In just one week, the Town’s no-left-turn trial, designed to assess the impact that closing South Dogwood Trail to arriving vacationers would have on motorist behavior and traffic flow, will take place. The Beacon is seeking traffic monitors, on foot, on bicycles, and in vehicles–or posted at their living-room windows–to file reports and photographs of what they see, especially at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 158 with S. Dogwood Trail, at the Marketplace, in Chicahauk, and on streets in the dunes of Southern Shores (Wax Myrtle, Sea Oats, Hillcrest, etc.).
According to Town Manager Peter Rascoe, who first described details of the “exercise,” as he calls it, at the Town Council’s May 1 meeting, all motorists traveling east on Hwy. 158 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on June 23 and 24 will be prevented from turning left on to S. Dogwood Trail by “heavy barrels” blocking the turn lane. This turn, which is at the second traffic light after the Wright Memorial Bridge, is routinely taken by Duck- and Currituck-beach-bound vacationers who cut through Southern Shores to avoid gridlock on N.C. Hwy. 12.
Two Southern Shores police officers will be posted at the Hwy. 158-S. Dogwood Trail intersection to ensure “zero-tolerance enforcement” on both weekend days, Mr. Rascoe said. Although mindful of the possibility that traffic may divert to Juniper Trail, the Town Council elected to keep control and cost modest by focusing only on S. Dogwood Trail. The Town will not post officers at Juniper Trail.
Mr. Rascoe also announced that the entrance to Southern Shores Landing off of Hwy. 158 will be closed during this time. The Beacon confirmed with Mr. Rascoe later that residents and guests of the Landing will be able to exit the community directly on to Hwy. 158. The Beacon would like to hear from Landing property owners if they notice increased traffic through their community on June 23-24.
The Beacon will accept reports and photographs from monitors who prefer to remain anonymous, but asks that monitors identify themselves by name, for verification purposes.
Please send your emails to email@example.com, preferably with photos in the body of the email, rather than as an attachment; or post your observations and photos to The Beacon’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/southernshoresbeacon.
Please be sure to include basic facts with your report: Where, when, who, what? (And why, if relevant.) Thank you!
In other news and observations around town:
PUBLIC FORUM EXPECTED THIS SUMMER ABOUT TOWN CODE UPDATE PROJECT, MODULE ONE; THE BEACON WILL TELL YOU WHEN
Town Planner and Deputy Town Manager Wes Haskett announced at the Town Council’s June 5 meeting that the Planning Board has finished its review of Module One of the Town of Southern Shores Code of Ordinances Update, prepared by planning consultant CodeWright, of Durham. A public forum must be held before the Town Council can begin the “adoption process,” Mr. Haskett said.
The project is about a year behind the schedule outlined by CodeWright principal Chad Meadows, who signed his contract with the Town in September 2015. CodeWright’s total compensation was expected to be $78,000, an amount that Town budget documents show was exceeded in FY 2017-18.
Presumably, Mr. Meadows will be conducting the Module One public forum, as he has other public forums concerning the Town Code rewrite.
Mr. Meadows uses the word module to describe a group of related Town Code chapters. Module One—which is the first of three modules—encompasses the substantive issues that, according to a citizen survey conducted in December 2015-January 2016, concern property owners the most: buildings and building regulations; zoning; subdivisions, and the like. In other words, Module One covers Town Code sections commonly referred to as the Building Code and the Zoning Ordinance.
Among some of the key questions of Module One that were to be addressed by CodeWright in its assessment and proposed Town Code revision were:
1) The determination of lot coverage (which is the subject of a current Zoning Text Amendment, ZTA 18-04; see The Beacon’s reports on April 12 and April 20);
2) The determination of the maximum height for buildings;
3) The removal of trees on residential lots; and
4) The control of stormwater runoff.
The issues in Module Two, which the Planning Board, presumably, will take up soon, are far less controversial. They include streets, sidewalks, and other public properties; businesses and business regulations; and waterways and beaches.
The Town Code of Ordinances was last updated and revised in August 2009. A number of property owners, including members of The Beacon’s editorial board and myself, did not believe an “update”—we perceived it as a rewrite—was necessary and discouraged the Town Council from awarding a contract to CodeWright.
At the time of the contract award, Tom Bennett was in his first term as mayor, and the Town Council consisted of Jodi Hess, Larry Lawhon, David Sanders, and Leo Holland. Mrs. Hess, Mr. Lawhon, and Mr. Sanders all lost their bids for reelection in November 2015—but, before they did, they sat down for “stakeholder” interviews with Mr. Meadows.
Mr. Meadows kicked off his project on Oct. 20, 2015, instead of waiting until after the Nov. 3 election. The three Town Council seats that the incumbents lost were hotly contested by a field of seven candidates. Current Councilmen Gary McDonald, Fred Newberry, and Chris Nason won the election.
The Town Code Update Project has unquestionably been a hot button for some of us, who did not believe that the scope of the project was accurately represented. We are wary of building and zoning ordinance changes that may inure to the benefit of developers, builders, architects, and all manner of construction contractors, but not to current property owners or the future look, character, and quality of life in Southern Shores.
Among its duties, which are spelled out in the Town Code, the Planning Board must ensure that the Town’s land-use plan is implemented. Southern Shores is a town dedicated to low-density development and the preservation of open spaces.
We are eager to see the Planning Board’s recommendations. Under Chairperson Sam Williams’s direction, the Board has painstakingly reviewed Module One, a process that consumed more than a year. As soon as the Town announces the public forum date and time, The Beacon will publicize them. If you attend no other town meeting this year, please attend this one.
APPLICANTS NEEDED FOR PLANNING BOARD VACANCIES
Speaking of the Planning Board . . . please remember, the terms of four Board members, two regular-voting members and two alternates, are expiring June 30. At least two of these seats will be filled by people who are not currently on the Planning Board. (One of the alternates’ seats has been vacant since Glenn Wyder was appointed to the Board as a regular-voting member.)
Please consider serving your Town as a member of this very important body, which needs a diversity of opinion in order to thrive. You do not have to have a background in planning or the building industry to apply and serve, just a willingness to read, listen, learn, and analyze and a love for Southern Shores.
Here again is a link to the application you must complete in order to be considered for a Town Council appointment to the Planning Board:
TOWN CHANGES RECYCLING PICKUP DAY TO WEDNESDAY; HOW WILL VACATIONERS RESPOND TO THIS INCONVENIENT TIME? HOW WILL YOU?
The Town has announced that, starting July 4, the pickup day for residential recycling will be Wednesday. Bay Disposal, Inc., the Powell’s Point-based garbage collection service that handles trash pickup in Southern Shores, will be taking over recycling service.
Garbage pickup days will remain the same. From June 1 until Sept. 3, 2018, trash placed in the proper receptacles will be picked up curbside on Mondays and Fridays. After Labor Day, servicing will occur only on Mondays.
I asked Town Manager Rascoe what prompted the change in the recycling pickup day, telling him how dreadful I thought Wednesday was for Southern Shores cottage renters, who arrive and leave on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
I know from 27 years of experience as a hands-on Southern Shores rental-property owner that renters do not put out their trash—and, since the recycling program began, their recyclables—until the morning of their departure, or, at best, the night before. If they continue this pattern, recycling cans will now sit out by the street for up to five days. I can already see the beer cans and pizza boxes strewn about the ground. In windy conditions, recycling receptacles that are chock-full to overflowing will topple over, and their contents will spill out for all of us to enjoy. (If you think rental companies will step up and handle moving the recycling cans, think again.)
Mr. Rascoe explained that there had been “management” problems with the current recycling contractor, Waste Management of Virginia, and he had rebid the contract in anticipation of WMV’s two-year contract expiring June 30. Town Finance Officer Bonnie Swain said that WMV was missing cans and even missing streets on pick-up Mondays. She described Bay Disposal as “the lowest responsible bidder.”
But why Wednesday? It seems to me that any other day would be better.
The answer: Because Bay Disposal picked Wednesday. It doesn’t have the trucks to pick up both the garbage and the recycling on the same day.
“We’re going to see how this goes,” Mr. Rascoe said, assuring me that he is sensitive to environmental consequences.
I didn’t even get into how residents are going to react to the change. What do you think?
AIRPLANES FLYING LOWER THAN 1,000 FEET OVER SOUTHERN SHORES: HAVE YOU SEEN ANY?
A reader recently contacted The Beacon about a potential safety problem: Low-flying airplanes. I’m talking here about small airplanes towing aerial banners and advertising.
“Will you marry me, Sue?”
“McRib is back!”
“Happy Hour, ½ Price, BK Shuckers”
The Beacon’s reader zeroed in on airplanes “flying those low passes over our houses towing the banners when they go back south.”
Federal Aviation Administration regulations specify minimum safe altitudes for operating an aircraft. Over “congested areas,” and Southern Shores is that, aircraft must maintain an altitude of 1,000 feet above “the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.” Over “other than congested areas,” the minimum permitted altitude is 500 feet “above the surface except over open water,” such as the mighty Atlantic Ocean, “or sparsely populated areas.”
In the case of water, a pilot may not operate an aircraft closer than 500 feet to any “person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.”
These altitudes do not apply to takeoffs and landings. An airplane landing at First Flight Airport, at the Wrights Brothers Memorial, which is owned and maintained by the U.S. National Park Service, may seem to come in right above your head if you’re in the right spot in KDH.
The Beacon would like to know if anyone else in Southern Shores has noticed aircraft seeming to fly over the residential districts at an altitude lower than 1,000 feet. If you have, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you’ve seen. Be sure to provide the facts of when, where, and what.
Airplanes can appear to be flying lower than they actually are, so it’s advisable to take a photograph of a plane, if you can, with some height-reference points.
For information about filing a complaint with the FAA, see:
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, June 16, 2018