What a difference a complaint makes! The photograph above depicts SAGA Construction & Development’s building site at 98 Ocean Blvd. about 11:30 a.m. today. Last Sunday, the site was active with construction workers, one of whom told The Beacon that he expected to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The Beacon is happy to report that it did not observe construction work at 98 Ocean Blvd. on Christmas Day. At least, not in the morning.
A Southern Shores property owner shouldn’t have to complain to the Town about a builder violating the no-Sunday-construction law in order for the violation to stop. A builder should know and respect the local laws, and the police should enforce them.
My personal opinion is that property owners should supervise the construction of their new homes, whether they intend to live in them or not, and take pains to protect their new neighbors from noise, traffic obstructions and congestion, and other problems caused by the crews they’re paying. Impractical, you say? Why? Those property owners who underwrite construction that lasts a year or two years or even longer show a special disregard for the people affected by the “peripheral damage.”
But back to the noise ordinance, section 22-3 of the Town Code . . . The Southern Shores police should have the noise ordinance on their radar at all times. They should protect homeowners’ interest in the quiet enjoyment of their homes and ensure that “loud, disturbing noises”—such as the loud music that many construction workers play during their work days—do not occur. The police also should be on the lookout for traffic obstructions that constitute a public nuisance under the Town Code. (See The Beacon’s 12/28/18 blog.) A warning from a police officer carries more weight than a request by a nearby homeowner to tone things down or to remove a roadway hazard.
I actually heard a construction worker argue with my neighbor, after she asked him to move his truck, which was blocking her driveway, that he didn’t have to move it because it was in the public right of way! At that point, she said she would call the police if he didn’t, and he backed down. I also quickly put the kibosh on any notion that the end of my neighbor’s residential driveway was a public-parking space.
One Beacon reader commented, in response to recent blogs, that she has had a continuous problem since November with Sunday construction work by a builder on a site across from her home. Rather than call the police, she has sought cooperation directly from the builder, who has complied at times, but has not prevented the practice from recurring. She fears that if she calls the police to complain, the builder will retaliate against her by causing harm to her property.
I’ve heard stories about alleged retaliation—fires, vehicle vandalism, and other property damage—by contractors and subcontractors in Kill Devil Hills, Colington, and Nags Head, but never in Southern Shores. Retaliation is bullying. It’s intimidation by angry, disturbed people. I hate to think that Southern Shores homeowners are living in fear of such ugly behavior if they decide to look out for themselves.
In focusing on those builders who violate the Town Code, I do not mean to suggest that they are the majority in Southern Shores. They are definitely the exception. They’re the bad eggs, and good builders–of which there are many–don’t like them, either.
Reasonable people recognize that builders and homeowners must show each other respect and understanding in order to get along. Builders should understand that they are invading homeowners’ living space and disrupting their quiet enjoyment, and try to keep that disruption to a minimum, just as homeowners should understand that builders have a job to do and contribute to the town’s financial well-being, and try to give them some space.
That being said, The Beacon wonders if SAGA will observe the traditional peacefulness of New Year’s Day, before it resumes its rip-roaring pace. To observe the holiday would be a respectful gesture.
PLANNING BOARD TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION WEDNESDAY
The Town Planning Board will resume its discussion of regulations to control high-occupancy large houses at an important special meeting on Wed., Jan. 2, at 5:30 p.m., in the Pitts Center.
The Beacon will post a blog about the definition of a “single-family” dwelling in Southern Shores, and how that definition changed in January 2016, before the Planning Board meeting. Stay tuned.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/30/18