The Southern Shores Town Council will hold five public hearings on proposed amendments to the Town Code—four of them related to zoning—when it meets tomorrow for its regular monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.
You may access the meeting agenda and packet here:
Among the four zoning text amendments that the Council will consider is a revamp of a ZTA misconstrued by the Planning Board upon its first reading April 19 that permits temporary healthcare structures as accessory uses in single-family residential zoning districts.
This amendment would bring Southern Shores in conformance with N.C. law. The initial version of the ordinance was drafted by the Town’s consultant, CodeWright Planners.
The purpose of ZTA 21-06, which seemed to elude the Planning Board earlier, is to enable caregivers and legal guardians of mentally or physically impaired relatives to live in close temporary physical proximity to the relatives for whom they care.
Long-term living arrangements are not contemplated by the amendment.
According to the ZTA, a “temporary family healthcare structure” is a structure that is assembled at a location other than its installation site, is transportable, and has no more than 300 square feet. The proposed ordinance specifies that the temporary structure shall be located on residential property owned or occupied by the caregiver (or legal guardian) and that it shall be occupied only by the “mentally or physically impaired person.” (The qualifier, and/or, is not used in the description.)
Impairment is defined by the number of activities of daily living (so-called ADLs: bathing, eating, toileting, ambulation, etc.) with which the impaired person needs assistance. A minimum of two ADLs are required.
The Beacon addressed this ZTA at length in a 4/20/21 post in which we characterized the Planning Board as confused and in need of guidance from Town staff and Town Attorney Ben Gallop. Mr. Gallop has since reviewed ZTA 21-06, as well as the amendments recommended by the Planning Board, and rewritten it.
Such review should have occurred before the Planning Board took up ZTA 21-06 on April 19, so that Mr. Haskett could have adequately prepared the Board, whose members are not accustomed to reading and interpreting State legislation.
Otherwise, we frankly do not understand why a mentally or physically impaired person could not erect a family healthcare structure on his or her residential property to be used temporarily by a caregiver, but that option is not included in the ZTA.
We also think some of the language of the ordinance is imprecise and confusing—a sure sign that the N.C. State Legislature originated it.
PUTTING A STOP TO ‘FRONT-BACK’ SUBDIVISIONS OF LOTS
The only other proposed ZTA that we would like to elaborate upon is ZTA 21-07, which the Town Council requested of Mr. Haskett at its June 1 meeting after holding a public hearing on a homeowner’s request to subdivide her property into two lots, one of which would be behind the other and would not front on a public or private street.
The Town Code regulations on lot access currently provide that a lot must abut a public right-of-way or a private street or easement. (Sec. 36-95(a)(1).)
ZTA 21-07 would remove the possibility of creating new lot(s) that only have frontage on an easement. Access by a public or private street would be required.
The June 1 hearing concerned approval of a preliminary subdivision plat submitted to the Town by Lauren Kirby-Van Riper, who owns a 2.29-acre lot at 279 Hillcrest Drive with her husband.
Ms. Kirby-Van Riper is seeking permission to subdivide this large lot into two: one at the front that would measure 65,393 square feet and include all of the current development (house, swimming pool); and the other behind the first that would measure 34,720 square feet and be vacant.
The first lot, which abuts Hillcrest Drive, has been designated Lot 4A in documents; the second lot, which abuts a canal, has been designated Lot 4B.
The rub is there is no access to Lot 4B.
Ms. Kirby-Van Riper proposes remedying this deficiency by constructing a 30-foot-long public easement on the northern boundary of the property, starting at Hillcrest Drive and going west. All but a small section of this easement would be on Lot 4A.
Both the Planning Board and the Town Council gave conditional approval to Ms. Kirby-Van Riper’s subdivision plans, provided she meets all of the Code requirements.
We spoke at the public hearing about Ms. Kirby-Van Riper’s subdivision proposal not being in compliance with the longtime vision of Southern Shores—as set forth in the Town’s Land-Use Plan—as a low-density residential community comprised of single-family dwellings on large lots. We wondered how many other landowners might seek to subdivide their large property tracts in a similar fashion.
We are happy to see the language about low density quoted in Mr. Haskett’s report to the Town Council about ZTA 21-07, which fine-tunes the Town’s lot access requirements to eliminate access by easement only. If the Town Council passes the amendment, it would apply prospectively, and not to Ms. Kirby-Van Riper’s proposed subdivision.
EAVES: The Planning Board also has recommended to the Town Council a change in building setback requirements so as to allow eaves to extend three feet into the back, side, and front setback space without this encroachment reducing the setback calculations.
Previously, the Town Code exempted this encroachment in calculating the front building setback line, but not the side and back setbacks.
ZTA 21-02 would effect this change by amending the definitions of “building setback line” and “yard” in Town Code sec. 36-57.
PUBLIC COMMENTS: There will be two public-comment periods during tomorrow’s meeting. Returning to its pre-pandemic procedure, the Town Council is no longer accepting written comments submitted by email or U.S. mail. You must appear in person if you would like to make comments.
You may view the meeting live at https://www.youtube.com/user/TownofSouthernShores.
Because of a family member’s failing health, we will not be able to attend tomorrow’s meeting in person or to watch the livestream. We will view the videotape and report on any news as soon as possible.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/5/21