The Town Council voted unanimously last night to limit septic-system capacity and overnight occupancy in vacation cottages to 14 persons—zoning changes that culminate the Town’s efforts since last October to prevent development like the high-occupancy, event-house-type dwellings that SAGA Construction Inc. is building now on the oceanfront.

(Please note: SAGA’s structures are currently the subject of pending litigation initiated by property owners. See http://www.nominihotels.com for details.)

The five-member Council, which includes Mayor Tom Bennett, approved the septic and occupancy restrictions, as written in zoning text amendment (ZTA) 19-01PB. No one sought to amend the language of the ZTA, which the Planning Board unanimously recommended.

As The Beacon has previously reported, the new 14-person overnight-occupancy limit does not apply to residential dwellings that are not used as vacation cottages, a term defined in the new Town Code ordinance by its use for “transient occupancy.” The maximum septic capacity of 14 overnight occupants applies to all dwellings, regardless of their use. (Please see The Beacon’s report 5/6/19 for more details.)

Here is the text of the new law:


The Beacon will elaborate tomorrow on the Town Council’s deliberations in a more detailed report of last night’s meeting.


In other noteworthy action, Councilman Fred Newberry requested that discussion about how to alleviate the summer weekend cut-through traffic be added to the Council’s June 4 meeting agenda, and Councilman Gary McDonald added review and reconsideration of the Town Code’s regulation of “event facilities” to next month’s agenda.

Characterizing the cut-through traffic as the no. 1 complaint that he hears from residents, Mr. Newberry reacted favorably to a suggestion made by homeowner Tommy Karole in public comments that an exploratory committee be formed to consider all options for traffic reduction.

“There may be some new ideas that we haven’t thought of,” Mr. Newberry said.

Mr. Karole, who has lived for nearly 19 years on East Dogwood Trail near its intersection with North and South Dogwood Trails, said he would like to head up such a committee.

After the vote on ZTA 19-01PB, Mr. McDonald keyed on the Town’s regulation of event facilities, which are not permitted in the residential districts, just the commercial district.

The Town Code defines the term in pertinent part as a property “designed, maintained, advertised or actually used for the primary purpose of hosting pre-planned events.” See Town Code sec. 36-57:  https://library.municode.com/nc/southern_shores/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH36ZO_ARTIIIINDETE_S36-57DESPTEWO.

The Town Council also unanimously approved transferring consideration of the problems created by the recent reconfiguration of the Yaupon Trail-South Dogwood Trail intersection to the Capital Infrastructure Improvements Planning Committee; and establishing a committee, with representatives from Southern Shores, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Martin’s Point, to explore the possibility of a Dare County library branch in Southern Shores.

Homeowners on Yaupon Trail had petitioned the Mayor to cut down the iconic tree at the intersection of Yaupon with South Dogwood Trail in order to resolve what they said were driver sight-line problems. Mayor Bennett and others on the Town Council, however, identified the real issue at the intersection as a narrowing of the entry to/exit from Yaupon, created by recent road construction. (See The Beacon, 5/6/19, for further details.)

Mayor Bennett also announced last night that the Mallard Cove Assn. had withdrawn its request that the town assume ownership of its private road.


Construction of the new fire station was halted recently because of a design problem and is now behind by 30 days, according to a spokesman for contractor A.R. Chesson Construction who addressed the Council last night. The fire station had been projected to be completed in January 2020. The spokesman said work would resume this week.

Town Manager Peter Rascoe announced the filing yesterday of the Town’s proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget and the scheduling June 4 of a public hearing on the budget. The proposed budget calls for expenses of $7,450,846, an increase of more than 12 percent over the previous fiscal year’s expenses. (See The Beacon, 4/24/19, for background.)

Homeowner Paula Sherlock announced in public comments the formation of an oceanfront property owners association, in response to recent discussions about the prospect of beach nourishment in Southern Shores.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/8/19

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