Today you will have an opportunity to see the design plans for the proposed new fire station, which would be located at the same South Dogwood Trail-Pintail Trail site as the current station is, and ask questions of architect Ken Newell in an “information meeting” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pitts Center.
Later during the Town Council’s meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m., Mr. Newell, of Stewart Copper-Newell Architects, PA, will brief the Mayor and the four councilmen on those plans. Although the Town of Southern Shores has paid for the architect’s services, it has yet to commit to participating financially in the fire station’s construction. That vote is expected to be taken at the Town Council’s Nov. 7 meeting.
Although billed as “new business” on tonight’s meeting agenda, the Town Council will hold another public hearing on ZTA 18-04, a proposed amendment to change calculation of the maximum allowable lot coverage (30 percent), as set forth in Town Code Sec. 36-202(d)(6). This amendment effort dates back more than a year and has come before both the Town Planning Board and the Town Council multiple times. (See The Beacon’s archives.)
The Town Council will also revisit the subject of development on nonconforming lots, specifically, building on lots that are smaller than the Town Code-required 20,000 square feet and 100-feet width. This issue is a can that the Town Council has kicked down the road, in large part because—in my humble opinion—Council members have not been adequately prepared to discuss the applicable zoning text amendment, ZTA 18-07, which passed 3-2 on a first reading June 5.
In July, rather than hold a second reading on ZTA 18-07, the Town Council unanimously approved a motion directing Town Attorney Ben Gallop to gut it. “Gut it” is my view of what the new nonconforming lots ZTA, 18-07A, does to the original amendment of Town Code sec. 36-132. Others might say, less stridently, “limit” it or “restrict” it.
The Town Planning Board took decisive action at its Aug. 20 meeting on ZTA 18-04, 18-07, and 18-07A, unanimously approving a scaled-back version of the lot-coverage amendment (allowing gravel walkways and some open-slatted decks to be exempted from the 30-percent calculation); rejecting the “gutted” nonconforming lots ZTA 18-07A, principally because it would allow owners of vacant land, of which there is still a considerable amount in the Southern Shores beach zone, to sell their land as separate 50-foot-wide lots; and endorsing the comprehensive ZTA 18-07, which would protect the Town from higher-density development similar to what we see south of us.
New Planning Board Chairperson Glenn Wyder will present his five-member Board’s recommendations to the Town Council tonight. It is The Beacon’s fervent wish that the Town’s elected officials will see the wisdom of this dedicated and informed volunteer Board’s decisions and endorse them. (See The Beacon’s report, Aug. 21, 2018.)
The Town Council will hold a public hearing on the revised ZTA 18-07A and may consider a second reading of ZTA 18-07. A super majority of four Council members is required to pass ZTA 18-07A. ZTA 18-07 may be passed with a simple majority of three.
Other business of note in tonight’s meeting agenda (see below for a link to the agenda and the meeting packet) includes Town Manager Peter Rascoe’s report of awarding two capital-improvement-project contracts to RPC Contracting, Inc.
RPC received the contract for the construction of the East Dogwood walking path with a bid of $167,550, which, according to an internal memo from Mr. Rascoe in the meeting packet, “includes three bid alternates for construction of feeder crosswalks across East Dogwood Trail and its medial to the new walking path—at Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail.” RPC will have 150 days from the date of the contract to complete this project. Barnhill Contracting Co. and Hatchell Concrete Inc. also submitted bids.
RPC’s bid of $377,320 for the Yaupon Trail rebuilding project earned the company that contract, as well. The only other bidder, Barnhill Contracting Co., submitted a bid of $538,400. I would like to know what accounts for the wide discrepancy in these bids.
Remember the Traffic?
CONSPICIOUSLY ABSENT from the agenda for tonight’s meeting, as well as from the agenda for last month’s meeting, is any followup on the No-Left-Turn weekend in June and management/curtailment of cut-through traffic next summer. Unfortunately, this is par for the course that I’ve observed in the past four years.
I recently received the following email from a homeowner on Hillcrest Drive, whose name I will withhold because she was not writing publicly:
“My husband and I recently moved to the Southern Shores community. We love it here and actually his family has owned a house on Hillcrest Drive for about 30 years. We have moved into the home and are overwhelmed by the amount of traffic on our road Saturdays and Sundays during the summer. It is so bad we cannot even leave our home due to the amount of traffic on our street. This also occurs on Sea Oats just as bad if not worse. Hillcrest Drive and Sea Oats are basically a parking lot beginning at 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. every Saturday/Sunday.
“I am certain you are not the person who can do anything regarding this [Heaven knows, I’ve tried.], but maybe you can direct us on what if anything can be done about this. We literally feel like prisoners in our own home on the weekends during the summer.”
As do many of us. I heard from many of your fellow prisoners this summer on The Beacon’s Facebook page.
I wrote to the homeowner that she and others in her situation need to raise their voices with the Mayor and the Town Council—at Town Hall meetings, in emails, telephone calls, all methods of communication. “Grin and bear it” doesn’t result in change. “Grin and bear it” just results in another cliché: “Swept under the rug.” And one more: The “squeaky wheel” gets greased.
I hope to see all of you at the meeting tonight.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/5/18