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.