Monday, November 17, 2008

Commercial Historic Overlay District Denied.

Here's the follow-up in the local Daily Advance by Brenda Kleman from the BOC meeting as reported previously:

By Brenda Kleman

CURRITUCK — Carova residents came out in full force Monday and once again managed to thwart attempts to open up the off-road Swan Beach district to more intense development.

About 70 residents and several environmental advocates filled the Board of Commissioner’s meeting room to oppose developer Gerald Friedman’s request to amend the county’s Unified Development Ordinance to create an off-road historic village overlay district in Swan Beach.

Following a long session of public comment, the board voted unanimously to kill the proposed amendment.

If approved, the action would have opened the door to allow overlay districts on parcels greater than 20 acres for shops, professional offices, churches, convenience stores and inns.

Twenty-eight people urged the board to deny the amendment claiming that it would entice more tourists to converge on the quiet residential village and exasperate public safety and environmental concerns.

Carova resident Elizabeth White said, “Over the last few weeks there has been overwhelming, consistent, strong opposition by the general public to any type of commercial development in the off-road area.”

She added that 1,000 tourists and property owners signed a petition opposing the overlay district.

But Friedman argued that opening up the area to commercial use would help stimulate the economy and increase the county’s tax base. He added that when his Swan Beach property was platted and approved by the Board of Commissioners in 1969, it included both residential and commercial uses.

“My rights to my property are just as important as your rights to your property,” Friedman said.

Several residents told the commissioners that the overlay district and commercial development were inconsistent with the policies of the 2006 Land Use Plan. One of them, Lynn Wilson added that the LUP and state statutes prohibit local leaders from approving development in areas of environmental concern.

Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, said that she adamantly opposes Carova commercial development as it would jeopardize the public safety and welfare of the horses that are a big part of Currituck’s history. But, Friedman told the commissioners that the horses have 17,000 acres and he only has 25.

Edna Baden, with the Whalehead Trust, said that opening the area to commercial development would hurt the county’s nature tourism since Carova is a relatively undisturbed area that has a wildlife refuge and the horses. She added that it would affect the county’s eco-tourism, which is becoming the nation’s fastest growing segment of tourism.

Former Fire Chief Marshall Cherry said that hotels and commercial businesses would greatly increase tourism and create huge demands for fire and rescue services.

Friedman’s representatives asked the commissioners to put aside emotions associated with the overlay district and consider the legalities. His attorney, Bryan Plumlee, said that his client has a vested right to develop the property since the Board of Commissioners, in 1969, approved his plat which allows for both residential and commercial development.

Plumlee added that Friedman entered into a contractual agreement with the 1969 board and that it should be honored.

However, county attorney Ike McRee disagreed saying that at the time H.D. Newbern, as commissioner chairman, signed off on the plat, there was no zoning ordinance in effect. He added that after zoning was adopted, Freidman never developed the property for commercial uses and therefore has no vested rights.

McRee also said that no site plan for the property was ever submitted and approved, and that North Carolina does not have laws pertaining to contract zoning. He advised the commissioners to use their discretion based on laws and the Land Use plan.

Chairman Barry Nelms motioned to oppose the text amendment and the rest of the board agreed.

Afterwards, when asked if he would pursue legal action, Plumlee said, “The county seems to leave me no other option.”

As of 1 min ago, all 5 Commissioners denied the request for Commercial development in Swan Beach. More information to follow in the next days. To watch the Commissioners' meeting video, click here

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Planning Board Hear's Ocean-Carova Request To Reconfigure Carova Beach Lots

Here are the meeting minutes from a recent planning board meeting:

PB 08-41 Bissell Professional Group - Text Amendment for RO2 Roads and
Lots: Request to amend UDO Chapter 9: Infrastructure; Chapter 2: Zoning
Districts; and Chapter 10: Subdivision Requirements to allow existing larger
parcels to be re-subdivided into open space subdivisions in the RO2 zoning
district with sand roads that follow the configurations of previously approved
roads and lots (Carova Beach, Swan Beach, etc.) Mark Bissell, Bissell Professional Group, Larry Riggs, Ocean Sands Corporation and Lynne Wilson appeared before the board. Mr. Webb presented the following case analysis to the board.
Link for case analysis for PB 08-41 Bissell Professional Group - Text
Amendment for RO2 Roads and Lots

Mr. Kovacs stated if this text amendment was approved by the Planning Board it
would set a precedent on the Outer Banks, as well as the mainland requiring the
same consideration.
Mr. Webb stated this request is only pertaining to the RO2 zoning district.
Mr. West asked if this was approved, how many new lots would be created.
Mr. Webb stated approximately 548 additional lots.
Mr. Kovacs referred to the ocean lots asking if a storm comes through and
washes away part of this lot, would they now be non-conforming lots?
Mr. Webb stated it would be regulated by Coastal Management regulations and
not county regulations. Once a lot is platted even if at a later date it becomes a
non-conforming lot, the county ordinance allows you to build a house.
Subdivision approval occurs at a point in time; basically you take a snapshot of
all the ordinances in place at that time and create a subdivision.
Mr. Kovacs asked if this is approved will the general business go away with this
Mr. Webb stated that there is currently no general business zoning in the RO2
Mr. Bissell stated it is a misunderstanding on the 548 lots. There is no difference
in the number of lots developed if this amendment is adopted vs. the number of lots developed if it is not passed. Mr. Bissell stated it is not 548 lots, but it is
closer to none. The minimum lot size is 2.75 acres and it is just a difference in
how you configure the lots.
Mr. Woody stated that unless you had these lots surveyed, you would not know if
there is a net increase in lots.
Mr. Bissell stated the purpose is not to get more lots; the purpose is to get lots
that are more appropriate with the configuration of the parcels in the
development. Mr. Bissell stated that the residents are concerned with minimizing
the clearing of the Maritime Forrest in a traditional tract of land. The 7:1 ratio is a
benefit because you have 70% less roadway than you would have with a 4:1
Mr. Riggs provided an overview of the history in this area.
Mr. Bissell stated if they went with a 4:1 ratio in Section 2 they would end up with
2 ocean front lots instead of 3 and 5 interior lots instead of 4.
Mr. West stated with the 4:1 ratio you would have fewer ocean front lots, but
more internal lots.
Ms. Turner asked why the open space language needs to be in the text
amendment since there are no existing open space parcels.
Mr. Woody stated that zoning districts have standards that are unique to that
zoning district, which is why the open space language is included in this request.
Mr. Bissell stated they have had a local meeting and there was also a meeting at
the local fire department which was well attended.
Mr. Woody stated he attended both meetings. Both the applicant and citizens
worked diligently and tried to find compromises. All parties have worked hard to
find a solution.
Ms. Wilson stated she lives in North Swan Beach and she represents the four
wheel drive community. She attended the meeting at the local fire department
and had another meeting with Mr. Bissell, Mr. Riggs and Mr. Woody. They had
many concerns which were addressed and corrected. The biggest concern is the
7:1 reconfiguration. Mr. Bissell stated with the 7:1 ratio there will be less roads
and maritime forest disturbance. The concept of an open space subdivision, if it
doesn’t result in more lots, is very appealing if it only involves the reconfiguration of lots. Ms. Wilson stated they were very appreciative of Mr. Bissell addressing their concerns, including some concerns that were safety issues. Ms. Wilson stated that in all fairness, speaking for the community this proposal has
presented them with many challenges, but they have been discussed and met
and they have come to an agreement that they are not protesting this request.
Mr. Webb stated that the applicant can take all these parcels and do a single
recombination. By doing this amendment, it saves the applicant six to eight
months in process.
Ms. Turner stated that in the proposal they are not taking back deeded open
space and re-subdividing it; how do you reword this in the text amendment?
The board discussed how it would be reworded in the text amendment. It was
suggested in Item 3, D. add the word “proposed” before open space. It would
read “proposed lots and proposed open space”.
Mr. Bissell stated that the proposed open space would be offered to the county
and if they did not want it, it would be offered to a conservation group.
The board discussed who owns the property from the property line to the ocean.
Mr. Webb stated the property owner, but he cannot restrict public use.

Ms. Turner motioned to recommend approval of the Text Amendment for RO2
Roads and Lots with staff recommendations and the addition of language added
to Item 3, D. “proposed” open spaces. Mr. Winter seconded the motion. Ayes:
Ms. Turner, Mr. Bell, Mr. Keel, Mr. Kovacs and Mr. Winter. Nays: Mr. West and
Mr. Midgette.

Currituck County Commissioner Election Results

From the Currituck County's website produced the election results updates below. Also see the following links for local articles on the election:

Republicans Sweep Currituck
Victors to work with Dems

November 4 Election Results

Currituck County Board of Commissioners Adds New Members

Voters in Currituck County participated in a historic election on November 4, 2008, both in the national election for President and in local races as the county's Board of Commissioners expands from five members to seven.

Incumbent Republican Commissioner Owen Etheridge won his re-election bid in District 4, and three new members gained seats in other races. Republican Vance Aydlett, Jr. was elected in District 1, Republican John D. Rorer won election in District 2, and Republican Paul O'Neal was elected to the Board's new At-Large seat.

The four newly elected commissioners will join three current members - Democratic Commissioners Barry Nelms, Gene Gregory and Janet Taylor - to form Currituck's first seven-member Board of Commissioners. The new Board of Commissioners will officially be seated in December 2008.

For more information regarding the November 4 Election, contact the Currituck Board of Elections at 232-2525.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Candidates don't want the "No Bridge Option"

All: Sorry for the delay but I have been out of town visiting extended family. Here's an article by the Daily Advance's Jennifer Preyss on where some candidates for commissioner stand on the bridge options.

Staff Writer

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Candidates for the Currituck Board of Commissioners say they’d support a state highway improvementoption that includes building a Mid-Currituck bridge and the least amount of road widening.

Five candidates shared their views on the proposed N.C. Turnpike Authority project during several recent community forums, and all agreed that the agency’s no-bridge option likely won’t be an option.

“My heart tells me one thing and my head tells me another,” said Republican District 1 candidate Vance Aydlett. “If the no-bridge option is really not realistic, then I would support (the third option).”

The third, also referred to as option MCB4, would cost $480 million and include the least amount of road widening on Highways U.S. 158 and N.C. 12.

The first “no-bridge” option, also called ER2, is the least costly at $315 million, but features extensive widening of both highways.

The second option (called MCB2) is the most expensive at $635 million. It also includes building a bridge across the Currituck Sound, from south of Coinjock on the mainland to south of Corolla on the Outer Banks. It also includes more road widening than the third option, including all of N.C. 12 from Corolla to the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Joining Aydlett in supporting the third option were Democrat at-large candidate Stanley Griggs, Democrat District 4 candidate Johnny Messina, Republican District 2 candidate John Rorer and Republican District 4 incumbent Owen Etheridge.

The Turnpike Authority will soon release an environmental impact study of the three alternatives for the Mid-Currituck toll-bridge project.

Officials anticipate awarding the project contract in early 2010 and project opening to traffic sometime in 2013.

The project is expected to improve traffic flow between U.S. 158 and N.C. 12, while reducing travel time between Currituck’s Outer Banks and the mainland. Also, in the event of a hurricane, the bridge will help reduce evacuation time.

While the no-bridge option was not originally part of the design, the turnpike authority was encouraged to include that alternative after recommendations from environmental agencies and reviewing public comments from public forums.

Many of the candidates however, agree the no-bridge option simply isn’t viable.

Adylett, among others, said they supportminimal road widening that the third option offers, although he noted concern for residents who live near the proposed bridge construction site.

“I’m concerned what will happen to them, it’s really a tough decision.”

Griggs agreed.

“I think third is the best option, but what needs to be decided now, is if that will adequately handle the traffic,” Griggs said.

But even while determining how traffic will increase in with the addition of the bridge, Griggs said the bridge will not attract an overwhelming flow of cars.

“(Traffic increase) is not going to be two-fold, it will be a modest increase at most.”

Messina, who also supports the third option, said he’d like to see the least amount of road widening down N.C. 12.

“I definitely think (the third option) will help with traffic, but we want to be careful about the road widening there,” Messina said.

Rorer said he favors the third option because it is the “only reasonable alternative.”

“(Third) is the least expensive and disruptive of the toll bridge options,” Rorer said.

Etheridge, who is up for re-election, said he will never support the no-bridge option because of the potential harm the extensive road widening.

“I will never agree to have road widening from one end of the county to the other,” Etheridge said. “It would devastate the county.”

Etheridge also favors the third option because it has the least amount of road widening on N.C. 12.

“With (the third), we could always go back and make adjustments later,” he said. “(It) would have the least amount of harm.”

In addition to the bridge proposals themselves, the turnpike authority has outlined two prospective termini locations within the second and third options.

Known as C1 and C2, the exit points are located within two miles of each other.

Bridge terminus C1, would end in the Corolla Bay subdivision, while C2 would end two miles south near Albacore Street.

Each candidate interviewed agreed C1 was the better terminus choice because Corolla Bay has substantially less congestion that the C2 location, near Albacore Street.

“There’s less development in Corolla Bay, and it gives the public more input on development near the bridge,” Messina said.