Monday, August 27, 2007

Currituck County Sidewalk Ordinance

Aug. 20 – The Currituck Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 (Janet Taylor opposing) in favor of a text amendment to the UDO to require sidewalks on both sides of streets in subdivisions greater than 20 lots. The former rule, in place since 2003, required sidewalks on one side of the street in subdivisions of 41 or more lots. Planner David Webb stated that the amendment supported goals in the County’s Land Use Plan to improve pedestrian/bike safety and mobility through development of “complete streets” which include sidewalks and a bike lane. He stated that since 2003, only two subdivisions have been approved with more than 41 lots; many more less than 41. Commissioner Janet Taylor voted against the amendment questioning the added cost and necessity of such an amendment. Sidewalks are required to be constructed prior to development. The Outer Banks Home Builders and Realtors Associations were represented and the following issues were raised: heavy trucks will have to cross over the sidewalks during construction, thus causing damage; swales are used for stormwater maintenance and there are no curbs or stormwater drains; who will be required to maintain the sidewalks; the added cost to especially small subdivisions will affect the cost of housing having an impact on affordability; many people like the rural charm and character of the County and do not want sidewalks, street lights, etc.; and the impervious surface of sidewalks adds to stormwater runoff.

The Board of Commissioners also passed an amendment (3-2) to the UDO to delete perk tests for minor subdivisions. Perk tests examine whether or not a lot/parcel is “buildable” and the planning department uses them to determine density, lot size and number of lots that may be developed. Commissioner Gene Gregory argued that some of these minor subdivision lots are used for pastures and should not have to incur the additional expense.

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