July 16 – The Dare Board of Commissioners voted to zone the Buxton Coast Guard Property to NH – Natural Historic. The property is owned by the Federal Government and is currently not zoned; however, as Board Chairman Warren Judge explained the General Services Administration intends to the make the property available at auction. Without zoning the property could be utilized for just about anything; the zoning was a measure to protect the County by ensuring that there would not be an increase in the use of land. County officials are already aware that there is no wastewater treatment for the housing on the property; a pump and haul system was used the last year the houses were occupied. Commissioner Judge went on to add, “We are extremely concerned about what will happen with the property in the private sector with the wastewater.” Dare County has been pursuing ownership of the property since November 2004 to be utilized for government offices and affordable housing. That plan was stalled last year when a $12 million price tag was put on the property.
At the prompting of Commissioner Richard Johnson at the last meeting, the Board discussed land use restrictions in zoned and unzoned areas, particularly gross floor area limitations and height restrictions. Commissioner Johnson would like to see a limit of 20,000 sq.ft. - gross floor area in East Lake and in one commercial area of Stumpy Point where there is no gross floor area designation. He was concerned that there are no limitations in East Lake to stop anything from being built and that the Commissioners need to control the size of buildings. Commissioner Mike Johnson and others expressed concerns about the limits with regards to the boat building industry. County Attorney Bobby Outten clarified that if an ordinance was adopted limiting the size of a structure, then the Board of Adjustment could not issue a variance to allow a larger structure. He stated that with a variance you have to show you cannot make other use of the building; however, the Board could adopt an amendment to the ordinance if a business came forward that needed the additional space. The Commissioners decided to advertise early for a public hearing on the matter that will be held on September 4th.
During Commissioners comments: Commissioner Mike Johnson gave an NC DOT project update for areas in Colington: a left turn lane at Baum Bay will be finished by next summer; the road where it floods at the Blue Crab will be elevated by the first of next summer; and the curve by the Methodist Church will be straightened out by the summer of 2009.
Commissioner Richard Johnson brought up many issues to discuss with the board that included the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park, illegal immigrants and the Roanoke Island Water System Expansion Project. He would like to see the Commercial Industrial Park Committee reinstated and a review of the procedures/process of how Park tenants are selected. On the immigration issue, he felt more needed to be done on a local level to address illegal immigrants and he supports penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants. The rest of the Board however agreed that there are already federal and state laws on the books to address the problem and all voted to send a resolution to the state and federal government to enforce those laws. The Roanoke Island Water Expansion project discussion was very lengthy, with the Board going back and forth on whether or not to hold a non-binding referendum or to let the issue sit for a while. Commissioner Burrus and Mike Johnson felt the voice of the people was clear at the two public meetings held. Richard Johnson said he has been in contact with many people that support the project but were afraid to speak at the meetings. Jack Shea supported the referendum idea. Virginia Tillett felt that the Board needed to review the input given at the meetings, as promised to those in attendance. The Board instructed Bobby Outten to research holding a referendum and the Chairman was going to schedule a Board workshop to discuss the issue further.