It is never a good idea to evaluate the condition of a shoreline by “snapshots” of how it looks on any given day(s). The changes from day to day, and month to month, can be dramatic. After a nor’easter, for example, the shoreline will be eroded. That’s to be expected. Given time, however, it will gather deposits of sediment through the process of accretion and restore itself. Sometimes, so much sand volume and linear feet in shoreline are lost that it becomes doubtful that the shoreline can be restored naturally. The snapshot above shows the oceanfront at Pelican Watch shortly before the 2017 beach nourishment project. (Photo courtesy of The Outer Banks Voice)

This is a reminder that the Town Council will be holding its regular meeting today, during which three public hearings will occur, including two that address proposed zoning changes to restrict high-occupancy (large) houses in town.

The first hearing will concern beach nourishment and will be the first order of business after preliminary matters conclude. That means it will start about 5:40 p.m. The other hearings will take place after the staff reports and any old business. If you would like to speak, be sure to arrive early enough to sign one of the sign-up sheets that will be on a table near the door.


The Beacon is opposed to the Council authorizing beach nourishment in 2022 because the need for it does not currently exist. That does not mean that the town will not be ripe for beach nourishment some time after 2022. The evidence for making this commitment is simply not there now.

Please note: Pelican Watch is already in a beach-nourishment/maintenance plan. Tonight’s hearing has nothing to do with Pelican Watch. It has to do with replenishing a 15,500-linear-foot section of the Southern Shores shoreline that extends from 450 feet south of the Ocean Blvd.-Chicahauk Trail intersection north to Third Avenue.

Everyone who knows the Outer Banks knows that Southern Shores has the most stable dune system of all of the Dare County beach towns—except on the Pelican Watch oceanfront, which has been a hot spot since Frank Stick founded the development.

The 1962 Ash Wednesday storm destroyed the original Sea Ranch Hotel, which was built in 1952 on the Pelican Watch site. It’s a notoriously vulnerable stretch of oceanfront.

On a personal note, my parents bought and built on the Southern Shores shoreline 50 years ago in part because of the dune stability north of Kitty Hawk. Mr. Stick and his partners also had the foresight to plat deep oceanfront lots, so property owners could build their homes farther back from the ocean than was customarily done in the towns to the south of us.

The Beacon has written about beach nourishment several times since it first came up publicly at the Town Council’s Feb. 26 special planning session, most recently on March 31. Here are links to The Beacon’s articles:

March 31: https://wordpress.com/post/southernshoresbeacon.com/1219

March 6: https://wordpress.com/post/southernshoresbeacon.com/1131

February 28: https://wordpress.com/post/southernshoresbeacon.com/1110


The Beacon also has written extensively about the evolution within the Town Planning Board of zoning text amendments to prevent high-occupancy houses in Southern Shores’ residential districts. We have supported the septic-capacity limitation and opposed permitting high-density vacation cottages anywhere in town, regardless of the building-lot size. We have not taken a position on a key feature of these amendments, which is the addition of a “vacation cottage,” as defined in the ZTAs by “transient occupancy,” to the permissible uses currently authorized by the Town Code in the residential districts.

According to the Town Council’s meeting agenda, it will hold two hearings:

**The first will address ZTA 19-01, as amended by the Planning Board at its March 18 meeting, and 19-01CUP, which seek to restrict occupancy via a 14-person limit on septic capacity of all houses and a 14-person limit on the number of overnight occupants in “vacation cottages,” as defined by the amendments. ZTA 19-01CUP also includes an option for permitting high-density vacation cottages in town, provided they are built on a minimum lot size of 175,000 square feet, or about four acres.

The Planning Board has unanimously recommended that the Town Council approve ZTA 19-01, either before or after amendment, and reject ZTA 19-01CUP.

Here is the original ZTA 19-01, before an amendment extending its coverage to the RS-10 high-density residential district (Southern Shores Landing, Mallard Cove) was added:


Here is ZTA 19-01CUP, which includes the permitted conditional use of a high-density vacation cottage on 175,000 square feet:


Here is ZTA 19-01, as amended, to include coverage of the RS-10 residential district:


***The Town Council agenda has a hearing on ZTA 18-10 scheduled to follow the hearing on ZTA 19-01 and ZTA 19-01CUP. ZTA 18-10 was first proposed by the Town Council at the Nov. 7, 2018 special meeting on high-occupancy large houses. It creates a single-family oceanfront overlay district and regulates houses within that district according to building height, yard setbacks, and other zoning factors. Here is ZTA 18-10:


The Town Planning Board voted unanimously not to recommend ZTA 18-10 to the Town Council, and the Town Council unanimously voted to postpone a hearing previously scheduled on ZTA 18-10. It is quite likely that the action taken by the Council on ZTA 19-01 and 19-01CUP will render a hearing on ZTA 18-10 superfluous.

THE TOWN PLANNING BOARD NEXT MEETS APRIL 15, AT 5:30 P.M., IN THE PITTS CENTER. So far, the only agenda item of which The Beacon is aware is a continued discussion of the nonconforming lots ordinance, Town Code sec. 36-132.

AN APRIL 18 HEARING BEFORE THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT ON THE VALIDITY OF THE ZONING PERMIT THAT THE TOWN ISSUED TO SAGA FOR 134 OCEAN BLVD. HAS BEEN POSTPONED. According to appellant-homeowner Gwendolyn Snyder-Smuts, the hearing has been tentatively rescheduled to April 26. We will provide final details when we receive them.

For more information about the zoning permit hearing, please see www.nominihotels.com.

See everyone tonight!

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, April 2, 2019


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