Friday, July 27, 2007

Dare County

June 18 – County Attorney Bobby Outten presented the Board of Commissioners with information on several issues that they had inquired about over the past month. One of those issues related to illegal immigrants and what powers the county had to address the problem. Mr. Outten explained that there are no state statutes that give Counties or local governments the authority to adopt immigration regulations. There was also the question of whether or not the Federal immigration statutes preempt local governments from adopting such regulations. If Dare County were to adopt an immigration ordinance based on general policing powers of preserving the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, the ordinance would most likely be challenged in court.

The Board was told that the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited mandatory random drug testing of all County employees. Random drug testing is permitted when an employee’s responsibilities are connected to the safety of others.

The Board had also inquired about building moratoriums and was informed by Mr. Outten that a public hearing must be held for moratoriums of 60 days or less. For longer moratoriums, a public hearing must also be held and normal notice general statue procedures apply. No notice is required if there is an “imminent and substantial threat to public health or safety. The Board does have to follow certain criteria to establish a moratorium including a plan of action to address the problem necessitating the moratorium, a schedule of those actions and an express termination date of the moratorium.

The Board scheduled a public hearing for zoning of the Buxton Coast Guard Base property for July 16th at 5:30 p.m. The site is currently unzoned since it is federal property. The Planning Board has recommended the property be zoned under the NH-1, natural historic classification.

There were still questions about density and multi-family housing during the public hearing on Skyco zoning amendments. Planning Director Ray Sturza clarified that all multifamily housing is considered a conditional use and not a permitted use. When all was said and done, the board unanimously approved that the Roanoke Island zoning map be amended to apply the SNC-1/NH zoning designations to those properties in Skyco.

The 07-08 County Budget was approved with no tax increase. The budget does include a $2,000 across the board pay increase for sheriff’s deputies. County Manager Terry Wheeler explained, “We are holding the line this year and the level of service will not be compromised.”

Commissioner Richard Johnson asked staff to draft an ordinance for Board review that would prohibit structures over 45 feet in height and over 20,000 sq. ft. There is currently a structure at the foot of the Manns Harbor Bridge that is 40,000 sq. ft. and 65 ft. in height. He said, “I don’t think people want that size building in their community. “

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