The two proposed “large-house” zoning text amendments, whose content the Town Planning Board authorized in January, but could not consider at its Feb. 19 meeting—see yesterday’s blog—are now available on the Town website at:
ZTAs 19-01 and 19-01CUP are identical, except 19-01CUP allows for a “conditional use permitted” in the town’s low-density residential districts of a “high-density” vacation cottage. (More about that, below.)
The Beacon encourages you to read each of these ZTAs and to post your comments and opinions here or on The Beacon’s Facebook page.
The Planning Board seeks to control residential development in these proposed ZTAs through two means: 1) the use of the dwelling; and 2) maximum septic capacity.
The question is whether these means will, in fact, preserve low-density development in Southern Shores by preventing the construction of high-occupancy residences (mini-hotels), and, thus, protect the Town’s environment, character, and appeal and homeowners’ and vacationers’ quality of life.
You should have a voice in the decision-making. To do so, you have to read the fine print of these ZTAs.
It’s not that bad. Honestly.
Although each ZTA application has either six or seven pages, you only have to read and digest two pages: The language of each proposed amendment to the Town’s zoning chapter begins on page 4 of the ZTA application. In the case of ZTA 19-01, it continues to page 5; ZTA 19-01CUP carries a sentence over to page 6, but, it, too, is essentially two pages.
The first page of each ZTA is the cover to the application form, and the next two pages constitute a preamble setting forth the purpose and authority for the amendment. If the Town Council were to enact either of these ZTAs, its preamble would not become part of the Town Code of Ordinances, only the new underlined language in the ZTA would.
The Town zoning ordinance currently permits only one use in the RS-1 single-family residential district, which encompasses most of the town, including all of the areas that vacationers frequent, and the R-1 low-density residential district, and that is a single-family dwelling. Each of these ZTAs creates a new use known as “vacation cottage,” which it defines and limits by occupancy and septic capacity.
Vacation cottages, by definition, house “transient” occupants and may have no more than 14 overnight occupants. Their maximum septic capacity is also limited to 14 overnight occupants.
Transient occupancy is defined in the ZTAs as an overnight occupancy for less than 30 days by person or persons who have a place of residence elsewhere to which they intend to return. Both ZTAs specify that vacation cottages may be rented or used by “the day, week, or other period of less than thirty (30) days.”
DOES ZTA 19-01CUP ABROGATE ZTA 19-01?
The Planning Board discussed, but never expressly approved, the language included in ZTA 19-01CUP about a high-density vacation cottage, which it defines as a residential structure that is:
“(i) advertised to accommodate, designed or constructed with a maximum overnight occupant capacity of more than 14 persons, or (ii) having a maximum septic capacity sufficient to serve more than fourteen (14) overnight occupants.”
While it would appear that this language overrules ZTA 19-01, by permitting exactly what Southern Shores property owners would like to prohibit, ZTA 19-01CUP also requires high-density vacation cottages to be built on lots that are a minimum of 175,000 square feet.
The Beacon does not like either the concept or the allowance of high-density vacation cottages in low-density residential districts. ZTA 19-01CUP represents a Pandora’s box that should remain closed.
The intent behind the establishment of the RS-1 residential district is clearly stated in Town Code sec. 36-202(a), which appears in each ZTA: It is to “provide for the low-density development of single-family detached dwellings in an environment which preserves sand dunes, coastal forests, wetlands, and other unique natural features of the coastal area.”
No development described as “high-density,” regardless of the minimum lot size, should be permitted in this district.
Please let The Beacon know what you think.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/22/19