10/20/21: TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES SPENDING $800,000 ANNUALLY ON ROAD MAINTENANCE IN A 10-YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN; PLANNING BOARD RECOMMENDS NEW SIGN ORDINANCE, TACKLES PRODUCE STANDS.

Crocodile or alligator cracking is a common type of distress in asphalt pavement.

The Southern Shores Town Council unanimously approved yesterday pursuing a 10-year capital improvement plan (CIP) that would entail spending $1 million annually on road maintenance—$800,000 to be allocated to improving the Town’s 37-mile street system and $200,000 to be available for “contingency” construction.

Town Councilman Matt Neal, who made the motion to approve the $800k-$200k option, cited as its advantages that the Town would be “touching streets at a vastly greater velocity than we are now” and would have the flexibility to do up to $200,000 in additional needed construction.

The $800k-$200k option was one of four CIP options presented to the Town Council for its consideration at yesterday’s morning workshop session. SEPI Engineering and Construction, which performed a pavement condition survey of the Town’s roads in the spring, proposed two of the other options in its report and provided an analysis for the option that the Council chose.

(For background on the four options, see The Beacon, 10/16/21.)

SEPI’s final report is accessible at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Southern-Shores-PCS-CIP-Final-Report-v2.pdf.

According to Town Manager Cliff Ogburn, the $800k-$300k option, which he recommended to the Council, will “raise as many streets as we can to a better condition.”

In his agenda item summary for the Town Council’s workshop, Mr. Ogburn said that the $800k-$200k option “touches 47 miles of road and improves the system to 73 percent good/excellent, [and] 27 percent fair.”

All of the CIP options envision treating some sections of roadway more than once during the 10-year period. The approved CIP represents a major change from the Town’s past and current practice of rebuilding full sections of selected streets, rather than doing preventive maintenance town-wide.  

Mr. Neal suggested that after year two or three of the new plan, the Town Council should have a “lessons learned” discussion to evaluate how implementation has fared.

PLANNING BOARD ACTION

In other town business, the Planning Board unanimously voted Monday to recommend to the Town Council an amended version of Zoning Text Amendment 21-08, which is a new Town Code sign ordinance; and to table ZTA 21-09, which amends the Town Code so that there is no question that the area used for calculating 30 percent lot coverage on oceanfront property extends up to the first line of stable vegetation, and not beyond to the mean high water mark, which is the property’s easternmost border.

We will publish a link to the revised ZTA 21-08 when it comes before the Town Council for consideration.

You may access ZTA 21-09 at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/ uploads/2021/10/ZTA-21-09-Lot-Coverage.pdf.

Planning Director/Deputy Town Manager Wes Haskett asked to table ZTA 21-09 because he is continuing to work with Town Attorney Ben Gallop and Professor David Owens, a municipal law and land-use expert at the University of North Carolina School of Government, on the language of the proposed ordinance.

They want to avoid “over-complicating things,” Mr. Haskett said, and “bring something forward that we all feel comfortable with.”  

The Planning Board also discussed the requirements it might impose on produce stands in the Town’s commercial district if such stands become a permitted use, which they currently are not under the Southern Shores Town Code.

Board members agreed that they support produce stands, both those that are temporary and those that are permanent, while also acknowledging that their presence in the Marketplace, the Sandy Ridge Center (the strip mall on U.S. Hwy. 158), or the Southern Shores Crossing would ultimately be up to the respective property owner.

The Board considered criteria such as the stand’s size, its hours of operation, its products, its wind resistance and other safety factors, its trash disposal, its electricity needs, its parking requirements, etc.

Many of the criteria were suggested by requirements imposed by Kitty Hawk and Nags Head on produce stands that operate in those towns.

Mr. Haskett furnished the Board with these criteria and said he also would look at Duck’s and Currituck County’s ordinances before he “makes an attempt” to draft a Zoning Text Amendment for Southern Shores, which the Board authorized him to do.

For the Kitty Hawk and Nags Head requirements, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Produce-Stand-Requirements.pdf.

At the end of Monday’s meeting, Planning Board Vice Chairperson Tony DiBernardo said he would like to “resuscitate the trash discussion” at the next Board meeting, which will be Nov. 15 at 5 p.m.

The Board agreed that the collection of solid waste in Southern Shores, and any problems attendant to it, would be the priority of the November meeting. The Board also may take up the revised version of ZTA 21-09 and Mr. Haskett’s produce-stand ZTA then. 

*** 

Issues arose during the Town Council’s workshop, which featured extensive consultation with Town Engineer Joe Anlauf—who, unfortunately was off-camera and off-microphone—that we are too constrained now by time to address. We are hopeful that we will be able to pick up on some of them after the Nov. 2 election.

Mr. Ogburn said that he will bring “bid packages” for the initial work on the new CIP to the Town Council’s next meeting, which will be Tues., Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. 

Dare County Manager and Attorney Bobby Outten made an unannounced appearance at the workshop to explain in a lengthy public comment why the Dare County Board of Commissioners is “not prepared to move forward” with the proposed Northern Dare Library project in Southern Shores.

Two members of the Town’s Exploratory Committee for a Potential Branch Library appeared at the Town Council’s Oct. 5 meeting to enlist the support of Council members in communicating with Dare County officials about the prospect of funding a new library branch. Committee Chairperson Michael Fletcher and member Lilias Morrison said then that their correspondence and phone calls with the County had gone unanswered.

Mr. Outten said yesterday that perhaps the County had not been forceful enough in its rejection of the library project, leaving the committee with an ambiguous impression, but people had been trying not to be rude.

Among the reasons the County Manager cited for not supporting the proposed library were that Dare County librarian, Jonathan Wark, “doesn’t think it’s a good idea”; the County is currently engaged in “a pretty aggressive capital campaign,” which involves “redoing nine EMS stations”; and Southern Shores residents have only to travel “eight to 10 miles” to Kill Devil Hills to access a library.

Town Councilman Jim Conners, who is the Council’s liaison to the Town’s library committee, took issue with Mr. Outten’s comment about distance, pointing out that the Southern Shores-based library would serve people in northern Duck and Martin’s Point, who are farther away, and would be more accessible to children in Northern Dare communities.

Mr. Conners characterized distance as “a weak argument in the scheme of things.”

In the course of an exchange with Mr. Conners, during which both men said they did not want to be “argumentative,” Mr. Outten cited the unincorporated community of Rodanthe, which is on Hatteras Island, as having a better case for a library, in terms of distance, than Southern Shores. Rodanthe is more than 30 miles away from the Hatteras Library.

“We’re not going to build five more libraries to solve the distance problem,” Mr. Outten said.

According to 2020 U.S. Census population projections, Rodanthe only has 141 year-round residents. It is not included in the N.C. General Assembly’s N.C. town listing of 2020 census counts. See:

According to the General Assembly 2020 population data, Duck, Southern Shores, and Kitty Hawk have 742, 3,090, and 3,689 year-round residents, respectively.

Town Manager Ogburn told The Beacon yesterday afternoon that he did not know the County Manager was coming to the workshop until he called him yesterday morning to speak about another matter.

Mayor Tom Bennett “previously spoke with [Dare Commissioner] Steve House to clarify the County position,” on the proposed library, Mr. Ogburn explained in an email. “He [The Mayor] thought he might speak at public comment to say that the County had clarified there wasn’t library support but didn’t know when (today or November, if at all). Commissioner House had a conflict so [Mr. Outten] came instead.”

Mr. House represents legislative district three, which consists of Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, and Duck, and lives in Southern Shores.

According to Ms. Morrison, Mayor Bennett did not reach out to the committee before yesterday’s meeting to share with members his interaction with Mr. House.

REMEMBER:  FRIDAY IS BULK-WASTE COLLECTION DAY.

The Town asks that you have approved items for collection in the street right-of-way by 5 a.m. Friday.

For a list of acceptable and unacceptable items, see:

Among the unapproved items that we routinely see on the roadside are lumber and other building materials, screens, doors, and carpets.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 10/20/21

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