1/29/19: WHAT DEFINES A ‘MINI-HOTEL’?: 12 BEDROOM ‘SUITES’; ELEVATOR FROM PARKING GARAGE; LARGE REC./GAMES ROOM; A ‘KIDDIE’ POOL; SPA; LOTS OF BARS: What the building plans for 98 Ocean Blvd. reveal

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The ‘mini-hotel’ being constructed at 98 Ocean Blvd.

The Beacon has referred to the structures being built by SAGA Construction & Development at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd. as “mini-hotels” not just because of the large number of people they can accommodate, but because of their design.

Many design features in these structures, which are substantially similar, are common to hotels: for example, large areas for dozens of people to congregate; bedrooms with private bathrooms, each located next to another one on the sides of the building; and amenities not seen in single-family homes.

The Beacon recently reviewed again the building plans for 98 Ocean Blvd., which are on file in the Town Planning and Code Enforcement Dept. The plans, dated Oct. 20, 2019, were submitted by Community Planning and Architectural Associates (“cpaa”) of Kitty Hawk. Its mailing address is 6445 N. Croatan Hwy., suite A, which is an office building near the entrance to Martin’s Point.

Cpaa not only doesn’t have a website, it has no footprint on the Internet. You can’t find out anything about it. You also can’t find a roadside sign or a firm-name plaque at its office location, if you visit there and pop into the suite, as I did today.

Each of the 12 bedrooms in cpaa’s “mini-hotel” structure has its own private bathroom and is designated on the building plans as a “suite.” The dimensions for each bedroom, exclusive of the bath area, and with only minor variations here and there, are 13-feet-8 ½-inches (length) by 11-feet-5 inches (width). (These are the only dimensions that The Beacon could discern from the plans, but estimates are possible based on known entire-floor square footage.)

The “suites” are located on the first and second floors of the dwelling, configured so that they are located on either the north side or the south side of the floors, suggesting a hotel layout. The Beacon wonders: Will each “suite” have a number on its door, too?

The first floor has seven bedroom suites, three of them on the north side, where a 14-person theater lounge with a 120-inch screen, is also located; and four of them on the south side. Most of the square footage of the first floor is taken up by a large combination games/recreation room and a full-size bar, similar to a bar you would see in a hotel lounge. (The Beacon wonders: Who’s going to be serving the drinks?)

There is also a “lavatory” that can be accessed from the games/recreation room by patrons, similar to a restroom in a hotel.

The remaining five suites are on the second floor, three of them on the north side, and two on the south side. An oversized kitchen is also off to the south side. Similar to the first floor, most of the square footage on this floor is consumed by a very large open area outside of the kitchen that is designated on the building plans according to spaces: They include a “gathering place,” an “ocean room,” with a fireplace and a television above it, and a dining area.

The enclosed area on the second floor is 2,958 square feet. If you do the math with the known square footage of the five bedrooms, you’re looking at roughly 2,000 square feet for the kitchen and the open gathering-place-ocean room-dining area. The first floor has an enclosed area of 2,958 square feet.

The distance of the kitchen to the dining area, as well as the location and size of the kitchen, suggest that meals will be catered. The Beacon doesn’t know many cooks who would want to transport food through the “gathering place” to the dining space.

A covered screen porch off of the second floor, on the east side, offers ocean views. Lest one become desirous of a cocktail, a bar area is conveniently located within the porch. Again, The Beacon wonders, who’s going to be serving at this bar? And who’s supplying the booze?

An elevator on the ground floor of the structure-in-progress at 98 Ocean Blvd. carries people up from the six-vehicle parking garage underneath it and from the 11-vehicle parking lot in the front yard. There is also “recreational” space under the dwelling.

Also suggestive of a hotel are the outdoors amenities, which include a six-seater tiki bar (do bartenders come with the structure?), a hot tub/spa, and two swimming pools, one of which is a kiddie pool. The kiddie pool has a “tanning ledge,” and the adult pool has—you guessed it—a swim-up bar with what appear on the building plans to be four seats.

The pièce de resistance of the 12-bedroom dwelling is the “interior garden” that begins on the ground floor and is “open” to the sky. It is rare to find a single-family home with an atrium. Atria are fairly common in hotels, however.

If you would like to display a sign in your yard that expresses your opposition to mini-hotels such as the ones being constructed at 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd., you may request one through nominihotels.com. The petitioners in the litigation contesting the validity of the CAMA permits issued to SAGA to build on the two Ocean Boulevard sites would welcome your support. Their legal argument, which is scheduled to be heard before an administrative law judge in April, is that the permits are inconsistent with the town’s land-use plan, which was adopted in 2012.

With this litigation pending, SAGA is building “at its own risk,” and has been so warned in writing by the Town. Agents of SAGA for both sites have signed the Town’s warning statements, indicating their acknowledgment.

Every sign posted in a yard is evidence of the community-wide opposition that exists to SAGA’s structures. The litigation is not just about the interests of the two petitioner-homeowners. It’s about preservation of the town’s low-density development and residential-district zoning, which has always been exclusive to single-family houses.

According to Ursula Bateman, one of the yard-sign organizers, every sign posted in the town is there at the request of the property owner.

To contribute financially to the petitioners’ case, see https://www.gofundme.com/no-minihotels-in-southern-shores.

NEVER ON SUNDAY: Southern Shores police officers have officially warned SAGA’s construction crews at both 98 and 134 Ocean Blvd. not to work on Sunday, in violation of the Town’s noise ordinance. Police officers went to the sites recently upon receiving complaints from two different town residents.

The Beacon received notification of the noise-ordinance violations from the homeowners who reported them. Although they gave their names to Dare Central, they would prefer to remain anonymous, and The Beacon sees no public-information value in identifying them.

A Southern Shores police officer who responded to one of the reports told The Beacon that, upon a first report, the police issue a warning to violators of the town noise ordinance. Thereafter, the police will issue a citation for a violation, which carries a penalty of $500.

Sec. 22-3(b)(15) of the Southern Shores Town Code, which is a subsection of the noise ordinance, 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.

Although The Beacon reported to the Town Planning Director in December that SAGA was working on Sunday at 98 Ocean Blvd., this report did not result in SAGA ceasing this practice. For that to happen, apparently, the police had to intervene.

If you observe any construction work occurring on Sunday in Southern Shores, The Beacon advises you to call the Dare Central non-emergency number, (252) 473-3444, and report it to the police.

(I apologize to all followers of this blog who received two notices of today’s post. I ran into technical difficulties and had to delete the first post and re-post it. I regret the inconvenience.)

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/29/19

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