1/21/19: PLANNING BOARD MEETS TOMORROW TO DISCUSS EXCEPTIONS TO NONCONFORMING LOTS ORDINANCE, CONTROLS ON HIGH-OCCUPANCY DWELLINGS; ELECT NEW OFFICERS; & CONSIDER EXTENSION OF CELL TOWER

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The Town Planning Board will continue its important deliberations about how to regulate occupancy in residential dwellings in order to preserve Southern Shores’ low-density character at its monthly meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

The Board also will look at proposed exceptions to the town’s new nonconforming-lots ordinance (Town Code sec. 36-132), which the Town Council passed last September, and consider permitting a 10-foot extension to the cell tower at 148A Ocean Blvd., in what property owner Southern Shores Civic Assn. calls Triangle Park.

Before the Board takes up any of this business, however, it will elect new officers for the remaining fiscal year and approve its 2019 meeting schedule.

Vice-Chairperson Elizabeth Morey has been acting Planning Board chairperson since Glenn Wyder’s death in November. With the Town Council’s Jan. 8 appointment of Ed Lawler to serve out Mr. Wyder’s unexpired three-year term, the Board now has a full complement of five regular voting members. They will elect a new chairperson tomorrow night, and, if necessary, a new vice-chairperson.

The Beacon has written extensively about the Planning Board’s discussions regarding available options to control occupancy in single-family homes, in light of SAGA’s proposed 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom, hotel-like structures on the oceanfront and the Town’s inability to limit the number of bedrooms in houses, as well as about refinements to the new nonconforming lots regulation. We will not say anything more here about either subject, but just report on new developments that arise in tomorrow’s meeting.

On 10/10/18, The Beacon reported on American Tower Corp.’s plan to extend the cell tower at the Duck Road/Ocean Blvd. split, in order to accommodate Verizon Wireless, which is not now on the tower, and to expand AT&T’s cellular capacity.

American Tower representative Mark Landers told the SSCA at its October membership meeting that the extension, which he said then would be 20 feet, not 10, would be done to “accommodate” the explosion in cell-phone traffic. Mr. Landers explained that too many people are trying to use the network at the same time, causing disruptions and deficiency in service.

The current “straight pole-like structure,” which American Tower calls its “Monopole Facility,” “will look exactly the same on the outside” as it does now, Mr. Landers said, just taller.

In order for the extension to be allowed, an amendment to American Tower’s existing Conditional Use Permit from the Town must be approved. In a letter accompanying its application for the amendment, an attorney for American Tower writes that the additional 10 feet will bring the height of the Monopole Facility to 150 feet, its “final height.”

This increase, according to attorney David G. Allen, will enable Verizon Wireless to install its equipment “in order to alleviate current reductions and bottlenecks in network connectivity in the area.”

The Planning Board will hear tomorrow from American Towers/Verizon Wireless about the 10-foot extension and then vote on whether to recommend a CUP amendment to the Town Council.

See https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CUP-Amendment-Application_Site-282219.pdf.

Mr. Landers told the SSCA last fall that the expansion would take about five months to complete and would bring in $5400 more in annual rent for the SSCA, making the association’s total income from the tower just under $40,000. These are strictly tentative figures. (Mr. Landers also told the SSCA that a 20-foot extension was needed to bring the tower up to 130 feet.)

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: There are two public-comment periods scheduled during the Planning Board meeting. If you have news or an opinion that you’d like to share with the Board, this would be a good time to do so.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, Jan. 21, 2019

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