Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nags Head - Bed & Breakfast, Fireworks, Signage, Beach Nourishment Fund

Jan. 9 - The Board of Commissioners had a lengthy agenda for their first meeting of the month. They took action on the following:
o Banned ALL fireworks in the Town so there would be no confusion among residents and guests as to what were legal and illegal fireworks. The NC statute states that all fireworks that leave the ground or explode are illegal. A citation for using fireworks in the Town brings with it a mandatory court appearance, court costs and a possible fine up to $500. This ordinance went into effect the day of the meeting – January 9, 2008.
o Approved a zoning ordinance text amendment to list the new use of “Bed and Breakfast” as a permitted use within the C-2 District and amend all other pertinent sections of the zoning ordinance; and
o Motion failed to pass on the approval of a zoning ordinance text amendment to add a requirement prohibiting the acceptance of zoning ordinance amendment applications that have previously been denied by the Board of Commissioners for a period of one year.
o Approved by 4-1 vote on the second reading of a zoning text amendment to require that signage be included in commercial site plan applications.
o With many people expressing an interest in a self-funded/partially self-funded beach nourishment plan, the Board approved the establishment of a Beach Nourishment Fund. The fund will allow people to make donations to the Town earmarked for beach nourishment. The Town would continue to pursue permits for beach nourishment. If after six years, the permits were not issued then the monies would be returned. The Finance Department would keep tract of donors and monitor the fund; no interest would be accrued on donations.

Dare County - Building Height

Jan. 7 – At their meeting on Monday, the Dare Board of Commissioners approved:
o Amendments to Chapter 152 (Large Structures Dangerous to Public Health) of the Code of Ordinances that restricts the highest-roof level of a building in unincorporated Dare County to 45 feet above the lowest grade within a 50-foot perimeter of the exterior walls or outer perimeter of the building and that restricts the maximum square footage of a building to 20,000 square feet of heated and non-heated area. Hotels, motels, County owned facilities, and other government facilities are exempt from this gross floor area limitation.
o Amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance that outline standards for common driveways. These were approved due to an issue regarding a long common driveway not being maintained and subsequent homeowners not being aware of their responsibility. The new standards for common driveways include: they must have a minimum width of 12 ft.; they cannot provide access to more than 2 lots; they shall not exceed 200 ft. in length and must have a turnaround area if over 100 ft.; and they shall be constructed following preliminary plat approval by the Board of Commissioners – language reflecting that the subdivision homeowners association or individual lot owners are responsible for maintenance needs to be included in the final plat.

Coastal Stormwater Rules - Environmental Management Commission

Jan. 10 – As expected, the Environmental Management Commission approved an amendment to the state’s coastal stormwater rules this week. The rules will now go before the Rules Review Commission on February 21st; it is expected that they will then be forwarded to the General Assembly for legislative review. If no action is taken by the General Assembly, the rules could be effective as early as August 2008.
The rules have been revised somewhat from what was presented for public hearing back in the fall; attached is a copy of the rules that were approved. Check out the state’s website for more information about the rules http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/su/coastal.htm. These rules affect ALL LAND in the twenty coastal counties!
Summary:
The new rules require a stormwater permit for non-residential development of over 10,000 sq. ft. land disturbance and a stormwater permit for residential development of over one acre of land disturbance. The following is also included under this provision:
o Vegetative buffers of 50 ft. for new development, 30 ft. for redevelopment.
o All wetlands will be excluded from will be excluded from impervious surface area calculations.
o When structural stormwater controls are required, they must discharge the storage volume at a rate equal or less than pre-development discharge rate for the 1-year, 24-hour storm. For controls that require separation from the seasonal high-water table, a minimum separation of two feet is mandated with at least 12 inches of naturally occurring soil above the seasonal high-water table. (Look out Hatteras!)
o If within ½ mile of SA (shellfishing) waters and built-upon area is greater than 12% (high density), structural stormwater control systems must be installed. They can consist of infiltration systems, wet detention ponds, bioretention systems, constructed stormwater wetlands, sand filters or other alternative stormwater management systems. Whether low or high density and within ½ mile of SA waters, no new points of stormwater discharge or increase in stormwater discharge to the waters will be allowed; stormwater discharge cannot flow beyond the property boundary.
o If outside of ½ mile of SA waters and built-upon area exceeds 24%, structural stormwater systems must be installed to store, control and treat runoff generated by one and one-half inch of rainfall.

The rules also include provisions if you do not fall under the permitting threshold as described above but have residential development activities with over 10,000 sq. ft. of land disturbance (which covers just about any development project) AND have more than 12% built-upon area within ½ mile SA waters/greater than 24% built-upon area outside of SA waters. They include:
o Within ½ mile SA waters, you must collect rooftop runoff form the one-year, 24-hour storm. You can install rains cisterns or rain barrels and use pervious materials or pervious pavement on all uncovered: driveways, parking areas, walkways and patios. You can also direct rooftop runoff to a rain garden and then use pervious materials on all to-be-paved surfaces. This provision also allows the installation of any other stormwater best management practice.
o Outside of SA waters, you must collect or direct rooftop runoff from the first one and one-half inch of rainfall. You can use the same methods as described within ½ mile of SA waters.

FYI: Built-upon area is defined as that portion of a project that is covered by impervious or partially impervious surface including, but not limited to, buildings; pavement and gravel areas such as roads, parking lots, and paths; and recreation facilities such as tennis courts. "Built-upon area" does not include a wooden slatted deck, the water area of a swimming pool, or pervious or partially pervious paving material to the extent that the paving material absorbs water or allows water to infiltrate through the paving material.

We are continuing to monitor this issue. As you are already aware, these rules are going to have a big impact on the cost of new development and just what you may be able to do with your property.

Nags Head Temp Communication Towers- Bread and Breakfast

The Board of Commissioners has a full agenda for their meeting on Wednesday. They will be scheduling public hearings on: the consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to eliminate the top plate requirement; and the consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to allow up to 50% of required parking for a hotel in the Village Hotel District to be located off-site as well as to allow for off-site accessory uses.
Three public hearings will be held:
o Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to allow temporary communication towers to be erected on the same site as an existing tower and on parcels within the C-2, General Commercial and C-3, Commercial Services Zoning District. The proposal would also allow temporary towers to extend to 100 ft. in height and utilize guy wires. The permitting of temporary towers shall be for a period not to exceed eighteen (18) months.
o Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to list the new use of “Bed and Breakfast” as a permitted use within the C-2 District and amend all other pertinent sections of the zoning ordinance; and
o Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to add a requirement prohibiting the acceptance of zoning ordinance amendment applications that have previously been denied by the Board of Commissioners for a period of one year.
The Board will hold second readings on: the consideration of an ordinance to ban fireworks town-wide; and, consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment to require that signage be included in commercial site plan applications.

Currituck County Prohibit ATV's?

The Board of Commissioners will be holding several public hearings at their first meeting of the month on Monday. One such public hearing will be the consideration of an ordinance to prohibit the use of ATV’s in a manner that constitutes a nuisance; Commissioners have been working on such an ordinance for several months and it has been a topic of hot debate.
The Currituck Reserve Planned Unit Development is back! A public hearing will be held on an amended sketch plan for the 688 residential unit/mixed use commercial development on 488 acres that encompasses 17 parcels. The property is just north of Guinea Rd. between Tulls Creek Rd. and Caratoke Hwy. Many thought the plans were dead since initial investors backed away from the project.

North Carolina Coastal Stormwater Rules

The Environmental Management Commission will be meeting next Thursday, Jan. 10th in Raleigh. On the Agenda is a request to adopt the Hearing Officer’s recommendations to amend the state’s coastal stormwater rules. The rules have been revised slightly based on public input and comments from public hearings held late last year. The revised proposed rules can be found at http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/su/documents/CoastalRules-15ANCAC02H.1005withFinalHORec.doc .
Although there was local public outcry in opposition to the rules, from government entities to private citizens, the revised rules appear to be somewhat more restrictive when it comes to stormwater controls.
Revisions include:
o A positive change to the threshold for permitting under the rules for residential development: instead of 10,000 sq. ft., the revised rules include a threshold of one acre. An issue with the proposed rules as initially presented was that 10,000 sq. ft of land disturbance requiring a stormwater permit would trigger the need for a major CAMA permit. All non-residential development activities within the 20 coastal counties that disturb more than 10,000 sq. ft. will require a stormwater management permit.
o Under both low and high density options, the new rules still include a 50 ft. wide vegetative buffer for new development and now a 30 ft. wide vegetative buffer for redevelopment activities. Perhaps the 30 ft. buffer for redevelopment is a compromise on vested rights.
o For any residential development activities of 10,000 sq. ft. or more in the 20 coastal counties, whether within ½ mile of SA waters or not, and whether or not requiring a stormwater management permit - a rain cistern or rain barrels will be required to collect all rooftop runoff from the one-year 24-hour storm. Rain gardens can also be used to collect rooftop runoff as well as the installation of any other best management practice. Also, all uncovered areas to be paved must be constructed out of permeable pavement or other pervious materials. This is an addition to the proposed rules that were presented for public hearing and basically states that all residential rooftop runoff, on any land in the 20 coastal counties, will have to be maintained on site, by the means listed, without the technicality of triggering a major CAMA permit.
o Wetlands are still not included in impervious surface calculations but are more clearly defined as 404 jurisdictional or non-404 jurisdictional wetlands.

According to the NC Home Builders Association, since the rules differ substantially from the version of the coastal stormwater rules that were published in the NC Register on August 14, 2007, the EMC may NOT ADOPT THE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT RULES UNTIL THE NEW TEXT IS PUBLISHED IN THE NC REGISTER AND PUBLIC COMMENT IS ACCEPTED!
Specifically, Chapter 150B-21.2(g) reads: An agency shall not adopt a rule that differs substantially from the text of a proposed rule published in the North Carolina Register unless the agency publishes the text of the proposed different rule in the North Carolina Register and accepts comments on the proposed different rule for the time set in subsection (f) of this section.

Kill Devil Hills Affordable Housing

Dec. 18 – The Planning Board approved a site plan submitted by the Dare Education Foundation for three 8-unit buildings at 109 Veterans Drive - property owned by the Dare County School Board adjacent to First Flight High School. The project is being funded by a $2.2 million, 10-year interest free loan offered by the State Employees Credit Union to address the affordable housing needs of Dare County’s teachers. When completed and turned over to the Dare Education Foundation, the 2-bedroom units would be rented for approximately $750 per month. The units are expected to be completed by August 2008; to assist with the affordability of the project, the Town is waiving over $148,000 of the project’s local fees.

Southern Shores Vegetation Ordinance

Dec. 17 – After working on the development of a tree and vegetation preservation ordinance for almost eight years, the Vegetation Committee received unanimous approval from the Planning Board on the proposed ordinance amendment. The vegetation ordinance will now be forwarded to the Town Council for final approval. The ordinance states that clear-cutting is prohibited without a vegetative management plan. The plan requires that properties have a 10% minimum tree canopy or vegetative coverage. The minimum 10% shall be met by preserving existing vegetation or, if not possible, by planting new vegetation that is listed in the ordinance.
A property owner will be required to meet the vegetation requirements when applying for any land disturbance permit; making any changes to the footprint of a structure; and increasing lot coverage. The ordinance also states that if a property owner “proposes to remove existing trees or vegetation on a developed lot not in conjunction with a land development activity that requires a building permit shall be required to maintain a minimum of 10% vegetation cover on the property.” The ordinance states that professionally drawn plans are not required.
The Board also approved an amendment to further clarify the Home Occupation zoning ordinance. The term “outside” a dwelling was in question when it was discovered that a resident was keeping business-related equipment on someone else’s unimproved lot. The ordinance states that the equipment cannot be stored “outside” his dwelling. The Planning Board agreed that there needed to be clarification and approved language that would prohibit equipment from being stored/parked on unimproved lots.
FYI: Mike Hejduk reported that he did have plans for Starbucks; the tenant and property owner are working on the division of the property and the scope of work.

Currituck Conditional Zoning Districts

Dec. 17 - The Currituck Board of Commissioners approved the establishment of conditional zoning districts during their meeting this week. Conditional zoning districts allow additional regulations and conditions not initially set forth in the zoning ordinance to be added to the district. Districts that could be created include a planned unit development, mixed residential district, mixed commercial district, etc. The site specific conditions are added to the ordinance amendment so that each conditional zoning district is tailored to the project. The additional conditions become part of the zoning district, not a separate permit. In many respects the conditional zoning process achieves the same site-specific project as a conditional use zoning without the technical difficulties of the conditional use process. According to Planning Director Ben Woody, the conditional zoning would allow for some flexibility in allowing that specific parcels, which may otherwise be denied, be rezoned if adhering to specific “conditions”. Other areas in North Carolina using some form of conditional zoning include Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington, Burlington, Sanford, Monroe, Davidson, Burke County and Lee County.

Pool and Spa Regulations Discussed - Outer Banks

Officers of the newly organized NC Pool and Spa Operators Association met this week with Dare County officials and took a proactive step to ensure the health and safety of those using residential pools and spas. The group’s objectives are: to improve communication between vendors in the pool/spa industry; promote and provide training opportunities for operators; promote uniformity of operators; promote the use of pool and spa safety devices; and, contribute to the governing body in the development of practical and enforceable regulations. The group met to follow-up on a request by Dare County Commissioners and the Dare County Health Department that legislation be enacted to require standardized maintenance protocols and professional licensing for pool/spa operators. Shortcomings of the self-policing industry were discussed that included the unfortunate death of an Outer Banks visitor caused by legionella bacteria transmitted from a hot tub in a vacation rental home. Dare officials and the association officers will be meeting again in January to discuss and review possible standards for the industry.

Pool and Spa Regulations Discussed - Outer Banks

Officers of the newly organized NC Pool and Spa Operators Association met this week with Dare County officials and took a proactive step to ensure the health and safety of those using residential pools and spas. The group’s objectives are: to improve communication between vendors in the pool/spa industry; promote and provide training opportunities for operators; promote uniformity of operators; promote the use of pool and spa safety devices; and, contribute to the governing body in the development of practical and enforceable regulations. The group met to follow-up on a request by Dare County Commissioners and the Dare County Health Department that legislation be enacted to require standardized maintenance protocols and professional licensing for pool/spa operators. Shortcomings of the self-policing industry were discussed that included the unfortunate death of an Outer Banks visitor caused by legionella bacteria transmitted from a hot tub in a vacation rental home. Dare officials and the association officers will be meeting again in January to discuss and review possible standards for the industry.

Mandatory Sprinklers Discussed

Dec. 11 – Firefighters, fire chiefs and fire marshals from across the state attended the NC Building Code Council meeting this week to support a petition that would make it mandatory for sprinkler systems to be installed in new homes greater than 3,600 square feet or taller than two stories. The urgent push for sprinkler systems in large residences is a reaction to the fatal fire in Ocean Isle, NC that claimed the lives of seven college students. The large resort home had smoke alarms but did not have a sprinkler system. There has been much debate since then as to whether or not a sprinkler system would have saved the students’ lives. Although the Building Code Council rejected the petition, Chairman Dan Tingen referred the issue to the council’s residential committee for further review.
This issue is far from over. A summary of why sprinkler systems should not be mandated was included as an attachment to your legislative briefing dated 11-16-07. If you would like it forwarded again, please contact me at the above email address

Currituck Conditional Zoning

The Currituck Board of Commissioners will be holding a public hearing at their meeting on Monday evening to establish conditional zoning districts. Currently, Currituck County does not have conditional zoning. According to Planning Director Ben Woody, the conditional zoning would allow for some flexibility in allowing parcels, which may otherwise may be denied, to be rezoned if adhering to specific “conditions”.
Also on the Agenda is a 6:30 pm work session with CRC member Jerry Old on draft rule language for marsh alteration; an update on the Moyock Library and a Board of Commissioners’ report to the people

Duck - New Council Members

Town Council members welcomed Dave Wessel as a new Council member this week and gave special recognition to retiring member Denver Lindley. Denver was instrumental in the development of the Town’s Land Use Plan. On a professional note – Denver, it has been a pleasure working with you – I’ll miss you at the meetings! Congrats to Neil Morrison who was re-elected Mayor and to Monica Thibodeau for being re-elected Mayor Pro Tem.
The new Council unanimously approved a zoning ordinance amendment that prohibits pump and haul wastewater systems except under certain emergency circumstances, similar to the ordinance passed by Nags Head.
The Council also unanimously approved a zoning ordinance amendment that gives staff more flexibility in requiring as-built surveys. Currently, an as-built survey dated within 9 months is required for all building and land disturbance permits. Given the size and scope of a project, an as-built survey could cost more money and involve more time than the project itself. Staff developed a matrix as to what would necessitate the submission of a survey. Council members agreed that this approach was much more user-friendly. Good news for us!
Town Manager Chris Layton updated Council on NC 12/Tuckahoe Stormwater Improvements. The project was anticipated to be complete by late spring 2008. It now looks as though the project to raise the road 2 inches and install a stormwater runoff infiltration system at the NC 12/Tuckahoe intersection will not even be started until next fall.

Elected Mayor of Southern Shores

Town Council said goodbye to Dan Shields and David Sanders. To both of you, thanks for your assistance over the past two years! The Council welcomed back Jodi Hess and introduced new members Kevin Stroud and Jim Pfizenmayer. Best wishes from the Home Builders and Realtors Associations as we look forward to working with you in the future! Congrats to Brian McDonald for being elected Mayor Pro Tem!
The new Council spent a lot of time reviewing the Town’s commercial solid waste and ocean rescue contracts in an effort to address budgeting concerns. They took no action on either contracts and they will be discussed again in January.
As an aside, the Vegetation Committee is in the process of tweaking a draft Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting Ordinance that was recently presented to the Planning Board. Although similar to an ordinance adopted earlier this year by the Town of Duck, the draft requires a minimum canopy or vegetative coverage of 10%. Since the Council members are very concerned about the budget and taxpayer dollars expenditures, we have to ask what the cost versus the benefit of this proposed ordinance will be.

Elected Mayor of Southern Shores

Town Council said goodbye to Dan Shields and David Sanders. To both of you, thanks for your assistance over the past two years! The Council welcomed back Jodi Hess and introduced new members Kevin Stroud and Jim Pfizenmayer. Best wishes from the Home Builders and Realtors Associations as we look forward to working with you in the future! Congrats to Brian McDonald for being elected Mayor Pro Tem!
The new Council spent a lot of time reviewing the Town’s commercial solid waste and ocean rescue contracts in an effort to address budgeting concerns. They took no action on either contracts and they will be discussed again in January.
As an aside, the Vegetation Committee is in the process of tweaking a draft Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting Ordinance that was recently presented to the Planning Board. Although similar to an ordinance adopted earlier this year by the Town of Duck, the draft requires a minimum canopy or vegetative coverage of 10%. Since the Council members are very concerned about the budget and taxpayer dollars expenditures, we have to ask what the cost versus the benefit of this proposed ordinance will be.

Currituck County UDO and Elections

The Currituck Board of Commissioners re-elected Barry Nelms as Chairman and Gene Gregory as Vice Chairman for the coming year. The Board unanimously approved the “new and improved” user-friendly Unified Development Ordinance. The reformatted edition includes tables and diagrams that will make it much easier to understand than the paragraphs and paragraphs of text in the old document. It does not change any policies or regulations in the UDO. Tied to the reformatted UDO, the Commissioners unanimously approved adopting the “digital” zoning layer maintained as part of the Currituck County GIS as the official zoning map. Every county has to have an “official” zoning map it was just a formality to make the digital map the “official layer”. This version can be updated very quickly and efficiently; it is also available on the county’s website and shows where subdivisions, fire hydrants, etc. are located.
The Board unanimously approved an amended sketch plan for the South Ridge PUD in Moyock, adjacent to Eagle Creek. The amended plan adds 25 more lots to the 121 that was previously approved. The PUD will be built out over three years in three phases. The commercial area will be built out based on market demand. Four acres designated for library use was changed to public use.
Also unanimously approved was an amended sketch plan/special use permit for the Corolla Shores section of Monteray Shores in Corolla. The plan designates the use of a commercial parcel for a grocery store.
Prior to the meeting, a worksession was held to discuss a public/private wastewater system in Moyock. Looks like a privately developed system in Moyock may be in the future!

Dare Commissioners re-elected Warren Judge

Dec. 3 - Dare Commissioners re-elected Warren Judge as Chairman and Allen Burrus as Vice Chairman. Congrats!
Commissioners discussed the Planning Board’s recommendation of a 45’ building height restriction for East Lake and other unzoned commercial areas of Dare County. In order to proceed with the amendment, the Board scheduled a public hearing on the issue for January 7th at 10 a.m. Commissioners also scheduled another public hearing for the January meeting with regards to common driveway standards; of which the current ordinance does not address. The proposal would require driveways of 12” in width and no longer than 200’. The common driveway would be intended and could be used instead of frontage roads.
A separate item on the agenda was an update of the subdivision ordinance with regards to standards for streets. The current ordinance language dates back to the 1980’s and was dependent upon NCDOT standards for subdivision roads. At the time the ordinance was passed, NCDOT required 20 feet width of paving; NCDOT’s current standard allows 18 feet of pavement for roads up to 2,000 linear feet. After much discussion about proposed amendments, the Commissioners decided to look more closely at the rules and directed planning staff to continue working on them.

CRC Beach Nourishment

The CRC will be accepting written comments until Dec. 31st on a proposal to allow homes to be rebuilt or developed on oceanfront lots that are adjacent to a nourished beach. The current rules prevent development beyond a certain distance from the first line of vegetation (established prior to nourishment) on a beach that is being nourished with pumped sand. Owners and developers have argued that the rule keeps a large number of vacant lots empty and hundreds of older houses from being replaced. The new rule would allow an exception for towns that regularly nourish their beach and have a 30-year beach nourishment program and a way to pay for it. If approved, there is a catch – structures built under the exception could be no more than 2,000 sq. ft. heated space and no more water ward than existing structures. The CRC could vote on the change at their January meeting.

Duck Site Surveys

Town Council will hold a public hearing this week on amending the zoning ordinance regarding submission of site surveys as they pertain to building and land disturbance permits. The Town’s existing ordinance requires a recent survey dated within 9 months of the application for all building and land disturbance permits. This requirement is the most restrictive of all other Dare County towns, Dare County and Currituck County. The Planning Board agreed that a survey as recent as nine months may be unnecessary to determine compliance with building codes and zoning ordinance requirements for certain types of projects. This requirement has been seen as burden of additional cost and time on owners needing a permit for a small project. Council members will consider removing the nine month requirement and replacing it with administrative guidelines that would define survey requirements.

Nags Head Moratorium - Retail Structures

In addition to The Nags Head Board of Commissioners will be holding a few public hearings at their meeting on Wednesday including:
o Consideration of a moratorium prohibiting the issuance of building permits for retail structures over 10,000 sq. ft. for a period of six months to allow staff time to prepare an ordinance/proposal for Board review.
o Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment that would prohibit commercial signs on the rear of buildings. This is in response to Wings adding a sign to back of their building.
o Consideration of a zoning ordinance text amendment that would require commercial signage be included in commercial site plan applications.
The Board will also be discussing and taking possible action on zoning ordinance proposals that would: 1) eliminate the top plate requirement; and 2) require that the top plate be measured from the finished floor. This issue was heavily debated at last month’s meeting. Another item on the Agenda has the Board discussing recent State legislation that mandates certain ABC licensees recycle all their beverage containers.

Currituck Unified Development Ordinance

In addition to the selection of a Chair and Vice Chair at their meeting this evening, the Currituck Board of Commissioners will be holding a public hearing on reformatting and readopting Unified Development Ordinance. The hearing is the culmination of work done by a consulting firm over the past year and a half to “clean up” the UDO and make it more user-friendly. In addition to eliminating redundancies and contradictions in the document, the reformatted edition includes diagrams to further assist users in understanding certain ordinances.
Other public hearings tonight include:
o Amended sketch plan for 146 lots and 5.67 acres of commercial, and a 4 acre library site adjacent to Eagle Creek subdivision.
o Amended sketch plan/special use permit to designate the use of a commercial parcel for a grocery store and increase the commercial allocation for the site in section III of Monteray Shores – Corolla Shores.