7/29/21: LIBRARY COMMITTEE MEETS TOMORROW; TOWN COUNCIL MEETS NEXT TUESDAY: WE GIVE AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS.

The Town Manager will give an update on traffic at the Town Council’s meeting next Tuesday.

The Southern Shores Exploratory Committee for a Potential Branch Library will meet tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., and the Southern Shores Town Council will meet next Tuesday (Aug. 3) at 5:30 p.m., both meetings to be held in the Pitts Center behind Town Hall.

For the Town Council’s meeting agenda and packet, see https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Packet-20255cafebd346dca48de4d302453af7.pdf.

The Council’s meeting will be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/ user/TownofSouthernShores. A videotape will be available for viewing on You Tube after the meeting.

Before the coronavirus pandemic up-ended local government last year, the library exploratory committee had made great strides in organizing and seeking Dare County funding for a branch library in Southern Shores.

According to committee member/spokesperson Lilias Morrison, who updated the Town Council on the status of the venture at its June meeting, TowneBank’s offer to rent for $1.00/year a building that it owns on Juniper Trail to house the library still stands.

The committee will be assessing the library project at tomorrow’s meeting, which is open to all members of the public.

As for the Town Council, its regular August meeting is usually light on business, and next Tuesday’s session is no exception. Most noteworthy on the agenda is Town Attorney Cliff Ogburn’s report, which will include updates on:

  • the cut-through traffic and mitigation efforts;
  • the 2022 beach nourishment project;
  • an application for a Building Resilient Infrastructures and Communities (BRIC) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); and
  • an application for a future tourism impact grant from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.

We are particularly pleased that the Town Manager will be discussing a possible BRIC grant application. We support all hazard-mitigation efforts that shift some of the financial burden for disaster-risk reduction and shoreline management away from local taxpayers and that promote partnerships within and among local communities.

BRIC is a new FEMA pre-disaster hazard mitigation program. We first heard about it from mayoral candidate Rod McCaughey, who informed us that the Town of Duck had received a $1.8 million BRIC grant.

According to the FEMA website, as of today, Duck’s “living shoreline and N.C. 12 resiliency” project was “selected for further review.” The grant, which is reportedly for $1,849,197.37, has not been awarded yet, according to FEMA’s online update.

Duck’s resiliency project was described in the spring/summer 2021 issue of the town’s newsletter, “Duck Tales,” as “infrastructure improvements in a quarter-mile stretch of Duck Road adjoining the Currituck Sound in the northern section of Duck Village.”

The “main components” of the project, according to “Duck Tales,” include a “living shoreline (marsh restoration/shoreline stabilization), sidewalk/bike lanes, and elevation of Duck Road (with associated stormwater management improvements) in that area.”

For more about the BRIC grants, see https://www.fema.gov/grants/mitigation/building-resilient-infrastructure-communities.

QUICK ACTION TO PREVENT POSSIBLE SUBDIVISION TREND

The Town Council also will hold a public hearing on a Town Code Amendment (TCA) that aspires to put the finishing touches on quick action taken by the Council to prevent the possibility of allowing through subdivision the creation of a new buildable lot that does not have frontage on a public street.

At its June 1 meeting, the Town Council conditionally approved a preliminary subdivision plat submitted by the homeowners at 279 Hillcrest Drive to subdivide their single large lot into two lots, the second of which would be behind the first, and would not front on a public or private street. 

Town Code sec. 36-95, which pertains to lot access, allows a lot to be developed provided it has 30 feet of frontage on a public road, private street, or an easement. (The wording of this zoning ordinance is phrased in the negative and is not easy to understand.)

According to this ordinance, therefore, the homeowners at 279 Hillcrest Drive could subdivide their property in a back-to-front fashion, rather than side-to-side, if they created 30 feet of easement frontage for the back end of the property, which is currently inaccessible by road.

In addition to conditionally approving the homeowners’ preliminary plat in June, the Town Council asked the Planning Board to recommend a Town Code Amendment that would eliminate the possibility of subdividing property in such a manner as to create lots that only front on easements.

In its first attempt at amending the Code, the Planning Board sought to eliminate the word “easement” from a reference in sec. 36-95 to frontage on “a public right-of-way or a private street or easement.” It did this through Zoning Text Amendment 21-07, which it unanimously recommended to the Town Council.

The Town Council took no action on ZTA 21-07 at its July meeting, however, because, after further review, it was determined that the ZTA would “render existing lots with frontage on an easement nonconforming,” according to Planning Director/Deputy Town Manager Wes Haskett’s report for next Tuesday’s meeting. 

In place of ZTA 21-07, the Planning Board came back with TCA 21-06, which will be the subject of the Council’s hearing on Tuesday. This amendment changes general requirements within the Town’s subdivision ordinance, so that all new lots created by subdivision must front upon a public road. Neither private roads nor access easements are acceptable.

TCA 21-06 also clarifies that proposed roads in subdivisions that are “obviously in alignment with existing roads shall be given the same name” and that no new road name can duplicate an existing name or be phonetically similar to an existing name.

While The Beacon applauds the Planning Board and the Town Council for acting quickly to “nip in the bud” a possible subdivision trend toward creating buildable lots that only front on easements, we are not comfortable with leaving the lot-access ordinance, sec. 36-95, as it is. We would clean it up.

PUBLIC COMMENT

There will be two public-comment periods during the Town Council meeting during which each speaker may speak for three minutes.

The first period occurs after the staff reports and before the Council takes up “old” and “new” business, and the second occurs after all business has been concluded, shortly before adjournment.

The Town Council is no longer accepting emailed or mailed public comments, only comments presented in person.

To speak, you must sign up on a comment sheet in the back of the meeting room before Mayor Tom Bennett calls the meeting to order.

There are times when the Mayor will allow people to speak even though they have not signed up in advance, but it is always a good idea to arrive early and get your name on the comments sheet to be certain of your opportunity. 

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/29/21

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