2/8/20: UPDATE: SOUTHERN SHORES PROPERTY OWNER DISMISSES ZONING CASE AGAINST TOWN FOR SAGA ‘MINI-HOTEL,’ BUT REMAINS COMMITTED TO PURSUING APPEAL OF CAMA PERMIT ISSUED BY THE STATE; CAMA CASE MOVES TOWARD COURT RULING THAT COULD BENEFIT ALL COASTAL TOWNS

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In an action designed to economize, Southern Shores property owner Gwendolyn Snyder Smuts recently dismissed her appeal against the Town for the zoning permit it issued to SAGA Construction and Development to construct a “mini-hotel” at 134 Ocean Blvd.

Mrs. Smuts told The Beacon that she would prefer to spend her resources on her appeal of the State of North Carolina’s issuance of a CAMA permit for SAGA’s construction—a legal action that moved closer last week to a court ruling on the merits when a Wake County Superior Court judge denied motions to dismiss the appeal filed by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office and SAGA.

The CAMA case is a consolidated one that also involves a challenge by Southern Shores property owner Marvin Tignor to the validity of the CAMA permit issued by the State to SAGA for its mini-hotel construction at 98 Ocean Blvd. CAMA is an acronym for the Coastal Area Management Act, a statute enacted by the North Carolina legislature in 1974 to protect the coastal environment.

“The CAMA permit case has the potential to help property owners in other Dare County towns and along the North Carolina coast,” Mrs. Smuts said. “It’s an important case.”

Both Mrs. Smuts and Mr. Tignor have argued that the N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s issuance of CAMA permits to SAGA to allow it to build its mini-hotels on the oceanfront was “inconsistent” with the Southern Shores Land-Use Plan. The CAMA statute specifically prohibits permitting that is inconsistent with a local land-use plan, which all of the Dare County beach towns have.

Adopted in 2012, the Southern Shores Land-Use Plan clearly expresses a commitment to ensuring low-density development, open spaces, and neighborhoods of single-family homes.

The DCM is an agency of the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality, which is represented in legal actions by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.

The CAMA case is on appeal in the Wake County Superior Court after a ruling last summer by a N.C. administrative law judge (ALJ) in favor of the State and SAGA, which is an intervening party. The ALJ treated the appeal as a local-zoning matter, rather than as a question of State statutory law, and committed error, the property owners have argued.

According to Mrs. Smuts’s attorney, James L. Conner II, an environmental law expert and a partner in the Durham law firm of Calhoun, Bhella & Sechrest, dismissal of the Town zoning case was a voluntary one, agreed upon by the Town’s and SAGA’s attorneys.

Mrs. Smuts and her family own property across the street from the oceanfront mini-hotel at 134 Ocean Blvd.—which SAGA built at “its own risk,” despite a written warning by the Town about the pending litigation. The Southern Shores Board of Adjustment ruled against Mrs. Smuts, 3-2, last April, and she appealed to Dare County Superior Court.

Motions in Mrs. Smuts’s zoning appeal were scheduled to have been heard last week in the Dare County Superior Court, according to Mr. Conner.

Like Mrs. Smuts, Mr. Tignor owns property across the street from SAGA’s lavish multi-storied, 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom, nearly 6,000-square-foot, 24-person septic capacity mini-hotel at 98 Ocean Blvd., which has numerous large-size amenities, both inside and outside, typical of an “event” house, not a single-family home.

For more background information about the litigation, please see nominihotels.com.

You may contribute to the Smuts-Tignor legal fund via the GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/f/no-minihotels-in-southern-shores.

If you would like to display a NO! MINI-HOTELS sign in your yard, please send your request with your address to ssbeaconeditor@gmail.com. Your sign(s) will be delivered.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/8/20

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