In yesterday’s blog, I promised to publish today a detailed report of Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to deliver on that promise. Please check back over the weekend for the report.
While I do have a moment, I would like to say a word about the possibility of a legal challenge to the new septic-capacity and overnight-occupancy restrictions that the Town Council enacted Tuesday.
You may have read in comments on this blog as well as on Facebook pages elsewhere that the 14-person restrictions indirectly serve as a limit on the number of bedrooms in a dwelling, which the Town legally cannot impose. The premise is that both septic capacity and occupancy are determined by multiplying the number of bedrooms by two.
I believe this argument is faulty, and a challenge based on it would fail.
First, let me say that it is the Dare County Health Dept. that certifies septic capacity for a dwelling, not the Town of Southern Shores. The Town does not participate in the Health Dept.’s permitting process.
Second, the factual evidence simply does not support the bedrooms-times-two contention.
Before the Town Council’s vote on ZTA 19-01PB, I said in public comments that I am a co-owner of a vacation cottage that has four bedrooms and a septic capacity of six persons, NOT eight (4 x 2) persons.
I also informed the Council that I had examined rental listings in the 2019 Southern Shores Realty bulletin/vacation planner and quickly found numerous homes that have a septic capacity that does not equate to twice the number of bedrooms. For example:
16 Pelican Watch: 3 BR, cap. 7
30 Pelican Watch: 4 BR, cap. 7
31 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 14
53 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 14
105 Ocean Blvd.: 5 BR, cap. 12
153 Ocean Blvd.: 4 BR, cap. 10
159 Ocean Blvd.: 6 BR, cap. 18
163 Ocean Blvd.: 7 BR, cap. 21
5 Purple Martin Lane: 5 BR, cap. 13
5 Fourth Ave.: 6 BR, cap. 16
6 Eighth Ave.: 5 BR, cap. 14
2 Eleventh Ave.: 5 BR, cap. 12
I spent just five minutes on this exercise and did not consult other rental companies’ vacation-cottage listings.
Southern Shores Realty (SSR), which is the rental agent that my family has used for nearly 50 years, specifies “capacity” in its listings, rather than “occupancy.” In response to an email that I sent her, SSR Rental Manager Patrina Chappelle, said: Cottage “occupancy is based on the septic capacity. The Health Department would have this information for any property.”
I believe the Town is on firm legal ground.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/9/19