Tuesday, November 20, 2007

News From Congress

HR3915 Passes to Full House for Consideration
A bill designed to curb abusive mortgage lending practices was passed out of the House Financial Services Committee this week with a favorable vote of 45 to 19. To become law, the bill needs approval of the full House; then would need to be passed by the Senate; and finally signed by the president.
The bill, a response to the crisis in the subprime mortgage market, tightens lending regulations by requiring lenders to consider a borrower's ability to repay an adjustable-rate mortgage after monthly payments reset higher than introductory rates, and also ensure that borrowers receive a "net tangible benefit" to refinanced mortgages. It also would require mortgage brokers be licensed, prohibit lenders from being compensated for steering borrowers toward certain high-cost products and assign some limited liability to secondary market investors that finance certain subprime loans.
Opponents said the legislation would make it harder for borrowers to obtain a house and increase the cost of credit. But supporters said the problems in the mortgage-finance system allowed excesses and abuses to hurt homeowners. They said lenders were able to exploit a patchwork of state and federal laws to trap borrowers in unaffordable loans using questionable underwriting practices.

Fire Sprinkler Debate

The recent fire in Ocean Isle earlier this month that claimed the lives of seven South Carolina college students was a terrible tragedy.
The fire has stirred up debate once again about whether or not sprinkler systems should be mandatory under the State Building Code or if local governments should adopt their own sprinkler requirements.
*Attached is information for your review regarding residential sprinklers that was prepared by the North Carolina Home Builders Association based on data from the National Association of Home Builders, US Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association of Home Builders, NAHB Research Center, Public Opinion Strategies and the US Census Bureau.

Kill Devil Hills Atrium Replacement

After months of debate and the ultimate denial of Carolina Beach Builders’ application to replace their nonconforming atrium with new materials, the Planning Board will be considering a proposed amendment to the Nonconforming Structures section of the zoning ordinance to address nonconforming atriums and sunrooms at their meeting next Tuesday. The amendment would allow new materials to be used to replace a sunroom or atrium that does not expand the existing footprint of a structure.
The Board will also be working on an amendment to clarify requirements for wall signs; considering an amendment to add requirements for commercial, industrial and
multi-family accessory structures; and considering an amendment to allow planned unit development and townhouse subdivisions (this is in response to workforce housing financing opportunities).

Corolla Sign Ordinance

Apparently, there have been some violations of the Currituck Outer Banks Overlay District Sign Ordinance. Please remember the following when placing signs in the Corolla area:

There is only one “For Sale” sign allowed per property and it may not be on state or public land.
“For Rent” signs may only be placed on the exterior wall of the unit for rent – not on a post on NC 12.
Any construction company or realty company that flies the American flag 24 hours a day must have it properly up lighted during the night to comply with the US Flag Code.

In other Corolla news, Commissioners gave approval last week to an amended sketch plan for the Corolla Bay subdivision of Monteray Shores citing the need and market for multi-family housing. The amended sketch plan increased the density for Corolla Bay from 115 units to 256 units that will include detached condo units. Although a substantial increase, the plan still met the overall density and space requirements for the Planned Unit Development.

Duck As-built surveys

Last week, Town Council members considered scheduling a public hearing on an ordinance that would remove the requirement for as-built surveys within 9 months of an application for building or land disturbance permits. Town Council decided more information was needed and the item was sent back to the Planning Board.
Members of the Planning Board this week decided that staff needed to do some more work on a “matrix” that would outline exactly when a survey would be necessary.

Community Development Director Andy Garman also presented Planning Board members with information on the newly adopted Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting Ordinance. He stated that the ordinance seems to be working well; the public is now thinking about vegetation on their property and understanding the importance of preserving native vegetation. He did state that an issue has come up with oceanfront properties, whereas the ordinance does not give credit to grasses in the 15% coverage calculation requirement. The ordinance requires oceanfront homeowners to plant trees or shrubs that are not as well adapted to the ocean dune environment as some of the plants currently growing on the property. Board members agreed that grasses need to be added to the approved list of vegetation and directed staff to come up with a formula for coverage credit.

There was lengthy discussion on sign ordinance regulation discrepancies and violations. One main concern that staff brought forward is that “building frontage” is not clearly defined. Owners of Scarborough Faire raised many concerns about the ordinance including how wall area is measured to determine sign size allocations. Staff was directed to review the sign ordinance and make recommendations from Board suggestions at a subsequent meeting.

Is the Bonner Bridge Crumbling Down?

WAVY TV 10 aired a special report this week on the need to replace the aging Bonner and the stacks of paperwork that continue to build on how to go about doing it. It was noted that exposed rebar, cracked pilings and plenty of patch jobs are just some of the problems with the Bridge. The report highlighted Governor Easley’s August 2007 letter to the Secretary of the Interior in which he stated the bridge is “one of the most deficient bridges across the state.” Although state and federal agencies were prepared to sign off on a 17.5 mile long bridge to Rodanthe in July of 2003, Dare County Commissioners and Senator Marc Basnight stepped in and opposed the plan. They then proposed building a shorter bridge, parallel to the Bonner Bridge in a phased approach – a series of bridges to built over 30 years. NC DOT rep Ernie Seneca was quoted during the broadcast, “We feel the phased approach is the best way to deal with the changing environment and this allows for flexibility and how best to proceed throughout the process.” Senator Marc Basnight was also featured saying that the issue to replace the bridge boils down to cash – “the state has the $300 million to build the short bridge but the $1.4 billion price tag is out of the question.” The report ended with information that a final environmental statement on the project is expected next Spring and that the state is going to spend $40 million to make repairs to the bridge to extend its life by 10-years.

Make Plans to Attend Stormwater Management Workshop!

A seminar to help you gain a better understanding of how to apply a “low impact development” approach to your own backyard will held on Wednesday, November 14th from 3 to 5 pm at the Kitty Hawk Town Hall. Low impact development basically is landscaping with an objective - the objective being to manage stormwater runoff on your site instead of trying to move it away. Low impact development (LID) is a relatively new approach to stormwater management with a basic principle that is modeled after nature. Before an area is developed, most rainwater that falls to the ground is absorbed and filtered by the soil, soaked up by the plants, or evaporates and becomes rainfall again. However, built structures contain many impervious surfaces, such as rooftops and driveways, which cannot be penetrated by rainwater. Surface water then collects and flows downhill, accumulating sediment and pollutants before reaching a body of water such as a stream, estuary or ocean. (Therefore, all the discussion on stormwater rules!)
The seminar will feature three local experts: Kathy Mitchell, Horticulturist at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island; Susan Ruiz-Evans, Dare County Extension Agent; and Robert McClendon, Sustainable Design Specialist at the Coastal Studies Institute. For more information, contact the Planning Department at 261-2552.

Nags Head Building Height

The Commissioners voted unanimously to deny a zoning text amendment request to modify the definition of height. The proposed amendment would have allowed total height of structures with the VE zone to be measured from 3 feet above average grade or 3 feet above the base flood elevation, whichever is greater. The public hearing was very lengthy with several comments made from the applicant’s attorney, Bobby Outten, and others in attendance. Town Planner Tim Wilson agreed that there are height measurement issues - not with the 42’ total limit - but with what came be done to the interior and the top plate measurement requirement. The Board directed Planning staff to come back to them in December with alternative language to the zoning ordinance dealing with height that would allow the top plate to be measured from the first finished floor and be no more than 28 ft while complying with an 8/12 roof pitch and only having up to 3 habitable floors. The issue will then go to the Planning Board and from there it will go back to the Board of Commissioners to schedule another public hearing.

Dare County Emegency Management

Emergency Management Director Sandy Sanderson and the Director of the Coastal Studies Institute, Dr. Nancy White, gave a presentation on the feasibility and opportunity for Emergency Management and 911 Communications to co-locate with the new Coastal Studies Institute at their site near the Manteo Airport. Mr. Sanderson spoke about the need for a new Emergency Operations Center and how the costs would be much less if Emergency Management only needed to pay for the construction of the facility and not the infrastructure costs associated with the development because CSI would have already covered those costs. He proposed a 2-story, 10,000 sq. ft. facility detached from the CSI building, constructed to 130 mph wind standards; the cost would be approximately $3 million to build. Dr. White expressed that this is “an amazing and nationally unique opportunity for CSI”. In an era of global warming and homeland security issues, CSI facility researchers could work closely with the Emergency Management group. The BOC said they will consider the proposal and discuss it at their Capital Improvement Projects meeting and add it for discussion to their November 19th meeting agenda.

The Board did not reach a decision on building height and gross floor area for structures in unzoned areas of Dare County. They referred back to the Planning Board language that would allow buildings up to 45 ft. in height and a maximum of 20,000 square feet. Hotels, motels, County owned facilities, and other government facilities would be exempt from the gross floor area limitations. A motion was made by Richard Johnson to move forward with language that limited height to 35 feet but that motion failed with Commissioner Shea casting the only other favorable vote.

Southern Shores Eminent Domain

Oct. 23 – The Town Council reversed its decision from early this year that allowed the Town to exercise its eminent domain powers on property in Chicahauk. The town condemned property owned by the Chicahauk Property Owners Association to use as a dredge spoil area for the planned Town canal dredging project. Cost, permitting issues and environmental impacts were stated as the reasons to rescind the decision. They may revisit needing to use the area at a later time.

Duck Amendments To Zoning Ordinance

Defining “free and clear of obstruction” in structures in a V-zone: this in now described as a distance of two feet measured from the finished grade or average finished grade below the structure to the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest floor. Non-bearing solid breakaway walls, open lattice panels, and insect screening are not considered obstructions that will impede the free flow of floodwaters and may be allowed below the lowest floor of the structure. The two-foot free and clear requirement will not count towards the maximum height requirement of the structure.

Addressing fill on irregular lots and defining the footprint of a dwelling – no more than 3-feet of fill may be added to a lot above the pre-disturbance ground elevation; the building footprint is defined as the plan view of the heated area of the dwelling unit. Pre-disturbance elevations will be taken at the four corners of the building footprint; if the footprint is irregular and has more than four sides, pre-disturbance elevations shall be taken using the four building corners closest to the four corners of the smallest square or rectangle that could be drawn to encompass the footprint. When fill/grading is not necessary to raise a house to base flood elevation, a maximum of 3 feet of rise in ground elevation from the lowest pre-disturbance ground elevation beneath the house as a leveling factor. Any amount above three feet that is not necessary to raise a dwelling to base flood elevation shall be counted toward the height of the dwelling.

Defining height as the distance from the tallest roofline of a building to the top of the slab at the approximate center of the structure or to the finished grade where no slab is present. More information on height and other zoning text amendment changes can be found at www.townofduck.com.

The Town of Duck Planning Board gave full support this month to removing the 9-month as-built survey requirement and agreed to leave it open to staff as to the need for an as-built survey. This is great news for property owners just wanting to do small improvements to their homes such as replacing treads on exterior steps, etc; they now may be able to save the $600+ survey cost. Town Council will be reviewing this amendment at a future meeting. The Planning Board also decided to put fence regulations that were under consideration on the back burner.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wind Turbines, Windmills, etc. Allowed in Commercial Zones

Oct. 24 - Timing is everything as they say! The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners turned down Brewing Station’s request five years ago to install a wind turbine on their building after residents expressed concerns. Now with discussions taking place everywhere about renewable energy and “green” anything you can think of – the public came out in full support of an amendment to add wind turbines as a conditional use in the commercial zone. The hour-long public hearing was definitely one-sided in favor of allowing the Brewing Station to install a wind turbine. Commissioner Paul Buske applauded the Brewing Station owners for their forward-thinking and sticking with their plans. He shared some statistics with the standing-room only crowd at the Board of Commissioners meeting such as: the United States only makes up 5% of the world’s population but contributes 20% of the pollution; he added that one gallon of gas creates 20 gallons of greenhouse gas. The amendment passed 3 to 1 with Commissioner Finch opposing. Commissioner Peele did not attend the meeting.

The Board also approved amendments to the zoning ordinance on Nonconformities. The amendments will allow commercial nonconforming structures to make improvements to “better” their area of nonconformity without letting the structure fall into disrepair.

Commissioners approved a site plan for Captain George’s Restaurant which will be located on a 2.18 -acre lot located at the intersection of Baum St. and Croatan Hwy. The restaurant will be 10,098 sq. feet and seat 251 persons. Along with infiltration basins, portions of the parking area will constructed of permeable pavement to address stormwater runoff. Captain George’s Restaurant is a well-known seafood buffet eatery in Virginia Beach.

Southern Shores - Chicahauk Condemnation

Oct. 23 – The Town Council reversed its decision from early this year that allowed the Town to exercise its eminent domain powers on property in Chicahauk. The town condemned property owned by the Chicahauk Property Owners Association to use as a dredge spoil area for the planned Town canal dredging project. Cost, permitting issues and environmental impacts were stated as the reasons to rescind the decision. They may revisit needing to use the area at a later time.

New Duck Zoning Ordinance

o Defining “free and clear of obstruction” in structures in a V-zone: this in now described as a distance of two feet measured from the finished grade or average finished grade below the structure to the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest floor. Non-bearing solid breakaway walls, open lattice panels, and insect screening are not considered obstructions that will impede the free flow of floodwaters and may be allowed below the lowest floor of the structure. The two-foot free and clear requirement will not count towards the maximum height requirement of the structure.

o Addressing fill on irregular lots and defining the footprint of a dwelling – no more than 3-feet of fill may be added to a lot above the pre-disturbance ground elevation; the building footprint is defined as the plan view of the heated area of the dwelling unit. Pre-disturbance elevations will be taken at the four corners of the building footprint; if the footprint is irregular and has more than four sides, pre-disturbance elevations shall be taken using the four building corners closest to the four corners of the smallest square or rectangle that could be drawn to encompass the footprint. When fill/grading is not necessary to raise a house to base flood elevation, a maximum of 3 feet of rise in ground elevation from the lowest pre-disturbance ground elevation beneath the house as a leveling factor. Any amount above three feet that is not necessary to raise a dwelling to base flood elevation shall be counted toward the height of the dwelling.

o Defining height as the distance from the tallest roofline of a building to the top of the slab at the approximate center of the structure or to the finished grade where no slab is present.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Program to Help Home Owners Avoid Foreclosure

From NAHB reportsa new program called “HOPE NOW” announced this week by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson will help American families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. The initiative brings together foreclosure prevention counselors, mortgage servicers and other mortgage market participants in an alliance to help home owners who are facing default. It will provide at-risk borrowers with information and resources that will allow them to keep their home by restructuring the terms of their mortgage or pursuing other options available to them.

NAHB has strongly encouraged and supported recent efforts of the mortgage industry to provide foreclosure prevention counseling and assistance to borrowers who have encountered mortgage difficulties. A hotline established to assist borrowers facing foreclosure has been publicized through NAHB’s web site and in communications to our state and local HBAs. NAHB will continue to publicize foreclosure prevention resources in communities throughout the country and work with HOPE NOW to help expand its outreach efforts.

Proposed Coastal Stormwater Rules! IMPORTANT

DENR/DWQ is receiving public comments until October 15th on proposed amendments to Coastal Stormwater Rules that would affect all land in twenty coastal counties. You should have already received talking points and a sample letter to send to Tom Reeder of NCDWQ at tom.reeder@ncmail.net and copy to Representative Tim Spear at tims@ncleg.net; Representative Bill Owens at billo@ncleg.net; and Senator Marc Basnight at marcb@ncleg.net. Below is more information regarding the rules and why they should be opposed that has not been previously published:

The proposed rules will do nothing to impact current stormwater run-off condition or have any effect on closed SA waters.
UNC - Coastal Studies Institute has at least 3 major reports that refute the proposed rules and CSI does not support the proposed rules.
The rules are being considered due to the closing of shellfishing waters. There are waters along the coast that are included in closed shellfishing water reports were never classified as shellfishing waters.
The majority of shellfishing waters were closed prior to 1988 and 1995, the relevant dates regarding the current stormwater rules.
According to other studies using Total Maximum Density Loading measurements, bacteria fecal coliform comes from wildlife and other animal waste and has nothing to do with development.
The application for a stormwater permit triggers the need for a CAMA permit. If the permitting threshold is lowered from one acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance, the delay and cost relative to permit acquisition and compliance will be tremendous.

The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners

The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners will hold several public hearings at their meeting on Wednesday. They include:

o Consideration of an amendment to zoning to add wind turbines as a conditional use in the commercial zone. A request by owners of the Brewing Station to amend the zoning ordinance to allow for a wind turbine on their building received unanimous approval from the Planning Board.

o Consideration of an amendment to define Shopping Center use, set parking requirements for such and add Shopping Center to permitted used in Commercial, Light Industrial One and Light Industrial Two Zones.

o Consideration of proposed amendments to zoning chapter on non-conformities, non-conforming structures.

Also at the meeting, Commissioners will be reviewing a site plan for Captain George’s Restaurant, a proposed 10,000+ sq.ft. restaurant to be located at 705 South Croatan Hwy. The property is currently a treed lot on the east side of bypass opposite the Quality Plus Gas Station. There have been two Captain George’s Restaurant locations in Virginia Beach for years and is a well-known seafood buffet eatery.

BE INFORMED AND VOTE NOW!

The League of Women Voters of Dare County will be sponsoring a candidate forum this week for the Town of Kitty Hawk on Tuesday, October 23 at the Town Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.

Forums already held in other towns are being aired on Charter Cable Channel 20 at 7 pm on the following dates:

o Duck – October 31, November 4th

o Kill Devil Hills – October 18th and 30th

o Southern Shores – October 23rd

o Nags Head – October 27th and November 3rd

o Kitty Hawk – October 25th and October 28th

o Manteo – Forums cancelled

One-stop voting is going on NOW thru November 3rd. This is the first year that you have the opportunity to not only vote early but to register and vote if you missed the registration deadline. In addition to the Manteo Board of Elections office, you can vote early at the Baum Center in KDH and the Fessenden Center in Buxton. You will not be able to register and vote on Election Day, November 6th. Registered voters in Hatteras, Frisco, Buxton, Avon and Chicamacomico will be eligible to vote on liquor by the drink.

Affordable Housing

The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce and the Outer Banks Community Development Corporation sponsored the seminar, “Future Trends in Land and Living” held last week at the Hilton Garden Inn. CDC officials gave attendees an update on the 6-year progress of the organization which includes workforce housing under construction in KDH; a partnership with Dare County for workforce housing on Roanoke Island; and housing counseling services, etc. William Hettinger, the key speaker for the 2006 Living and Working in Paradise seminar, gave a brief overview of information and statistics shared at that event with regards to affordable housing. One of the most alarming statistics was the declining percentage of Dare County residents that are able to afford a median-priced home. In 1990 – 41% (3800) of residents could afford the median priced home; in 2000 – 48% (6100) of residents; and in 2005 only a small 4% (547) of residents could afford the median-priced home. The impact the increase in property values has on the economy include: challenge to attract workers; existing workers/residents “cash out” of housing and move to less expensive place; commute time and distance to work increases thus affecting turnover/absenteeism; wage costs increase; and service levels decline. This trend makes it difficult to grow existing businesses and attract new non-tourism businesses.

Anthony Flint, a futurist and journalist from the Lincoln Land Institute, followed Mr. Hettinger and talked about the current buzz in environmental awareness and the desire for economic diversity. “Regional land use planning is the way we’ve got to do business and we must approach together the issues of affordable housing, sustainability and economic growth,” he stated. In the past, housing and the workplace have been rigidly separated but people are beginning to shift from buying their “castle” in outlying sprawl areas to moving or relocating to a smaller dwelling closer to where they work. Mr. Flint discussed the need for compacted, mixed-use development projects to address the above issues and referenced projects in Atlanta, Charlotte and Tysons Corner that have attracted buyers in record numbers. He expressed the need for “recycling” land and older buildings by remembering to “Re-Develop First!” Another suggestion he made was to bundle together the agencies dealing with housing, transportation and the environment and have them coordinate their efforts. He concluded by challenging the crowd to work on a common message, “We Need Housing”, and to look at strategic ways to develop housing.

Coastal Stormwater Rules

DWQ officials met this past week with Senator Marc Basnight and local officials to discuss proposed amendments to coastal stormwater rules. The discussion centered on the uniqueness of Dare County – how it is so different from the other 19 coastal counties, as well as efforts on the local level to address stormwater runoff. Those in attendance were concerned that the coastal counties at the end of the watershed are being made to clean-up problems that exist further upstream. The group also shared with Tom Reeder and Coleen Sulins from DWQ that the proposed rules do nothing to address existing runoff from NC DOT, ocean outfalls and sewage treatment discharge pipes in Manteo.

Tom Reeder stated over 1200 public comments were received with about 60% in favor of the rules and 40% opposed to the rules. He stated over 500 form letters came from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. The majority of the objections stemmed from extending the 30’ buffer to 50’; reducing the permitting threshold from one acre to 10,000 sq. ft.; and removing wetlands from surface calculations.

The 3-hour discussion was very positive. Everyone in the group left with a better understanding of the impact of the proposed amendments. Possible solutions were even discussed on what can be done to address existing problems. DWQ officials said they would incorporate the group’s comments in a report to the Environmental Management Commission

Friday, September 28, 2007

Duck's Land Disturbance, VE Flood Zone, and Building Height

The Town Council will be holding three public hearings of interest at their meeting on Wednesday:

§ Consideration of an amendment to the zoning ordinance to modify requirements for land disturbing activities. The ordinance includes fill and grading provisions to establish a level building footprint for a single-family dwelling and further defines the extent of fill and grading activities that can occur to establish finished grade, including filling lot depressions and elevating with fill material.

§ Consideration of an amendment to Article 2 of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to establish a definition for free and clear of obstruction in a VE flood zone and defines the height above finished grade that a structure must be elevated to meet this requirement.

§ Consideration of a zoning ordinance amendment to modify the definition of building height. The intent is to clarify the measurement of building height relative to the above two amendment considerations.

Currituck Discusses Moratoriums

Currituck Commissioners will be holding a public hearing at their meeting on Monday evening to consider an ordinance imposing a moratorium on the acceptance or processing of permit applications for Planned Residential Developments (PRD) under the Unified Development Ordinance. They will also be discussing a moratorium for rezoning pending approval of conditional use zoning. The public hearing and discussion was requested by Commissioner Owen Etheridge at the last mid-month Board meeting in response to a newspaper article highlighting the fact that over 1,000 acres have been rezoned from agricultural to residential or general business since the first of the year. He added that the Planning Department will be processing applications for the rezoning of over 500 more acres before the end of the year.

There are certain rules that apply when it comes to imposing a moratorium: a public hearing must be held for moratoriums of 60 days or less; for longer moratoriums, a public hearing must also be held and normal notice general statue procedures apply; no notice is required if there is an “imminent and substantial threat to public health or safety; the Board has to follow certain criteria including a plan of action to address the problem necessitating the moratorium, a schedule of those actions and an express termination date of the moratorium.

There are six public hearings on the Agenda immediately following the moratorium discussion that have to do with rezoning; a seventh public hearing is for the consideration of a sketch plan/special use permit for a 37-lot open space residential subdivision on almost 59 acres on the northeast side of Tulls Creek Rd, near Caratoke Hwy and adjacent to Shingle Landing Creek.

This week, the Board approved 4 to 1 (Commissioner Etheridge opposed) new residency districts for county commissioners. The new residency lines allow for the first time a seat on the Commission that represents the contiguous Currituck Outer Banks – which includes Corolla and the northern 4x4 beach area. These areas had been split and were part of the Fruitville Township and the Poplar Branch Township with two Commissioners representing the areas. Southern Currituck County will also have its own Commissioner under the new residency map.

Oppose Proposed Coastal Stormwater Rules!

DENR/DWQ will be receiving public comments until October 15th on proposed amendments to Coastal Stormwater Rules that would affect all land in twenty coastal counties. Although they are similar to Phase II stormwater rules that New Hanover, Brunswick and Onslow Counties were mandated to follow as of July 1, 2007, they are actually more restrictive and will have tremendous impact on any development or redevelopment activities. The proposed rules include:

Lowering the threshold for permitting under these rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.
§ Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.

Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development projects over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.

Coastal water quality is important to all of us!

However, these rules should be opposed for the following reasons:

§ There has been no cost-benefit analysis performed or an environmental impact study done to estimate the actual benefit of these rules.

§ Vested rights are not addressed in the proposed rules but were included in Phase II rules.

§ The 10,000 square feet threshold will greatly increase the number of permit applications while placing an undue burden on many single-family homes and other small projects with additional engineering costs.

§ The 12% impervious surface threshold will result in eliminating much of the affordable housing in the coastal counties while increasing the cost of building schools and municipal building schools – a cost that will ultimately by paid for by taxpayers.

§ Eliminating wetlands from impervious surface calculations will limit the usefulness of a parcel of land and is an unjust taking when property owners will still be required to pay taxes on the wetlands.

§ The proposed rules do not address existing conditions such as the lack of maintenance of swales and ditches and ocean outfalls from street stormwater runoff.

§ NC DOT would be exempt from the rules and they are possibly the owner of the largest amount of impervious surface in the state.

§ The “one size fits all” approach for all twenty coastal counties is impractical, especially when Dare County has approximately 80% of land that is State or Federal protected property.

§ These rules seem to be more “rules on top of rules” with no scientific evidence or guarantee that they will improve the quality of shellfishing waters.

Friday, September 21, 2007

FYI - Outlying Landing Field in Camden?

After intense opposition from residents in Washington and Beaufort Counties, Navy officials announced this week that they will be considering two new sites in Camden for the location of an Outlying Landing Field for Virginia-based jets. One of the sites considered in Camden was planned for a private landfill and is owned by Waste Industries; the other site is near the Currituck County border. Sites in Perquimans and Gates counties are being considered. Two other sites in Southeastern NC are also on the list for consideration: a site on the Jones-Onslow border county border and a site on the border of Duplin and Pender counties. The OLF would bring about 52 jobs to the area. Those opposed to the OLF in Washington and Beaufort Counties expressed concerns about jet noise, property values and the environment.

Stan Riggs to Speak at OBAR General Membership Meeting

Make plans to attend the next General Membership Meeting of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors on Wednesday, September 26 at the Ramada Plaza. The speaker for the event will be Dr. Stanley Riggs, a Coastal Geologist with East Carolina University. From 6 to 7 pm he will be discussing “Climate Change, Sea Level Rise, and Storm Dynamics on the NC Coast.” Dinner and the meeting follows from 7 to 8 pm. There will be a social and cash bar from 5:30 to 6 pm during registration. This should prove to be an informative event with the topic of beach nourishment most likely being mentioned.

Dare Land Use Plan Workshops This Week

The Dare County Planning Board will be holding workshops this week to receive public input for the 2008 Dare County Land Use Plan. Citizens from all of Dare County are invited to participate and will have the opportunity to discuss land use policies and implementation procedures. Let your voice be heard! Workshops will be held on the following dates:

Tuesday, September 25th from 7 to 9 pm at the Dare County Commissioners Meeting Room, 204 Ananias Dare St. in Manteo;
Wednesday, September 26th from 7 to 9 pm at the Fessenden Center, 46830 Hwy. 12 in Buxton; and
Thursday, September 27th from 7 to 9 pm at the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall, 102 Town Hall Dr., Kill Devil Hills

Strong Opposition To Coastal Stormwater Rules at DENR Public Hearing

Sept. 20 – Representative from the towns of Southern Shores, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills went on record Thursday evening opposing proposed coastal stormwater rules. Dare County Board Chairman Warren Judge and Commissioners Allen Burrus, Mike Johnson and Richard Johnson all expressed opposition to the rules. Everyone was in agreement that “one size does not fit all” and rules that apply to New Hanover, Onslow and Brunswick Counties should not be implemented here. The proposed rules are even more restrictive than the Phase II rules that those Counties have to follow. Approximately 120 people attended and over 25 people spoke during the public hearing and stated:

· Where is the scientific data to show that the proposed changes will improve water quality in shellfishing waters?

· What about vested rights?

· What is the hurry or push to get these rules through without addressing current conditions such as swales not being maintained and ocean outfall issues?

· Members of the engineering/surveying community stated that the proposed rules were not practical.

· Many initiatives were being implemented on the local level to address stormwater runoff.

· The economic impact assessment is extremely low since it did not include many of the factors of the rules.

· 80% of the land in Dare County is protected property.

· NC DOT should not be exempt from the regulations.

· Wetlands should not be excluded from acreage for any reason.

· The 10,000 sq. ft. land disturbance threshold for permitting is too low.

· The permitting process will be bogged down and overwhelmed with the enormous increase in permit applications.

· No cost-benefit analyis has been performed.

· The rules would greatly increase the cost of not only homes but schools and other facilities.

Below is a list of the proposed changes:

· Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.

· Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.

· Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development projects over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.

· Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.

· Lowering the threshold for coverage under these rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

Currituck Public Hearing on Service District

Sept. 18 – About 16 people spoke at a Public Hearing on the creation of a service district in the 4-wheel drive area of the Currituck Outer Banks. The majority of speakers opposed the County’s plans to survey where the roads should be and to grade and fill Sandfiddler Rd. and Sandpiper Rd. They were concerned about speeding traffic, increased development, the wild horses and the uniqueness of the area. Those speaking in favor of the measure voiced concerns about public safety and accessibility to a large number of rental homes in the area. The Sheriff’s Department was even on record as stating that the current road conditions are hazardous and delay response times. Sheriff Johnson was quoted as saying, “Failure to address this situation places pedestrians and motorists at an increased risk of injury, and severely handicaps my officers’ ability to timely respond in the case of an emergency.” The improvements to the roads would have been paid for by occupancy tax, with no financial impact to the residents of the area. Commissioner Ernie Bowden made a motion to approve the Service District, but got no second on the motion from Commissioners Etheridge, Taylor, Gregory or Chairman Nelms. The item can be brought up at a future meeting since no action was taken.

Quote of the Week: During Commissioners comments, Commissioner Janet Taylor stated that hearing from the residents of the area gave her greater insight to the service district issue. “I know something needs to be done but we need to find something that everyone can be satisfied with.” Commissioner Ernie Bowden responded, “Are you in fairytale land?”

Dare BOC Hold Workshop on Roanoke Island Water System

Sept. 18 – Dare Commissioners held a workshop to discuss the Roanoke Island Water Expansion Project public hearings that were held this summer. They scheduled the workshop to determine how the Board should proceed on the matter. Many people attended the public meeting and expressed opposition to the project. Since then, several residents of Roanoke Island have contacted board members in support of the project.

After much debate on how to move forward, County Attorney Bobby Outten was directed to explore what can and cannot be done in a nonbinding referendum. Dave Clawson, the Finance Officer, was asked to again try to explore and look at all of the different scenarios for financing the system. Another workshop will be scheduled tentatively for November 5.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

COASTAL STORMWATER RULES

These proposed changes are in response to a DWQ study that found existing rules are outdated and do not effectively protect the State's coastal resources. The changes impact land in ALL 20 Coastal Counties! The Environmental Management Commission debated these rule changes earlier this year and directed DENR staff to schedule the hearings.

The proposed changes include:

Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.
Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.
Lowering the threshold for coverage under the rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

First Annual Duck Jazz Festival

The First Annual Duck Jazz Festival is being held on Sunday, October 7, 2007. The Duck Jazz Festival will be held on the main stage in the Duck Town Park at 1200 Duck Road from noon to 5:00 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.

This year, the Duck Jazz Festival will feature four artists: The Jimmy Bruno Trio, The Fuzz Band, Laura Martier and the John Toomey Quartet, and Ruth Wyand.

The schedule for the 2007 Duck Jazz Festival is:

12:00 p.m. Ruth Wyand

1:00 p.m. Laura Martier and The John Toomey Quartet

2:15 p.m. The Fuzz Band

3:45 p.m. Jimmy Bruno Trio

Please be advised that this schedule is subject to change due to weather and performer requirements.

The Duck Jazz Festival will be held outside rain or shine. The event will not be rescheduled. Lawn seating is available on the Duck Town Green in front of the stage, so bring a blanket or lawn chair; chairs will also be available for rental. There will also be a food concession operated by the Duck United Methodist Church; and Jazz Festival and band merchandise will available to purchase as well.

Sponsors for this year’s event are:

Baritone Sponsors: The Duck Community & Business Alliance and Twiddy & Company Realtors
Tenor Sponsor: The Sanderling Resort and Spa
Alto Sponsors: Atlantic Realty, Loblolly Pines Shopping Center, Ocean Atlantic Rentals, RBC Centura Bank, and The Waterfront Shops

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dare County Maximum Building Size/Height

The Board of Commissioners tabled action on proposed amendments to the Dare County Code of Ordinances with regards to the building height of all structures and maximum building size of commercial structures. The changes would have affected unzoned portions of unincorporated Dare County and commercially zoned areas that do not include gross floor area limitations in their ordinances - basically East Lake and the Stumpy Point commercial district. The amendments would limit height to 35 feet and size to 20,000 square feet. One business owner in East Lake told the board about plans to expand her business that would require a height of 40 to 45 feet. Duke Geraghty, of the Outer Banks Home Builders Association, reminded the Board of the shortage of multi-family housing. He felt the 35’ foot height limit was too restrictive for the areas in question. The Board decided to study the impact of the proposed amendments further and discuss them again at their November 5th meeting.

The Board approved plans for public participation in the County’s Land Use Plan update process. The update process will take about 12 to 18 months and the County intends to start holding public meetings on the plan the end of this month.

Oregon Inlet Bridge Update

Chairman Warren Judge expressed frustration with the Southern Environmental Law Center and Audubon NC for causing further delay in the construction of a new bridge over Oregon Inlet. He stated that the groups were endangering the lives of people and directed County Attorney Bobby Outten to send a letter to both groups and request a list of their contributors and where they allocate their funds. Outten was also directed to send a letter to the NC Attorney General to investigate whether these delay tactics were criminal acts. The day after the Dispute Resolution Board made a decision on the short bridge, both groups requested that the CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality) review the process used by NC DOT to reach concurrence on the short bridge. Congress established CEQ as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) which mandates that before federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. The CEQ is tasked with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. Chairman Judge requested that the County Attorney also contact the CEQ and ask that they not intercede the process followed by NC DOT.

Dare County Affordable Housing

Commissioner Richard Johnson raised concerns about transferring ownership of the County-owned Bowsertown property to the Outer Bank Community Development Corporation. He wanted the County to investigate the creation of a Housing Authority so that the County could maintain control of the construction of the proposed affordable housing project. Once constructed, the units could then be turned over to the CDC for property management.

Roanoke Island Water Project

The Board will hold a workshop on the Roanoke Island Water Project at the conclusion of their mid-month meeting on Monday, September 17th.

The Board had not yet decided on the location for the meeting.

KITTY HAWK - 16 Foot Road Widths

Town Council approved removing a provision in the Subdivision Ordinance that allows roadways as narrow as 16 feet in certain situations. This provision was in conflict with a 1990 amendment to the Subdivision Ordinance that created standards for “rural residential lanes” with a right-of-way of thirty feet in width, pavement 18 feet in width and compacted stone shoulders two feet on each side.

Council decided not to renew continue membership in the North Carolina Beach, Inlet & Waterways Association. They felt that the focus of the organization has shifted to advocate and lobby for beach nourishment projects which is in conflict with the sentiment of Dare voters.

SOUTHERN SHORES - Skyline Drive Rezoning

After two votes, the Southern Shores Town Council approved the addition of a Government/Institutional zone to the Town’s zoning map. The new zone allowed for the Outer Banks Community Foundation to move forward with plans to locate an office at the end of Skyline Drive, a residential zoned area. A paper street shown on the zoning map, Michael Alan Street, became the center of controversy when residents feared that the rezoning would cause the street to be put in, thus connecting Skyline Drive to US 158. As a compromise and to calm the fears of many in attendance at the meeting, Council members approved the northern boundary of the new zone in the middle of the paper Michael Alan Street.

NAGS HEAD - Towers To Be Living Space

At their lengthy meeting last week, the Board of Commissioners failed to pass a motion to adopt a text amendment to Town Code, Habitable Floors to allow floor construction of coastal watch towers above the maximum 27 ft. height for habitable floors. The watchtower would technically become a “fourth floor” which has been opposed by Commissioners in the past. The text amendment would not have changed the outward appearance of a structure or the total height of a structure but would have allowed watchtowers to be utilized as a room rather than as an empty, light “tube”. The vote on the motion was 2 – 2 with Mayor Cahoon and Commissioner Sadler casting the NO votes. Commissioner Remaley was not present for the vote.

The Board passed a text amendment to allow for the installation of plastic, reinforced grid products for parking spaces for all uses and requested that the ordinance be re-evaluated in one year. Also approved was a text amendment prohibiting pump and haul sewage disposal systems except for temporary, emergency measures up to 30 days while an existing system is being repaired.

DUCK - Stack Parking and Plants Not Allowed

Town Council members unanimously passed two zoning amendments at their meeting this week. The first amendment allows for stacking of required parking spaces outside of the 12-foot drive aisle; limits driveway curb cuts to 20 feet in width measured at the right-of-way; clarifies that parking and drive aisles comprise no more than 75 percent of the lot width; limits required parking spaces to gravel, porous pavers, or other similar semi-permeable materials, unless there is a topographical issue. Parking spaces have to be bordered in a manner which retains the stone in the parking area. The second amendment that was passed removes peat pod repair areas in lot coverage calculations.

Also at the meeting, Town Council requested that the Planning Board review the recently passed Vegetation Ordinance, specifically the Appendix which lists plants that can and can’t be planted. Council members felt that more flexibility should be provided and that the appendix should be used as a guideline and not be part of the ordinance. Town Attorney Ike McRee informed the Council that if they wanted to add a plant or prohibit a plant in the ordinance, they would need to hold a public hearing to do so. In a discussion with Andy Garman, the Town’s new Community Development Director, Town Council members requested that the Planning Board look into relaxing the 9-month requirement for as-built surveys.

Currituck

Mark your calendars for September 17th if you have an interest in the 4-wheel drive area of the Currituck Outer Banks! The Board of Commissioner will be holding a public hearing and voting on a proposed service district for that area during their second bi-monthly meeting. The meeting starts at 7 pm.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Residents and Visitors Urged to Pay Close Attention to the Hurricane

Dare County Emergency Management continues to monitor the area of low pressure located between Bermuda and the southeast U.S. coast. The National Hurricane Center has issued a special tropical disturbance statement this morning indicating that a tropical depression could form and potentially impact the East Coast of the United States.

All residents and visitors are asked to remain vigilant by paying close attention to weather advisories from the National Weather Service as well as state and local emergency management officials, and be prepared to take protective actions if necessary.

Those planning to visit the area this weekend do not need to change travel plans based on the current forecast, but are asked to be aware of updated reports in case conditions change.

For updated information from the National Hurricane Center, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov. Preparedness tips are available at www.readync.gov.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON COASTAL STORMWATER RULES

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has scheduled four public hearings in September to receive comment on proposed changes to Coastal Stormwater Rules as outlined in 15A NCAC 02h .1005.

These proposed changes are in response to a DWQ study that found existing rules are outdated and do not effectively protect the State’s coastal resources. The changes impact land in ALL 20 Coastal Counties! The Environmental Management Commission debated these rule changes earlier this year and directed DENR staff to schedule the hearings.

The proposed changes include:

Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.
Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.
Lowering the threshold for coverage under the rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

These rules are similar to Federal Phase 2 stormwater rules that Brunswick, New Hanover and Onslow Counties are mandated to follow. Under Phase 2 rules, vested property or property already that was already platted before rule implementation was grandfathered and exempt from the new regulations. When Tom Reeder with the Division of Water Quality was asked about vested rights being grandfathered, he stated that vested rights have not been addressed in the proposed rules and should be brought up at the public hearings!

These rules could be devastating to your industry and your voice is needed! A public hearing will be on September 20, 2007 at 7 pm at the COA (old Manteo Middle School) auditorium, Roanoke Island Campus; 205 Hwy. 64 South Business.

Monday, August 27, 2007

NC DENR Ocean Outfall Project Meeting This Thursday

Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Coastal Studies Institute and the firm Moffatt & Nichol will be presenting information on the Ocean Outfall Project at a meeting this Thursday, August 30th at 1 pm, being held in the Jockey’s Ridge Park Auditorium. The group will discuss the overview and background of the project and also provide data from groundwater monitoring and water sampling that has taken place over the last few months

Election News – Register and Vote on the Same Day!

House Bill 91, that was ratified last month by the, has been precleared by the US Department of Justice. The bill, an act to provide for in-person registration and voting at one-stop voting sites, will be implemented during this fall’s elections. It basically gives two weeks and more time to register if one takes advantage of one-stop voting. Registration typically closes 30 days prior to an election and one stop voting is held the two weeks prior to the election. This allowance should assist with a heavy voter turnout for the vote on liquor by the drink in the Hatteras, Frisco, Buxton, Avon and Chicamacomico precincts. Proof of residency showing a person’s name and current address, such as a valid driver’s license, photo ID from a government agency, or other approved ID, is required as well as a complete, signed voter registration form.

Nags Head

Aug. 21 – The Nags Head Planning Board took the following action this past week:

Approved 4 to 2 (Susie Walters/Robert Edwards opposing) a site plan/conditional use permit for Gus Zinovis to have a detached single-family dwelling on the same parcel as Mulligan’s Restaurant. A public hearing is scheduled next week, September 5th at 9 am at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

Approved 4-2 (Robert Edwards, David Oaksmith opposing) to allow exercise studio, dance studio and martial arts studio to be permitted within the same principle building occupied by other principal permitted uses within the C-3 district. Commissioners had already approved the “use” as compatible; the board needed to approve the “permitting” of the use.

The Board heard from town resident Dave Masters who opposed the consideration of exempting dwellings with 5 bedrooms, less than 3,500 sq. ft on the west side of Hwy. 158 from the residential design standards. He felt that the design standards were formed after thousands of hours of work and should not be changed. He stated, “Do we want to see row after row of look-alike houses?” The exemption consideration was first brought up by Commissioner Wayne Gray to change the bedroom limit from four to five when triggering the requirement for architectural design standards in areas from the northern town limits to the Village at Nags Head. The Planning Board did not discuss any positive impacts of the change and voted unanimously to deny the amendment.

The Board unanimously approved a zoning text amendment to prohibit the use of pump and haul tank systems except as a temporary emergency measure while the existing sewage system is being repaired, not to exceed 14 days. A public hearing on the matter will be held next week - September 5th at 9 am during the Board of Commissioners meeting. Oceanfront home owners have requested the use of these systems because the required 50-foot separation between their septic drainfield and the high mean water mark cannot be met.

Currituck County Sidewalk Ordinance

Aug. 20 – The Currituck Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 (Janet Taylor opposing) in favor of a text amendment to the UDO to require sidewalks on both sides of streets in subdivisions greater than 20 lots. The former rule, in place since 2003, required sidewalks on one side of the street in subdivisions of 41 or more lots. Planner David Webb stated that the amendment supported goals in the County’s Land Use Plan to improve pedestrian/bike safety and mobility through development of “complete streets” which include sidewalks and a bike lane. He stated that since 2003, only two subdivisions have been approved with more than 41 lots; many more less than 41. Commissioner Janet Taylor voted against the amendment questioning the added cost and necessity of such an amendment. Sidewalks are required to be constructed prior to development. The Outer Banks Home Builders and Realtors Associations were represented and the following issues were raised: heavy trucks will have to cross over the sidewalks during construction, thus causing damage; swales are used for stormwater maintenance and there are no curbs or stormwater drains; who will be required to maintain the sidewalks; the added cost to especially small subdivisions will affect the cost of housing having an impact on affordability; many people like the rural charm and character of the County and do not want sidewalks, street lights, etc.; and the impervious surface of sidewalks adds to stormwater runoff.

The Board of Commissioners also passed an amendment (3-2) to the UDO to delete perk tests for minor subdivisions. Perk tests examine whether or not a lot/parcel is “buildable” and the planning department uses them to determine density, lot size and number of lots that may be developed. Commissioner Gene Gregory argued that some of these minor subdivision lots are used for pastures and should not have to incur the additional expense.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monteray Shores Moratorium Update - Water

August 26, 2007

Many people attended a meeting yesterday at the Pine Island Fire Station to learn about plans for a new wastewater treatment plant that will service the Monteray Shores/Buck Island/Corolla Bay subdivisions. Representatives from Currituck County and Carolina Water presented information on the technical operations of the system and the timeline of the project. The overflowing crowd in attendance was very eager to hear when a state-imposed building moratorium would be lifted. As one attendee stated, “People have been waiting for six years to maximize their land. When is it going to happen?”

The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources permitted the project in March of this year. All property plats and deed will be recorded by the end of August and construction should start mid-September. Construction can only take place during the non-peak season. The plant will have a capacity of 520,000 gallons per day when completed and will be constructed in two phases. The first half of the plant is expected to be completed by December 23, 2008; the second half by April 20, 2009.



The total cost of the project is $9.5 million; Carolina Water will be paying 50% from the rate base and the real estate/development company, BD&A, will be paying the remaining 50%. The plant will also serve BD&A’s new subdivision, Corolla Bay; the partnership negates the need for a separate wastewater treatment plant to be built for Corolla Bay. Once DENR approves water capacity allocations, then Currituck County can issue building permits. Many were concerned that the Corolla Bay subdivision would receive allocations before lots in Monteray Shores. When asked if permits would be issued on a first come-first served basis, County Manager Dan Scanlon stated that since BD&A is paying for part of the system that there would be some allocations set aside for Corolla Bay. He stated, “The County is willing to sit down with Carolina Water and discuss allocations and if agreed upon, the County will honor and respect those allocations.” It was then clarified by Carolina Water representatives that "Corolla Bay is not going to take away any capacity that would be for Monteray Shores, Buck Island or anywhere else!"



As far as the state-imposed building moratorium: according to the timeline presented it will be at least (if everything goes as planned) another 16 to over 20 months before any construction permits will be issued in Monteray Shores.



Sorry the news is not better for those property owners but things are moving in the right direction!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pending Sales Index Shows Market Improvement

The 5 percent gain in NAR's Pending Home Sales Index in June is the largest monthly increase in three years. This forward-looking indicator suggests that the market will stabilize in the months ahead. The June reading of 102.4 was 8.4 percent lower than a year ago. “It is too early to say if home sales have already passed bottom,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s senior economist, said. “Still, major declines in home sales are likely to have occurred already and further declines, if any, are likely to be modest given the accumulating pent-up demand.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NC DENR Ocean Outfall Project Meeting

Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Coastal Studies Institute and the firm Moffatt & Nichol will be presenting information on the Ocean Outfall Project at a meeting on August 30th at 1 pm, being held in the Jockey’s Ridge Park Auditorium. The group will discuss the overview and background of the project and also provide data from groundwater monitoring and water sampling that has taken place over the last few months.

Monteray Shores Moratorium Update

Carolina Water will be conducting a meeting on Thursday, August 23rd at 1:00 p.m. at the Pine Island Fire Station to give an update on their wastewater expansion project. The project has now been permitted by the Division of Water Quality. Property owners have been waiting for over two years for a state-imposed building moratorium to be lifted. The moratorium occurred when the Division of Water Quality determined that the current wastewater treatment facility had reached capacity.

The public is invited to attend the meeting; the Pine Island Fire Station is located on NC 12 in Corolla.

Kitty Hawk Parking Surfaces

Aug. 16 - The Planning Board met last week and learned about the many different materials that can be utilized for parking surfaces in the beach residential district. There were a couple of presenters that discussed the effectiveness, cost and installation of semi-pervious/pervious pavers/materials, from turf stone to geoweb. It was noted that not all materials were the same, with some surfaces requiring more maintenance and upkeep than others. Porous concrete, for example, is derived from a specialized concrete process, costs twice as much as regular concrete and should only be used in flat areas, since small particles can clog the surface “holes”, thus reducing its effectiveness. The surface requires cleaning and brushing after a period of time. Although the board did not take any action on the issue, they agreed to define and research further what constituted a good/correct application of the products, to decide which materials would work best in the beach residential area, to specify smaller cell “web” materials be utilized; and to define what would be used for the borders of such products. The Board will be reviewing the issue again at their September meeting. Board member Tina Tice stated that the reason for the discussion was to create equity for all citizens in the Town, since properties in other districts can currently use pea gravel, crush and run, and materials other than asphalt or concrete for parking surfaces.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Currituck New Fire Ratings

Good news – the NC Department of Insurance Office of the State Fire Marshal has recently completed inspections of Currituck County Volunteer Fire Departments. The inspections have resulted in lower ratings in several districts which could transfer to savings in insurance cost for homeowners. A new “7” rating will be effective November 1, 2007 for homes within five road miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of fire hydrant in the Lower Currituck and Moyock Fire Districts; down from a 9E rating. A “6” rating will be effective November 1, 2007 for structures within five road miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant in the Crawford Township Fire District. The Corolla Fire District will move to a district wide rating of “6” effective December 1, 2007; the rating is currently a 6/9S. The new ratings are being forwarded to Insurance Services Office, Inc. which reports them to the various insurance companies. Check with your agent to see if your policy is affected by the new ratings!

Kill Devil Hills - Bermuda Bay

At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners will be holding two public hearings: a request from Bermuda Bay to decrease building separation from 30 feet to 24 feet; and a request to add language to the exceptions for decks in the Ocean Impact Residential Zone for those permitted by the NC Division of Coastal Management. Shoreline protection is also on the agenda with a discussion on replenishing the beach under Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 and the town’s contact with beach nourishment lobbying group - Marlowe and Company

Kitty Hawk Boundaries, Signs, Parking Spaces

Aug. 6 – Town Council held five public hearings and took the following action:
Extended the northern boundary of its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) within the Currituck Sound to align with the northern boundary of the recently annexed property owned by the State of NC. The area extends one mile west of the high-water mark at the Town’s boundary along the Currituck Sound.

Zoned the area above like other ETJ areas.

Allowed the temporary sales of lawn and garden supplies to be permitted administratively on an annual basis ( Wal-Mart Garden Center).

Eliminated the 10” by 20” parking space standard as stated in the “Parking Space” definition and agreed that the standard of 9”6” x 18” as found in “Off-Street Parking and Loading” was more appropriate.

Deferred action on a text amendment to eliminate a provision in the subdivision ordinance allowing roadways as narrow as sixteen feet.

The Board also agreed with a recommendation from Councilwoman Emilie Klutz to return to the way public hearings were handled in the past. Council will no longer hold a public hearing and vote on the matter at the same meeting. Public hearings held in a particular month will be voted on the following month in an effort to give Council members more time to review the issues.
Council also approved a text amendment to establish a 30-day time limit for submission of an appeal of any administrative order, determination, or decision to the Board of Adjustment.

Southern Shores
Aug. 7 – The Southern Shores Planning Board and the Town’s Vegetation Committee held a joint meeting to discuss a draft vegetation ordinance that was presented several months ago. At that time, the ordinance was not well received and viewed as too restrictive. The group then discussed components of the Town of Duck’s recently approved vegetation ordinance. Duck now requires tree removal permits for trees over 14” in diameter at breast height and also mandates that 15% of lot coverage after the footprint of structure be vegetative/tree coverage. Duck’s ordinance also limits what plants/trees will be counted towards the 15% vegetative coverage. The Planning Board decided to review Duck’s ordinance and forward any comments to the Vegetation Committee. The Committee will then use those comments to draft another ordinance.

Kill Devil Hills
Aug. 7 – There were only three items on the KDH Planning Board meeting agenda and all items warranted lengthy discussion between board members and staff.
The first item on the agenda was a review of a proposed zoning amendment to allow nonconforming structures/sites to make improvements, including additions, remodels, and changes of use, without coming up to full compliance. Owners of properties which are non-conforming due to town code/regulations will be able to use a “point system” devised by planning staff to make improvements to their property that would “lessen” the nonconformity. Board members reviewed a three-page Nonconformities Worksheet that site plan preparers would use to calculate existing nonconformities and indicate proposed improvements to those nonconformities. Based upon total points, the site must meet certain levels as well as address some area of nonconformity in order to affect a change of use, repair/reconstruction, addition or remodel. It was noted that any addition to living space would require that parking be compliant. The Board tabled the proposal until their September meeting.
The Board then discussed alternatives for funding workforce housing that included down payment assistance programs and the use of “linkage fees” or other impact fees paid by businesses and commercial development. Assistant Planning Director Meredith Guns explained that the fees could be administered through the Outer Banks Community Development Corporation. The Board moved to forward the presented packet of articles and implementation strategies from other areas to the Board of Commissioners for review. The Planning Board also recommended that the Board of Commissioners, if in agreement with the alternative financing concept, direct the planning staff to investigate a feasibility study to look at the various alternatives for workforce housing funding assistance and how effective a program would be for the town.
The Board tabled any recommendations on pump and haul wastewater treatment systems after recognizing that Kill Devil Hills does not have the same issues as Nags Head, which just recently imposed a moratorium on the systems.

Bonner Bridge Safety

The tragedy of a bridge collapse in Minneapolis has been on the minds of everyone this past week and has drawn attention to a bridge closer to home – the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet. The Bridge is 44 years old and has been given a rating of “2” out of “100” with regards to sufficiency; “0” being the worst. NC DOT has maintained that the bridge is inspected every two years and is safe. A merger team was formed in 1992, consisting of 13 federal and state governmental agencies, to work on the replacement of the bridge. With the process taking so long, Dare Commissioner Allen Burrus expressed outrage during last month’s Commissioners meeting regarding the postponement of a meeting with the Bridge merger team. The meeting is now scheduled to be held on August 15th. The Board of Commissioners has requested a meeting with Governor Mike Easley to make the replacement of the Bridge a priority. For more information about efforts to replace the bridge and how you can help, go to www.replacethebridgenow.com.

4 Wheel Drive Area Roads

The Currituck Board of Commissioners held a retreat last week and improvements to roads in the Carova and Swan Beach area were a topic of discussion. The Board talked about the creation of a service district to allow for the grading and compacting of the sandy, dirt roads in the area. Although the roads would not be paved, the hardened surfaces would provide for better traffic flow and provide an alternative to driving on the crowded beach road. Discussions over the past year have centered on improvements to Sandfiddler Rd; Commissioner Ernie Bowden requested that Sandpiper Rd. be added to a service district. Residents in the area have historically been opposed to a service district and even Commissioners squelched the idea back in January of this year. The County has had an agreement with NC DOT for some time to make improvements and then be reimbursed for the cost. Funding for the improvements and maintenance over and above reimbursement would come from occupancy tax collections. A public hearing on the matter is expected to be held in September.

Duck Parking and Pear Pod Repair Areas

Aug. 1 - The Town Council scheduled public hearings for September 5th on two zoning ordinance amendments:

Residential parking and drive aisle standards – This amendment would allow stacking of required parking spaces outside the 12 foot drive aisle; driveway curb cuts would be limited to 20 feet in width at the right-of-way; drive aisles and parking could be no more than 75 % of lot width; and parking spaces could only be constructed of gravel, porous pavers, or other similar semi-permeable materials, unless there is a topographical issue.

Peat pod repair areas – This amendment would remove peat pod repair areas from lot coverage calculations.

Shelia Davies, Substance Abuse Project Manager for Dare County Health Department, gave Town Council members an overview of the Dare County Substance Abuse Pilot Program. Shelia reported on some alarming drug and alcohol statistics from 2005. She stressed that although perceived somewhat as a tourist-related problem, over 60% of the arrests due to drugs and alcohol were Dare County residents. She added that the issue is community-wide with 40% of fatal car accidents attributed to drug/alcohol use and 33% of drowning deaths due to the same. These statistics are much higher that state averages. She reported that the County’s program is focusing on public education/prevention information, a 24-hour, hotline service, school based counseling and a detox center within the County.

Nags Head Septic Changes

Aug. 1 - The Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance imposing a one-month moratorium on the location and use of pump and haul wastewater systems within the Town. Pump and haul systems rely on a tank to hold wastewater until pumped and disposed of off-site in an approved treatment system. There are eleven residential properties that are currently considering these systems. The Town is concerned about the effects of erosion on the exposed tanks and the potential negative impact to water quality. The moratorium gives the Town the time to review ordinances to determine an amendment to the code to prevent the impact of pump and haul systems and to process any land use ordinance amendments necessary.
Commissioner Gray received support this time around from fellow Commissioners to send a proposal to the Planning Board regarding architectural requirements for houses on the west side of US 158. The new proposal would exempt detached single-family dwellings and two-family dwellings with five bedrooms on the west side of US 158 from the residential design standards. Although a couple of Commissioners still did not agree with the proposal, the motion passed to have the Planning Board review the proposal and report back with recommendation.
A few other items were discussed during the meeting:
o Spear gun fishing – the Town had received complaints about people fishing with spear guns near the Nags Head Pier. Town Attorney Ike McRee told Commissioners that they could not regulate “boat” fishing, but did have the authority to regulate swimming. Commissioner could include a ban on the use of spear guns by swimmers in their swimming regulations.
o Scavenging at the Town’s dump site – hopefully, this is not a sign of the times but there has been enough activity to warrant a policy statement from the Board of Commissioners. Due to liability issues, the town does not permit “scavenging” at their dump site. Once an individual leaves an item at the site or places an item in a container, it cannot be removed by another individual.
o Parking at Sugar Creek Restaurant – The Board agreed to have “No Parking” signs posted in the right-of-way at US 158 /US 64/264 at Sugar Creek Restaurant. Cars have been parked along the highway thus creating a potential safety hazard for pedestrians and motorists.
o In other restaurant news, it was noted that Basnight’s Lone Cedar Restaurant is on track to be open by the end of the month.

Duck Parking Requirements

Nags Head Septic & 5 Bedroom Restrictions

At this week’s Board of Commissioners meeting three public hearings will be held:

Consideration of a moratorium to prohibit the installation and use of pump and haul septic systems for any type of development in the Town of Nags Head.
Consideration of a site plan/conditional use application for Mighty Wind United Methodist Church to construct a 13,080 square foot complex at 4222 S. Croatan Hwy.
Consideration of text amendment to add “Exercise, Dance and Martial Arts Studio” as a permitted use in the C-3 Commercial District.


Also at the meeting, Commissioner Gray will once again be discussing a proposal regarding architectural requirements for houses on the west side of US 158. He has modified wording from a proposal that the Board voted down at their July 11th meeting. The new proposal would exempt detached single-family dwellings and two-family dwellings with five bedrooms on the west side of US 158 from the northern corporate town limits to the northern zoning district boundary of the Village at Nags Head from the residential design standards. If the Board agrees with the proposal, then the process would begin to amend the zoning ordinance by referring the item to the Planning Board for recommendations followed by a public hearing by the Board of Commissioners.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nags Head

July 17 – The Planning Board reviewed two zoning text amendments relating to habitable floors and parking lot surfaces. With much debate and discussion, the Board members approved 4 – 2 (Bob Edwards and Dave Oaksmith) to allow for the first floor construction of coastal watch towers above the maximum 27ft. height for habitable floors. If approved by the Board of Commissioners, the amendment would not change the exterior look of a structure; watch towers are encouraged in the town’s architectural guidelines, but as Chairman Bo Tayor described “are like tubes that allow for light”. This amendment would allow for only one watch tower per structure with a floor and sq. footage limit, thus allowing the space to be utilized as a “room”. This would then impact the septic system and parking. The issue has been previously discussed twice this year and defeated. Commissioners and planning board members have expressed concerned about structures having a fourth floor and perhaps a flat roof.

The Board approved a zoning text amendment to parking lot requirements for single and two-family dwellings and also other uses other than hotel or multi-family. The proposed amendment would allow required parking spaces to be constructed of plastic and reinforced grid products such as grass pave, geo web, and geo block. Drive aisles would still be required to be asphalt or concrete. All parking, regardless of surface, would be counted towards lot coverage. Under the current ordinance, all parking spaces must be constructed of asphalt or concrete.

Currituck

July 16 - After four years of debate and discussion, it is now final. The UDO amendment – Outer Banks Overlay District Sign Regulations was approved by the Board of Commissioners on Monday. Although much lengthier than the previous ordinance, it clearly defines types of signs and makes allowances for some signs which were previously illegal. The ordinance is effective immediately and can be found at: http://www.co.currituck.nc.us/government/departments/planning/planninginspections-ordinancesunderconsideration.aspx For more information, call the Planning and Inspections Department at 232-3055.



The County has experienced higher than normal water consumption and some of the 5,000 users on the mainland system have complained of water discoloration. The County has requested that mainland system customers voluntarily conserve water while water system personnel monitor water demands. If demands continue to be high and the discoloration does not improve, then mandatory water conservation may be necessary.

Dare County

July 16 – The Dare Board of Commissioners voted to zone the Buxton Coast Guard Property to NH – Natural Historic. The property is owned by the Federal Government and is currently not zoned; however, as Board Chairman Warren Judge explained the General Services Administration intends to the make the property available at auction. Without zoning the property could be utilized for just about anything; the zoning was a measure to protect the County by ensuring that there would not be an increase in the use of land. County officials are already aware that there is no wastewater treatment for the housing on the property; a pump and haul system was used the last year the houses were occupied. Commissioner Judge went on to add, “We are extremely concerned about what will happen with the property in the private sector with the wastewater.” Dare County has been pursuing ownership of the property since November 2004 to be utilized for government offices and affordable housing. That plan was stalled last year when a $12 million price tag was put on the property.

At the prompting of Commissioner Richard Johnson at the last meeting, the Board discussed land use restrictions in zoned and unzoned areas, particularly gross floor area limitations and height restrictions. Commissioner Johnson would like to see a limit of 20,000 sq.ft. - gross floor area in East Lake and in one commercial area of Stumpy Point where there is no gross floor area designation. He was concerned that there are no limitations in East Lake to stop anything from being built and that the Commissioners need to control the size of buildings. Commissioner Mike Johnson and others expressed concerns about the limits with regards to the boat building industry. County Attorney Bobby Outten clarified that if an ordinance was adopted limiting the size of a structure, then the Board of Adjustment could not issue a variance to allow a larger structure. He stated that with a variance you have to show you cannot make other use of the building; however, the Board could adopt an amendment to the ordinance if a business came forward that needed the additional space. The Commissioners decided to advertise early for a public hearing on the matter that will be held on September 4th.

During Commissioners comments: Commissioner Mike Johnson gave an NC DOT project update for areas in Colington: a left turn lane at Baum Bay will be finished by next summer; the road where it floods at the Blue Crab will be elevated by the first of next summer; and the curve by the Methodist Church will be straightened out by the summer of 2009.

Commissioner Richard Johnson brought up many issues to discuss with the board that included the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park, illegal immigrants and the Roanoke Island Water System Expansion Project. He would like to see the Commercial Industrial Park Committee reinstated and a review of the procedures/process of how Park tenants are selected. On the immigration issue, he felt more needed to be done on a local level to address illegal immigrants and he supports penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants. The rest of the Board however agreed that there are already federal and state laws on the books to address the problem and all voted to send a resolution to the state and federal government to enforce those laws. The Roanoke Island Water Expansion project discussion was very lengthy, with the Board going back and forth on whether or not to hold a non-binding referendum or to let the issue sit for a while. Commissioner Burrus and Mike Johnson felt the voice of the people was clear at the two public meetings held. Richard Johnson said he has been in contact with many people that support the project but were afraid to speak at the meetings. Jack Shea supported the referendum idea. Virginia Tillett felt that the Board needed to review the input given at the meetings, as promised to those in attendance. The Board instructed Bobby Outten to research holding a referendum and the Chairman was going to schedule a Board workshop to discuss the issue further.

Municipal Election Information

The filing period ended Friday and the following candidates will be on the November ballot:

Ø Duck – Incumbents Monica Thibodeau, Nancy Caviness, Neil Morrison and Bart Smith. Dave Wessel and Chuck Burdick also filed. All five Council seats are expiring. Incumbent Denver Lindley did not file to run again.

Ø Kill Devil Hills – Incumbents Bob Peele, Jeff Finch, Ray Sturza (Mayor); Sherry Rollason has filed to run for Mayor.

Ø Kitty Hawk – Incumbents Ervin Bateman and Emilie Klutz; John Mignogna has also filed to run. Voters will choose two to serve on the Town Council.

Ø Manteo – Incumbents Darrell Collins and H.A. Creef; Richie Burke has filed to run for the 2-yr. term and Hannan Fry has also filed; Jamie Daniels has filed to run for Mayor.

Ø Nags Head - Incumbents Bob Oakes and Wayne Gray.

Ø Southern Shores – Incumbents Dan Shields, Jodi Hess and David Sanders; James Pfizenmayer, Kevin Stroud and Ken Bukantas have also filed. Voters will choose three to serve on the Town Council.

To summarize, there will be a race for Mayor in Kill Devil Hills; with three challengers in Southern Shores, the three incumbents will be campaigning to keep their seats; and Duck could face losing one incumbent with two challengers vying for a seat; and one of two Kitty Hawk incumbents may possibly lose their seat with one challenger running against them. There will be no “race” in Manteo and Nags Head

Kill Devil Hills

July 9 - The Board of Commissioner reminded everyone to send in their Land Use Plan surveys. They currently have a 20% return rate.

Bob Peele was appointed and sworn in to serve as Commissioner, filling the seat vacated by Ray Sturza. Sturza was appointed Mayor when Chuck Ball resigned. Bob Peele is currently employed as the Director of the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park and serves as the Director of NC’s local Oregon Inlet Project Office. Bob Peele has already filed to run to keep the seat in the upcoming November General Election.



Municipal Election Information

Filing began on Friday, June 6th and the following candidates will be on the November ballot thus far:

Ø Duck – Incumbents Monica Thibodeau, Nancy Caviness, Neil Morrison

Ø Kill Devil Hills – Incumbents Bob Peele, Jeff Finch, Ray Sturza (Mayor); Sherry Rollason has filed to run for Mayor

Ø Kitty Hawk – Incumbents Ervin Bateman and Emilie Klutz; John Mignogna has also filed to run.

Ø Manteo – Incumbents Darrell Collins and H.A. Creef; Richie Burke has filed to run for the 2-yr. term; Jamie Daniels has filed to run for Mayor.

Ø Nags Head - Incumbents Bob Oakes and Wayne Gray

Ø Southern Shores – Incumbents Dan Shields and David Sanders; James Pfizenmayer and Kevin Stroud have also filed.

Duck

July 11 – What a way to start off! Andy Garman, the newly hired Director of Community Development, was instructed by the Planning Board to develop/modify draft ordinances for review at the August Planning Board meeting regarding residential fences, building height and free-and-clear obstruction requirements and filling/grading. The Board moved to send to the Town Council a draft ordinance that removes peat pod repair areas from lot coverage.

When it came to revising driveway and parking regulations, the Board felt that stacking should be permitted outside the drive aisle and required parking spaces should not be constructed of concrete. The Board decided that the drive aisle could be concrete but they added language to the draft ordinance that states “required parking spaces shall be graded and improved, with gravel, porous pavers, loose stone, “gravel pave or similar substance.” Concrete or asphalt would be allowed only if there is a topographic condition that warrants such improvement. Gravel currently does not count towards lot coverage The Board wants to eliminate a “sea of concrete” in future construction/redevelopment that exists in the front of many homes that have recently been built.

Floodplain Administrator Cory Tate let the Board know that a definition of “free and clear of obstruction” was needed in the Town’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. Corey recommended a two-feet area under a new home to define free and clear of obstruction and stated this would benefit flood insurance rates/availability in ocean high hazard areas, or V zones. Builder Olin Finch suggested the two feet area would be the most restrictive on the Outer Banks with Currituck County defining even one inch clear under the lowest horizontal member as meeting the requirements of FEMA to one foot being required by Kill Devil Hills. The Planning Board will need to decide upon one to two feet of area clear and free of obstruction at their next meeting. They did agree that the amount should not count towards the height limit of 35 ft.

Nags Head

July 11 - The Board of Commissioners took no action on a proposal to eliminate residential design standards for houses on the west side of US 158 from Eighth St. to Old Nags Head Cove that were 3,500 sq. ft. or less with no more than 5 bedrooms. Homes up to 3,500 sq. ft with 4 bedrooms are less are currently exempt from the architectural guidelines. Commissioner Gray wanted to change the limit to 5 bedrooms but met resistance from Commissioners Oakes, Sadler and Cahoon. Their opinion was that the standards have enhanced the look of Nags Head and the extra bedroom allowance will benefit those wanting to develop rental homes. Mayor Cahoon stated she could not support it; the area was a rental area and she specifically did not like language in the proposal that exempted homes along US 158. Commissioner Remaley supported the change stating, “I feel we went a little overboard with the architectural guidelines.”

When discussion turned to the possibility of tax incentives for those that haul in sand rather than do beach pushes, Town Attorney Ike McRee informed the board that tax incentives would have to be approved by the General Assembly and would apply statewide. He did let the Board know that they could develop a grant incentive program but warned that a specific oceanfront-only program paid for by the taxpayers would probably be met with opposition.

Commissioners were surprised to hear that the Dare County Health Department will be possibly issuing 10 permits for “pump and haul” wastewater systems for Nags Head oceanfront properties. An 8-person occupancy system would require a 3,300 gallon tank to be installed on the property above the ground and a certified operator would be required to maintain the system. The system requires no drain field and is an option for those property owners without the area needed for a traditional septic system. The concern of the Board was that the systems are being requested in areas where there is repetitive loss and the exposed tanks could potentially do a lot of damage in the event of a major storm. They also expressed concern that the systems are not consistent with the Town’s Land Use Plan. The Board will be holding a public hearing on adopting a moratorium on “pump and haul systems” at their mid-month meeting in August.

See the Traffic in Real Time

Thinking of getting out and about but worried about the heavy traffic? Well you can now log onto the Internet and view the action of 17 Dare County cameras and 4 Currituck cameras that have been installed by NC DOT along US 158/168. Just log on to http://apps.dot.state.nc.us/tims/ the next time you have a traffic concern.

Washington County Approves Land Transfer Tax Referendum

The Washington County Board of Commissioners passed a motion to put a 1% land transfer tax on the ballot this November. The Board said the tax is needed and would help provide services such as sewer systems, parks and road improvements which would attract growth. Six counties, including Dare and Currituck, that have land transfer tax utilize the tax for capital projects. Opponents of the tax who spoke at the meeting stated that it takes away from the equity that would be enjoyed by the land seller and those costs are ultimately passed on to the homebuyer, impacting young families and senior citizens the most.

Duck

The Planning Board will be once again looking at fence regulations, removing peat pod repair areas from lot coverage, driveway issues, filling and grading and building height at their meeting on Wednesday. With regard to driveways, the board will be considering a zoning text amendment to permit stacking outside the drive aisle, to limit curb cuts and percent of front yards used as driveway and parking areas and to require that parking spaces be composed of gravel unless there is a topographical issue. They are looking at grandfathering existing concrete driveways.

FYI: the Building Inspector/Floodplain Administrator will be out of the office on Monday, July 16, 2007 and Tuesday, July 17, 2007; Monday, July 23, 2007 through Thursday, July 26, 2007; and Monday, August 13, 2007 through Friday, August 17, 2007.

Currituck County

July 2 – What a difference two years and three new County Commissioners make! On Monday, the Board voted to approve a request from Shirley Webber to rezone 244 acres of agricultural property to 226 acres of residential and 18 acres of commercial property. The property is located at 7160 Caratoke Highway near the intersection of Forbes Rd. When a project was proposed on the same property two years ago, the Commissioners opposed it due to concerns of density and school capacity. The project’s denial caused many owners of agricultural property in the area to band together to express concerns that they were being treated unfairly and not able to take advantage of higher property values like their neighbors in northern Currituck when property is rezoned residential.

The Board also approved:

Ø a request from Fannie Newbern to rezone 64.4 acres from agricultural to residential on Jarvisburg Rd. near the intersection of Buster Newbern Rd. and another 21.1 acres of agricultural to residential on a tract to the north side of Newbern Rd. adjacent to the White Acres subdivision. A new school, Jarvisburg Elementary School, will be constructed within 1 ½ miles of the property.

Ø Rezoning of 60 acres from agricultural to residential, located along South Spot Rd., while retaining the RET overly with a density of 150 age-restricted units.



Nags Head

At this week’s Board meeting, Commissioners will be discussing a proposal to eliminate residential design standards for houses on the west side of US 158 under certain conditions. The houses would have to be five bedrooms or less and less than 3500 square feet. Commissioner Gray raised the concern that the design standards impact affordable housing for year-round Nags Head residents.

Beach pushes and sandbags have been a topic of discussion at several prior board meetings. This week the Board will once again talk sand and discuss the possibility of tax incentives for those who bring in sand rather that do beach pushes.

Municipal Election Information

Filing began on Friday at noon for candidates running in local municipal elections this November. The filing deadline is noon on July 20th.

The following seats will be on the ballot:

Ø Duck - 5 Council Members (Neil Morrison, Monica Thibodeau, Nancy Caviness, Denver Lindley, Bart Smith)

Ø Kill Devil Hills - 1 Mayor & 2 Commissioners (Ray Sturza, Jeffrey Finch)

Ø Kitty Hawk - 2 Council Members (Ervin Bateman, Emilie Klutz)

Ø Manteo - Mayor & 3 Commissioners

Ø Nags Head - 2 Commissioners (Bob Oakes, Wayne Gray)

Ø Southern Shores - 3 Council Members (Dan Shields, David Sanders, Jodi Hess)

As an early reminder, the voter registration deadline is October 12th. More election information will be added in future briefings. For more information, contact the Dare County Board of Elections Office is located at 200 Ananias Dare Street in Manteo or call 252-475-5630 / 252-475-5631.

Coastal Resources Commission

The Coastal Resources Commission will be meeting in Raleigh on July 26th and 27th. On their Agenda is a discussion of the sand bag policy which Nags Head Commissioners referenced when they took no action on adopting a local sand bag regulation. Currently, the CRC states that all oceanfront shoreline sandbags must be removed by May 2008. The CRC will also be discussing the static line and setbacks at their meeting.

Washington County to Consider Transfer Tax Referendum

Although having the authority to impose a land transfer tax for over 20 years, Washington County voters have said “no” twice to the idea. The Washington County Board of Commissioners will be holding a public hearing this Monday at 6 pm in Plymouth to consider placing the issue on the November ballot. Washington County is one of seven out of the one-hundred North Carolina counties that have the authority to impose a land transfer tax. The debate over land transfer tax is waging in the North Carolina General Assembly as proponents say it keeps property taxes low and could potentially relieve the burden of Medicaid to poorer Counties. Opponents of land transfer tax have waged an educational campaign to inform voters that the tax is unfair and hurts the young families and senior citizens the most. The North Carolina Association of Realtors and the North Carolina Home Builders are opposed to land transfer taxes.