The Legislative Briefing
Week Ending March 30, 2007
-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.
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 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/.
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.