Saturday, April 14, 2007

Legislative Briefings - April 11, 2007

Currituck Planning Board News
The Board reviewed an amendment to the UDO to revise the standards to measure and evaluate adequate public facilities and regulate subdivision and land development relative to the adequacy of public facilities. The amendment addresses only school capacity and not public safety or other public facility issues. Included in the amendment is an updated formula for calculating school capacity based on dwelling types and would take into consideration the phasing of projects. According to Planning Director Sarah Kiefer, Commissioners have been very concerned about phasing; the amendment addresses capacity based on the 10 year school facilities plan and the approved capital improvement plan. Capacity allotments would be released at the rate of 1/10th per year, twice a year. Under a lottery system, applications for development would be reviewed and weighted based on the type of project and where it would be located. If capacity is allocated to a project but less than is needed, a builder/developer could move forward with the project by utilizing “voluntary mitigation strategies. Land could be allocated for a school or the payment of $12,171 for single family dwellings or $12,119 for townhouses, duplexes, etc. could be paid to address the school capacity issue.
The Board agreed to table the issue and work on it further at a worksession scheduled for May 8th at 6:30 pm. There is a Senate bill pending – S 1180 – that may affect whether or not Currituck County can adopt this amendment at all. The bill states that “a local government may not exercise any authority or make any commitment not authorized by general or local act and may not impose or exact a fee, or monetary contribution not authorized by otherwise applicable law.”

The Currituck Planning Board approved the following at their meeting this week:
Phase 2 and 3 of Launch Landing off of Tulls Creek Rd.; final plat for 54 lots Phase 2 of Kilmarlic Club; final plat for 32 lots. UDO Amendment – Outer Banks Overlay District Sign Regulations Special use permit for OBX Rodeo to hold an annual special event on the north side of Riverlane Rd and Caratoke Hwy. The event will be held on June 15th and 16th. The Board tabled action on a request to allow Tattoo and Body Piercing Businesses in all zoning districts. Currently they are included in the Adult and Sexually Oriented Businesses definition and only allowed in heavy manufacturing zones. Several board members felt that tattoo businesses should be separate from adult-oriented business and allowed in other zoning areas. They directed staff to bring back language for the Board to review that would allow tattoo “salon” in the general business and commercial districts.


Duck
Apr. 11 - The Duck Planning Board discussed several issues relating to the “built environment” as they reviewed notes from a March 28th field trip. The Board members visited several home sites throughout the town to record their thoughts on building height, open space, parking, lot coverage, house size, setbacks, accessory structures, fences/bulkhead, etc. After much discussion on each area of concern, planning staff was directed to bring back to the board new language for: measuring height; tiered setbacks; requiring permeable surfaces for parking where available and allowing stacking; and addressing the proportionality of houses to lots and accessory structures to the house.

The Duck Town Council will conduct a second reading of the proposed vegetation ordinance at their next regular meeting on May 2nd at 7 pm. The proposed ordinance would amend the zoning ordinance to add a new section Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting to preserve, protect, plant, replace and properly maintain trees and vegetation within the Town. The ordinance will require tree removal permits under certain circumstances and vegetation management plans for new development and substantial redevelopment. After coverage is calculated for the footprint of a dwelling or commercial building, the ordinance will then require vegetation in the form of trees or bushes on the remaining property - 15% coverage on residential lots and 10% coverage on a lot within any commercial zoning district. The ordinance does not eliminate clear-cutting of lots but does require a tree removal permit of any tree over 24” in diameter at breast height. Go to
www.townofduck.com for more info.
The Outer Banks Association of Realtors and the Outer Banks Home Builders Association would like to express best wishes to Duck Planning Board member John Jenkins. This week’s meeting was his last meeting with the Planning Board.


Kill Devil Hills
Apr. 9 – The Board of Commissioners were given a presentation from John. W. Harris, a consultant from Hampton, Virginia regarding beach erosion and property protection. Mr. Harris owns property in KDH and was requested by a Hampton City Council member to research what the city of Hampton could do to address erosion issue. Mr. Harris didn’t have to look far to find an answer. Right across the water in the Ocean View/Willoughby area of Norfolk, the Corp of Engineers had installed off-shore breakwaters. He explained how successful they have been in controlling erosion. He stated that Norfolk funds the structures about $2.1 million per year through tax collections. Mayor Ray Sturza discussed a few differences between the Virginia and North Carolina coastal areas. The Norfolk/Virginia Beach area is under the jurisdiction of the Norfolk District Corp of Engineers; the NC Outer Banks are under the jurisdiction of the Wilmington District of the Corp of Engineers. He went on to add that coastal management plans are very different between North Carolina and Virginia and most importantly, hardened structures such as breakwaters, jetties, etc. are illegal in the state of North Carolina. Mayor Sturza did say that the CRC Outer Banks Task Force reported years ago that experimental off-shore breakwaters should be examined, but that no action had been taken to do so. Three off-shore breakwaters will be constructed in the Fort Monroe area of Hampton and Mr. Harris stated he would return to share the progress of the project.

Nags Head
The Town of Nags Head will be holding a referendum on their beach nourishment project on Tuesday, April 17th. The polls will be open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. The Town will be holding a special education session on the referendum on Saturday, April 14th at the Nags Head Fire Station #16, across from the Town Hall at 2 pm. You can also access
www.townofnagshead.net or www.protectnagshead for more information.
If you are a resident of Nags Head, make sure you vote on Tuesday!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Legislative Briefings - April 4, 2007

Duck

Apr. 4 - Several people spoke at a public hearing on a proposed vegetation ordinance at the Duck Town Council meeting on Wednesday, April 4th. There was some question as to whether or not Duck needed authority from the General Assembly to adopt a tree removal/regulation ordinance, as Nags Head had received in 1997. Town Attorney Ike McRee quoted 2005 legislation that gave the Town explicit authority to regulate trees and vegetation with some exceptions. Other questions and concerns brought forward dealt with the intent, implementation and enforcement of the ordinance. Councilman Bart Smith stated that the ordinance was drafted to address stormwater runoff issues and was not intended to simply require landscaping on lots. After mentioning areas that needed to be addressed, Councilwoman Monica Thibodeau made a motion to table any action on the ordinance of which Councilman Denver Lindley seconded. The motion failed due to a tie with members Smith and Nancy Caviness voting against it. Mayor Neil Morrision did not attend the meeting. After further discussion from Smith and Caviness as to the environment and the need to act, a motion was made to approve the ordinance. Caviness, Smith and Lindley voted in favor, with Thibodeau opposing. In order to formally pass, a 2/3 favorable vote was required; therefore, the motion will be read a second time at the next meeting when Mayor Morrison will be in attendance.
The ordinance will require tree removal permits under certain circumstances and vegetation management plans for new development and substantial redevelopment. After coverage is calculated for the footprint of a dwelling or commercial building, the ordinance will then require vegetation in the form of trees or bushes on the remaining property - 15% coverage on residential lots and 10% coverage on a lot within any commercial zoning district. The ordinance does not eliminate clear-cutting of lots but does require a tree removal permit of any tree over 24” in diameter at breast height. Go to
www.townofduck.com for more info.

Also discussed at the meeting was the need for specific language in the Town’s regulations addressing parking on shoulders of NC 12 and on the multi-use path. The police chief cited safety issues and concerns in the area of Sunset Grille as the need for the change. Although there has been an increase in permit activity over the last month, the Town Manager reported that year-to-date building permits were down and transfer tax collections were down 47.85%.

Dare County


Apr. 2 - Dare County Finance Director David Clawson reported to the Board of Commissioners on Monday the importance of real estate and construction to our tax base. Due to a decline in those areas, the Dare County general fund is currently operating at a $1.42 million dollar deficit. The deficit has derived from the following: Building permit fees down 56%; Construction and Demolition fees down 32%; Register of Deed recordation fees down 11%; and Environmental/Septic fees down 28%. These fees were projected to generate $2.36 million this fiscal year. To address the problem, the Board agreed to several measures including reducing the fiscal year 2007 transfer from the General Fund to the School capital Reserve fund by $1 million and implementing a hiring freeze on 17 vacant positions paid from the general fund.
David Clawson will report at the next meeting on the impact the real estate and construction industry has had on the county’s Capital Improvement plan’s funding. As reported above, transfer tax revenues are down nearly 50%.

Currituck Planning Board News

The Currituck Planning Board looks to be facing a lengthy meeting on Tuesday with several items on the Agenda. Among the items to be discussed is a UDO amendment to the Outer Banks Overlay District Sign Regulations. A group of business owners and citizens have been rewriting the sign ordinance for almost four years and the final draft was recently submitted for Planning Board review. The ordinance will then be put on the next meeting’s agenda of the Board of Commissioners for final approval.
The Board will also be discussing an amendment to the UDO to revise the standards to measure and evaluate adequate public facilities and regulate subdivision and land development relative to the adequacy of public facilities. The Board of Commissioners discussed at their retreat this past month the need for “voluntary” fees of up to $12,000 per lot from developers on new construction to assist with school construction, etc.

Kitty Hawk

Apr. 2 - The Kitty Hawk Town Council scheduled a public hearing for May 7th on allowing HVAC units to encroach up to five feet (5’) into required side yard setbacks.
Presently, town code does not contain any provisions permitting HVAC units to be located within required building setbacks and this has become an issue in a couple of instances this past year.
The Board also approved an amendment to the town code regarding overnight parking at beach accesses. Vehicles or trailers will be prohibited from being parked after the hour of 10:00 p.m. and before the hour of 5:00 a.m. on the Byrd Street and Lillian Street beach access parking lots.

STOP THE HOME TAX!

The NC Association of Realtors has started a campaign to stop other counties from imposing land transfer taxes. Land transfer taxes have been a reality in Dare and Currituck Counties for some time, and other areas of the State want to tap into that resource. Many bills have been introduced in the General Assembly this session regarding not only land transfer taxes but also impact fees, etc. Go to
www.itsabadidea for more information and how you can get involved!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Legislative Briefings - March 28, 2007

The Legislative Briefing
Week Ending March 30, 2007


www.outerbanksconsulting.com

-Nourished Beaches Get a Break From CRC
-Currituck County Bills Introduced in the House: Occupancy Tax; Redistricting; Transfer of Development Rights
-STOP THE NC HOME TAX!
-Revised Corolla Sign Ordinance Finalized
-Currituck Commissioners to Hold Public Hearing on Motorsports Park
“Speak Out for Southern Shores”
-Realtor® Fest This Week

-Duck Public Hearing Wednesday on Vegetation Ordinance!

CRC Votes to Change Static Vegetation Line Rule
The Coastal Resources Commission met in Dare County last week and voted unanimously to begin the process to change the static vegetation line rule on engineered beaches. Currently towns are required to define its vegetation line, typically dune grass, before it rebuilds its beach. Any new development must be kept at a certain distance from that line. As new sand is pumped in to build up the beach, vegetation tends to seed closer to the water. Representatives from areas with nourished beaches, such as Emerald Isle, argued that the present restrictions prevent people from reconstructing their homes if damaged by fire for storms. The existing rule prevents the replacement of about 150 homes and building on about a dozen lots in Emerald Isle and affects about 80% of the Oak Island’s oceanfront homes.
Proponents of changing the rule included Spencer Rogers, a coastal development expert with NC Sea Grant in Wilmington. He stated that the existing rules were too restrictive and that nearly every oceanfront lot in Wrightsville Beach would have been unbuildable if the rule has been in place when the town began pumping sand in the 1960’s. The new rule, which could take up to two years to go into effect, would allow the static vegetation line to be moved closer to the nourished shoreline.

Currituck County Bills Introduced
Representative Bill Owens introduced three bills on Wednesday, March 28 – the deadline for local bills to be introduced in the House. At the request of Currituck County Commissioners, the following bills were filed: 1101-Currituck County Development Rights; 1102 – Modify Currituck County Occupancy Tax; and 1103 Currituck Commissioner Districts.
If passed, HB 1101 Currituck Development Rights would authorize the transfer of development rights into developed areas of Currituck County in association with conversation easements in rural areas of the County. Currituck County would be the first in the state to impose these rights, intending to preserve farmland while allowing more homes to be built than otherwise would be possible under conventional zoning.
HB 1102 Modify Currituck County Occupancy Tax changes the allocation of how occupancy tax can be used from legislation that was passed in 2004 giving Currituck County the opportunity to increase its occupancy tax from 4% to 6%. Currently 2/3 of occupancy tax collections have to be used for advertising, marketing and promotion efforts and the other 1/3 has to be used for tourism-related purposes. The bill would allow the County to use at least 75% for any tourism-related purpose including “construction and maintenance of public facilities and buildings; garbage, refuse, and solid waste collection and disposal, police protection, and emergency services.” The remaining 25% can be added to the county’s general fund. Occupancy tax collections now total over $8 million per year and Commissioners would like to be able to use the funds as was allowed from 1991 to 2004. If Corolla were to incorporate as the “Village of Corolla”, occupancy tax funds would not be shared the new entity.
HB 1103 Currituck Commissioner Districts allows Currituck County to redefine its residency districts after public input. The new Board of Commissioners could undo new district lines that the prior Board and voters approved last year. The current Board felt that the public did not know they were voting on new district lines since the information was not included on the ballot when voters approved to expand the Board of Commissioner to 7 members. The bill requires that two public hearings be held at separate locations at least a week apart and proper notice be given of the hearings. The bill includes a deadline of October 1, 2007 for a redistricting resolution to be approved by the Commissioners. The new district lines for the Fruitville Township has been the biggest area of concern since it now includes Carova, Knotts Island, Gibbs Woods, parts of Moyock, the Courthouse area and Bells Island. Previously, the old district included only Knotts Island and Carova Beach. The new Board favors a district that included Corolla and Carova Beach.
On another note, Representative Owens also introduced a bill on Wednesday to allow Tyrell County to impose a 1% Land Transfer Tax; he had already introduced similar bills for Chatham and Moore Counties earlier this month. Read the next paragraph……

STOP THE NC HOME TAX!
The NC Association of Realtors has started a campaign to stop other counties from imposing land transfer taxes. Land transfer taxes have been a reality in Dare and Currituck Counties for some time, and other areas of the State want to tap into that resource. Many bills have been introduced in the General Assembly this session regarding not only land transfer taxes but also impact fees, etc. Go to
http://www.itsabadidea/ for more information and how you can get involved!

Corolla Sign Ordinance
After almost four years of discussion and debate among members of the business community, citizens and Currituck County planning staff, a revised sign ordinance amendment draft has been completed! The Currituck Outer Banks Overlay District sign ordinance amendment will be presented to the Currituck Planning Board for review on April 10th and if approved will be added to the next Currituck County Commissioners Agenda for passage. The current sign ordinance does not identify many of the signs being constructed and if it is not included in the ordinance, then it is illegal. The sign ordinance amendment is attached for your perusal.

Currituck
The Currituck Board of Commissioner will hold several public hearings at their meeting on Monday. One public hearing will be held to review a request for a special use permit for an outdoor recreation facility – “Muddy Motorsports Park” to be located at 5423 Caratoke Hwy. on the east side of Caratoke Hwy. approximately 1100” north of the rest area in Poplar Branch. The request was submitted by Dennis Anderson, owner of the famous Grave Digger monster truck.
Three other hearings will be held regarding development projects:
Consideration of rezoning 60 acres of a 102.7 acre parcel from Agricultural to Mixed Residential. The rezoning area included 26.7 acres of uplands and 33.3 acres of wetlands. This site is located on South Currituck Rd., ½ mile from the intersection with Caratoke Hwy.
Consideration of rezoning to create a 26.5 acre multi-family overlay district located at the intersection of Caratoke Hwy. and Simpson Rd. in Barco.
Sketch plan/special use permit for a 16 lot open space residential subdivision on 44 acres located on South Indiantown Rd.

“Speak Out for Southern Shores”
Over 120 people attended a public meeting, SPEAK OUT FOR SOUTHERN SHORES on Thursday, March 29th. The purpose of the meeting was to develop the CAMA Land Use Plan Community Vision Statement and identify local issues of concern. Topics for discussion included Public Access; Land Use Compatibility; Infrastructure Carrying Capacity; Natural Hazard Areas; Water Quality; and Local Areas of Concern. Through a “visioning” process, participants dividing into small groups and generated lists of what they wanted for the town and what they saw as emerging issues. They then prioritized the issues. Among some of the items/concerns brought up were: underground electrical services, maintaining open space, dog access to the beach year-round, no multiple lanes on NC 12, installing public restrooms, low density residential development and more. All comments will be compiled by Cindy Camacho with Earth Tech, the firm hired to assist the Town with developing the Land Use Plan, and then reviewed to prioritize the vision statement. You can also find out more about the Land Use Plan by logging on to
http://www.southernshores-nc.gov/.

REALTOR® FEST!
Realtor® Fest will be held on Wednesday, April 4th at His Dream Center on Baltic Avenue from 8 am to 5 pm. International speaker Terry Watson will be speaking on the following topics throughout the day: Buyer, You’re Mine; How to Get a Buyer to Sign; and Getting Into the DNA of Generation X. Throughout the day, exhibitors will be sharing information and services targeting the real estate professional. Door prize raffles will also be held during the event. Tickets must be purchased at the OBAR office by 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 3rd.
You can download a registration form at
http://www.outerbanksrealtors.com/.

Duck
The Duck Town Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed vegetation ordinance at their meeting this Wednesday, April 4th. The ordinance, if adopted, will require tree removal permits under certain circumstances and vegetation management plans for new development and substantial redevelopment. After coverage is calculated for the footprint of a dwelling or commercial building, the ordinance will then require on the remaining property 15% vegetative lot coverage on residential lots and 10% vegetative coverage on a lot within any commercial zoning district. The ordinance does not eliminate clear-cutting of lots but does require a tree removal permit of any tree over 24” in diameter at breast height. Vegetation canopy coverage can be accomplished by preservation or installation of large trees, small trees and bushes or shrubs. The ordinance includes an appendix of planting guidelines and approved vegetation. Go to
http://www.townofduck.com/ for more info.