Friday, September 28, 2007

Duck's Land Disturbance, VE Flood Zone, and Building Height

The Town Council will be holding three public hearings of interest at their meeting on Wednesday:

§ Consideration of an amendment to the zoning ordinance to modify requirements for land disturbing activities. The ordinance includes fill and grading provisions to establish a level building footprint for a single-family dwelling and further defines the extent of fill and grading activities that can occur to establish finished grade, including filling lot depressions and elevating with fill material.

§ Consideration of an amendment to Article 2 of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to establish a definition for free and clear of obstruction in a VE flood zone and defines the height above finished grade that a structure must be elevated to meet this requirement.

§ Consideration of a zoning ordinance amendment to modify the definition of building height. The intent is to clarify the measurement of building height relative to the above two amendment considerations.

Currituck Discusses Moratoriums

Currituck Commissioners will be holding a public hearing at their meeting on Monday evening to consider an ordinance imposing a moratorium on the acceptance or processing of permit applications for Planned Residential Developments (PRD) under the Unified Development Ordinance. They will also be discussing a moratorium for rezoning pending approval of conditional use zoning. The public hearing and discussion was requested by Commissioner Owen Etheridge at the last mid-month Board meeting in response to a newspaper article highlighting the fact that over 1,000 acres have been rezoned from agricultural to residential or general business since the first of the year. He added that the Planning Department will be processing applications for the rezoning of over 500 more acres before the end of the year.

There are certain rules that apply when it comes to imposing a moratorium: 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 has to follow certain criteria 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.

There are six public hearings on the Agenda immediately following the moratorium discussion that have to do with rezoning; a seventh public hearing is for the consideration of a sketch plan/special use permit for a 37-lot open space residential subdivision on almost 59 acres on the northeast side of Tulls Creek Rd, near Caratoke Hwy and adjacent to Shingle Landing Creek.

This week, the Board approved 4 to 1 (Commissioner Etheridge opposed) new residency districts for county commissioners. The new residency lines allow for the first time a seat on the Commission that represents the contiguous Currituck Outer Banks – which includes Corolla and the northern 4x4 beach area. These areas had been split and were part of the Fruitville Township and the Poplar Branch Township with two Commissioners representing the areas. Southern Currituck County will also have its own Commissioner under the new residency map.

Oppose Proposed Coastal Stormwater Rules!

DENR/DWQ will be receiving public comments until October 15th on proposed amendments to Coastal Stormwater Rules that would affect all land in twenty coastal counties. Although they are similar to Phase II stormwater rules that New Hanover, Brunswick and Onslow Counties were mandated to follow as of July 1, 2007, they are actually more restrictive and will have tremendous impact on any development or redevelopment activities. The proposed rules include:

Lowering the threshold for permitting under these rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.
§ Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.

Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development projects over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.

Coastal water quality is important to all of us!

However, these rules should be opposed for the following reasons:

§ There has been no cost-benefit analysis performed or an environmental impact study done to estimate the actual benefit of these rules.

§ Vested rights are not addressed in the proposed rules but were included in Phase II rules.

§ The 10,000 square feet threshold will greatly increase the number of permit applications while placing an undue burden on many single-family homes and other small projects with additional engineering costs.

§ The 12% impervious surface threshold will result in eliminating much of the affordable housing in the coastal counties while increasing the cost of building schools and municipal building schools – a cost that will ultimately by paid for by taxpayers.

§ Eliminating wetlands from impervious surface calculations will limit the usefulness of a parcel of land and is an unjust taking when property owners will still be required to pay taxes on the wetlands.

§ The proposed rules do not address existing conditions such as the lack of maintenance of swales and ditches and ocean outfalls from street stormwater runoff.

§ NC DOT would be exempt from the rules and they are possibly the owner of the largest amount of impervious surface in the state.

§ The “one size fits all” approach for all twenty coastal counties is impractical, especially when Dare County has approximately 80% of land that is State or Federal protected property.

§ These rules seem to be more “rules on top of rules” with no scientific evidence or guarantee that they will improve the quality of shellfishing waters.

Friday, September 21, 2007

FYI - Outlying Landing Field in Camden?

After intense opposition from residents in Washington and Beaufort Counties, Navy officials announced this week that they will be considering two new sites in Camden for the location of an Outlying Landing Field for Virginia-based jets. One of the sites considered in Camden was planned for a private landfill and is owned by Waste Industries; the other site is near the Currituck County border. Sites in Perquimans and Gates counties are being considered. Two other sites in Southeastern NC are also on the list for consideration: a site on the Jones-Onslow border county border and a site on the border of Duplin and Pender counties. The OLF would bring about 52 jobs to the area. Those opposed to the OLF in Washington and Beaufort Counties expressed concerns about jet noise, property values and the environment.

Stan Riggs to Speak at OBAR General Membership Meeting

Make plans to attend the next General Membership Meeting of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors on Wednesday, September 26 at the Ramada Plaza. The speaker for the event will be Dr. Stanley Riggs, a Coastal Geologist with East Carolina University. From 6 to 7 pm he will be discussing “Climate Change, Sea Level Rise, and Storm Dynamics on the NC Coast.” Dinner and the meeting follows from 7 to 8 pm. There will be a social and cash bar from 5:30 to 6 pm during registration. This should prove to be an informative event with the topic of beach nourishment most likely being mentioned.

Dare Land Use Plan Workshops This Week

The Dare County Planning Board will be holding workshops this week to receive public input for the 2008 Dare County Land Use Plan. Citizens from all of Dare County are invited to participate and will have the opportunity to discuss land use policies and implementation procedures. Let your voice be heard! Workshops will be held on the following dates:

Tuesday, September 25th from 7 to 9 pm at the Dare County Commissioners Meeting Room, 204 Ananias Dare St. in Manteo;
Wednesday, September 26th from 7 to 9 pm at the Fessenden Center, 46830 Hwy. 12 in Buxton; and
Thursday, September 27th from 7 to 9 pm at the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall, 102 Town Hall Dr., Kill Devil Hills

Strong Opposition To Coastal Stormwater Rules at DENR Public Hearing

Sept. 20 – Representative from the towns of Southern Shores, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills went on record Thursday evening opposing proposed coastal stormwater rules. Dare County Board Chairman Warren Judge and Commissioners Allen Burrus, Mike Johnson and Richard Johnson all expressed opposition to the rules. Everyone was in agreement that “one size does not fit all” and rules that apply to New Hanover, Onslow and Brunswick Counties should not be implemented here. The proposed rules are even more restrictive than the Phase II rules that those Counties have to follow. Approximately 120 people attended and over 25 people spoke during the public hearing and stated:

· Where is the scientific data to show that the proposed changes will improve water quality in shellfishing waters?

· What about vested rights?

· What is the hurry or push to get these rules through without addressing current conditions such as swales not being maintained and ocean outfall issues?

· Members of the engineering/surveying community stated that the proposed rules were not practical.

· Many initiatives were being implemented on the local level to address stormwater runoff.

· The economic impact assessment is extremely low since it did not include many of the factors of the rules.

· 80% of the land in Dare County is protected property.

· NC DOT should not be exempt from the regulations.

· Wetlands should not be excluded from acreage for any reason.

· The 10,000 sq. ft. land disturbance threshold for permitting is too low.

· The permitting process will be bogged down and overwhelmed with the enormous increase in permit applications.

· No cost-benefit analyis has been performed.

· The rules would greatly increase the cost of not only homes but schools and other facilities.

Below is a list of the proposed changes:

· Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.

· Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.

· Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development projects over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.

· Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.

· Lowering the threshold for coverage under these rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

Currituck Public Hearing on Service District

Sept. 18 – About 16 people spoke at a Public Hearing on the creation of a service district in the 4-wheel drive area of the Currituck Outer Banks. The majority of speakers opposed the County’s plans to survey where the roads should be and to grade and fill Sandfiddler Rd. and Sandpiper Rd. They were concerned about speeding traffic, increased development, the wild horses and the uniqueness of the area. Those speaking in favor of the measure voiced concerns about public safety and accessibility to a large number of rental homes in the area. The Sheriff’s Department was even on record as stating that the current road conditions are hazardous and delay response times. Sheriff Johnson was quoted as saying, “Failure to address this situation places pedestrians and motorists at an increased risk of injury, and severely handicaps my officers’ ability to timely respond in the case of an emergency.” The improvements to the roads would have been paid for by occupancy tax, with no financial impact to the residents of the area. Commissioner Ernie Bowden made a motion to approve the Service District, but got no second on the motion from Commissioners Etheridge, Taylor, Gregory or Chairman Nelms. The item can be brought up at a future meeting since no action was taken.

Quote of the Week: During Commissioners comments, Commissioner Janet Taylor stated that hearing from the residents of the area gave her greater insight to the service district issue. “I know something needs to be done but we need to find something that everyone can be satisfied with.” Commissioner Ernie Bowden responded, “Are you in fairytale land?”

Dare BOC Hold Workshop on Roanoke Island Water System

Sept. 18 – Dare Commissioners held a workshop to discuss the Roanoke Island Water Expansion Project public hearings that were held this summer. They scheduled the workshop to determine how the Board should proceed on the matter. Many people attended the public meeting and expressed opposition to the project. Since then, several residents of Roanoke Island have contacted board members in support of the project.

After much debate on how to move forward, County Attorney Bobby Outten was directed to explore what can and cannot be done in a nonbinding referendum. Dave Clawson, the Finance Officer, was asked to again try to explore and look at all of the different scenarios for financing the system. Another workshop will be scheduled tentatively for November 5.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

COASTAL STORMWATER RULES

These proposed changes are in response to a DWQ study that found existing rules are outdated and do not effectively protect the State's coastal resources. The changes impact land in ALL 20 Coastal Counties! The Environmental Management Commission debated these rule changes earlier this year and directed DENR staff to schedule the hearings.

The proposed changes include:

Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.
Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.
Lowering the threshold for coverage under the rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

First Annual Duck Jazz Festival

The First Annual Duck Jazz Festival is being held on Sunday, October 7, 2007. The Duck Jazz Festival will be held on the main stage in the Duck Town Park at 1200 Duck Road from noon to 5:00 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.

This year, the Duck Jazz Festival will feature four artists: The Jimmy Bruno Trio, The Fuzz Band, Laura Martier and the John Toomey Quartet, and Ruth Wyand.

The schedule for the 2007 Duck Jazz Festival is:

12:00 p.m. Ruth Wyand

1:00 p.m. Laura Martier and The John Toomey Quartet

2:15 p.m. The Fuzz Band

3:45 p.m. Jimmy Bruno Trio

Please be advised that this schedule is subject to change due to weather and performer requirements.

The Duck Jazz Festival will be held outside rain or shine. The event will not be rescheduled. Lawn seating is available on the Duck Town Green in front of the stage, so bring a blanket or lawn chair; chairs will also be available for rental. There will also be a food concession operated by the Duck United Methodist Church; and Jazz Festival and band merchandise will available to purchase as well.

Sponsors for this year’s event are:

Baritone Sponsors: The Duck Community & Business Alliance and Twiddy & Company Realtors
Tenor Sponsor: The Sanderling Resort and Spa
Alto Sponsors: Atlantic Realty, Loblolly Pines Shopping Center, Ocean Atlantic Rentals, RBC Centura Bank, and The Waterfront Shops

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dare County Maximum Building Size/Height

The Board of Commissioners tabled action on proposed amendments to the Dare County Code of Ordinances with regards to the building height of all structures and maximum building size of commercial structures. The changes would have affected unzoned portions of unincorporated Dare County and commercially zoned areas that do not include gross floor area limitations in their ordinances - basically East Lake and the Stumpy Point commercial district. The amendments would limit height to 35 feet and size to 20,000 square feet. One business owner in East Lake told the board about plans to expand her business that would require a height of 40 to 45 feet. Duke Geraghty, of the Outer Banks Home Builders Association, reminded the Board of the shortage of multi-family housing. He felt the 35’ foot height limit was too restrictive for the areas in question. The Board decided to study the impact of the proposed amendments further and discuss them again at their November 5th meeting.

The Board approved plans for public participation in the County’s Land Use Plan update process. The update process will take about 12 to 18 months and the County intends to start holding public meetings on the plan the end of this month.

Oregon Inlet Bridge Update

Chairman Warren Judge expressed frustration with the Southern Environmental Law Center and Audubon NC for causing further delay in the construction of a new bridge over Oregon Inlet. He stated that the groups were endangering the lives of people and directed County Attorney Bobby Outten to send a letter to both groups and request a list of their contributors and where they allocate their funds. Outten was also directed to send a letter to the NC Attorney General to investigate whether these delay tactics were criminal acts. The day after the Dispute Resolution Board made a decision on the short bridge, both groups requested that the CEQ (Council on Environmental Quality) review the process used by NC DOT to reach concurrence on the short bridge. Congress established CEQ as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) which mandates that before federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. The CEQ is tasked with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. Chairman Judge requested that the County Attorney also contact the CEQ and ask that they not intercede the process followed by NC DOT.

Dare County Affordable Housing

Commissioner Richard Johnson raised concerns about transferring ownership of the County-owned Bowsertown property to the Outer Bank Community Development Corporation. He wanted the County to investigate the creation of a Housing Authority so that the County could maintain control of the construction of the proposed affordable housing project. Once constructed, the units could then be turned over to the CDC for property management.

Roanoke Island Water Project

The Board will hold a workshop on the Roanoke Island Water Project at the conclusion of their mid-month meeting on Monday, September 17th.

The Board had not yet decided on the location for the meeting.

KITTY HAWK - 16 Foot Road Widths

Town Council approved removing a provision in the Subdivision Ordinance that allows roadways as narrow as 16 feet in certain situations. This provision was in conflict with a 1990 amendment to the Subdivision Ordinance that created standards for “rural residential lanes” with a right-of-way of thirty feet in width, pavement 18 feet in width and compacted stone shoulders two feet on each side.

Council decided not to renew continue membership in the North Carolina Beach, Inlet & Waterways Association. They felt that the focus of the organization has shifted to advocate and lobby for beach nourishment projects which is in conflict with the sentiment of Dare voters.

SOUTHERN SHORES - Skyline Drive Rezoning

After two votes, the Southern Shores Town Council approved the addition of a Government/Institutional zone to the Town’s zoning map. The new zone allowed for the Outer Banks Community Foundation to move forward with plans to locate an office at the end of Skyline Drive, a residential zoned area. A paper street shown on the zoning map, Michael Alan Street, became the center of controversy when residents feared that the rezoning would cause the street to be put in, thus connecting Skyline Drive to US 158. As a compromise and to calm the fears of many in attendance at the meeting, Council members approved the northern boundary of the new zone in the middle of the paper Michael Alan Street.

NAGS HEAD - Towers To Be Living Space

At their lengthy meeting last week, the Board of Commissioners failed to pass a motion to adopt a text amendment to Town Code, Habitable Floors to allow floor construction of coastal watch towers above the maximum 27 ft. height for habitable floors. The watchtower would technically become a “fourth floor” which has been opposed by Commissioners in the past. The text amendment would not have changed the outward appearance of a structure or the total height of a structure but would have allowed watchtowers to be utilized as a room rather than as an empty, light “tube”. The vote on the motion was 2 – 2 with Mayor Cahoon and Commissioner Sadler casting the NO votes. Commissioner Remaley was not present for the vote.

The Board passed a text amendment to allow for the installation of plastic, reinforced grid products for parking spaces for all uses and requested that the ordinance be re-evaluated in one year. Also approved was a text amendment prohibiting pump and haul sewage disposal systems except for temporary, emergency measures up to 30 days while an existing system is being repaired.

DUCK - Stack Parking and Plants Not Allowed

Town Council members unanimously passed two zoning amendments at their meeting this week. The first amendment allows for stacking of required parking spaces outside of the 12-foot drive aisle; limits driveway curb cuts to 20 feet in width measured at the right-of-way; clarifies that parking and drive aisles comprise no more than 75 percent of the lot width; limits required parking spaces to gravel, porous pavers, or other similar semi-permeable materials, unless there is a topographical issue. Parking spaces have to be bordered in a manner which retains the stone in the parking area. The second amendment that was passed removes peat pod repair areas in lot coverage calculations.

Also at the meeting, Town Council requested that the Planning Board review the recently passed Vegetation Ordinance, specifically the Appendix which lists plants that can and can’t be planted. Council members felt that more flexibility should be provided and that the appendix should be used as a guideline and not be part of the ordinance. Town Attorney Ike McRee informed the Council that if they wanted to add a plant or prohibit a plant in the ordinance, they would need to hold a public hearing to do so. In a discussion with Andy Garman, the Town’s new Community Development Director, Town Council members requested that the Planning Board look into relaxing the 9-month requirement for as-built surveys.

Currituck

Mark your calendars for September 17th if you have an interest in the 4-wheel drive area of the Currituck Outer Banks! The Board of Commissioner will be holding a public hearing and voting on a proposed service district for that area during their second bi-monthly meeting. The meeting starts at 7 pm.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Residents and Visitors Urged to Pay Close Attention to the Hurricane

Dare County Emergency Management continues to monitor the area of low pressure located between Bermuda and the southeast U.S. coast. The National Hurricane Center has issued a special tropical disturbance statement this morning indicating that a tropical depression could form and potentially impact the East Coast of the United States.

All residents and visitors are asked to remain vigilant by paying close attention to weather advisories from the National Weather Service as well as state and local emergency management officials, and be prepared to take protective actions if necessary.

Those planning to visit the area this weekend do not need to change travel plans based on the current forecast, but are asked to be aware of updated reports in case conditions change.

For updated information from the National Hurricane Center, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov. Preparedness tips are available at www.readync.gov.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON COASTAL STORMWATER RULES

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has scheduled four public hearings in September to receive comment on proposed changes to Coastal Stormwater Rules as outlined in 15A NCAC 02h .1005.

These proposed changes are in response to a DWQ study that found existing rules are outdated and do not effectively protect the State’s coastal resources. The changes impact land in ALL 20 Coastal Counties! The Environmental Management Commission debated these rule changes earlier this year and directed DENR staff to schedule the hearings.

The proposed changes include:

Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.
Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.
Lowering the threshold for coverage under the rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.

These rules are similar to Federal Phase 2 stormwater rules that Brunswick, New Hanover and Onslow Counties are mandated to follow. Under Phase 2 rules, vested property or property already that was already platted before rule implementation was grandfathered and exempt from the new regulations. When Tom Reeder with the Division of Water Quality was asked about vested rights being grandfathered, he stated that vested rights have not been addressed in the proposed rules and should be brought up at the public hearings!

These rules could be devastating to your industry and your voice is needed! A public hearing will be on September 20, 2007 at 7 pm at the COA (old Manteo Middle School) auditorium, Roanoke Island Campus; 205 Hwy. 64 South Business.