The Town Council unanimously approved dance and group fitness establishments as permissible businesses in the Town’s general commercial district and the installation of a crosswalk at 10th Avenue and N.C. Hwy. 12 (Duck Road) in a meeting last night that lasted about an hour.
The Council also unanimously approved a preliminary subdivision plat submitted by the property owners of 267 Hillcrest Drive to divide their 122,376 square-foot lot into two lots, both of which would meet Town zoning requirements.
(See The Beacon, 9/2/22, for background on the meeting agenda.)
All of these actions were expected and, in the case of the dance/fitness studio addition to the permissible uses of property in the commercial district (Zoning Text Amendment 22-09) and the subdivision plat, were recommended unanimously by the Town Planning Board. (See The Beacon, 8/11/22 and 8/16/22.) The N.C. Dept. of Transportation recommended the 10th Avenue crosswalk.
The only “wrinkle” in the approval process occurred when Mila Smith, the owner/operator of Atlantic Dance in Kill Devil Hills, informed the Council during remarks she made in the public hearing for ZTA 22-09, that she would not be moving her studio to Southern Shores after all. When questioned by Councilwoman Paula Sherlock about the change in her plans, Ms. Smith, who submitted the application for ZTA 22-09, revealed that the commercial space “we had our hearts set on” had been leased.
Although Ms. Smith never identified the prospective location for Atlantic Dance, Deputy Town Manager/Planning Director Wes Haskett told The Beacon at the Aug. 15 Planning Board meeting that it was a space in the Southern Shores Crossing. He said the same last night in response to a query from the Council.
The ZTA, which the Town Council enthusiastically approved, adds “group fitness, aerobics, dance, karate, yoga, gym, and/or weight training” to the list of permissible service establishments in the commercial district. (See Town Code 36-207(b)(3).)
Also yesterday, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn announced that the probable starting date for the Town’s beach nourishment project, which is expected to take 43 days, is now Oct. 2 and that the street paving work that was slated for the first year of the Town’s new 10-year paving maintenance plan is done.
Although some of the street work may look like “a patchwork quilt,” Mr. Ogburn explained–as he has previously–that all streets will eventually have a smooth overlay on them.
Mr. Ogburn referred the Council and residents, many of whom apparently have complained to him about how some of the streets look, to Hickory Trail, east of Duck Road; Soundview Trail; and Chicahauk Trail as examples of how all the streets will look when the overlays are complete.
The Town Manager also reported that last weekend was the last time this year that the road barricades will be used on the residential cut-through routes.
In his update, Mr. Haskett reported that since May, when the changes in the Town’s solid waste ordinance took effect, the Town has issued 63 warning citations to property owners of ordinance violations, the majority of them on Ocean Boulevard and Duck Road. He did not detail the nature of the warnings.
PUBLIC COMMENTS OF NOTE
In public comments last night, Tony DiBernardo, who lives on Ninth Avenue, which NCDOT also considered for a crosswalk on Duck Road, complained about the condition of the walkway on the east side of the thoroughfare, calling it “atrocious.”
Mr. DiBernardo, who also serves as vice chair on the Planning Board, said he has been writing to Town Council members for the past six years about repairing and improving the walkway, but has received little response. He exhorted the current Council to put some budgetary dollars into maintaining the walkway—before it authorizes the construction of a walkway on the west side.
In other comments, homeowner Len Schmitz, of Wax Myrtle Trail, addressed the Town Council’s recent decision to ask NCDOT to lower the speed limit on N.C. Hwy. 12 to 35 mph, year-round. Citing the potential use of the road by “golf carts,” Mr. Schmitz noted safety concerns with such vehicles and expressed a preference for a 40 mph speed limit on the thoroughfare.
Currently, the speed limit on N.C. 12 is 45 mph, except from May 15 through Sept. 15 when the speed limit drops to 35 mph from the Kitty Hawk town line north to Trout Run.
As The Beacon reported 8/3/22, the Town Council’s unanimous approval of a year-round 35 mph speed limit on N.C. 12 cleared the way for low-speed vehicle (LSV) drivers to use the thoroughfare at all times, a consequence that elected officials did not discuss during their deliberations.
No one on the Town Council responded to Mr. Schmitz.
LSVs are motorized electric or gasoline-powered four-wheeled vehicles that generally do not travel at more than 25 mph. Regular golf carts are not LSVs, but there are LSV golf carts.
LSVs must meet State of North Carolina requirements and be licensed in order for them to be street legal.
According to N.C. General Statutes sec. 20-121.1(1) low-speed vehicles may be operated only on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or lower.
Mr. Schmitz clarified with The Beacon today through Facebook that he would maintain the higher speed on Duck Road year-round and support the lower 35 mph limit only for the section of Ocean Boulevard between the Kitty Hawk town line and the cell tower/Duck Road split. (We hope we got that right!)
We agree in part with Mr. Schmitz. We support a 40 mph speed limit on N.C. 12, except from May 15 through Sept. 15, when we favor a 35 mph limit on the entire stretch of the road, not just in the Ocean Boulevard area.
OCTOBER MAYOR’S CHAT: Mayor Elizabeth Morey announced that she will hold another Mayor’s Chat on Wed., Oct. 19, at 4 p.m.
The Planning Board next meets on Sept. 19 at 5 p.m.; and the Town Council will hold a morning session on Sept. 20 at 9 a.m., to discuss budgetary issues and the next phase in the street paving maintenance plan. The Beacon will preview the agenda for each of these meetings.
All of the meetings will be held in the Pitts Center.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/7/22