12/9/22: SOUTHERN SHORES LAND USE UPDATE SURVEY NOW ONLINE FOR ANYONE TO TAKE; ONE NEED HAVE NO PRESENT INTEREST IN THE TOWN.

The Southern Shores Land Use Plan Update public survey—which is open to anyone who would like to live in Southern Shores “in the future” or simply has heard of the town—is now online and may be accessed here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SOUTHERNSHORESPLAN

The Town’s first Land Use Plan was locally drafted and approved by the State of North Carolina in 1980. Since then, there have been four updates of the plan, the latest one occurring in 2008, even though the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission did not certify it until 2012.

At no time during any of the previous updates was the public workshop/meeting/survey/other method of soliciting community opinions and perspective open to people who do not live in Southern Shores, but “would like to in the future,” as this survey is. One need have no familiarity with Southern Shores in order to submit answers to the questions in this survey. One need only “relate” to the town.

To wit, the first question of the survey is “How do you relate to Southern Shores?” The answers offered are:

*Live here full-time

*Live here part-time

*Work here

*Own property here

*Business owner

*Frequent or long-term visitor, but not a resident

*I don’t live in Southern Shores, but would like to in the future

*Other (Such as I’ve passed through town before? I’ve heard of the town? I live in Kitty Hawk and have a beef with Southern Shores?)

(The lack of parallel structure in the answers to all of the survey questions drives us crazy, but we imagine our grammatical cringing makes us old school. Just stick with the verbs.)

The next question asks how long one has “lived, worked, or owned property or a business” in Southern Shores. In the event one has done none of the above, there is the catch-all response: “Not applicable.”

We wonder how respondents who have no familiarity or history with the town can respond to the next questions posed by the survey about the relevancy and achievement of goals identified in the last land use plan. Is the point of these questions to suggest that some of yesteryear’s goals are no longer relevant in today’s Southern Shores?

The survey also asks one to prioritize goals and concerns that the survey identifies as such. If you would like to know where these goals and concerns came from, we suggest you watch the videotape of the Nov. 15 roundtable discussion that planning consultant Jay McLeod of Stewart moderated with members of the Town Council and Planning Board.

(For background on the land use plan update process, see The Beacon, 11/12/22, 12/7/22.)

The idea of constructing a community or civic center in town—on what land?, you may justifiably wonder—came from Planning Board chairperson Andy Ward. This idea has been kicked around in the past and been rejected because of space/location issues. More than 25 years ago, there was a movement to develop the SSCA land on which the Sea Oats Park is now located into a community center/swimming pool/recreational area. No one who lived anywhere near that property supported the idea.   

We forget who brought up increasing the boat slips at the marinas, but it was someone at the Nov. 15 roundtable who is associated with the Boat Club. Is this truly a pressing concern for anyone?   

We have issues with the content and phrasing of the questions that ask one to prioritize goals and concerns, but we will not get out our fine-toothed comb now. We do wonder, however, how we’re going to change land-use policy to improve “access to healthcare” and what exactly the concern is about short-term rentals. The vacation rental business is Southern Shores’ economy. Is the concern here actually Airbnb rentals? If so, say so.

Interestingly, the two words that you will not see in the questions about the goals and concerns of Southern Shores land-use growth and development are “low density,” which are the defining words in zoning that have set Southern Shores apart from other Dare County towns. But you will read about “housing affordability and availability,” twice.

The survey poses some open-ended questions, which we favor, about what the responder values the most about Southern Shores and what he/she thinks are the most important issues facing the town in the next five, 10, or 20 years.

The chicken question also made the survey, although we fail to see how the keeping of chickens by residents has anything to do with land use and the preservation of natural resources.

A concluding question asks how “willing” the responder is to being “inconvenienced by attempts to mitigate summer traffic”: The choices are very willing; willing; somewhat willing; and not willing.

We see Mayor Elizabeth Morey’s handiwork here.

This is another political question, like the chickens. Any question on a land use survey about traffic in town should address the damage to the natural environment and to the roadways caused by congestion and suggest, or seek, ways to reduce it.

You have until Jan. 8 to complete the survey.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/9/22

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