ordinance was passed and slightly exceeded the height limit.

Concerns about multi-family dwellings and attempts to restrict them would regularly surface throughout the 1970s and 1980s.


Shore Line editors Mary Doll and Betty Hammon dramatically reported that in five years—from 1970 to 1975—Pine Knoll Shores’ population had grown from 60 to 680. “There were 350 at the time of incorporation.” In 1975, like today, the majority of the population was over 50 years of age with a sizeable number over 60. Only 260 were eligible voters. Unlike today, the entire population was clustered in a small geographical area, from the border of Atlantic Beach to what was then called Bridge Road (now Pine Knoll Boulevard). Shore Line introductions of new neighbors in single-family homes indicated most had relocated from the northeast.

A suggestion of further growth came up in reports of annexation to expand the town’s western borders. There was no mention yet of Beacon’s Reach (it was still undeveloped land), but the subject of annexation of property further to the west, east of Salter Path, was a hot issue. Doll and Hammon did not define specifically the acreage in question, but we do know that in 1975 Pine Knoll Shores’ western boundary was about where Beacon’s Reach ends today. In May 1975, Shore Line covered a public hearing in Pine Knoll Shores on the subject. Initially, “the town went on record in favor of keeping the area west of Pine Knoll Shores under county jurisdiction.” The following month, when readers learned about “the bid by Indian Beach for annexation of the area directly west of Pine Knoll Shores” and the desire that county zoning remain in effect in that area, Pine Knoll Shores’ Board of Commissioners went “on record opposing that annexation by Indian Beach” and made a counter claim to the General Assembly, knowing the bid by Indian Beach had “apparently been received favorably by the House.” The issue went undecided in 1975, but some land west of Beacon’s Reach was destined to become part of Pine Knoll Shores.

A gift expanded roads at the town’s eastern border. Myrtle and Gus Wertz, who had in 1958 “bought 152 acres on the eastern edge of Pine Knoll Shores, 95 of which is the golf course and country club now, and the rest commercial and residential property,” turned over the deed to “the eastern loop of the road,” owned by “Gus’s group, Bogue Enterprises.” The town welcomed the addition. Doll and Hammon concluded: “This action, one hopes, would go even further toward pulling the Town together into a united community.”


The January 1976 Shore Line began with two announcements: the town had collected $54,683 in property taxes and had just added $1,373,000 worth of new property to its tax records. In 1976, there were 290 houses, 19 of them under construction. As the year ended, Pine Knoll Shores had 312 registered voters, a number that had grown but not as much as the town had grown.

Although the town seemed to be proud of its overall population growth, it continued to fear it, especially the growth of multi-family dwellings. In another attempt to control the size of complexes, a “new provision” in the zoning ordinance would maintain  “...the allowable density of ten living units per acre...” and, would permit “...density to be varied on specific lots in a subdivision up to a maximum of 15 living units per acre in order to achieve best use of land and terrain, provided the average density of the entire subdivision does not exceed 10 living units per acre.” This provision would ease the way for developers who were about to build condominiums, while still controlling the size of those complexes.

In November 1976, a news “FLASH” appeared: “On October 28 Ray Scoggins issued a building permit to Balwade to build 32 condominiums.... There will be two buildings, one behind the other parallel with the ocean. Much of the natural vegetation on the site will be retained and the rest restored to its natural condition once the construction is completed. Construction is also starting on Coral Bay West which is west of the John Yancey across from the Reefstone.” Twenty-four condominiums were in the plans for Coral Bay West. Seahaven, which was just beginning to sell units, was also mentioned.

In May 1976, Shore Line writers admitted not knowing much about existing condominiums, but began to go outside their single-family community to introduce neighbors in Pine Knoll Townes. In the process, they began to learn about governance of units there: “Here’s the thing: …BEAHAVEN, INC… handle[s] the two western-most rows of the condominiums…. Soon they will be turning the development over to its owners’ association…. Now then the other four rows of condominiums, to the east, are separate and function themselves, with their owners’ association in command; there are ninety-two units there.” The size of this complex is surprising since only 237 residences were receiving the Shore Line. Also, this was the first acknowledgement in the paper of homeowner associations other than Pine Knoll Association (PKA) and Pine Knoll Shores Corporation (PIKSCO). Reefstone, Coral Bay and Seahaven would, of course, also have their own associations, and with new condos would come new associations, but only PKA and PIKSCO, representing the town’s central population and largest group of full-time voting residents, would continue over the years to have regular articles in the town paper.

Until 1976, the only bridge to Bogue Banks had been a drawbridge from Morehead City to Atlantic Beach. The opening of the high-rise Cape Carteret Bridge not only accelerated development in Emerald Isle but also brought more full-time residents, second-homeowners and day-trippers to Pine Knoll Shores. Shore Line editors heralded the opening of the new bridge in poetic terms: “The Emerald Isle one is such a breath-taker, rising above the waters gracefully, giving us that wide view of boats in the waterway, cattle [sic] egrets moving stifflegged along the edges of the many scattered islands....” The four lane, high rise Atlantic Beach-Morehead bridge did not open until 1987. 

Photo from Emerald Isle Realty website: Cape Carteret Bridge.


Statistics printed in the December 1977 Shore Line compared Pine Knoll Shores growing population, now at 770, with the populations of Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle—560 and 260 respectively. These statistics, reprinted from the North Carolina League of Municipalities, listed Morehead City’s population at 5,670 and Beaufort’s at 3,800.

Shore Line writers, while engaged in forward-looking plans for the town, devoted considerable space to looking back. A brief history provided insights on what constituted Pine Knoll Shores in 1977. The history divided development into two phases: “In the first phase, land was designated for a golf course, an ocean park, and one on the Sound, and the section now known as ‘old’ Pine Knoll Shores was laid out.” A description of phase two helped define what was “old” and “new” in 1977. Land in the “new” part of town was “…low and even swampy, so a drainage ditch was dredged which drained the area and provided fill for low-lying sections. This drainage ditch is now our beautiful canal along which are so many attractive homes.” Also, “a channel was dredged on the south shore of the Sound paralleling what is now Oakleaf Drive. The canal and channel make the greater portion of the second phase of Pine Knoll Shores an island within an island, accessible on Oakleaf at McNeill Inlet bridge and by the Mimosa bridge near the Ocean Park at Salter Path. In addition to the main ‘canal,’ there are branches and basins—Brock Basin, Hall Haven, Davis Landing, Hopper’s Hideaway, Hearth’s Cove, and King’s Corner.”

But a newer Pine Knoll Shores was yet to come. The 1977 Shore Line announced, “And now, plans are being made for another beautifully planned section of the community to be located to the west of the Roosevelt State Park. These plans include a boat basin for the use of its residents.” This, of course, would be Beacon’s Reach (originally called West Pine Knoll Shores). For the next several years, development would remain in high gear. By looking back and forward, the Shore Line in 1977 prepared readers for a bigger Pine Knoll Shores.


The January issue provided some sense of the town’s ongoing growth. Continuing at a steady pace, home construction completed in 1977 totaled $1,078,835 with the value of individual homes increasing to over $50,000. There were approximately 350 completed homes in 1977, and in the first three weeks of 1978, “homes with a total value of $135,000” had been started.

However, this is all the news related to population growth that we have from 1978. The Shore Line’s original editors, Mary Doll and Betty Hammon were running out of energy for continuing with the paper, and though new blood emerged for the effort, it was not enough for regular issues. In June 1978, the paper had to discontinue publication. In June 1979, it would “rise Phoenix-like” as Mayor Haller had predicted. During the year hiatus, plans for what was then known as West Pine Knoll Shores went unreported.


The 1980s marked the last big growth spurt for Pine Knoll Shores, determining the make-up of its residents for years to come. It was the decade of McGinnis Point and Beacon’s Reach as well as smaller multi-family properties. Side-by-side patio homes, townhouses and condominiums would encourage more North Carolinians to buy second homes here. There was continuing talk of pushing out the town’s borders in the direction of Salter Path by annexing properties west of the Trinity Center. The Roosevelts also had unfulfilled plans to build a shopping center or “village,” which was to contain a supermarket, drugstore, variety store, bank and restaurants. The 80s would be the last decade of active development by the Roosevelt Interests.


Oceanfront development dominated the news in 1981, but as new construction was underway, especially at Beacon’s Reach, the rest of Pine Knoll Shores was concerned about growth.

Beacon’s Reach had begun with an Ocean Grove condominium building on the oceanfront in 1978, followed by a Westport building, a sound-front complex. But, the size and character of this final Roosevelt project did not come to the fore in the Shore Line until January 1981, when the PKS building inspector reported a permit had been granted to extend a wastewater treatment plant in what was called “West Pine Knoll Shores.” (The name “Beacon’s Reach” came later.) In April, the Board of Commissioners approved a 44-unit extension in Westport subdivision.

Putting development trends in perspective, Commissioner of Planning Larry Jerome counted 1,103 single-family lots in town and stated, “with respect to condominiums, present zoning allows a maximum of 1,700 units.”  He estimated that the peak population in 1980 had been approximately 3,400 with 775 of these being full-time residents. However, the 1980 Census counted only 617 full-time residents. Jerome also overestimated by almost 50% when predicting that the full-time population could rise to 3,000 in 1990, but was more on target in his forecast that full-time “…single-family residents will always exceed” the full-time condominium population.

Preparing for more oceanfront residential development, Don Brock, in 1981, went before the Planning Commission to request rezoning from commercial to residential 3,262 feet between the Iron Steamer Pier and the Ramada Inn (The Clamdigger). As representative of the Roosevelt family, Brock was proposing to build 52 single-family residences, each 2,000 sq. ft. or more, with each lot being approximately ½ acre. This Maritime development would also become part of Beacon’s Reach. Two years later the Shore Line would describe in greater detail this eastern oceanfront development.

But other oceanfront developments were also underway. For example, in December 1981, a building permit was granted for 24 oceanfront condo units for Genesis I.


By January 1982, property values in Pine Knoll Shores had exceeded $100 million. At the time, there were nine single-family homes under construction and four condominium projects underway, and there would be more. The April 1982 building report included mention of 51 Beachwalk Villas under construction.

These building reports seemed to fuel local fears. April 1982 was to bring to a proposed “moratorium” on “multi-family dwellings in Pine Knoll Shores.” At the time of the proposal, there were 650 condominium units constructed and, according to the resolution, another 1,200 planned. The argument was one based on fire and rescue safety. Commissioners approved the proposal. But, throughout the year, building permits for both single-family and multi-family dwellings continued to be issued. In December, Mayor Haller acknowledged it was too late for a moratorium to be effective since multifamily construction had already begun “in most all zones.”

In another attempt to control growth, a 1982 zoning amendment limiting new construction in Pine Knoll Shores to eight living units per acre. It would, however, lead to bigger issues. All owners of motels in town saw the amendment as a threat since it meant they could not rebuild if disaster struck. And, in John Yancey’s case, the new zoning law restricted expansion plans.

Annexation and land swaps also increased the size of Pine Knoll Shores. In July 1982, the homeowner association of Smugglers’ Cove requested annexation by PKS. In September 1982, the town swapped about one acre of land near McGinnis Point and the municipal site with the Roosevelts. The land swap was to be of benefit to McGinnis Point and would give the town land it might at a later time use for recreational purposes.

At the January 1983 meeting, Board of Commissioners took the first steps to “annexation of the area between the PKS western boundary and Indian Beach.” A public hearing on the issue was set for March 8. Before that hearing, the Planning Board voted against annexation. At the March 8 hearing, the area was described as 88% residential, including Ocean Glen condominiums already constructed and Ocean Bay Villas under construction. Some Ocean Glen residents spoke against annexation, but Pine Knoll Shores residents present spoke in favor. In April, the Board of Commissioners voted in favor of annexation.

In August 1983, the PKS Planning Board considered “a sketch plan” for “an Episcopal Camp and Conference Center to be located on the Church property... in the newly annexed western end of PKS.” The “sketch plan” was for construction on the sound side and would include a number of buildings such as dormitories, dining hall, chapel, infirmary, a caretaker’s residence, all surrounded by maritime forest. town approved plans for a new camp/conference center, which would become today’s Trinity Center.

Pine Knoll Shores eastern border was also in question. In March 1983, the issue of where Atlantic Beach ended and Pine Knoll Shores began came under discussion. Annexation of 130 acres east of Pine Knoll Shores was considered, all but two acres of which were on the north side of Salter Path Road. The area included a mobile home park and about six “conventional houses,” two gift shops, two convenience stores and one restaurant. On the south side, was the Morehead Ocean Pier, not claimed by Atlantic Beach.

Around this time, the Roosevelts were making a major decision about a tract of oceanfront maritime forest situated “between the Iron Steamer Pier and the Ramada Inn.” It would become the single-family Maritime Place. It consisted of 40 ocean lots separated from Salter Path Road by dense maritime forest. “This area was for a long time held by the Roosevelts for their own use.” Theodore III, Cornelius, Grace and Frances (Quentin’s widow) had planned “to divide the area into four parts, “and it is told that on one of their family vacations in PKS, they drew straws to see which family would receive which quarter.” The latter part of this story may be apocryphal, but we do know that the Roosevelts had retained these lots for themselves until some time in the 1980s.

One the opposite end of town, there was also new development— Cypress Drive and Country Club subdivisions. In April 1983, John Collier presented plans for 10 single-family lots, and the Planning Board tentatively approved his plans. In April, Taylor-Schrum presented a plan for approximately 10 lots just west of the country club.

As the town prepared to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the vote to incorporate, Mary Doll reminded readers that in 1973 there were just over 100 residents in Pine Knoll Shores, and in the 10th anniversary year, there were 724. Residents from out of state came to Pine Knoll Shores from 25 states, the majority from New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Ohio.  And, most of them lived in the area east of town hall.

But in this 10th anniversary year, Shoreline writers acknowledged there is much more to Pine Knoll Shores and go on to describe the “booming community” of Beacon’s Reach, with Ocean Grove, the Breakers, Coral Shores as well as Westport already developed with more than “165 living units” completed and 800 planned. Beacon’s Reach was being advertised nationally, with Eastern and Piedmont Airlines doing features. It was noted that “very few owners...reside here year round....” However, in 1983, Ted Hearth, the Stone and Webster management consultant for the Roosevelts did become a permanent resident of Beacon’s Reach. Beacon’s Reach was “developed exclusively by the Roosevelt Interests.” Don Brock, who had been working for the Roosevelts since the 1960s was on-site project manager and sales representative.

Drone photo by Tom Rogers shows how extensive Beacon's Reach is in 2017—the final product of the Roosevelt Interests.

Given the trend that began in the 1970s, it is no surprise that, despite all the development and annexation, the town had only 525 registered voters in November 1983,  and the central section of Pine Knoll Shores remained its political core.  
Also, celebration of growth and resistance to growth would remain an ongoing tug-of-war and continue to be documented throughout the years in pages of The Shoreline