January 15, 2001

Planning Board

Town of Emerald Isle Planning Board Minutes

Regular Monthly Meeting

Monday, January 15, 2001

 

 

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Cary Harrison, at 7:00 P.M.

Members in attendance: Cary Harrison, Ceil Saunders, Phil Almeida, George McLaughlin, Ed Dowling, David Schock, and Frank Vance. Also in attendance were Carolyn Custy, Town Clerk, substituting for Carol Angus; and Pete Allen, Town Manager.

Minutes of the regular meeting of December 7, 2000, were approved with two comments made by Phil Almeida: 1) on page 4, change the wording to what he said, "Rezoning of the property would not be fair to the owner. On the other hand, if the project is developed in its entirety, the community would suffer further added traffic problems"; 2) on page 4, Mr. Harrison’s words "The capacity of Coast Guard Road" should be changed to "The traffic volume of Coast Guard Road would largely increase by approximately 6,600 cars per day."

Motion was made by David Schock to accept the minutes as changed with a second by George McLaughlin. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

Report from Town Manager – Mr. Pete Allen reported that the Town Board granted final plat approval for the 4-lot commercial subdivision and the 9-lot residential subdivision in Block 15. The Board also approved a resolution of support for establishing a state-funded Beach Renourishment and Restoration Commission. The two other items, which they are discussing this evening, are special use permits in B3 zones and possible gateway overlay district.

Report from Building Inspector – Mr. James Taylor was not in attendance to give the report. Chairman Harrison said that the permits issued for the last month totaled 101 permits for a total of $1.78 million. Mr. Almeida said he had been driving down Coast Guard Road and noticed that there might be an encroachment from the Texaco station onto the right-of-way of Coast Guard Road near the junction of Hwy 58. He thinks that needs to be checked, as he thinks the island is too close to the right-of-way; and when they start building the right-hand land, they will run into problems.

NEW BUSINESS

Chairman Harrison said there was an item he wanted to add. Dr. Almeida wanted a few minutes to go over some comments he had about stormwater issues. They started off with that item.

A. Stormwater Issues

  • Mr. Almeida said they had stormwater problems and they have a $5 million solution that Moffat & Nichol had suggested. That solution and implementation is still a ways off. His concern is that there is development going on, and they are compounding the problem. He would like to move that they make a motion to the commissioners that they should set priorities if they want the current stormwater ordinance to be revised.

    Mr. Harrison said he was inclined to agree with Mr. Almeida. It is critical, and a lot of things were impacted by the commissioners and the Planning Board last year. It was brought up by Benchmark in a workshop they had on January 12, and they suggested that commercial structures be required to retain all the storm water from a 2-hour, 10-year storm event, which turned out to be 4¼ inches. He asked if that sounded like a plausible number. Mr. Almeida said that might be tough to order because the water table is so high and they can store the water only above the water table. In locations where the water table is 2 feet below ground, there is not that much volume where they can retain all that.Mr. Harrison said the other thing they discussed was the notion of requiring that all residences retain the first 1½ inches, and that is currently a requirement but is not something that is not well enforced. Mr. Almeida said it is currently a requirement, but if you look at some of the lots that are very low, very close to a pond, there is no way they can retain that 1½ inch because the water table is so high.

    Mr. Harrison asked, if they were to remove the exemption for single-family duplexes to submit some stormwater plan . . . . Mr. Almeida said they really need to do that without making it really difficult on the individual homeowner, but at least have some semblance of stormwater management for what they propose to do. Otherwise, they might get the problem they have had in Spinnakers and other areas.

    Mr. Almeida moved that the Planning Board make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners that the revision of the stormwater ordinance be placed on priority. Mr. Dowling seconded. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

    Mr. Dowling commented that he thought it was long overdue and it should be their priority. He looks at the subdivisions downstream from 58 and looks at the problems they had with the hurricane and with the last storm where people were walking through the water to bring their kids to a bus and to pick up their mail. That is uncalled for. He thinks they had two petitions before the Board of Commissioners and would also recommend that they take a special look, as part of the stormwater, at the engineering off the end of the island that was brought up by Mr. Bob Isenhour at the last Board of Commissioners meeting. He addressed that issue and made a plea for the second time because he did put a petition in for the Board of Commissioners that they do something and prioritize that that, and Mr. Dowling does not think that has been done. They owe that to the citizens.

    Commissioner John Wootten commented that if they want to prioritize it, do it. They wrote the standard operating procedures in such a way that the chairman of the Planning Board could come back to the commissioners and say these are the priorities of the group. They have the ability to do it. Mr. Harrison said for the short term, they might well make the recommendation because this is something that will take some time and hence will take away from some other issues, and they need to make sure that the Board of Commissioners is well aware of it. Historically, the Planning Board has hardly ever embarked on a single issue by itself, they’ve always been instructed.

    Commissioner Wootten said the standard operating procedures were written so that the Board of Commissioners would not get down at the level of the Planning Board’s business and try to tell them what to do and not to do in priorities.

    Mr. Almeida said he recalled some discussion somewhere that they would get the Board of Commissioners to prioritize the projects to be taken up by the Planning Board. Commissioner Wootten said, "Read your standard operating procedure." Mrs. Saunders said the standard operating procedure also says that what they get comes from the Board of Commissioners signed by the mayor. Commissioner Wootten said the Planning Board can fit it into what slot they want it.

    Mr. Allen commented that whoever wants to take this and go with it contact him first because there is a lot of activity going on that he is not sure the Planning Board knows about—a lot of attempts to get grant money, the big picture and small localized projects to solve. Mr. Harrison asked Mr. Almeida if he could do that informally, and Mr. Almeida said he could.

  1. CVS Drug Store, Commercial Review, Block 38, at present location of Beachmart and Coconut Grove Miniature Golf, adjacent to Hwy 58.
  • Mr. Harrison explained that CVS is contemplating a move from their current location to the corner of Mangrove and NC 58 where it is a Beachmart and miniature golf facility. This is a preliminary stage for this, as they routinely send this on to the Mapping Committee for discussion later on in the week.

    Mr. Schock asked if they would have architectural drawings of the site. Mr. John Odom said that Mrs. Angus had the two color renderings of it. The smaller one was passed to the Planning Board members. Mr. Odom said it was pretty generic, that the signs are too big on the side view, but the building would be made of that type of material. Mr. Harrison asked if it would be a complete redo of the façade. Mr. Odom said yes, that there is a lot of glass in the Beachmart building that they will block over. Mr. Harrison said it would not be a mere reoccupation of the building. They are talking about an approximate 50% increase in the size—a 4,000 sq. ft. addition to the building. The longest side of the building would face Hwy 58.

    Mr. Odem said the signs would be redone.

    Mr. Dowling asked about the flow of water. Mr. Odom replied that there is a stormwater plan that covers it that he had provided to Mrs. Angus. Mr. Dowling asked about a vegetative buffer around the dumpster. Mr. Odom said he would put an arrow on the plat showing that.

    Mr. Harrison asked about lighting on the building. He said there were 8 area lights in the parking lot. In addition to what is already there, what else will be on the building. Mr. Odom said he did not know, but they have plans coming for that from the builder. Mr. McLaughlin asked if they would have any free-standing signs. Mr. Odom said that was noted around parking space 43. Mr. McLaughlin asked whether they are willing to conform to the new sign ordinance, and Mr. Odom replied that they had submitted a sign proposal to Mrs. Angus that does blend with the new rules.

    Mr. Harrison said they showed a new entrance onto NC 58, but the DOT had recently said no more from Merchants Park all the way to the bridge. Mr. Odom said they had revised the plan to take that out, but they will still work towards that.

    Mr. Harrison said that from his understanding with Mrs. Angus, there was a request by the owners of CVS, that in order to get their materials and crews on the job prior to the heavy traffic season, to fast-track this and get it reviewed and approved by Wednesday. Given the fact that they do not have a stormwater plan and there are a lot of other questions about it, he does not think that is possible.

    Mr. Odom said the stormwater plan was submitted when the maps were submitted. Mr. Harrison said they did not have it in their hands. Mr. Almeida said there are no computations. Mr. Odom said he had what was needed.

    Mr. Harrison said it would be reviewed at the Mapping Committee on Wednesday.

    Mr. Odom said the reason they are in a hurry to get started is that there is a building that has to be removed, some demolition that needs to go on in the interim. They are anxious to be open for the season or at least a portion of the season. Mr. Harrison said he understands that, but for the record, somebody else’s last minute planning does not necessarily make it so that the Planning Board needs to put it into double gear to accommodate a tourist season.

C. Sign Ordinance Committee Proposal

  • Mr. Dowling praised Mrs. Angus and the committee, representatives from the community and from the Merchants Association, and said Mrs. Angus was very well versed in her leadership role. Mrs. Angus presented what she wanted with courses of action that were appropriate, and they discussed them in great depth, and she really was a professional. He wanted the Planning Board to know that a lot of work went into this, and it is all due directly to Carol Angus and the committee.

    Mr. Vance added that he had sat in on two of the meetings, and the discussions that went on were really good. They tried to consider every aspect, tried to make it fair to everyone, and it was. It was a good committee.

    Mr. Harrison explained that the whole idea was born from the fact that there was a workshop held between the Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners, and they realized after an hour and a half of arguing about the very first point of the ordinance that they were going nowhere quick. Somebody suggested the brainstorm of getting a couple of business people, a couple of normal citizens who didn’t have business interests, Planning Board people, and commissioners together to come up with a fair sign ordinance. This was something that worked out very well and is hopefully something that can be done in the future.

    Mrs. Angus had reported to Mr. Harrison that they had used a total of 14 tapes, so they have many, many hours. They met 12 times on this, and for the record, they thank them, because it took a huge burden off the Planning Board. Thanks to George McLaughlin and Ed Dowling, to Carol Angus, Emily Farmer, Pat Patteson, Bernie Whalley, Mike Crews, and Jay Murphy. Their work is very much appreciated.

    Mr. McLaughlin commented that the section is a total re-write. They didn’t go in and change one word to another because they found that would be very laborious and difficult for the public to understand because they would have needed two documents—one to see what the old one said, and one to see what the new one said and what words were changed. So they rewrote it sentence by sentence, making changes where they felt it appropriate, and on the copy that they had, the highlighted portions were those that were changed. If there were paragraphs that were no longer relevant, they went by the wayside. They had 11 meetings between September 7 and November 30, three hours at a clip. The input from Mike Crews and Pat Patteson, who have business interests, were very helpful because they gave them a point of view from the business side, something that most of them wouldn’t have had, Mike especially saying what was the minimum they could get by with for this kind of business. It was fair to everybody, especially when they got down to when non-conforming signs would be brought into conformity, and it was decided 6 years, given the cost that the people had gone into to get it where it is today. Six years would be a suitable amount of time to let them write it off as a business expense.

    Mr. Harrison said this was available to everyone in the town, but asked Mr. McLaughlin to give the audience a quick synopsis.

    Mr. McLaughlin said they didn’t just pull it out of thin air. They got town ordinances from 3 or 4 different towns in several areas of the country. From one extreme in Cary, NC, the max sign height is 44 inches, which you can’t even see. During the last election cycle, they passed out $6,500 in fines for election signs that exceeded the limits, including to somebody running for office, a town councilman who passed it. He took pictures in Glastonbury, Connecticut. One of the big things they came up with was limiting the height of the signs, to get them down more into conformity to where they are not only at eye level, but they will be more pleasing to look at, given what the committee feels the community wants to look like.

    Mr. McLaughlin continued that the maximum height of a sign now is 15 feet, depending on, if it is a gang sign, how many advertisers are on it. They geared it all to pieces of 4 x 8 plywood. That’s how the measurements were geared. They changed some of the signs on Wings, etc., to try to tone them down. A business has to decide where the main entrance is, on what street.

    Mr. Harrison said there was a remark about portable signs—signs on wheels, attached to a trailer or vehicle, A-frames or other devices. These are prohibited signs. He asked if that included magnetic ones that people stick on their vehicles. Mr. McLaughlin replied "no," that if you have a business and use your car for that business and park it in front of your house, that is allowed because that is a private vehicle and is not being used to advertise a business at the house. He used the example of Box Office Bagels and said you can’t take a vehicle and just park it in a parking lot and leave it. That doesn’t go. You have to use it for the business, move it around, and leave it where the business is generally located. There was some discussion about the Pepsi-Cola truck that is always parked in the parking lot at Food Lion. It is advertising Pepsi-Cola, but the reason it is there is because of the amount of Pepsi Cola that is needed at the store instead of running to New Bern or Morehead City, where they have to bring in a new supply every day. That is done throughout the country, not just here. They are there for supply purposes, not advertising purposes.

    Mr. Harrison asked about the intent, of promoting the aesthetic qualities of the town, promoting the business community by conveying information, and promoting the safety of persons and property by providing that signs do not create traffic hazards due to collapse, fire, collision, disrepair, and abandonment. He did not understand how that was a likelihood for signs to catch on fire and become a traffic hazard. Mr. McLaughlin answered that they were trying to get at the free-standing signs that could become a hazard if they got damaged in a storm, and one of the traffic hazards of the signs is if they are so visible from the road that the drivers are distracted—they then become a hazard.

    Mr. Mark Brennesholtz, a resident, asked about lighting. Does the ordinance address sign lighting, lighting up, lighting down? Mr. McLaughlin replied that lighting is covered separately. They didn’t address it directly, and he said they had talked about, for example, the sign at Eagles with purple lighting. All they would have to do is change the bulbs, and that became quite an issue. Mr. Dowling said that all lighting plans have to be first put before the Planning Board and have to be noted on the plat. They centered on neon and fluorescent lights. They did not want to the lights conspicuously displayed on new buildings for fluorescent purposes, so they limited it in that area. Neon and fluorescent lights either in the form of strip lighting or as a part of a decorative display, signage, or other building structures are prohibited on either the exterior of any commercial building or commercial property. They also addressed neon lights in buildings like the famous ice cream cone and Open signs, but they gave the benefit of the doubt to the merchants for a period of 6 years, so they were very fair and were looking after the merchants in that area.

    Mr. Harrison said he assumed that anyone who starts to do business after acceptance of the signage ordinance will be in conformity, and the rest will be amortized. Mr. Dowling agreed, but added with the exception of hurricane or storm damage. Mr. McLaughlin said if they take a sign down, it is down.

    Mr. Harrison said there had been a lot of talk about the Town doing almost the identical thing, i.e. a complete rewrite, to the lighting ordinances. There is a huge need for that, and it will follow close in the footsteps of the stormwater study.

    A businessman asked for a copy of the proposal so he could see how it would affect his business. Mr. Harrison was under the impression that they would be laid out at the back of the room. Mr. Dowling explained that Mrs. Angus was sick and was home in bed and asked him to bear with them. Mr. Harrison said he would provide him a copy at the end of the meeting. The businessman advised he had to leave now. A copy was given to him.

    Commissioner Trainham asked if the committee had done anything about considering the problem of political signage. Pine Knoll Shores does a beautiful job of taking care of that matter. Mr. Harrison said they can’t place the signs out prior to 90 days before the election, and they have to be picked up within 10 days after the election. Commissioner Trainham said Pine Knoll Shores had been able to take care of it so they can put political signs in the private yards, and it lends a lot to the appearance of things. Mr. Vance said the signs are to be kept on private property. Commissioner Farmer said they limited political signs to private property, and they should not be on Hwy 58. They had a lot of discussion back and forth about doing away with it entirely, but they can’t do that on people’s private property. Mr. Harrison asked if they would be permitted on public property, i.e. the entrance. Commissioner Farmer said her memory says no.

    Mrs. Dorothy Marks, a resident, said they presently have an ordinance that says a sign can be no more than 32 sq. ft, mainly 4 x 8. The sign on the Scoops shop at Coconut Grove is made up of individual ice cream cones and names that certainly exceeds 32 sq ft. Has that type of thing been addressed?

    Mr. Harrison said it depends on the zone they’re looking at, and currently, in a B3 zone where this property is located, they can have a sign up to 100 sq ft that can stand 20 feet tall if freestanding. As far as attached signs, they’re allowed and can have up to 32 sq ft. He asked if attached signs greater than 32 sq ft had been addressed. Commissioner Farmer said as she recalled, it was addressed and that would not comply. It would be allowed to stay up for 6 years. Mr. Harrison said for the CVS drug store, the freestanding sign will be allowed, but as far as the attached sign, they will be limited to 32 sq ft. Commissioner Farmer said for freestanding signs, they gave more area to signs that were advertising more than one business. For a single business freestanding sign, they are limited to 32 sq ft. as well. Mr. Dowling said they addressed that also under temporary signs because they said a lot of businesses put those signs (Sale, for instance) up, and they rewrote under exceptions 19-134, paragraph 11, Temporary Signs, and that is brand new, i.e. "window displays will be limited to 25% of the window surface and one designated facade for calculation purpose. A business of 2,500 sq. ft. or less is limited to not more than two signs. A business over 2,500 sq. ft. is limited to not more than 4 signs. Signs are not to be posted more than 12 feet from the top of the sign to the walking elevation. Each sign cannot exceed 6 feet in width, and no descriptive advertisement or affixed to merchandise may be displayed in the window, i.e. towels and t-shirts."

    Mr. Harrison asked whether the walking elevation is where the feet are or where the eyes are. Mr. Dowling replied, "Where your feet are, from the walking surface."

    Mr. Harrison said that for the record, and he realizes this is an artifact of people being sick, he thinks that for things like the wireless ordinance and sign ordinance when they are 15 and 20 pages apiece, they should have it on the website, have copies available, and a few copies in the back, or at least a synopsis. It is only fair that people understand what is going to happen with these ordinances.

    Mr. Vance made a motion to pass the proposed sign ordinance on to the Board of Commissioners, Mr. Almeida seconded. The vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

    Mr. Harrison thanked everybody who worked so diligently on this problem.

D. Discussion and possible recommendation of Special Use for B-3 Zoning

  • Mr. Harrison explained that commercial enterprises were laid out in Emerald Isle for general public use, and almost always they provide some sort of asset—drugstores, grocery stores, clothing stores, etc. There are times when they become a detriment, either in terms of traffic generation, stormwater, aesthetics, on and on. There are things that businesses can do that cause a problem to the health and welfare and safety and property values. The commissioners asked the Planning Board to look into this issue. This past Friday, both people from the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners met to discuss this with Mike Harvey of Benchmark Engineering, and they talked at length of the need for this proposal, what it should encompass, what items should be in there, what sort of details should be in there, etc. They started looking initially into what was already in the Code of Ordinances, and in there, there is a lot of what they need currently in place; specifically, the Code of Ordinances says that the commissioners have the right to limit anything (in an application for a special use) which might be injurious to public health, welfare, or safety, that might injure the property values; in fact, most everything they were trying to cover is already in there. There was a small handful of things that did not quite pigeonhole what they wanted, but most everything else did. The one thing that this section does say is that the commissioners have the right to require, and the group thought it was important to mandate that the commissioners HAD to require, to charge them with the responsibility to make certain that any development that is done in this town did not injure public health, safety, and welfare and did not injure property values. That should be by definition part of their job. They went farther to add a couple of comments.

    Mr. Harrison said that what is currently in place says that "permission may be granted for the establishment of uses listed, special uses if the Board of Commissioners finds through the evidence, maps and documents filed or produced after a study that complete records and following a hearing regarding the application for a special use permit, that every condition below, of items 1 through 7, is adhered to." That is currently in place. Further, "the Board of Commissioners is required in its review of any special use application, to ascertain that the use and requirements of the proposed development will adhere to the following conditions", and it enumerates items 1 through 7. These pertain to public health, safety, welfare, and property valuation. The few items that did not pigeonhole are the following, and these were written up by Benchmark and modified by Mr. Harrison and would be discussed by the Planning Board: that any development maintain a full parameter 12-foot-wide fire lane access purely for reasons of safety; that a boardwalk or sidewalk that provides some sort of grade separation between pedestrians and vehicular traffic be constructed; that the Board of Commissioners determine the number of allowable points of access and their spacing; that the developer shall install a pedestrian sidewalk along the full length of each public right-of-way to which the development abuts; that the Board of Commissioners shall impose additional requirements to assure the development’s compliance to section 19-84, which is basically what he had just read.

    What development would this pertain to? They looked at all the business zones and all the potential uses within each zone and tried to feel out numerically what traffic volumes, stormwater volumes, etc., would be injurious to the town. They came up with the following two zones that they feel should be restricted to special use: B-3 and B-2. What size building? 5,000 sq. ft. How did they come up with that number? They started looking at the traffic that could be generated by varying building sizes. They looked at everything from 2,000 sq ft on up to 16,000 and above and tried to find out if you put a business at a bad intersection, what would be some sort of injury. This would allow, not mandate, the commissioners to stop it and allow them to review it to see if it is going to injure public health, safety, welfare, or property values. What they did is lower it down to 5,000 sq. ft. That seems small, but it is almost anything that is going to happen in B-2 or B-3, but this allows the commissioners to look at and very quickly pass on, for example only, the CVS to say this is no problem because their outflow is here and the traffic volume is going to be such and such, the stormwater plan is no difficulty. There may be other issues where the buildings are fairly small that are quite a difficulty. The fellow from Benchmark Engineering pointed out to them that they might be talking about something initially of 8,000 sq. ft., but if they have a McDonald’s of 8,000 sq. ft., that will generate a whole lot more vehicles in a day on a square footage basis than anything else they could have in town. So they reduced the threshold so they could encompass a lot of things and hopefully have the commissioners pass on the majority of the developments but be able to catch in that sieve the ones that do pose a problem to the town.

    The wording is still somewhat loose at this point. They had someone in the audience asking for the exact wording, but they are not quite there yet. They will be submitting this on Friday morning to the Board of Commissioners should it pass approval by the Planning Board this evening.

    Mr. Rick Farrington mentioned the 12-foot border around the property. He asked about the side and rear setbacks in B-3 zone. He said there was a 0 side setback, and now they have made it a 12-foot side setback. Mr. Harrisonsaid the rear setback is 15 now. The rear would be the only one with any difficulty and would short them by 2 feet. Mr. Harrison said the idea of this is to have it be reviewed by commissioners and to make sure that it accomplishes the objectives that are already in the Code book about injuring public health, safety, welfare, and property values. If there is a commercial building abutting another commercial building and there is no way you can get a road in there, the Board of Commissioners will have the good common sense to look and say this is obviously not required. If it is physically possible, then the notion is, for public safety, to be able to have fire access on all possible sides.

    Mr. Bill Holz said he always thought that one of the purposes of writing ordinances was to eliminate this committee review of everything that goes on. You write your ordinances, you have the book, setbacks, heights, parking requirements, then somebody who wants to do something comes and deals with the building inspection department, which hopefully are professionals, and they show them what they are supposed to do and make sure they comply. What they have done with the B-3 overlay is make every project in B3 be approved by committee, and that opens things up for mischief; and if the commissioners like this project, this person, they will be more inclined to think it conforms to their public safety requirements. If the commissioners are against this developer or another t-shirt shop or whatever it is, they will find ways to stop it. Good ordinances, good planning, eliminates this very thing they are creating, which is by committee. That is why you have the ordinances and an ordinance book, so that somebody can come in, see what the requirements are, design for them, and apply for a building permit. Now they have everybody in B-3 who wants to do anything will have to go through this series of vague committee meetings. There is nothing black and white that somebody can plan a project, building, etc. for.

    Mr. Harrison replied that he cannot speak for any commissioners or Planning Board members, but he would hope like crazy that it never happens that people will be prejudicial to anything they do. Mr. Holz said they are making it a law and are correcting laws that were passed 20 years ago because they don’t think they’re any good.

    Mr. Harrison said his second point would be that if the Board of Commissioners are not looking out for public health, safety, welfare, and property values, then they have no business, in his opinion, sitting up there at all. That is a priority, what the definition of their job needs to be. The third thing, when talking about a review, they already have a review of every commercial project that has ever happened in Emerald Isle and ever will happen. Mr. Holz said that is to make sure they are conforming to the written down printed ordinances. Mr. Harrison replied that this will be written down. Mr. Holz said it has judgment factors all over it, so that committees decide if they think it is going to meet it or not meet it. Mr. Harrison said it would not be committees, it would be the Board of Commissioners.

    Ms. Saunders said that right now the Board of Commissioners has the final say anyway. If 10 years down the road, a new board comes in, everything changes, but that is nature.

    Mr. Holz said the ordinances do not change unless they are rewritten as the Planning Board is doing, and then go to public hearing, then they are changed. If they have a new group that comes in and they start making these judgments based on this overlay where every single building has to come and be approved by committee, then you might not get the same interpretation you get from this board that you do in 5 years. Mr. Harrison said if they are not using as a measure of their passage of any development those basic tenets that look after the public health and welfare and safety, then something is missing. That is all this ordinance asks them to do, it charges them to do that.

    Mr. Holz said the ordinances they have, if he came over and asked for the requirements for building a house, they would give him those to take home and study and conform to. And the health and safety is taken care of because it should be in the ordinances in black and white. Mr. Harrison said Mr. Holz is asking for quantitative things, when this is actually a qualitative issue.

    Mr. Holz said what they are doing is making every building permit for every B-3 development a decision by committee based on interpretation of the people who happen to be on that committee.

    Mr. Farrington said that prior to doing any type of development of any size, there is a lot of money spent on planning, and a lot of decisions made prior to construction actually beginning. Gray is not good when it comes to bankers and things like that. The average investor or person with engineers should be able to lay out on paper without having to go talk to 50 people in the town what they can and cannot do on a piece of property.

    Ms. Saunders asked if he didn’t think also that sometimes they get builders in that activate that gray area, too. What the Planning Board is trying to do is make sure that everything is the way it should be, and she is sure things will not deviate by going to the Planning Board with the drawings, getting the building permit, and the same type of procedure. Mr. Harrison added "unless there is an inherent problem with the development," in which case this will hopefully catch that problem. If they want to come and put a McDonald’s on the busiest intersection in Emerald Isle and have a super-size McDonald’s, he can almost guarantee them that it will be in black and white that they will probably have difficulty with this proposed ordinance.

    Mr. Holz said that in the real world, that is where McDonald’s are built, the busiest intersections. They could say there is an intersection 5 miles down the beach where there isn’t anybody, go build the McDonald’s down there. Mr. Harrison said that for anybody who lives on this island, they will be concerned if there is a McDonald’s pouring out whatever number of vehicles into the traffic pattern every single day.

    Mrs. Paxon Holz said it kills her when they talk about a McDonald’s when they have no There is not going to be anything generating that amount of traffic for we have no sewer. Mr. Harrison said that he is not certain that he necessarily agrees with her, that is something they discussed the other day. There are already Swedish firms and other people aware of the pressures on land, and to be able to put McDonald’s on street corners in places like Emerald Isle and to be able to come up with a technology that would allow them to buy the filtered sewage onsite is not by any means an impossible dream anymore. Mrs. Holz suggested that the stormwater study take that technology into account and use it. If there is such technology available, she recommends that those considering the awful problems we have with stormwater in that section of the island utilize that knowledge to treat stormwater effectively because it is not going to go away.

    Mr. Gus Farmakidis said he applauded the Board for taking an initiative in writing this, and he is sure they went to a lot of other places and checked out what they have. He is a citizen, pays taxes, started coming down here in 1953 to Atlantic Beach, and what does that look like when you go across the bridge. This town still is beautiful, and they have to do these sorts of things. These developers come up here and everyone is against them. In Cedar Island [sic], Cape Carteret, you need 20,000 square feet to build a duplex. Here it could be 11,000 and 15,000. You have to start improving all this stuff. These people aren’t going to do anything for you, they’re not going to make this a better place. They’re going to level it. They don’t want any restrictions. That’s bull, and he applauds the Planning Board.

    Mr. Holz replied that the people Mr. Farmakidis was talking about, the developers, are the ones that created this island that he is so proud of. Mr. Farmakidis responded, "I am? And what have you done for it? You haven’t made any money? You’re broke, right?"

    Mr. Harrison stopped the argument and asked if there were any more constructive questions.

    Mr. Dowling said he would like to add that the Jacksonville Daily News reported "Council pushes beautification." They want a prettier place to live, and there is a picture of what you can put in the B3 area—self-storage, U-Haul, a pawn shop. And now they are trying to roll back what they have. Mr. Dowling quoted from the article, "‘Otherwise,’ Jones said, ‘we’re going to condemn the next generation to what we are already apologizing for.’" This is the trend of the United States urban sprawl.

    Commissioner Farmer asked about the stormwater ordinance. The Board of Commissioners can turn to that, as will the Planning Board, to look at stormwater problems. She is glad they will be looking at that ordinance. She is concerned about the traffic impacts; that is what got this whole thing started. There is nothing in this ordinance that specifically directs the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners to look at traffic impacts, and therefore, they need to have an educated Board of Commissioners and an educated Planning Board that will think health, safety, that means traffic. Or is she missing something?

    Mr. Harrison replied that is one of the concerns they had early on. They started talking about 1) how these things pigeonhole, and 2) how somebody is going to be aware. There is a learning curve that happens with anybody elected to an office. He agreed with Commissioner Farmer that there has to be some learning curve, but this has to be a mutual process. That is why they wanted to charge them and require that the commissioners HAD to do all these things, not that they may do it, but that they had to. That would allow anybody in the room to come up before the commissioners and say, "Excuse me, you are not following the code. You are not looking at this traffic issue, for instance, which you should be addressing. If you are going to bottleneck this road up here and that one down there, how are you going to get an ambulance to the beach."

    Commissioner Farmer said her suggestion would be to give them a hint, and that is to put in that paragraph in parentheses "i.e. traffic, stormwater, noise," whatever. Mr. Harrison said they had started doing that, and called it their first level of detail, because it was a question of how much they wanted to mire in the details. This was something they intentionally wanted to avoid. They could have written volumes on how big the vegetative buffer should be, how deep it should be, how long it should be, etc. And what they tried to do was avoid the details and follow the inherent logic of what the commissioners are supposed to be doing. They are supposed to be here for the community. Commissioner Farmer said she would drink to that, they are supposed to be there for the community, but she is not convinced that that is the way it always turns out. She feels that if they give them a nudge in black and white to be looking at traffic and stormwater, they will be the two biggest, they should give them a gentle nudge. Mr. Harrison said they could add the first order level of details in there. Benchmark had written volumes of information, but the committee backed off the details and tried to make it an inherently simple ordinance that had an inherently simple objective. He agrees that it would not hurt to have that. Hopefully nobody would look at the details so much if they get the big picture of what they are supposed to be doing.

    Mrs. Holz said she had referred previously to the Emerald Isle 2000 survey that was given out October 10, 2000. She asked who formulated the survey. Commissioner Farmer answered that she, along with a couple of other citizens, sat down and took the 1990 survey that was done in conjunction with the land use plan, and updated it.

    Mrs. Holz said that is interesting because the survey generated some responses with respect to this district that she asked the Planning Board to keep in mind. Most of Emerald Isle’s business zones "run from the bridge to Town Hall on both sides of Emerald Drive and remain only partially developed. Areas zoned for business should be: increased, 60; decreased, 183; remain the same, 623; no response, 45. The overall appearance of the business district is: good, 304; fair, 464; poor, 132; no response, 12." So overwhelmingly, the citizens who cared enough to answer the survey said they feel the area zoned for business should remain the same. And said the overall appearance presently is fair and good. So where does the impetus come from for all these changes?

    Mr. Harrison asked her what her point was. If the people basically said do not increase the volume of the business district and don’t decrease the volume of the business district, keep it the same . . . . Mrs. Holz said they are saying don’t decrease the property zoned for business. Mr. Harrison added, "And don’t increase it."

    Mrs. Holz said they were not saying don’t increase it. The point is that the business district is a necessarily strictly limited district. And they are proposing to put even more limitations on it that adversely impact the use of the property.

    Mr. Harrison said the proper implementation of what they are talking about will not adversely impact in excess of 95% of the developments that come before the Town. It will probably adversely impact 5% of the ones that will necessarily be adversely impacted in the community. Mrs. Holz said that is no comfort to those 5%.

    Mr. Phil Gagnon, resident, said he answered that question on that survey but said his understanding of the question was, is there enough business development as is in Emerald Isle. That is why he answered don’t change it. Mr. Harrison said that was his implication. Commissioner Farmer said the question before that indicates that there is quite a bit of concern about and interest in the commercial development in Emerald Isle.

    Mrs. Holz said the highest number is "The following statement best describes the rate of growth." The most answers were 300 saying it is the right pace. Commissioner Farmer said there is another question, too. Commissioner Trainham said Mrs. Holz was taking the questions out of context. Commissioner Farmer said she would bring the survey results to the workshop on Friday.

    Mr. Gus Farakidis, resident, said in rebuttal to the developer, the same thing was brought up before. She read the same statement. They are mixing apples and oranges because at that time, there was no threat of development along there. At this point in time, if they took the same survey, he doesn’t think they would get the same results.

    Mr. Mark Brennesholtz, resident, said he agrees with Mr. Gagnon. When he filled out the survey, he read it too quickly. His interpretation was do we have enough commercial development on the island, and the answer was "yes." That is what he checked, it was not would you like to see the entire area from Langston Bridge up to Town Hall fully developed commercially. The answer to that would have been most definitely "no."

    Commissioner Trainham said it had been his finding that this has been the consensus of people on the island. They are very concerned. We have already been built out in many areas, and he is questioning whether they are building out in so far as the business area is concerned. We plan for the future, and we have buildings right now standing empty. To keep these open and to keep them vibrant during the year is not easy for the merchants to do.

    Commissioner McElraft asked how the special use worked. Does the person who builds the building have to come back every year to get it renewed? Mr. Harrison replied that was an excellent question, and this is the one problem they stumbled into last Friday. A special use permit is good for a maximum of 24 months. They had remarked that they will likely have to amend that statement in the Code that it is good for a maximum of 24 months except as the commissioners may approve it an appurtenant use. Nobody is going to go and say they would like to build a 15,000 foot store, go to the bank, apply for a loan, and tell them that they may yank it in two years. They won’t get the loan. It is something they will have to address.

    Commissioner McElraft said that after it is built, they don’t have to go back in two years. Mr. Harrison said that in the case of all special uses for all the time they are listed as such. If somebody is found in absolute violation, there is a direct procedure already in the book that says they will be notified, there will be a public hearing, and then the special use can be removed. That is not likely to change. This is not designed to hamper development. This is designed to identify the problematic development that is going to injure this community in whatever way, shape, or form.

    Mr. Harrison continued that it would be a virtually invisible process. It is not another step, it is not another set of meetings, it is not another month. It is something that is an additional review, and it is additional by empowerment of the commissioners to look at things they consider to be problematic development. It also removes the burden from the Town to defend their lack of support for any development.

    An audience participant, who did not identify himself, asked if they could go through the process. There is not a proposed ordinance that they will adopt tonight. Mr. Harrison said they may well adopt the wording for passage on to the commissioners. The participant, an attorney, said it is hard to address what they are proposing when he hasn’t seen it, his client didn’t receive any notice that this was going to be happening. They do own B-3 property. This is the time when you need comment from the B-3 property owners. It makes it difficult.

    Mr. Harrison said they don’t serve half-baked eggs. If they get the wording together, it will be made available to everybody. Also, nobody directly notifies all property owners. There are posted notices in the newspaper and on the board outside and on the website. These are public meetings. The attorney said it would be good as far as having a discussion about proposing an ordinance that it be out there. Mr. Harrison said it is out there and he hopes people do see it. The attorney said somebody will make a motion and say we propose to send this to the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Harrison said the issue is out there, not the wording of the ordinance. That is not on the website or on the bulletin board or on the back table. The agenda item is out there.

    The attorney asked if a motion were adopted, would the motion adopt language that will then go to the workshop. Mr. Harrison said they would look through it, as this does not all necessarily fit in one place in the ordinance but three or potentially four places, on a piecemeal basis, discuss it, accept these, then pass it or not pass it on to the commissioners. The wording will be on tape and will be available before the Board of Commissioners meeting.

    Mr. Dowling mentioned the sidewalks. From past history, a developer or owner of new property wants to come in and modify them, it can take them out. (Change to tape 2) He would make a recommendation that wording be included in the statement, because right now this is a weak statement in that they can be removed within a year, 2, or 3 years. He also mentioned page 2, the bottom paragraph. Do they want to tie down any more of the statements with a stronger "may" or "shall" or "will" or "must."

    Mr. Harrison commented that this would be under section 19-83, "Notes, requirements, and conditions for certain permitted and special uses." This would be a subsection, a denotation off the zoned use table that already has 23 denotations, and this would be number 24. "That all commercial and retail structures within the B-3 and B-2 zoning district greater than 5,000 square feet in area are a special use and subject to the following conditions:

    1. That a 12-foot wide fire lane access be provided along each building as is physically possible;
    2. A sidewalk or boardwalk which provides a grade separation of pedestrian from vehicular traffic shall be constructed;
    3. The Board of Commissioners shall determine the number of allowable points of access to the development and their spacing;
    4. The developer shall install a pedestrian sidewalk along the full length of each public right-of-way to which the development abuts;
    5. The Board of Commissioners shall impose additional requirements to assure the development’s compliance with section 19-84."
  • Mr. Almeida asked about item 3. Could they be more definitive on that? Mr. Harrison said the point is that they don’t want to have a piece of property where there are 3, 4, or 5 entrances onto a street. The commissioners might say that would be confusing for traffic, pedestrians, etc., and all they would need is 2. This would give them the position to limit the number and spacing of the access points. Mr. Almeida said the problem he sees is that the developer needs to know the number of access points allowed; otherwise it becomes a trial and error solution. It leaves it too much up in the air. Mr. Almeida suggested changing to wording to two or more access points and go on from there.Mr. Harrison asked if two or more is always going to be plausible. There are no entrances from NC 58. Give them a latitude that they will usually be allowed two unless it’s a problem. Mr. Harrison said that "two or more where possible" is not a lot more definitive than what they already have.

    Mr. Dowling said that would give them variance that they could appeal. He suggested inserting the words "two or more." They would have latitude to appeal that based upon the plan and according to the ordinance. Mr. Harrison said he was considering some of the businesses around town—Sound Ace Hardware has one, BP has two. He was trying to think of instances where it would be problematic. Mr. Harrison continued that if he were the developer, he would come before the Board of Commissioners and Planning Board asking what he wanted. If he wanted two entrances, he would ask for two. Mr. Dowling complimented Mr. Harrison and said it was outstanding, but he would like to see the gateway concept.

    No-one had objections to that portion, so Mr. Harrison put it aside as temporarily approved. They would need some wording about the 24-month special use termination period. In section 84, he proposed adding "except that the Board of Commissioners may approve a special use as an appurtenant use." He asked Mr. Schock to read Section 7, which says "All special use permits shall be issued for a period not exceeding twenty-four (24) months, and special use permits may be renewed by the board of commissioners provided all conditions and requirements of this chapter have been satisfied. However, the board of commissioners is authorized to issue special use permits appurtenant to the special use so approved for the property. Provided, however, that any such special use permit shall become invalid upon the cessation of the special use for twelve (12) months." Mr. Harrison said he would add the wording "except for the Board of Commissioners may approve a special use as an appurtenant use." They can check with the Town Attorney and make sure that this is proper. Mr. Schock said if they were going to grant a special use to a builder to build a building and commit resources, they need to make sure that it is not every 24 months. Mr. Harrison replied "with the exception of, say, a stormwater system and filtration system failing, that they have this in perpetuity." Mr. Schock said any time they have to go back and change the structure or re-do anything of the building, anybody has to go back and get a permit from the town.

    Mr. Harrison said the third component on this issue is Section 19-84, Restrictions and Conditions for Special Uses, permission may be granted for the establishment of uses listed as special uses if the Board of Commissioners finds through the evidence, maps, documents, files produced, after studying the complete records and following a hearing regarding the application for a special use permit, that every condition below is adhered to. That is currently in the book, and what they would be adding to that section would be "Further, the Board of Commissioners is required in its review of a special use application to ascertain that the use and requirements of the proposed development will adhere to the following conditions." It lists numbers 1 through 7, which relate to public health, safety, welfare, property values, etc.

    Mr. Harrison asked if they could sell an entire package. He asked if everybody was in agreement that all three points are ok.

    Mr. Schock moved that they pass the three points and the special use on to the Board of Commissioners, Mr. McLaughlin seconded, and the vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

    E. Discussion And Possible Recommendation Of Proposed Overlay District For Emerald Isle Gateway (Entrance To Emerald Isle From Langston Bridge)

    Mr. Dowling read and submitted a working paper, furnishing background and information supplementing the e-mail that the Planning Board had received that gave the parameters of special interest. He acknowledged 32 people that he talked to in soliciting information that supplements and complements and gives him 100% backing on the document. He discussed this with homeowners associations in Osprey and Cape Emerald. There is already a formal letter or petition on file from Osprey homeowners from when they made an appearance to the Board before (attached to these minutes).

    # 2 From the people Mr. Dowling spoke with, the stress was on aesthetics. As soon as you come over the bridge, they held close to their hearts the beauty of the island and did not want it closed off. The key philosophy behind the document is also echoed in the code.

    #3 We all know about the ponding in Osprey. When we had the last flood, they had 5 feet of water contiguous to the boundaries of each one of those apartments. The Planning Board went down and looked at that, and their hearts went out to those people.

    Scratch the one sentence about 6,300 ingoing and 6,300 outgoing cars. They are treated the same for a total of 6,000. They are talking 6,300 cars vs. the present 2,000 cars.

    Stormwater – when you look at the land, although it is not classified as a hazardous flood plain, it is like a bathtub, and Mr. Larry Spell maintains that the way you manage floodwater in this town, based upon the conversation with Daisy Spell, is that you keep the ponds in existence. They have already seen on the property two footprints filled in of ponds. Mr. Spell has agreed to keep the ponds in effect back there, but they still have one major pond that prevents drainage that goes into Cape Emerald and out through the pipe into the Sound, which is grandfathered. So there are headwaters that have to be thought about.

    The condos contiguous to the boundary of this B3 piece of land are already affected. It is very hard to sell the houses.

    Property value – is it worth the billion dollars that they are seeing flooded out in the Dunes on down to Lands End. Is it worth seeing that area flooded out? 

    Mr. Dowling had numerous additional comments and figures. (His working paper and notes are attached)

  • Mr. Harrison had some comments. The interest of this island is very valuable, very attractive to the residents and people who visit it. It speaks a lot to the community’s commitment to quality growth. It is an understatement to say that most of us prefer the view from Cameron Langston bridge to the view from the bridge at the other end of the island. The entryway onto the island is enough of an asset to the community in general that the means to preserve this view should be investigated. Commissioner Farmer has authored a gateway overlay district to address it. Mr. Harrison said he had read the entire proposal and could not agree more with the intent, the scope, and the delineation of this proposed overlay district.

    However, he personally disagrees with the strong constraints that the proposal places on land owners that are listed within its guidelines. The guidelines call for a 50-foot vegetative buffer along NC58. All other commercial property is required to have a 5-foot buffer. Some compromise is in order. Any development in this overlay district would be required to avoid excessive grading and vegetation removal. He agrees but feels it should be required for all commercial districts, not just a gateway district. Structures shall be designed to be unobtrusive and shall be set into natural land forms and existing vegetation. He agrees but thinks it should pertain to all commercial districts. Single story structures or ones having discreet second stories contained within the roof would be required, and maximum roof heights would be limited to 35 feet. The maximum building height was recently reduced by this Planning Board and by this Board of Commissioners, and he does not feel that it is fair to further constrain the owners of these properties with an additional reduction in height. Nature blending hip roofs are encouraged and flat roofs would be prohibited. He agrees and thinks it should be the case for all commercial districts. He agrees with the size limitations but thinks it should be required for all commercial districts. He agrees with all of the remaining comments about the structure blending in with the community but it should be required everywhere on this island. He feels that if it could be demonstrated that the proposed overlay district is indeed as important as we all feel that it is, the Town should make the ultimate preservation efforts by buying the properties. Most of the constraints listed in the proposal should apply to all commercial properties and structures, especially along NC58.

    Mr. Schock said that the gateway is so important financially to everybody on the island, and that the design group did such a great job, and this cannot be done from a Planning Board point of view or Board point of view. He proposed that, if they are going to do a gateway resolution or ordinance change or anything like that, that they put together another committee with business leaders, residents, Planning Board members, and commissioners to do exactly what they did with the sign ordinance and look at the big picture.

    Mr. Harrison asked if Mr. Schock was implying that this should pertain to a gateway district or an entire NC58 district. Mr. Schock replied that could be discussed by the group when it assembles. The original idea was the gateway coming onto the island. If there is more concern that the entire island needs to be worked on, he does not know about that. He wants everybody’s fair use of the people who own the land and also to maintain as much of the natural habitat as they can. If the proposed committee cannot reach a consensus among the members, they could come back to the Planning Board.

    Mr. Harrison said it was an excellent idea. It would take some load off the Planning Board, that is very overburdened, and it would have fair representation from the citizens, from business owners, planners, commissioners, etc.

    Mr. Dowling asked if they could put a time frame on it. Or do they want it to go on as long as the sign committee did? He thinks it is only fair to the developers who are sitting in the room that they put a limitation on that so they can get back and satisfy them. Mr. Harrison said they are not holding anybody up. Mr. Schock said he is not aware of any development right now that would be affected by the gateway. He would like to see it take as long as it needs to to get it done right so it is fair for everybody, the people who come across the island and bring all their hard-earned money and spend it on their vacations to the people who own the property and to the residents.

    Mr. Almeida said he thinks they are rushing to push this thing through. He agrees in principle, that the idea of an overlay district is good. The Town is having difficulty acquiring land for solving the stormwater problem. That is the first priority rather than going to buy land to address the overlay mission. When you come from 24 toward the island, what has been done is fairly nice up to the point where you get to Coast Guard Road in terms of vegetation and planting that the city has done. Once you cross Coast Guard Road and go farther east on 58, there is something lacking. He thinks the city can do something there. If they are going to require private individuals to develop the land to meet this overlay requirement, the city should also demonstrate good faith by trying to beautify the area. Mr. Harrison agreed. Getting back to Mr. Dowling’s point that there is an inherent cost in building out or improving the junction of Coast Guard Road and NC58, he thinks that a month ago the Board of Commissioners agreed in principle to that when it comes to beach renourishment, people who live on the ocean should pay more than others because they will benefit much more than others. If you apply the same analogy to the cost of redeveloping or improving the junction, it would appear that it would be reasonable to charge a special assessment to the business property that is around that area that would benefit from that improvement. It is nothing new; it has been done in other parts of the country. There is always a special assessment if property value goes up because of certain development. Mr. Almeida continued that as far as the 300 feet and other things, there are minor things that need to be changed. They have defined distances from the edge of the existing road, NC58. Tomorrow if they make it 4 lanes, the road moves out. Do they move the 300 feet? It should be from the center of the road or the edge of the right-of-way rather than the edge of the pavement.

    Mr. Dowling conceded that point. Mr. Almeida said they need to sit down and discuss this in detail. Mr. Dowling said the 50 feet is what is in the 2002 plan for the state. It is for discussion. They do not know how much the wetland purchase would be. Mr. Almeida said they have to be realistic. Mr. Harrison said they have to ascertain whether this is important enough to people in this town to pay the taxes. Mr. Dowling said he asked the same question, and the response was "How much are you talking?" He said he did not know, maybe $100 a year, maybe $500. Most of them said if it was going to be under $1,000, it is ok, they would buy the land with the town and would be willing to have a special tax to pay for that. That was before they came in with the recent assessments.

    Mr. Vance said he agreed with Mr. Schock about forming a committee, and he thinks they should scrub it, not rush it, and come up with a good plan and have the business sector and residential person, Planning Board, commissioners to look at it. If they could get a committee as good as the sign committee to work on this, they could satisfy most people.

    Mrs. Saunders said she thinks the main concern right now is stormwater more than the gateway. She believes that with the special use permit and being able to control the buildings more and let the people build, stormwater is more important than anything. They have a problem there that has to be fixed before anything else, and she thinks they can do the special use on both sides of 58 and do the buffers and things like that, but the stormwater is the big issue before they get into other spending projects.

    Mr. Harrison said that in a nutshell everybody seems to be in agreement that they need to get some sort of corridor/gateway study group. He hates hearing of committees being appointed in government, it is always something that drags on forever, and one of his favorite words is hyperdemopronehilifaction, (people meeting frequently to do nothing). That is not the case with these groups. The groups that have been generated by the Board of Commissioners and by the Planning Board have accomplished some real things, and if they get a study group of business people, citizens, planners, commissioners, etc. together and look at this issue, they will really go somewhere.

    Mr. McLaughlin moved that they make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at their meeting on Friday morning to appoint a committee of business people, citizens, planners, and commissioners to look at the gateway issue. Phil Almeida seconded, and the vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

    Mr. Allen said he wasn’t sure that they would have room on the agenda for this on Friday morning. Mr. Harrison replied that two of the issues are already on the agenda.

    Comments

  • Mrs. Saunders commented that this was Mr. Harrison’s last meeting, and it would be a tough act to follow. She did not know which one of the brave souls was going to step up, but she is real hesitant. Mr. Harrison said he could see some consistent faces in the audience that seem to have a lot of interest in what goes on in the Town, they care about it, they care enough to show up at meetings, make positive comments and negative comments. He suggested they may want to do something as near suicidal as putting in an application for the Planning Board. He joked that it pays well, but said seriously it is a very rewarding experience, and they get to work with some really terrific people.

    Mr. Rick Farrington said he had looked to Black’s Law Dictionary when some of this started surfacing. He read the definition of "private property"—protected from being taken for public uses; such properties that belong absolutely to an individual and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. The definition of "property" is that which is peculiar or proper to any person; that which belongs exclusively to one; in the strict legal sense, an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by the government. Mr. Farrington commented that when you put a 50-foot buffer on a piece of property, you are depriving that personal property owner of the rights to the value of his property and his highest and best use of that property. The word "deprivation" means taking away or confiscation as a deprivation of a constitutional right or the taking or property under eminent domain without due process of law. That refers to "taking", whose definition was there is taking of property when government action directly interferes with or substantially disturbs the owner’s use and enjoyment of the property; to constitute a taking within constitutional limitations, it is not essential that there be a physical seizure or appropriation, and any actual or material interference with private property rights constitutes a taking; also, taking of property is effective to the application of zoning law denies the property owner the economically viable use of his land, which can consist of preventing best use of land or extinguishing fundamental attributes of ownership.

    Mr. Farrington read that "public property" is the term that is commonly used as a designation of those things which are public juris and therefore considered as being owned by the public, the entire state or community, and not restricted to the dominion of a private person; it may also apply to any subject of property owned by a state, a nation, or a municipal corporation. He said it is easy to make plans and develop other people’s personal private property. To do things right, the town would need to purchase that property instead of restricting it to the point where it cannot be developed to its highest and best use by the owner of the property. That would be fair, and to do that, you would have to raise everybody’s taxes in Emerald Isle. Right now the people who own the property (private property owners), just because they are on the main road, that zone was developed B3. You do not want to put a buffer between the traffic and the front of the business where you cannot see the business. That is why that was all laid out as B3, it is the highest and best use for the property as a town. They have to look at it from a legal point of view and look at the rights of all the owners of all the property in Emerald Isle. The way it is being approached is not fair, and Mr. Farrington does not think making a quick change is fair. The people have a right to develop and use the property they have been paying taxes on since 1957. It is zoned, there are current laws that are black and white. A business person cannot do business with a bunch of people that are emotional making the decisions for them. If we were to do that, we would never get any loans to develop property. There are 3 to 4 months once they get a plan developed, that is approved by the Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners. It should be very simple to have engineers draw a plan, where a business person will know that he won’t have delay after delay after delay. He thinks the rules that are in place are good, but they need to keep in consideration that that property has been B3 for a very long time. Even though it has not been developed, the person who owns it has a right to develop it. And if we have a right to use it and enjoy it with nothing on it, then we need to exercise our right to buy it from them at fair market value.

    Mr. Mark Brennesholtz, resident of 9322 Ocean Drive, said they had heard the argument a couple of times that the owner of the property has owned the property for longer than most of us have owned ours. His inclination is to ask why didn’t they develop it in 1970, or 1957. Since they didn’t, what is the hurry now? He thinks the answer is that their property has become far more valuable because the rest of us are now residents here. We have moved in, and it is because there is now a population here, there is now an influx of summer visitors that weren’t here in 1957 or 1970, the property is more valuable because of the investments that other people have made in their property. He is sympathetic to the rights of private property owners, but on the other hand, he does not feel that the people who have taken the actions and made the investments that caused their property to increase in value should in effect have to subsidize the development of their property, either directly by improving road of infrastructure or by potentially watching the value of our property go down because the gateway district becomes paved with asphalt. He thinks the reason they are complaining now and are in a hurry now is because of the investment that we have made in the past to make that property valuable.

    Mrs. Dorothy Marks, resident of 134 Sand Castle, answered Mr. Farrington’s comments. Every single one of us that owns property in Emerald Isle has restrictions placed upon us. We have setbacks that limit how much we can put on that property. The amount of land that can be covered by houses and so on are limited by the ordinances. So to say that we are placing an unfair burden on the B3 property owners and not on anybody else is a mis-statement. Every single one of us has restrictions on what we can do with our land.

    Mr. Bill Holz said everybody does have setbacks, impervious zones, etc. What they are seeing on this particular piece of property is an attack on it to increase something to an unacceptable level. This property has come under attack by the good people they talk to primarily who live down on Coast Guard Road, turn right on Coast Guard Road—they don’t want to see that property developed, they want to see the trees, so they have come out and started the attack on this thing. The first attack was the traffic, which in discussions of the Planning Board and discussions of the Town Board, this piece of property that sits empty is the villain. What about the people of Lands End—do they use that road, do they create any traffic? They are part of the problem—they are the traffic problem. Everybody who builds a house is part of the traffic problem. The poor people in Osprey with the 5 feet of water—the implication is that this property has created 5 feet of water. This property is in its natural state except for the little parking lot that Look Realty had. In fact, Osprey Ridge is probably creating a problem on this property because of all their pavement and houses, condos, there is a real good chance that their water is making its way onto this property. As Mr. Farrington said, this town was incorporated soon after they developed their zoning, and they zoned this property commercial. At some point, they made it B3. The town and the property owner, who has remained consistent for the whole time, have a covenant. When the town says here is our ordinance, therefore we are taxing you based on what the property is zoned under these ordinances, you create a covenant. The property owner pays those taxes year after year, and when they want to develop that property, that is up to them. Now you have people who don’t want to see it developed, and they come up with a traffic excuse, now it’s the gateway thing and we have to maintain the beauty. Mr. Holz said Mr. Harrison had used the term "an asset to the community." If they start basing these decisions on how good it is for the town, what an asset it is for the town, then they are asking a private property owner to lose value to benefit the town. The town buying the property would obviously be the solution. Can they afford it? No, maybe.

    Mr. Holz said the agenda tonight was to propose some ordinances for the town to create a public hearing. It seems that a board like this, and particularly the town board, when they call a public hearing or ask for public comment and have 50 or 60 people speaking against the property and one property owner who wants to develop it in accordance with ordinances that have been in existence for years, it is tough on the Planning Board and the town board to say they have 50 or 100 voters raising hell saying don’t let them do it, and one lone property owner saying what about the moral implications to do the right thing. It must be tempting to say we have the crowd, we have the public, let’s go ahead and change the ordinances and let the property owner worry about the consequences. He hoped that the Planning Board would take all these things under consideration.

    Mrs. Saunders commented that anything the Planning Board gets to do like change an ordinance or update anything, they are directed by the commissioners to do so. It is not the Planning Board’s decision to do this. They are directed as to what to do. They are following orders like anyone else would in the job, for $25 a month. She does not want Mr. Holz to think that it is just the Planning Board that is doing this on their own, because they are not. Personally, she does not feel that there is anything wrong with the ordinances that are in place. They might need a little tweaking here and there. She can understand both sides of the argument with the property at Coast Guard Road, why they want it developed and why they don’t want it developed. It puts the Planning Board in a hell of a position to try and get all the reports in and make something of it. She knows how she would feel if she were sitting on that property.

    Mr. Harrison said, with due respect, it is not as if a request had been made for a subdivision of this property and they simply said no. He cannot tell Mr. Holz how many hundreds of hours he personally and the rest of this board has in this issue; the fact that the town has almost $15,000 invested in traffic studies; the volumes of materials they have gone through that pertain to this property. It is not something where they said that is a pretty piece of property, so let’s not let them develop it. This is a piece of property where people said this could be a problem if you maximize what can possibly be built on there—and he has to rely on estimates—and they have examined this and there is immense reason to be concerned about the traffic. He wishes the property were up the way or down the way, away from this intersection. We would love to see you develop it; he would have been able to see his kids a whole lot more this summer and fall; and to hear that this property and its owners are being attacked he takes personal offense to. This Planning Board is a highly professional unit that he will not allow to do anything of the sort, and he does not think any of them personally or individually would do something of the sort.

    Mr. Holz said the town board had directed the Planning Board because of the complaints from people who live down Coast Guard Road who did not want to see this property developed. Mr. Harrison replied, "Not at all." If the buck stops anywhere, it stops with the Planning Board, because as soon as they (and he) got the proposal for the subdivision and he heard about a NCDOT study that he has a copy of and read, that is where it started. People down Coast Guard Road heard about it after the fact. This board and the Board of Commissioners were the source of that, not the people down Coast Guard Road.

    Mr. Holz said the first DOT traffic study was done by a 23-year-old intern who was telling the Town of Emerald Isle how to zone the property. It was the most bizarre thing he had ever seen. That triggered the other thing. Back when the old town board was in force a couple of years ago, Paxon went to them and said how about abandoning Reed Drive so they could plan the property properly. The Board said they wanted to see a plan. She said she didn’t have a plan because she couldn’t do anything unless she knew if Reed Drive was there or not. They said they wouldn’t consider it unless she had a plan. So instead of spending $150,000, she asked an engineer to draw up a big box that looked like a super K-Mart just for something so she could go in and give them a plan. Somehow that plan drifted out into the community because in the last election, the thing that surprised him at the candidates’ meeting was all the people coming up and asking about the development at Coast Guard Road. There was no big development—it was a thing to satisfy the existing town board who then said they would not abandon Reed Drive. So Paxon said she had to market the property and came up with the subdivision of the three lots utilizing Reed Drive and fronting on 58, and that’s when all this stuff started.

    Mr. Harrison said Mr. Holz could understand how it started for the Planning Board, too. When somebody wants to use a piece of property and is asked what is going on there and responds they have no idea, all the Planning Board can do is look in the book and say they have to take away this for a buffer and that for a buffer. If parking will take up this, and septic will take up this, that will leave a building like this. You get two different firms, as well as the NCDOT, to look at it and generate traffic numbers to be spilled onto Coast Guard Road which is about 60-70% maxed out as it stands, and there is reason for concern. It is nothing personal, there is no attack, it is pure good estimates that cause reason for concern. One third of the resident population lives down Coast Guard Road, and he does not want his kid to fall off his skateboard and hit his head and need an ambulance when there is a roadblock right there because of the tourists who come down here and are more interested in turning left than in letting anything happen. When you pre-empt an ambulance or any emergency vehicle from making it down there—and that is the only way you can get there—there is a reason to be concerned about the safety and welfare of this community.

    Mr. Holz argued that this property does not have to bear the burden for all the development down Coast Guard Road, and that is what is happening. They could come up and say that anybody who lives down Coast Guard Road can make one trip out and in a day. Or everybody down Coast Guard Road can have one vehicle per house. Mr. Harrison said that is a public road, and their burden is real and present. Mr. Holz’s burden is estimated at some point in the future.

    Mrs. Paxon Holz said the intern who did the traffic study that started all this misconception listed a square footage of 17 acres in the tract including Reed Drive. There are not 7. So from the beginning the traffic studies were flawed. Mr. Harrison said he did not see any reference to the acreage in the study. He asked Mr. Allen if Mr. Lassiter had authored the NCDOT study. Mr. Allen said the study was initially requested by the old town board. The author is Joel Cranford, and he is an urban traffic engineer.

    Mrs. Saunders said the thing that bothers her on this Planning Board is when they get a project, they do not know what they are dealing with. Anybody could bring in a drawing that had one building on it, and this is what they have to go by. In the meantime after they have said ok and it has been approved, somebody has bought the property and it is into something else, and it keeps snowballing.

    Mr. Harrison said the Planning Board is very happy to play every card they have face up, which is the proper way to do things. It is a shame that some people do not choose to play the card game the same way. A lot of times, if developers came to the Board of Commissioners and the Planning Board and said this is what they want and had an informal discussion rather than presenting and saying "Will you approve this?", he does not think there would be any difficulty. Maybe there wasn’t any call for all these studies, maybe they wasted taxpayer money, but it is the only way they could come up with viable estimates. They were not Ceil’s estimates, they weren’t Frank’s estimates, they were the estimates of two professional traffic engineering firms that charged very dearly to give us that information.

    Mr. Holz said they came up with the solution to have an entrance off 58, which everybody knew they couldn’t do anyway. Mr. Harrison said he agreed.

    Mr. Farrington said if he appeared to be on the attack, it was on the issue and not on anybody individually.

    Mrs. Korin Gagnon said she wanted to make sure the CAMA issues that are on the table coming up to be finalized in 2003 are included in the discussion and that they make it clear to everyone on the island what is going on. There are a lot of people who do not have a clue.

    Mr. Harrison said he had heard property owners, taxpayers, and quite often the same person make the comment about not knowing what is going on. The town does everything they can to promulgate by website, by the bulletin board outside, by handouts, and by notifications required in the newspaper. Mrs. Gagnon said they need more coverage so the people know to come to the meetings. Mr. Harrison said the people need to look in the newspaper. Mrs. Gagnon said they should not assume that everybody knows what is going on because everybody does not.

    Mr. Almeida proposed a word of thanks to Cary Harrison on the outstanding job he had done. Mr. Harrison was given a standing ovation.

    Mr. McLaughlin moved that the meeting be adjourned, Ed Dowling seconded, and the vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

    Meeting was adjourned at 9:25 P.M.

Posted by The Town of Emerald Isle 01/15/2001

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