2/18/21: TRAFFIC ENGINEER RECOMMENDS ERECTING PHYSICAL BARRIERS TO PREVENT CUT-THROUGH TRAFFIC ON RESIDENTIAL ROADS. Citizens’ Committee Needs to File Its Report; Plus More on Road Conditions and the Proposed New Town Code of Ordinances.

Cut-through traffic backs up on Sea Oats Trail at its intersection with Duck Road on a summertime Saturday afternoon.

The only way to prevent cut-through traffic on Southern Shores’ residential streets during summertime weekends is to erect physical barriers and/or diverters, the Town’s traffic engineering consultant concludes in a report filed Feb. 12.

Chief among the barrier recommendations made by J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning of Waynesville, N.C. is the placement of a gate on South Dogwood Trail that would operate both north- and southbound and be closed on peak-season Saturdays unless the Town decides to enable access by local traffic and emergency vehicles.

At The Beacon’s request, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn sent us Monday a link to Teague’s “Town of Southern Shores Congestion and Cut-Through Traffic Analysis,” which consists of about 18 pages of text and 450 pages of data-filled appendices.

He further informed us that the traffic analysis will be online for the public to access as soon as Teague makes some corrections that the Town Manager has identified. We will let you know when this occurs.

After considerable thought, The Beacon has decided not to report on Teague’s report—not to critique the whole of it—but to let you read it and draw your own conclusions.

We will say, however, that we endorse the use of gates as mitigation devices, but we are mindful that there must be sufficient turn-around space before them and there must be no possibility of an alternate route that allows drivers to work around them.

A gate on South Dogwood Trail, for example, is ineffective if a driver can turn left on Pintail Lane, then turn right on Ginguite Trail, and connect up again with South Dogwood at the cemetery.

Further, the impact that a gate on South Dogwood Trail would have on the volume of traffic that diverts on to Juniper Trail or off of Duck Road on to Porpoise Run, Dolphin Run, East Dogwood Trail, Hickory Trail, and other intersecting residential roads must be considered. Moving the cut-through traffic entrance farther up the road is not a solution.

According to Mr. Ogburn, a date for the J.M. Teague study to be presented to the Town Council has not been set yet, but he is “working on it.” The presentation will not be as soon as the Council’s March 2 meeting, he said.

Mr. Ogburn also said it is his understanding that the Town Council would like to get the recommendations of the citizens’ Exploratory Cut-Through Traffic Committee soon, so that it may discuss all recommendations at the same meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey, who is one of the committee’s Town Council sponsors, expressed this desire at the Council’s Feb. 2 meeting. (See The Beacon, 2/4/21, 2/2/21.)

The Beacon was supportive of the traffic committee’s request, made Dec. 10, to have an information session with J.M Teague engineers before either the committee or the consultant prepared its conclusions. We were discouraged by the Town’s cancellation of the information session apparently because the Town Council thought it might compromise the consultant’s independence.

Having read J.M. Teague’s analysis, we believe that such a session would have helped the consultant to better understand the Town’s residential road network and to better tailor its recommendations to the community’s way of life.

While a fresh pair of eyes and independent thinking are of value in a problem-solving analysis, “outsiderness” can introduce new problems.

We were supportive of the information session, but we are not supportive of any further delay in the traffic committee’s issuance of a report.

Authorized by the Town Council in the summer of 2019, the Exploratory Cut-Through Traffic Committee has been dormant throughout the pandemic, failing to hold any public meetings, remotely or otherwise. It also never posted on the Town website minutes of the meetings that it did hold.

The Beacon appreciates how difficult it has been to conduct business during the pandemic, as well as the personal hardships that some people have experienced, but we also recognize the obligation that a government-sanctioned committee has to fulfill its purpose within a reasonable time. We’re sticklers for good government.

The committee must produce a formal written report of its conclusions now. An extemporaneously delivered speech to the Town Council will not suffice.

With the Council’s first fiscal year 2021-22 budget workshop expected to be held in April, time is of the essence.

FOLLOWUP ON THE PAVEMENT CONDITION SURVEY: The Beacon would like to commend the Town Council, especially Councilman Matt Neal, and Town Manager Cliff Ogburn for moving forward with a new pavement condition survey of the Town’s roads and a capital improvement plan that will allow for an adequate annual budget to perform necessary road repairs and maintenance. (See The Beacon, 2/17/21.)

After the civil engineering firm conducts the road pavement survey, the Town will have a 20-year history of its roads, Mr. Ogburn explained at Tuesday’s Council workshop. The Town will know the condition that roads and segments of roads are in; what has been done to them in the past; what needs to be done to them in the future, and when it needs to be done, Mr. Ogburn said. Street improvements will be based predominantly on need and proper timing, not on anyone’s personal preference.   

There will be data informing the Town how roads were built and how they need to maintained or rebuilt. This is progress.

PLANNING BOARD REVIEW OF CODEWRIGHT’S ‘ADOPTION DRAFT’ OF NEW TOWN CODE: The Town Planning Board completed at its Tuesday meeting a review of the definition section, chapter 4, of the November 2020 “Adoption Draft” of the rewritten Town Code of Ordinances submitted by consultant CodeWright Planners.

The Board will take up the revised and all-important zoning chapter, which is chapter 22, on Tuesday, March 15, at 5 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

Thanks to Mr. Ogburn and Planning Director/Deputy Town Manager Wes Haskett, the Planning Board’s review sessions are being live-streamed on You Tube.

We are not sure yet how to cover either the Planning Board’s review sessions, which, in addition to chapters 4 and 22, will address chapter 26, subdivisions; and chapter 28, flood damage prevention, or how to critique the Adoption Draft. 

You may access the November 2020 Adoption Draft here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/11-24-2020-Adoption-Draft.pdf.

A redline version of this draft, which shows how it differs from the previous final draft, may be accessed here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/TOSS-Town-Code-Adoption-Draft-11-24-20-REDLINE.pdf. 

At the Board’s Tuesday meeting, Mr. Haskett—who is the chief coordinator and chief copy and substantive editor on this massive project—announced that CodeWright principal Chad Meadows will virtually attend the March 2 Town Council meeting to discuss the chapters of the Town Code that the Planning Board is not reviewing.

We followed up this reference with Mr. Ogburn, who explained in an email: “The thinking is that the Council can go ahead and start their review of those other chapters while waiting on the Planning Board to do their work.  The entire code will likely have to be adopted at the same time though.  But the Council can get some of their review behind them.”

Mr. Meadows, Mr. Ogburn said, will “do a project refresh to jog [Council members’] memory and then focus on the key changes between current and proposed chapters” of the Town Code. 

As for jogging memories, Mayor Tom Bennett and Councilman Leo Holland were on the Town Council in 2015 when Mr. Meadows started the Town Code update/revision, but Ms. Morey, Mr. Neal, and Councilman Jim Conners were not.

Ms. Morey, however, was a member of the Planning Board when it spent more than a year, from April 2017 to May 2018, reviewing revised Town Code sections within its purview in an earlier draft submitted by CodeWright.

(In hindsight, we realize that this delay served the legislative process well, enabling zoning changes to be made democratically via the Planning Board and Town Council, rather than via suggestions by a hired outside planner.)

(The Beacon erred in stating in an earlier blog that the Planning Board reviewed the entire Town Code revision. It did not. It reviewed only selected chapters, just as the current Board is doing. We apologize for the error.)

Mr. Haskett asked the Planning Board members Tuesday whether they wanted to have Mr. Meadows meet virtually with them, and they declined.

While we understand why the Board may view Mr. Meadows’s presence as intrusive or as a hindrance to their progress, we urge the members to reconsider. An overview by Mr. Meadows of the “before” and “after” of Code sections within the chapters they are reviewing could save the members time and help them to focus.

They can see how effective this intervention could be for them by tuning into the Town Council’s March 2 interaction with Mr. Meadows.

Planning Board Chairman Andy Ward, Vice Chairman Tony DiBernardo, regular member Lynda Burek, and alternates Robert McClendon and Jan Collins served on the Board Tuesday.

We mean no disrespect to the alternates when we say that we hope regular members David Neal, who is the only current member of the Planning Board who participated in the previous CodeWright review, and Ed Lawler attend the review sessions on chapter 22.

Mr. Neal participated in every important zoning chapter change that was made by the Town Council, with the Planning Board’s recommendation, in the past five years and can ensure that CodeWright’s Adoption Draft faithfully records them.

Mr. Lawler arrived on the Board in January 2019 in time to deliberate upon zoning text amendments pertaining to nonconforming lots and high-occupancy houses, as well as to hear arguments for and against regulating special events in residences.

Both bring the necessary institutional memory to the task at hand.  

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 2/18/21

2 thoughts on “2/18/21: TRAFFIC ENGINEER RECOMMENDS ERECTING PHYSICAL BARRIERS TO PREVENT CUT-THROUGH TRAFFIC ON RESIDENTIAL ROADS. Citizens’ Committee Needs to File Its Report; Plus More on Road Conditions and the Proposed New Town Code of Ordinances.

    1. Thanks for writing. I am just reporting what the consultant said. The type of gate recommended by Teague could easily swing open for emergency vehicles. I suggest everyone hold your questions until after you’ve read the report yourselves. I just wanted to advise everyone that the report has been filed and that the engineers emphasize physical barriers, not calming devices such as speed humps or additional stop signs, or directional changes, such as one-way streets.

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