MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF TOWN OF EMERALD ISLE
May 15, 2000
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Roy Brownlow at 7:00 P.M. Members in attendance were: Chairman Brownlow, Ceil Saunders, Cary Harrison, Frank Vance, David Schock, and George McLaughlin. Mr. Phil Almeida was out of town.
Also in attendance were, Town Manager, Pete Allen; Building Inspector, Jim Taylor; and Secretary, Carol Angus.
Prior to beginning the meeting the Chairman asked that three items be added as New Business and one item to Committee Reports.
The items for New Business are from the Town Council, which are:
C. Proposed gate for Bridgeview Campground
D. Lighting and sandfencing on oceanfront regarding turtle nesting
E. Neon lighting ordinance review
The item for Committee Reports is:
D. Wireless Communications – Cary Harrison
Motion was made by George McLaughlin, second by Frank Vance to add these items to this agenda. The board unanimously approved the motion.
Approval of the Minutes of Regular Meeting of April 17, 2000 – Motion was made by George McLaughlin, second by Frank Vance with unanimous approval to approve the minutes as written.
Report from Town Manager – Mr. Allen gave the members a brief summary of the agenda items from the most recent of the Town Council meetings in May.
Report from Building Inspector – Mr. Taylor advised the Planning Board that there were:
|5 Single-family dwellings
|1 6-unit condominium (Sunset Harbor)
Mr. Brownlow asked some questions relative to the Citco station now under construction.
Mr. Taylor answered his questions as well as those by Mr. McLaughlin.
- Fish Market Added to the Permitted/Special Use Table – Mr. Brownlow advised the members that the Review Committee felt the use should be permitted in both B-2 and B-3 zones. They felt that the Inspections Department and Town Council could make contingencies that would apply to this use. This request is for inside sales, not for the outside fish sales.
Mr. Brownlow said the concerns that may be an issue is the disposal of the fish offal and scales with a residential neighborhood nearby. Perhaps that may be handled and enforced as a nuisance ordinance rather than a Special Use. He went on to say that a town such as Emerald Isle should have a retail fish market.
Motion was made by Ceil Saunders, second by George McLaughlin, that "Fish Market" be noted as a Permitted Use ("P") in the Permitted/Special Use Table. The motion was unanimously approved.
- Willis Fish House & Retail – Commercial Review for Donald Willis/Burnette Architects. Mr. Ken Burnette advised the board that it will be 2,500 square feet with two portions; one for fish market and second for retail store. Also, some administrative or storage in the attic space of the building. The design is not complete as yet. There will be 12 parking spaces, which meets current ordinance.
Mr. Harrison asked Mr. Burnette to explain the "stormwater retention under pavement" note on the plat. Mr. Burnette said there will be an engineer design the plan, but unless there is an outlet in the area it will have to be an infiltrator type unit. The water table will be a factor in this design.
Mr. Harrison asked if fish waste as well as regular septic waste go into the field as it is shown? Mr. Burnette said he not certain, the regular waste, of course; but he did not know if there would be any other filtering system involved.
Mr. Willis said they fish heads do not go into this field. Small particles will go through. Mr. Brownlow asked if there would be an indirect waste on this? Mr. Taylor replied that it would. It would be a 2" minimum air gap.
Mr. Willis said, at his other site, he puts the heads and other particles in a big garbage can and puts that can back in the cooler. When the dumpster is emptied twice a week it will be hauled away. It will not be left outside the market.
Mr. Brownlow asked if the Carteret County Environmental Health does inspections of this type facility. Mr. Willis said they are periodically inspected.
Motion was made by Cary Harrison, second by George McLaughlin to refer this item to Review Committee on Wednesday, May 17, 2000 at 4:00 p.m. Motion was unanimously approved.
- Watson Hotel – Commercial Review for Ronnie O. Watson, represented by Mr. Will Riedel, Burnette Architects. Mr. Riedel gave a briefing on the project as a three-story hotel with service space on the first floor, such as a 50-seat restaurant, gift shoppe, pool, lobby, exercise area, etc. There will be 23 rooms each on the second and third floors. These will be large luxurious rooms. There is substantial parking provided with an adjoining property being provided. The entire hotel will be surrounded by a low brick wall for safety and image screening. Portions will be open, to be about 6’ tall. They do not want cars visible from the highway. There will be small patios off the rooms that they want to afford some privacy. There is not yet a plan of design for the new building, it is being developed.
Mr. Harrison asked about the impervious area. Mr. Riedel said they are utilizing the underpaving method of stormwater runoff.
A quick calculation was done for the entire project and all uses, found to be in compliance.
Motion was made by Cary Harrison to refer the Watson Hotel to Review Committee on Wednesday, May 17, 2000 at 4:00 p.m.; unanimously approved in favor of the motion.
- Proposed Gate for the Bridgeview Campground to temporarily close off Crew Drive Into the campground. Mr. Brownlow said he had never been asked to review the design of a gate before and therefore asked the owners of the campground to submit a drawing of what they intended for the gate. That drawing is before the members. The drawing shows a steel gate with a minimum of twelve feet wide for fire apparatus entry.
Mr. McLaughlin asked if this will be a permanently closed gate with no access? Mr. Taylor said there is to be a Knox Box there to open it only by authorized personnel.
Mr. Harrison said he felt there should be some reflection on the gate to aid anyone driving around at night.
After further discussion, the motion was made by George McLaughlin to return this drawing to the owners to be more specific in their plan, indicate the 12’ span, width of street, how it will be embedded in the ground and show reflectors on both sides of the gate. Frank Vance seconded this motion and the board unanimously approved in favor of the motion.
- Lighting and Sandfencing on Oceanfront Properties for Turtle Nesting.
Mr. Harrison said he thought there ought to be some information available concerning sandfencing and lighting. Ms. Angus advised there are handouts available in the Inspections Dept. of the recommended method of sandfencing. A copy was given to the members.
Mr. Allen, Town Manager, advised the members to be very cautious about adopting such an ordinance and it’s enforcement. He went on to relate that Queens Court had put sandfencing along the top of their dune, not to be meant as sandfencing, but as a deterrent to children who love to run along the dune edge and down over the dune. The fencing does help in moving foot traffic to the pedestrian access. Keep in mind that you can adopt an ordinance that cannot be enforced. He would recommend not adopting an ordinance to fine someone when a weekly renter left a light on toward the ocean.
Mr. Schock asked if there is any data to support the theory that lighting effects sea turtles. Mr. Brownlow said without some research being done, he couldn’t say. He went on to advise that Pine Knoll Shores is a Turtle Sanctuary and they do not have any sandfencing or lighting ordinance.
Mr. Harrison said it would be good to hand out information regarding the sea turtles; they would get interested and become a part of an ongoing program.
Mr. Allen advised he has the name of the woman who heads this program. Her name is Ruth Boettcher. She lives in Morehead City. Phone # is 729-1359. Her pager # is 247-8117.
Mr. Brownlow said he realizes the turtle season is fast approaching, but there are more pressing issues before this board at this time. All of the members are already appointed to ad hoc committees, some on two committees. He felt this topic should be held as Old Business and brought up again when it can be better addressed. For the present, it will be referred to Review Committee for consideration.
- Neon Lighting Ordinance Review - Mr. Brownlow advised that the intent is to consider phasing out neon through amortization; also, to clarify the intent of "informational" sign.
Mr. Taylor was asked the square footage allowed for the information sign. He responded that it is two square feet. It was never transcribed in the ordinance that OPEN was the only "informational" sign permitted, and a recent dispute over the interpretation of "informational" has brought this issue before this board.
Mr. Brownlow read from some notes before him "the intent of the board when the ordinance was adopted was that informational meant "open" signs, period. It has been further suggested that we limit the grandfathering to whatever average number of years it takes to depreciate the sign or the useful life of the sign i.e. within a "x" number of years after adoption of the ordinance all non-informational neon signs would have to come down." Mr. Brownlow said that type of ordinance has been usually down with billboards, junkyards.
Ms. Angus said she had spoken with the party who made the suggestion and that he said he did not mean that neon signs should be amortized; but that all signs should be amortized; so that in time all the signs throughout town would look alike. Ms. Farmer, Mayor Pro-tem, said that was not her understanding during this discussion, however, they did discuss signage in general. She said she thought that the average life span, i.e. 8 years, that in 8 years they would be gone, and replaced with conforming signs. All signs would be permitted to a specific date and must conform after that date.
There was some discussion concerning a sign that had gone up on the same old sign face of a prior business. Some felt that should not be permitted if the old sign face is non-conforming. The ordinance allows sign ‘copy’ to be changed, even without a permit, until such time the sign is taken down or destroyed 50% or more. Then it must be removed and cannot be repainted.
Commissioner Wootten said he felt that the wording should be "tightened up" and "how old do you let grandfather get" before conformance?
Mr. Brownlow went on to advise amortization of the signs. He felt 8 years is a long time and usually it is 3 to 5 years. They need only recoup their economic investment.
Mr. Harrison then made the motion to recommend that the word "informational" be removed from Section 19-72 and replaced with "Open", with no embellishment whatsoever, second by George McLaughlin with unanimous approval in favor of the motion.
Mr. Brownlow then stated that the issue of phasing out signs is to be forwarded to the Review Committee.
Two – is the party that cuts down trees and does grading without a permit. The committee recommended a $1,000.00 civil penalty, also at the discretion of the dunes & vegetation protection officer, and to double the permit fee (from $50.00 to $100.00). Mr. Taylor said he felt grading and tree cutting deserved this penalty.
It was discussed and decided that all citations will be issued to the property owner.
Ms. Angus asked where the board would like to see this amendment placed in the ordinance. Mr. Brownlow said it should be left to the discretion of the Town Attorney, probably in Chapter 6.
Motion to implement a two step civil penalty (1) for building without a permit by doubling the permit fee and a maximum of $100.00 civil penalty at the discretion of the Building Inspector. (2) Implement civil penalty at a maximum of $1,000.00 and doubling the permit fee for violations in any land disturbing activity without a permit from the Inspections Department was made by George McLaughlin, second by Frank Vance with unanimous approval in favor of the motion.
(Residential Multi-family) zoning. Mr. Brownlow said this has been discussed at Review Committee and warrants further and serious consideration. He had what he hoped might be a simple way to address this issue.
"Lots and/or parcels previously platted prior to (date of effective ordinance) for one and two family dwellings or similar, shall not be developed hotel, motel, or condominium. There shall be no combination or recombination of previously platted one and two-family dwelling parcels, or similar, for increasing density, condominium, motel, and/or hotel development
Previously platted lots and/or parcels for multi-family development shall not be increased in intensity of use. Previously platted multi-family developments shall not be increased in density of the number of living units."
Ms. Saunders asked Town Manager, Pete Allen, how he felt about this consideration.
Mr. Allen replied that he felt it may infringe on people’s property rights. They bought their property in good faith, in the zone in which it was zoned at the time. The boards have taken care of height limitations, he doesn’t think there would have ever been a problem anyway. To him it is a no-nonsense change.
Mr. Brownlow advised the members that rezoning would be a massive under-taking which could have serious consequences on a lot of properties. He felt it would be highly contested by property owners. He hoped his draft would eliminate that in that one and two family dwellings are already there, let’s keep them that way. The zoning would not change only the wording to protect the property owners after it is developed. An area would stay one and two family dwellings despite what the zoning definition might be, with his amendment.
He went on to say that the fear of the Town Board is that an entire subdivision might be bought out by a hotel which would put a hotel in the area of surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Mr. Harrison said he felt Mr. Brownlow’s amendment, would probably still considered rezoning.
Mr. Brownlow said there will be hundreds of notifications to be sent, and public hearings. He said the Block 51 project which has not been recorded, may be used for hotel or motel as well as residential since it is RMH zoning.
Ms. Angus advised that she had given each member a copy of what is involved in a rezoning, and this would be multiplied by every lot to be affected as well as by all adjoining property owners.
Mr. Schock said he felt the best way to approach this would be to get a legal opinion from Mr. Taylor on Mr. Brownlow’s amendment.
Mayor Pro-tem, Emily Farmer, said she felt the majority of the owners in these areas want the rezoning and are concerned to discover that they were in an RMH zone.
Mr. Brownlow asked how we could get a feel from the owners, on how they would feel about rezoning? Ms. Farmer said there could be something put in the Emerald Tidings and on the web site. She felt that holding a public hearing is that you hear from the same people that you always hear from. This is not bad, but we need more input.
Mr. Harrison said the Public Hearings are limited to those residents that are likely to hear about it. The previous polls are wonderful, perhaps that would be done. Mr. Schock asked if there is capability of a mass mailing to the owners that there is a proposed effort review zoning in this area, and then get their feedback. If there were a low percentage that respond that they don’t want it, then we would proceed.
Mayor Harris said this had all begun last year when she had a conversation with John Yost, the former Building Inspector. He recommended that rezoning be done.
Ms. Saunders asked about the individual that paid the money for a piece of property to build something on it, are we going to tell him he can’t do that? Mayor Harris said they were not saying he couldn’t build on it, just that he can’t build a hotel in a residential area. Ms. Saunders asked, what if he purchased it to put a hotel on it at some time in the future? Mayor Harris said you can sit here all night a predict what "might" happen. She likes the idea of a survey.
Ms. Farmer went on to say that she would not want owners to think anyone was "trying to pull a fast one." She does want their input.
Mr. Brownlow disagreed, he is setting a limitation within an already zoned district. There is a list of permitted uses and special uses within each zone to tell you what you can and cannot do. That is not rezoning.
Mr. Brownlow added that the time frame that was given to review this topic by the Town Council is not enough, and they the Planning Board will need a lot more time to review this issue. He appointed Mr. Harrison to Chair the committee for this review.
Mr. Brownlow also said that with all due respect, the hoped the Town Board recognized the workload being placed on the Planning Board and to keep the Board in tact, they be allowed to take the most reasonable requests until some of these issues are weeded out.
Mr. McLaughlin said he felt that there might be a budget allotment if there is to be a rezoning effort. Mr. Allen advised that the current budget is now in it’s final stages.
Mr. Brownlow said perhaps Mr. Harrison could look into a survey, board agenda for input, or other manners to get feedback. Mr. Harrison asked that the next newsletter that goes out, to ask owners to respond with their e-mail addresses with their property address in Emerald Isle. That would reach a lot of owners quickly.
Ms. Saunders advised that her committee, Phil Almeida and Frank Vance had met. Ms Farmer had driven Mr. Almeida around town to see some of the sites. She went on to say that she sees no problem with the ordinance as it is written, it only needs to be enforced. There were a few areas to change minor wording.
Her committee could not come up with anything better than what is there.
Mr. Brownlow said he was impressed with Mr. Peterson’s presentation at the Town Board meeting and that maybe some of his suggestions might be implemented into the ordinance. For properties adjacent to substantial water bodies that we require a 30’ vegetative buffer. This will prevent sheet flow into the water body. Swells were not particularly well received, because they hold water and attract mosquitoes and vermin. The vegetation filters and slows the water runoff. Planting trees would be important, they drink lots of water to help with absorption.
Ms. Saunders said one of her points of contention was at Pier Pointe where all the fill was brought in. She asked if it was to get above a flood zone or for view and the developer said it was for both reasons. She felt that once it reaches the height it must be to build, don’t add any more. The water that runs off will go to the adjoining neighbor. The view of the ocean should not be a factor in filling a lot.
Mr. Taylor advised that Pier Pointe was not in a flood zone, so fill was not an issue. Today that is a V-zone and could not be permitted.
Mr. Harrison asked Mr. Taylor if there is not some mention in the ordinance about preventing driveways, rooflines, etc that would cause the flow of one parcel to the next. Mr. Taylor responded that it is only in special flood hazard areas. It does not apply in "X" or "A" zones.
Mr. Harrison said we need to have property owners dump on themselves, not an adjacent property owner.
Ms. Saunders asked for a plan to indicate the number of loads of work. Mr. Taylor said he is doing that now in conjunction with the Dunes and Vegetation ordinance and permitting. They have to show any filling or excavation whatsoever.
Mr. Brownlow said he is confused as to whether this board is looking out to pro-tect the neighbor or to protect the natural resources? The reply was for both.
He does not read the Stormwater Ordinance as protecting flooding on private properties, but as resources and water table, wetlands, wildlife, Bogue Sound.
Ms. Farmer asked about the stormwater that flows from roofs into dry wells or whatever method is taken. Is that being enforced, it was not when she had her house built? Such enforcement should be a priority.
Mr. Taylor said, in past, it was not enforced; however, with the consensus of the new board it is now being enforced. Prior to receiving a final (Certificate of Occupancy) some method of runoff collection must be in place. It can be rock envelopes under overhangs, or leaders off the gutter system.
Ms. Farmer asked if this is too vague? Mr. Taylor said there is good language in the way it is written, but nothing giving the specifics as far as how wide, or how deep to collect the inch and a half. Mr. Art Daniel, a local civil engineer, has worked on some scenarios with different rooflines and how to size a dry well to accommodate runoff from a specific site. Ms. Farmer asked if this is part of a checklist for contractors. Mr. Taylor replied that a copy of that portion of the ordinance has always been attached to the building permit information when it is picked up by the contractor.
Ms. Saunders said she is really upset by the way Pier Pointe had been able to fill and set the buildings so high. She feels that filling for a better view is not adequate, to fill only for rising above a flood zone.
Mr. Taylor said that elevation heights are considered at the time of the initial on site inspection with the grading contractor prior to any land disturbance. If some-one wants to elevate above an adjoining property, a retaining wall is required. It won’t necessarily catch all the flow, but will retain the fill from going on to the other property.
Mr. Harrison asked if we are interested in maintaining domestic stormwater, can that not be required on the same plat you received for the house? He went on to advise that most people had driveways and he was told in 1989 that it had to slope back toward the property, not to the street. Mr. Taylor said a steep driveway, even if it is sloped back to the property six feet, is still going to have water in the street during a heavy rain.
Mr. Brownlow said the consensus of the review committee was that the current ordinance is effective for the means that it is trying to achieve. The Intent of the ordinance is spelled out at the beginning of the chapter and that is to protect our natural resources. He felt we should be more in the business of community protection rather than individual property owners. He did not think the board should try to protect the property value of particular properties, it should be the community and to keep the roads accessible. We must keep our resources free from damage. The ordinance, as written, is a good ordinance. He had several engineers, developers and code officials look at it and they agreed it is a good ordinance. The only addition they would recommend is to "add the culpability to any new construction, repairs or improvements up to "x" %, based on the tax appraisal"; i.e. to add, say, 25% value to your home, you would have to bring the entire structure into compliance with the existing chapter. There is no sure cure for all situations. The town is 85% developed, there is no sense in changing the ordinance now. How would we bring 40-year-old residences into compliance?
There was no response to this observation.
This issue will require further review, with no recommendation at this time.
- Doubling of Permit Fees After Working Without Permits. Mr. Brownlow said this is a two-part issue as discussed at the April Review Committee. One - is someone building a deck or miscellaneous weekend jobs, considered a minor violation. A civil penalty of $100.00 and doubling of the permit fees was suggested at the committee. The $100. Civil penalty would be at the discretion of the dune and vegetation protection officer, depending on the intensity and cooperation of the individual.
- Review practicality of retaining RMH (Residential Motel-Hotel) and RMF
- Stormwater Retention for Residential Dwellings
- Wireless Communication – Cary Harrison gave a brief summary of the committee to date. He apologized for the length of time it is taking, but when you see the draft you will see it is quite large. He will be mailing second drafts of this ordinance proposal to each member. He would like to have the Town Board call, possibly a Saturday workshop, to have more input on this ordinance. At that time, there would be a draft three, possibly five drafts, to be considered. If there is no public input session, the town would be shorting itself. Industry representatives would be happy to be on hand to tell what they know about these towers.
Mr. Davis Schock responded to Mr. Harrison that he was shortchanging himself on this ordinance, he does not feel there need to be four more drafts. He feels Mr. Harrison has done a great job, but does not feel anyone else in this room could do a better job than has already been done.
Mr. Brownlow agreed with Mr. Schock with the committee’s work, but that he was sure there would be minor "tweaks" that may need attention. He does not see any major rewrite, i.e. withstanding 110 mph wind force.
Ms. Farmer said it would be difficult for her to comment intelligently, perhaps questions could be posed to industry reps.
Mr. Harrison said he had found a "pro" on this issue in New York state. He is going to ask that this person look at the ordinance and critique it.
Mr. Schock wanted to clarify that the ordinance would not allow anyone wanting to build a communications tower to bypass us?
Mr. Harrison replied that the ordinance would be able to say that the town wants to have towers in specific areas, not in residential areas, not big towers, maybe several short towers, etc. NEPA requires that towers not be put in certain flood zones without a major critical action for environmental assessment. The way the island is laid out is critical and one of the major concerns is the flight path of Bogue Field is over the majority of the commercial district. Co-location is going to be strongly encouraged. The antennae that are on the water towers don’t seem to be a problem for anyone. A large tower with support structures will be an issue for many people. Is it possible for the power company to allow "flower towers" that allow banding of antennae to their poles? We may never see a tower here.
Ms. Farmer asked if there are any regulations in CAMA about setting towers in the 575’ ORW. Mr. Taylor said he knew of none. Mr. Harrison he saw nothing in CAMA regs, or AEC zones. Mr. Browlow said CAMA exempts public utilities.
Mr. Taylor advised that if it were in an AEC zone (Area of Environmental Concern), the flood zone would have to be considered.
Mr. Brownlow brought up that Mr. McLaughlin had mentioned that the flight pattern for low flying aircraft had to be considered. Mr. Harrison asked Mr. Schock to create a map of the town for the different flood zones, and the potential points for a co-location tower.
There being no further business before the board, the motion was made by Ceil Saunders to adjourn, second by David Schock, with unanimous approval in favor of the motion.