Memo-07-12-2016-Item11

July 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Resolution Endorsing MCAS Cherry Point Regional Joint Land Use Study

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the formal endorsement of the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point Regional Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) at the July 12 meeting.  The attached resolution formally conveys the Town’s support for MCAS Cherry Point, endorses the JLUS, and commits to act in good faith to implement recommendations that are intended to preserve the operational capacity of MCAS Cherry Point and also strengthen its standing in the event of future base closure initiatives.  The resolution, however, does qualify the Town’s support for three specific recommendations that could have negative impacts on our property owners.

Background

The Town of Emerald Isle is involved in the JLUS process due to its close proximity to Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue (MCALF Bogue), which is a key component of MCAS Cherry Point and is an important training asset for military flight operations.  The Town previously participated in the development of a prior JLUS in 2002, and the Town formally endorsed that plan and actively worked to implement several of the recommendations in the 2002 plan in the subsequent years. 

MCALF Bogue is primarily used for Harrier training flights, and is generally only used a few days each month.  The flight pattern is located directly over the center of Emerald Isle in an area generally between Emerald Plantation and Archers Point.  A map depicting the flight pattern, including the location of accident potential zones (APZ-1 and APZ-2) is attached for your information.  Only a very small area of Emerald Isle is included in the APZ-1 zone (higher potential for flight accidents) along Bogue Sound, and includes only a small number of existing structures in the Emerald Plantation subdivision, Sunset Harbor condominium complex, the Island Harbor Marina mobile home park, and a small mobile home park on Woodcliff Lane.  A more significant area of Emerald Isle is included in the APZ-2 area, with nearly 1,200 residential units (of which nearly half are mobile homes) in this area.  I have also attached a map indicating the noise contours resulting from flight training in Emerald Isle, and it generally follows the flight pattern. 

As a result of the 2002 JLUS, the Town created a new Bogue Field AICUZ (Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone) Overlay District in its zoning ordinance.  The overlay district was created primarily to create greater public awareness of the presence of MCALF Bogue and flight operations, and includes certain disclosure requirements for new development and recommendations for disclosure during real property transfers.  The Town also provides educational information about construction techniques to mitigate noise impacts associated with the flight operations.  The boundaries of the Bogue Field AICUZ Overlay District are consistent with the APZ-1 and APZ-2 boundaries on the attached map.

2016 JLUS Effort / Recommendations

The 2016 JLUS effort was initiated by Carteret County, and includes participation by Craven County, Pamlico County, and the municipalities and communities adjacent to MCAS Cherry Point, MCALF Bogue, and other associated installations in our region.  Mayor Eddie Barber, Town Planner Josh Edmondson, and I were all involved to some degree in the planning efforts, which was guided by representatives from various local governments, private interests, and the military. 

The 2016 JLUS was initiated in 2014, and the final plan was released in May 2016.  The JLUS is an important planning document for MCAS Cherry Point, and helps to maintain effective relationships and communications with neighboring communities and prevent incompatible land development in close proximity to its installations.  Ultimately, the JLUS is aimed at preserving the operational capacity of MCAS Cherry Point in order to provide the most effective training for our military personnel.  Additionally, planning efforts such as JLUS are important considerations for potential future base closure initiatives. 

A complete copy of the 2016 MCAS Cherry Point JLUS is attached, and includes a great deal of background information about the military installations, operations, planning process, and other relevant information.  The complete 2016 JLUS can also be accessed online at http://www.cherrypointjlus.com/ .  The specific recommendations are included in Chapter 6.  The 2016 JLUS includes a total of 46 recommendations, with most of these recommendations either applicable to all entities in the region or only to other entities.  The most significant recommendations specifically applicable to Emerald Isle are summarized below:

  • 1.1 – strengthen tall structure and wind turbine regulations in the entire region.Emerald Isle enforces building height limits of 40 – 50 ft., and only allows telecommunication towers in limited areas.Wind turbines are not permitted in Emerald Isle.

  • 3.1 – notify MCAS Cherry Point of any changes in development policies within 5 mile radius.This includes nearly the entire land area of Emerald Isle (except for far east end), and Town staff routinely send notices of land use public hearings to MCAS Cherry Point personnel.

  • 3.5 – create Military Influence Overlay Districts to improve communication and coordination with the military for new development.The Town already utilizes the Bogue Field AICUZ Overlay District, and Town staff will consider the creation of a Military Influence Overlay District and potentially present an appropriate recommendation to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the future.

  • 4.2 – adopt “dark sky” lighting ordinance to minimize urban sky glow that impacts night training operations.Town staff will research this issue and potentially present an appropriate recommendation to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the future.

  • 5.1 – density limits on new development in the APZ-1 and APZ-2 areas.This recommendation is not desired nor practical in Emerald Isle, and the attached resolution explicitly notes that the Town would only pursue this recommendation upon request of and/or concurrence of the affected property owners.The Town’s current zoning in these areas includes Marina Village, Mobile Home, Village East, Business, Government, and Residential Multi-Family.Permitted residential density in these zoning districts ranges from approximately 3.6 units per acre to 8 units per acre (with a possibility to go up to 10 units per acre in certain circumstances in Village East), and such a change could have significant negative impacts on our property owners.

  • 5.3 – evaluate existing vacant parcels for future potential land-swaps (acquisition?).The Town has ongoing interest in acquiring the ~ 30 acre tract behind the Town Government complex in the future, and MCAS Cherry Point is a potential funding partner for such an acquisition.Most of this tract is included in the APZ-2 area.

  • 5.5 – increase minimum lot size to 20,000 sq. ft. in the APZ-2 area.This recommendation is not desired nor practical in Emerald Isle, and the attached resolution explicitly notes that the Town would only pursue this recommendation upon request of and/or concurrence of the affected property owners.The Town’s current residential zoning in these areas primarily includes a 12,500 sq. ft. lot size, and the vast majority of this area is already platted and developed.The Marina Village and Village East mixed use zoning districts include a minimum lot size of 6,250 sq. ft.Such a change could have significant negative impacts on our property owners.

  • 6.1 – public notice of noise impacts, etc.The Town maintains a dedicated webpage about Bogue Field, and routinely posts information about night flight activities to keep our residents, property owners, and visitors informed.

  • 9.1 – rezone properties currently designated as Mobile Home to Residential-2. This recommendation is not desired nor practical in Emerald Isle, and the attached resolution explicitly notes that the Town would only pursue this recommendation upon request of and/or concurrence of the affected property owners.The majority of the Town’s Mobile Home district is located within APZ-1 and APZ-2, and that zoning has been in place for decades.Any effort to rezone these large areas would negatively impact many property owners, and would likely generate significant controversy within our community.It should be noted that the Mobile Home and Residential-2 zoning districts are very similar, with the key difference being the allowance for mobile home units in the Mobile Home district (but not in the Residential-2 district).The Mobile Home district does allow single-family and duplex residential development, but does not allow multi-family development.

  • 10.2 – incorporate building design standards intended to reduce noise levels in new structures.The Town provides sound attenuation information to developers and property owners for use on a voluntary basis.Town staff will research this issue and potentially present an appropriate recommendation to the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners in the future.

Resolution Endorsing the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Regional Joint Land Use Study

Overall, the 2016 JLUS represents a solid plan to protect the interests of MCAS Cherry Point in the future, and builds upon the success of the previous 2002 JLUS.  The Town supports the military mission, and also recognizes the significant economic importance of MCAS Cherry Point to our entire region.  As such, I recommend approval of the attached resolution.

As noted earlier, the resolution does qualify the Town’s support for the three specific recommendations that could have negative impacts on our property owners.  Specifically, the resolution includes the following language:

  1. The Town of Emerald Isle hereby supports the mission of MCAS Cherry Point and endorses the 2016 MCAS Cherry Point Regional Joint Land Use Study; and
  2. The Town of Emerald Isle will work cooperatively with other jurisdictions on regional recommendations included in the JLUS, and will act in good faith to implement the recommendations that are specific to Emerald Isle
  3. In order to protect the interests of our property owners, the Town hereby qualifies its support for certain recommendations listed below, and will only pursue the implementation of these recommendations upon the request of and/or concurrence of the affected property owners
  1. Recommendation 5.1 - Density restrictions within APZ-1 and APZ-2
  2. Recommendation 5.5 - Increase minimum lot size to 20,000 sq. ft. within APZ-2
  3. Recommendation 9.1 - Rezone parcels within APZ-2 from Mobile Home to Residential-2

The Board should note that the Town previously communicated these concerns to those involved in the development of the 2016 JLUS, however, for whatever reason the final plan still includes these recommendations.  The attached resolution should adequately convey the Town’s overall support, and still protect the interests of our property owners on these 3 recommendations. 

Josh Edmondson and I look forward to discussing the 2016 JLUS with the Board at the July 12 meeting.