Town of Emerald Isle
Regular Planning Board Meeting
Monday August 21, 2000
The meeting was called to order by Co-chairman, Cary Harrison at 7:00 P.M. Members present were: Cary Harrison, Ceil Saunders, George McLaughlin, David Schock, Phil Almeida, Frank Vance and newly appointed member Ed Dowling. Also attending, Pete Allen, Town Manager and Secretary, Carol Angus.
Approval of Minutes of Regular Meeting July 17, 2000 - Mr. Harrison pointed out on page 1 to clarify the request to hold the Chairman and Co-chairman election at the August meeting; also, two errors on page 3 that needed changing from “commercial” to “commissioner” and to clarify, page 4, a comment regarding lighting made by Frank Vance. Minutes were then approved as corrected by Ed Dowling, second by Frank Vance with unanimous approval in favor of the motion.
Report from Town Manager - Mr. Allen gave a brief summary of the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, August 8, 2000. One item relevant to the Planning Board was the decision to allow certified engineers, other than David Criser, to do the review on projects being presented to the Planning Board. Mr. Criser’s office has become so busy that some of the town’s recent projects have been held up for weeks awaiting their approval.
Report from Building Inspector - Ms. Angus, in Mr. Jim Taylor’s absence, gave the report from the Inspections Dept. She advised that new-start permits are declining, as has been expected.
Election of Officers - Nomination was made by Ceil Saunders for Cary Harrison as Chairman and Phil Almeida as Vice-chairman. Vote was requested for Chairman; and Mr. Harrison was elected unanimously; however, the nomination for Mr. Almeida was defeated when he stated that he will be out of town for a number of meetings and would rather see someone else in the position. George McLaughlin then made nomination, for Ceil Saunders for vice-chairman. The vote was six in favor and one opposition, for Ms. Saunders as Vice-chairman.
- Update on Sandfence Committee - Mr. Frank Vance advised the board of the meeting held on August 17, which included Ms. Ruth Boettcher from N.C. Wildlife Commissioner and Gus Wilgus, official of the Turtle Trotters at Emerald Isle. The board felt that public awareness is the key to sandfencing and lighting in regard to the turtle egg laying and hatching. Perhaps to have realtors include pamphlets in their brochures, stickers on switch plates to remind occupants to turn off the lights, items in the newsletter and an article in Island Review. All members feel that most people want to cooperate in the turtle hatching and will be glad to do their part. Mr. Vance said he would like to see if an simple ordinance might be written for sandfencing to help the Inspections Dept. to enforce the recommendations made by N.C. Wildlife. He felt the lighting situation would be more difficult to enforce than the sandfencing. Perhaps the ordinance to be written to afford the Dunes and Vegetation Protection Officer (DVPO) the opportunity to advise persons not following the recommendations of N.C. Wildlife. Mr. Harrison said he that 90% of this project is public awareness. The question arose regarding an ordinance for sandfencing and lighting if there was not a description of the prerequisites for such. That is why it might be best to speak with the Town Attorney. Mr. Vance also would like to pursue the possibility of installing signs on the ocean accesses to advise people of the sandfence and lighting regulations. Also, the realtors should be notified and have agreed to supplying brochures or information about the sea turtles and sandfencing by the end of October to be sure it is included in the 2001 mailings.
- Update on Zoning Reclassification - Mr. David Schock, chairman of this committee, advised that he has studied the issue and finds there are elements that make a voluntary rezoning not feasible.
- The primary legal source is that 100% of the entire section of land (subdivision) must sign for the rezoning. If one person were to hold out, it could not be done.
- He does not feel that one corporation could come in and buy enough land in a particular area, build a hotel, including area of a size for a septic system, and parking with any kind of affordability.
- This is more difficult with the limitation of three stories as was recently adopted. A big enough hotel could not be built to offset the cost of buying that land.
It is Mr. Schock’s recommendation that a letter be drafted to the Town Board that, at this particular time, the Planning Board should not move forward on the issue of rezoning RMH to R-2.
Mr. Harrison asked if Mr. Schock had asked if there were any covenants for any subdivisions that might address this possibility (of being bought up and hotels built). If the subdivision homeowners associations were to have a clause in their own covenants, this would be legally binding in preventing such a use. Mr. Almeida said he lives in Lands End and the covenant states that it is for residential use, not for commercial use.
Mr. Schock asked for a list of the names of active homeowners associations to see if they might be interested in implementing such a clause. Ms. Angus replied that she would try to collect a list of such associations.
Commissioner Wootten advised that he, not speaking for the entire Board of Commissioners, is more concerned with the eastern part of the town, for instance, where Craig goes across the road over Emerald Drive and on Northward to Archers Creek. These lots are small lots and he could envision these being cheaper and more attainable.
Mr. Schock said the buyer would still have to buy the same amount of land for a motel or hotel. Commissioner Wootten agreed, but it would be easier to do in that area.
Mr. Harrison said there are five areas that are not developed, zoned RMH, that could possibly be used for motel or hotel use.
Chairman Harrison said, speaking collectively, this board sees this as “Pandora’s Box” and recommends that rezoning not be further pursued. A letter is to be drafted and sent to the Mayor and Commissioners to let them know that the consensus is that nothing be done about the rezoning from RMH to R2 at this time.
- Update on Cell Tower Ordinance - Mr. Harrison said he should have the last draft done on August 22, 2000 with copies out by the end of the week. The Planning board will possibly approve it September 18 meeting, and forward it to the Board of Commissioners on October 10 meeting for discussion and Public Hearing set, possibly, for the November meeting. It will take the attorney some time to formulate this ordinance.
- Update on Commercial Structure Ordinance - Mr. Harrison said there needs to be some more thought put into the actual percentage to be plugged into the ordinance. As it reads now it is 35%, and he wants to be sure it is equitable. Ms. Angus advised that she has received a video of the entire commercial district from Mr. Bernie Whalley that was done for our sign ordinance committee. This video would also be used for this review and can be available at any time.
Commissioner Wootten asked that some of the descriptive portions of the draft be changed to be more understandable language. He would also like to know where the numbers came from and what was researched.
Mr. Harrison said this amendment is to go to the Planning Board for recommendation, then to the Town Board for discussion at a monthly meeting; then the next Board meeting for the Public Hearing on this amendment.
Mr. McLaughlin said he had received a copy of the Heinz Center’s Evaluation of an Erosion Hazards Study, Pittsburgh, Pa. This study advises that FEMA should have erosion maps for the entire country. It should depict what shoreline is there today and what is predicted for 60 years from now. Also, the government ought to change the way premiums are calculated for flood insurance policies. Those who are at most risk should be paying considerably more per year than those who are not at the high risk.
This evaluation will be on file in the Inspections Dept.
Motion was made by George McLaughlin to adjourn, second by David Schock with unanimous approval in favor of the motion