Friday, June 15, 2007

Roanoke Island Water System Expansion

Dare County is proposing to expand the water system on Roanoke Island to the unincorporated areas currently not served by the Dare County Water System. The proposed expansion areas include Wanchese and areas outside of the Manteo Town limits. The Roanoke Island Fire Department has requested the expansion of the water system to greatly improve the level of fire protection on the island. The proposal would require that all improved properties connect to the system.

Details of the costs associated with the mandatory connections will be explained at a meetings held on Tuesday, June 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the Auditorium at Roanoke Island Festival Park. There will also be a question and answer session after the presentation. For more information call the Dare County Water Department at 475-5601.

Duck Zoning Amendments

The Duck Planning Board has been hard at work reviewing possible zoning amendments to building height, fill/grading, driveways and parking and peat pots as lot coverage. Regarding height and fill, the Board is working to correct a problem that arises when properties are located in the ocean high hazard zone and are above base flood elevation. There have also been problems with the current filling/grading ordinance when dealing with the topography of certain lots. The Board is also looking at options related to stacking parking spaces and requiring the impervious surface of peat systems to be included in lot coverage

The Town of Duck has announced that the Director of Community Development, Sue Cotellessa, has resigned and will be returning home to northern Virginia the end of this month. Town officials are sponsoring an open house on Friday, June 22nd from 4 to 6 pm at The Saltaire, 100 Marlin Drive, to honor Sue and her accomplishments with the Town. The public is invited to attend and join staff, officials and friends in wishing Sue all the best in her future endeavors.

Nags Head "Hotel Definition"

Last week, the Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a text amendment modifying the definition of "hotel" to require that 67% of hotel units or suites be intended for transient guests on a rental basis. The other 1/3 of the units could be sold and occupied by full time residents or even time-share guests. This allowance improves the financial liability of a project - the cost of land can be offset by pre-selling units. This issue has been debated over the past several months and is utilized in other areas of the country, even by the well-known, upscale Ritz-Carlton hotels.

The Board decided not to adopt the zoning text amendment to add a new use for "Hotel Resort". Although the planning staff has worked on this for some time, staff and the Commissioners agreed to let the above amendment work before approving a new use.

The Board will hold a second reading this week on establishing a new conditional use, "restaurant with detached single family dwelling", since the motion to approve passed by a 3-2 vote. Wayne Gray changed his opinion on the issue and voted with Anna Sadler to deny on the basis that Mulligans knew what the rules were and violated them anyway, thus now seeking "forgiveness" through a text amendment. Commissioner Oakes argued that no matter how the issue came about, the ordinance needed to be changed.

Several people spoke during the public comment period regarding the need for beach nourishment and the fact that no funds were being allocated in the current budget proposal to pursue a project. This issue was also raised during the Town’s budget workshop. Town Manager Charlie Cameron suggested that the board allocate funding for sand fencing and beach grass. The Dare County Shoreline Commission recently approved a program to utilize the interest from additional sales tax monies collected during the first part of last year to support the towns within Dare County to do such a project. Mayor Cahoon shared with the audience that the town would be continuing its efforts to obtain the permits needed for a beach nourishment project, even though the referendum to raise property taxes to fund the project failed. Commissioner Anna Sadler has been in the hot seat for a particular comment she made supporting a beach re-nourishment project. To clarify the context of her quote of “not caring about the voters”, Commissioner Sadler, as well as other Commissioners, stated that any referendum that is held to ask voters whether or not they want their taxes raised usually fails.

There was some discussion at the meeting regarding the prohibition/removal of sandbags. The CRC determined that sandbags must be removed by May of 2008. Many homeowners have expressed concerns that sandbags are the only protection they currently have against losing their homes. Town Attorney Ike McRee reported that the Town has the authority under CAMA to adopt a zoning ordinance amendment to prohibit the use of sandbags as long as it is consistent with the Land Use Plan. Commissioner Oakes added that sandbags were to be used for temporary protection and are now being used to protect individual properties. With the $32 million beach nourishment referendum being defeated, he stated that the number one priority should now be to protect the beach since houses will come and go. Board members agreed to not take any action on sandbag prohibition and instead wait to see what the Coastal Resources Commission decides to do on the issue.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Ocracoke Voted Best Beach

North Carolina beats Hawaii and Florida for #1 beach spot; pristine, scenic beauty and storied past captures national attention.

Raleigh, NC (Vocus/PRWEB ) June 9, 2007 -- Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina takes the number one spot on Dr. Beach's annual America's Best Beaches list of 2007. The island, embraced by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on North Carolina's Outer Banks, is known for its clean water, sand and unspoiled natural beauty. At 16 miles long and a half-mile wide, Ocracoke is a sun-swept wilderness, once a favorite haunt of Blackbeard the Pirate and the place where he met his demise.



The unmatched beauty of our coast has for decades been a favorite of visitors who truly wish to get away - to relax among the quiet natural shorelines, explore the native wildlife, meet unique people and hear the compelling stories of the Outer Banks.
Today also marks the first time a beach outside of Florida or Hawaii has been named to the top position on Dr. Beach's celebrated annual top-ten list.

"We are proud that Ocracoke Island has been recognized as the home of America's best beach," says North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. "The unmatched beauty of our coast has for decades been a favorite of visitors who truly wish to get away - to relax among the quiet natural shorelines, explore the native wildlife, meet unique people and hear the compelling stories of the Outer Banks."

Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean surround Ocracoke Island; it is accessible only by water and air and sits 26 miles from the North Carolina mainland nestled against the Graveyard of the Atlantic (a coastal area famous for the many seagoing vessels that wrecked there years ago because it was difficult to navigate). The island's remote location invites visitors looking for a pristine place to swim, fish, surf and explore. No chain hotels exist on the island.

International beach expert Stephen Leatherman made the #1 designation. Known as "Dr. Beach," he is the nation's foremost authority on beach quality and ratings. He has gained international renown for his annual list of top-ten beaches in America, which he has released since 1991. More than 650 beaches throughout the United States are judged on a list of 50 criteria under four main areas: physical factors such as sand color and quality, and number and size of waves; biological factors such as color and condition of the water; presence of wildlife and pests; and human use and impacts such as lifeguard protection, far-reaching views and traffic.

The natural, untouched beauty of Ocracoke Island's sand, clear sunshine, good waves and clean water caught the attention of Dr. Beach years ago. Visitors have come for the same reasons. In addition, they want to see the Ocracoke Lighthouse, Banker pony herd and reign of Blackbeard:


The Ocracoke Lighthouse--The second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation. Completed in 1823, she stands 75-feet tall with a 25-foot diameter at the base and a gracefully tapered 12-foot top. The building is solid brick and was used by some residents as shelter during bad storms.


Banker Ponies--In 1565, Sir Richard Grenville's ship Tiger ran aground on Ocracoke Island. Some speculate this may have been the origin of Ocracoke's famous Banker pony herd. The ponies were documented on Ocracoke since European settlers came to stay in the 1730s. In the late 1950s, Ocracoke Boy Scouts cared for the ponies and had the only mounted troop in the nation. By law, the free-roaming animals were penned in 1959 to prevent over-grazing and to safeguard them from traffic after Highway 12 was built in 1957.


Teach's Hole or Channel--In the late 1700s, Blackbeard fought his last battle here. Legend has it his headless body swam around the boat three times before sinking to Davy Jones Locker.

Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and can be accessed from the Lifeguarded Beach public parking area ¼ mile north of Ramp 70 on N.C. Highway 12 just outside Ocracoke Village. It offers public parking, beach access, restrooms and changing areas. Lifeguards are on staff Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The length of lifeguarded beach varies with lifeguard availability. The Park Service recommends that swimmers stay within sight of manned lifeguard stands. Red warning flags are posted at lifeguarded beaches when swimming conditions are hazardous.

There's much more to see and explore around the island, including charter fishing, outstanding bird watching, camping, stories of Civil War and World War II ocean battles and more. Getting to Ocracoke Island is now easier; a new summer ferry schedule began May 22 and will last through Labor Day weekend. There will be four departures from both Swan Quarter on mainland Hyde County and Ocracoke Island versus the two departures that are in effect the remainder of the year. Ferry service is also available from Cedar Island and Hatteras.

Extensive information on Ocracoke Island's attractions, history and accommodations, the Outer Banks, and other North Carolina beaches is available on www.VisitNC.com and www.VisitNCcoast.com. Dr. Beach's list of top-ten beaches will post to the web site on Friday morning, June 8. Local web sites such as www.ocracokevillage.com and www.hydecounty.org are also available.

Natural scenic beauty, 300 miles of barrier islands, relaxation, adventure and Southern hospitality come together in North Carolina. Call 1-800-VISIT NC (1-800-847-4862) or go to VisitNC.com to plan your next getaway.

Kill Devil Hills Property Tax Increase

On Monday, June 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m., the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing regarding the Budget for Fiscal Year 2007/2008. The proposed budget proposal includes a 2 ½ cent increase in town property tax. There is also a 4% increase in water rates for basic and commodity consumption.
All citizens of the Town of Kill Devil Hills are invited and encouraged to attend the public hearing and make oral or written comments on the proposed use of funds. A copy of the budget and budget ordinance in their entirety is available for public inspection in the Kill Devil Hills Town Clerk’s Office at 102 Town Hall Drive, on the town’s web site, www.kdhnc.com and at the Kill Devil Hills branch of the Dare County Library at 400 Mustian Street. Copies of the budget may be purchased for $10.00 in the Kill Devil Hills Tax and Finance Department at the Town Hall.

Southern Shores Home Occupations

The Southern Shores Town Council passed the much-debated Home Occupations Ordinance at their meeting on Tuesday evening. The ordinance permits home-based businesses with certain provisions. The business has to be an incidental use of the home and cannot affect the appearance of the dwelling. The ordinance basically states that as long as you can’t tell that a business exists from the exterior of the dwelling, which means no outdoor storage of equipment or supplies, then the business will be allowed. The ordinance can be found at:

Duck Tree Ordinance Update

The Duck Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting ordinance this week. It was questioned by those during the public hearing whether or not the ordinance was necessary since one of the reasons for the ordinance is to preserve and protect the natural environment of Duck. A citizen commented that most of the “natural landscape in Duck has been man-made, undertaken by homeowners.” Other concerns regarding cost, enforcement, penalties and the impact small additions to the footprint would have on homeowners. It was also questioned at an earlier meeting whether or not Duck needed statue authority to adopt the ordinance. Town Attorney Ike McRee reiterated this week his position that 2005 legislation giving towns broad authority to adopt ordinances that protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens allows Duck to adopt the vegetation ordinance. This was stated after information was shared that Erika Churchill, Staff Attorney with the General Assembly Research Division rendered an opinion to House Republican Leader Paul Stam that towns did need such authority from the General Assembly.
The Town Council also unanimously approved an Ocean and Sound Overlay District. The district is similar to the Town of Nags Head’s overlay district whereas it regulates recreational uses in water, prohibits signage in water and prohibits filling of wetlands within the first 75 feet.
There are fee increases across the board. Building permits fees are going up $0.10 to $0.40 depending on type of permit. Sign permits are doubling to $100 plus sign permit fees. Occupancy permits are more than doubling; a request for a text amendment to the zoning ordinance will now cost you $350, up from $200.
The Town of Duck has sent out information on open house flags and banners as well as a-frame signs and other open house signs not meeting code requirements, often placed in the right of way. They have also noticed ground mounted rental signs. Please review Duck’s sign ordinance at www.townofduck.com.

Kitty Hawk Lowest Horizontal Structural Member

June 4 - At this week’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners gave approval to adding a definition for “reference level” and “lowest horizontal structural member” to the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. Reference level is defined as the top of lowest floor of structures within Special Flood Hazard Areas designated as zone AE and the bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest floor for structures within Special Flood Hazard Areas designated as zone VE; Lowest horizontal structural member is defined as the lowest beam, joist, or other horizontal member supporting a building (grade beams installed to support vertical foundation members where they enter the ground are not considered lowest horizontal members). The Board approved to exempt the following structures from maximum height limitations and allowed them to be built to the following within their zoning districts: Church spires – 58 ft.; Water towers - 160 ft.; Conveyors – 45 ft.; and Communication towers – 150 ft.
A preliminary plat was approved for 7 lots in the Phase I of the Hickory Ridge subdivision. The subdivision would be located on the east side of Ridge Rd. with the road being extended 500 feet to the north to provide access to the new lots and a small portion of a new road to be constructed at the northern end of Ridge Rd. will serve as a turnaround area until a future phase is developed.

Corolla Incorporation Update

June 1 – The colors red and green identified those in favor or opposed to Corolla incorporation at the public hearing held regarding the issue at the Currituck Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. The majority of the standing-room only crowd wore red clothing and conspicuous “No to Incorporation” buttons to let the panel of NC General Assembly representatives know that they do not favor efforts to have Corolla become the first incorporated area in Currituck County. Those that spoke in opposition referenced the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and one speaker, feeling that the incorporation committee was being unreasonable and unrealistic in their request, even quoted a Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you get what you need.” Many in the audience felt they were already getting what they needed and felt an additional five cent property tax was unnecessary and not justified.
After all comments were received, Speaker Pro Tempore Wainwright and Senator Hartsell questioned incorporation committee representatives about police protection and county services that would be provided if a referendum outcome was favorable. Although a speaker mentioned that Sheriff Susan Johnson would provide no additional deputies or service under a contract with the town, Gary McGee stated that additional protection would be provided under a contract with the sheriff’s office. The panel also asked if a memo of understanding had been provided by the County stating what services and funds would be provided should Corolla became incorporated. Gary McGee stated that the committee was not a governing body and they had no power to enter into an agreement with the County at this time. He went on to add that not one Commissioner has stated that services would cease and that he is eager to discuss the issue with the County; however, there is no incentive to negotiate at this time. Gary did mention that the Village of Corolla would include non-residents on the Planning Board.
After all was said and done, the issue of whether or not the petition is complete and reasonable will be decided to determine whether or not the incorporation bill will pass and a referendum allowed. My best guess says the referendum will be held during the November General Election.

Corolla Incorporation Update

June 1 – The colors red and green identified those in favor or opposed to Corolla incorporation at the public hearing held regarding the issue at the Currituck Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. The majority of the standing-room only crowd wore red clothing and conspicuous “No to Incorporation” buttons to let the panel of NC General Assembly representatives know that they do not favor efforts to have Corolla become the first incorporated area in Currituck County. Those that spoke in opposition referenced the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and one speaker, feeling that the incorporation committee was being unreasonable and unrealistic in their request, even quoted a Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you get what you need.” Many in the audience felt they were already getting what they needed and felt an additional five cent property tax was unnecessary and not justified.
After all comments were received, Speaker Pro Tempore Wainwright and Senator Hartsell questioned incorporation committee representatives about police protection and county services that would be provided if a referendum outcome was favorable. Although a speaker mentioned that Sheriff Susan Johnson would provide no additional deputies or service under a contract with the town, Gary McGee stated that additional protection would be provided under a contract with the sheriff’s office. The panel also asked if a memo of understanding had been provided by the County stating what services and funds would be provided should Corolla became incorporated. Gary McGee stated that the committee was not a governing body and they had no power to enter into an agreement with the County at this time. He went on to add that not one Commissioner has stated that services would cease and that he is eager to discuss the issue with the County; however, there is no incentive to negotiate at this time. Gary did mention that the Village of Corolla would include non-residents on the Planning Board.
After all was said and done, the issue of whether or not the petition is complete and reasonable will be decided to determine whether or not the incorporation bill will pass and a referendum allowed. My best guess says the referendum will be held during the November General Election.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Emergency Planning: Seniors, Disabled and Special Needs Persons

It is particularly important for residents with serious health concerns to have shelter that is adequate to meet their needs according to Department of Social Services (DSS) director, Jay Burrus. If a mandatory evacuation is called for, travel out of the area can be difficult to arrange at the last minute and uncomfortable for those with medical problems. No shelters are available on the Outer Banks and no services are likely during and immediately after a storm. Shelters opened inland in counties to the west and north offer only basic accommodations and they fill up very quickly. The shelters cannot provide prescription medicine, food for special diets, or assistance for those who are unable to walk or care for themselves.

DSS recommends that residents with special needs talk with their relatives and friends and arrange for transportation and a comfortable place to stay in an area less likely to be hit by hurricanes if at all possible. DSS maintains a Special Needs list of residents who lack transportation or other resources and can not make these arrangements on their own. DSS staff will try to make arrangements for those on the list when the weather forecast indicates that a significant storm may hit the area. Anyone wishing to have his name added to this special needs list should call 475-5500 and ask to speak to an adult services social worker.

Friday, June 1, 2007

1031 Real Estate Into Stocks or Bonds?

I have some very exciting news I want to share with you this week regarding a new product available through First Horizon that may help you sell more real estate. First Horizon has been working for the past several years to develop a way for clients to sell their property and do a 1031 tax free exchange into the stock or bond market, and avoid paying Capital Gains tax. This is because many investors, for whatever reason, are at the end of the line in their current real estate investing, and want a way to switch their real estate investment into the stock market, without paying Capital Gains Tax. This is something that has been very difficult to accomplish because of the IRS’s definition of a like kind exchange, but very recently we have been able to develop a fund that will allow this to happen, that is acceptable to the IRS. This means that now we have put a mechanism in place whereby clients selling rental property, that don’t want to reinvest their money into new rental property, can now 1031 into a type of mutual fund with First Horizon. This is valuable to you as an agent, because I am sure you have run into clients that didn’t want to list their property to sell because they dreaded the thought of paying Capital Gains. Now those clients can list their property with you, and sell and 1031 into this Mutual Fund with First Horizon, and avoid the Capital Gains Tax. The Mutual Fund then pays the client a 6% per year dividend, and they will also receive a rate of return on their investment when they sell their shares of the mutual fund. I will be sending more information out on this program as we receive the flyers, etc., but I wanted to give you a quick introduction to let you know it was there in case it could help you with any of your current client situations. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail, or give me a call with any questions. Always available 207-2665

Shane Cook
Senior Mortgage Specialist
800-256-7887/Cell 252-207-2665


“A pre-qualification you can trust”
Total Loan Denial Letters Issued in 2006: 0

Stop the NC Home Tax

The NC Association of Realtors issued a statewide Call for Action this past week for members to tell state lawmakers that a proposed transfer tax – also called a home tax – is a bad idea. There has been a coalition formed to push for transfer taxes and the increase in the state deed stamp tax. The coalition includes the League of Municipalities, the NC Association of County Commissioners, Carolina Asphalt Contractors Association, Land for Tomorrow, Carolinas Associated General Contractors, the NC Housing Coalition, the NC Rural Development Center and the NC School Boards Association. Dare and Currituck Counties are two of the six North Carolina counties that already have a land transfer tax. Many of the other 96 NC counties would like to implement a land transfer tax to fund capital expenditure projects such as schools. Proponents of land transfer tax say that it helps keep property taxes low; opponents argue that the tax is discriminatory and increases the cost of home ownership and impacts new homeowners, working families and senior citizens the most. They also argue that land transfer tax is nothing more than deferred property tax and an unstable revenue source. If you do not want to see an increase in local land transfer tax, get involved by contacting Representatives Bill Owens and Tim Spear and Senator Marc Basnight by visiting the link http://www.itsabadidea.org

Kill Devil Hills Fiscal Budhet 2007/08

On Monday, June 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m., the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing regarding the Budget for Fiscal Year 2007/2008. The proposed budget proposal includes a 2 ½ cent increase in town property tax. There is also a 4% increase in water rates for basic and commodity consumption.
All citizens of the Town of Kill Devil Hills are invited and encouraged to attend the public hearing and make oral or written comments on the proposed use of funds. A copy of the budget and budget ordinance in their entirety is available for public inspection in the Kill Devil Hills Town Clerk’s Office at 102 Town Hall Drive, on the town’s web site, www.kdhnc.com and at the Kill Devil Hills branch of the Dare County Library at 400 Mustian Street. Copies of the budget may be purchased for $10.00 in the Kill Devil Hills Tax and Finance Department at the Town Hall.

Nags Head Zoning Ordinance

The Nags Head Board of Commissioners will conduct the following public hearings at their meeting on Wednesday:
1) Consideration of zoning ordinance text amendment to Town Code Section 48-7, Definition of specific words and terms, to modify the definition of “hotel” to require that 67% of hotel units/or suites in a hotel shall be intended for transient guests on a rental basis.
2) Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to add a new use for “Hotel Resort” as a conditional use within the C-2, General Commercial Zoning District and to amend all other pertinent sections of the Zoning Ordinance including parking, design guidelines and landscape buffering.
3) Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to Town Code Section 48-407(c), Conditional Uses within the C-2, General Commercial District, to establish a new conditional use, “Restaurant with detached single family dwelling”.
4) Consideration of citizen input on proposed Budget Ordinance for FY 07/08 and proposed Capital Improvement Program for FY 07/08 through FY 11/12.

The Board will also be considering a site plan/permitted use application for conversion of the Cineplex movie theater into an indoor fitness facility and will discussing the prohibition/removal of sandbags.

Southern Shores Home Occupation Ordinance

The Southern Shores Town Council will hold a public hearing on a Home Occupations Ordinance at their meeting on Tuesday evening. The ordinance permits home-based businesses with certain provisions. The business has to be an incidental use of the home and cannot affect the appearance of the dwelling. The ordinance basically states that as long as you can’t tell that a business exists from the exterior of the dwelling, which means no outdoor storage of equipment or supplies, then the business will be allowed. The ordinance can be found at:
http://www.southernshores-nc.gov/Ordinances%20Downloads/2007/Ordinance%202007-05-01-Home%20Occupation

Hearing on Duck Tree Ordinance

The Duck Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting ordinance at their meeting on June 6th at 7 pm. A provision on clear-cutting was added to the ordinance at the Council’s mid-month meeting. The language reads:
Clear cutting: On a vacant, undeveloped parcel, removal of any tree greater than six inches in diameter at breast height is prohibited except after receiving an approved development site plan and issued building permit, an approved tree management plan and any required tree removal permit.
Home builders and residents have expressed concerns about the intent of the ordinance and specifically the impact it will have on redevelopment. If any additions are to be made to the footprint of a dwelling, a tree management plan showing 15% vegetation coverage will have to submitted and approved before a permit is issued. The town has prepared a list of native vegetation that can be utilized towards the 15% requirement. Palm trees will not be counted towards required vegetation. There have also been concerns expressed about the cost of implementing and enforcing the ordinance on homeowners. Local surveyors have quoted the cost of tree management plans ranging from $1200.00 to $1800.00. There will also be additional costs incurred to protect existing trees when included in a tree management plan. The ordinance also requires a tree removal permit for the removal of any tree that is 24 inches or more in diameter.
The ordinance is posted on the Town’s website www.townofduck.com as a link from the meeting agenda or you may call the Town at 252-255-1234 for more information. Please attend the public hearing and voice your opinion.