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%.
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.
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!