The photograph above depicts construction laborers working today—a Sunday—at the house that SAGA Construction & Development is building at 98 Ocean Blvd., in direct violation of the Southern Shores Town Code noise ordinance’s prohibition against erecting, demolishing, repairing, etc., buildings on Sundays. The Beacon took the photograph at 2:35 p.m. today.
Sec. 22-3(b)(15) of the Town Code expressly states that construction work shall occur only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays—no Sundays—unless a public emergency exists and the town permit officer issues a special permit.
There is no such emergency here. What there is, apparently, is SAGA’s desire to “outrun” pending litigation so that if the petitioner homeowners prevail in their argument that SAGA should not have received a CAMA permit to build on the site, the developer will be able to plead to the administrative law judge: “But, your honor, we’ve already built the house. It would be prohibitively expensive for us to tear it down.”
This is a common tactic used by builders engaged in zoning litigation. In building “at their own risk,” they are just following their attorneys’ advice and counting on judges’ sympathies.
The Beacon will be happy to tell the administrative law judge in this case that SAGA broke local law in order to rush to complete its construction. The photograph above is clearly dated and timed in The Beacon’s records.
While standing in the driveway at 99 Ocean Blvd., which is the property of petitioner Marvin Tignor, who gave me permission to be there, I engaged in a conversation with one of the construction workers, who stood across the street when I spoke with him. I advised him of the Town noise ordinance and asked him if the crew planned to work tomorrow and on Christmas Day. He replied yes.
The Beacon supposes that this is part of SAGA’s good-neighbor policy: to create construction noise on one of the most sacred days of the year for some of the people who live near 98 Ocean Blvd. The Town noise ordinance does not prohibit construction work on any named legal holidays, but again, The Beacon believes that the administrative law judge in the CAMA-permit case may be interested to know SAGA’s holiday schedule.
The Beacon cannot monitor all construction sites in Southern Shores to ensure that builders respect and observe the no-Sundays noise ordinance.
How many Southern Shores police officers drove past the construction site on busy Highway 12-Ocean Boulevard and did nothing to enforce the local ordinance?
I believe it is long past time for the Town Planning Board, in cooperation with the Town Planning Dept., to come up with a cost-effective method for enforcing important construction-related Town ordinances so that enforcement is not solely complaint-driven. Change is needed—now.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/23/18