The Beacon would like to remind you that the Town Planning Board will be considering the two zoning text amendments (ZTAs) on high-occupancy houses that it directed the Town Attorney to draft at its meeting today. Although a public hearing will not be held, the public may offer comments on the merits of the ZTAs before the Board votes on whether or not to recommend either or both to the Town Council.
The Planning Board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. It has not posted an agenda online, so The Beacon does not know the order of its business. The variance hearing upon which The Beacon reported 3/15/19 is also scheduled.
Both of the proposed amendments, ZTA 19-01 and ZTA 19-01CUP, create a new “permitted use” within the RS-1 and R-1 low-density residential districts of a “vacation cottage.” They further amend the Town Code zoning chapter to prohibit “vacation cottages” from having more than 14 overnight occupants and from having a septic capacity that serves more than 14 overnight occupants.
Thus, the Planning Board seeks to prevent high-occupancy houses in Southern Shores, such as the two 12-bedroom, 17-parking-space “mini-hotels” currently being built by SAGA on Ocean Boulevard (see photo above), by focusing upon the “use” of the residential structure and on the septic capacity of the structure.
ZTA 19-01CUP goes a step further than ZTA 19-01, however. It would allow “high-density” vacation cottages to exist in low-density residential districts, provided they are constructed on lots that are at least 175,000 square feet in size. High-density vacation cottages are those that the ZTA defines as accommodating more than 14 overnight occupants and having a maximum septic capacity that serves more than 14 overnight occupants.
Here is ZTA 19-01, without the high-density vacation cottage option:
Here is ZTA 19-01CUP, with the high-density vacation cottage:
Currently, the only permitted use specified in the Town Code zoning chapter within these low-density residential districts, where we all live, is a detached single-family dwelling, without qualification as to whether it is a vacation rental or a home used exclusively by the property owners.
The Planning Board could have decided to restrict occupancy and septic capacity of all single-family dwellings in the RS-1 and R-1 low-density residential districts, but it did not want to infringe upon homeowners who do not rent their houses.
The Beacon would not have distinguished between those single-family dwellings that are used as vacation cottages and those that are not.
You may read The Beacon’s critique of the two ZTAs here: https://wordpress.com/post/southernshoresbeacon.com/1095.
We support the septic-capacity restriction and oppose the new permitted use of a vacation cottage. We further adamantly oppose permitting high-density vacation cottages in the low-density neighborhoods, under any conditions, and trust the Planning Board will make quick work of disposing of ZTA 19-01CUP.
The five-member Planning Board will vote on whether to recommend either or both of the two ZTAs to the Town Council, with or without further amendments. Only the Town Council has the authority to amend the Town Code.
The Town Council will likely schedule a public hearing on the ZTAs, along with ZTA 18-10, which it tabled in February, at its April 2 meeting. ZTA 18-10 addresses the problem of “large” houses and their occupancy by creating an oceanfront overlay residential district and regulating within that district according to setbacks, building height, and other requirements.
The Planning Board unanimously voted not to recommend ZTA 18-10, which came out of a motion made by Councilman Jim Conners at the Town’s Nov. 7, 2018 special meeting on high-occupancy houses.
At the start of its Feb. 5 meeting, during which a public hearing on ZTA 18-10 was scheduled, the Town Council unanimously voted to table the measure. In doing so, the Council took the unusual action of canceling a hearing for which members of the public specifically had shown up and signed in to speak.
You may access ZTA 18-10 here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ZTA-18-10-Large-Structure-Regulations.pdf.
For further analysis of the proposed zoning amendments, we refer you to The Beacon’s 2/23/19 critique.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, March 18, 2019