Legislative Briefing May 8

Legislative Briefing May 8

Currituck Sound Toll Bridge

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (DoT) and Federal Highway Administration face new litigation filed Tuesday, April 23 by opponents of a proposed $500 million Currituck Sound toll bridge, who emphasize the project’s environmental impact and underutilization. Plaintiffs including the Southern Environmental Law Center and various citizens’ groups allege the project’s limited utility to peak vacation periods fails to justify its disruption of waterfowl migration, contribution to environmentally-hazardous coastal development, and taxpayer cost. DoT officials emphasize the importance of reducing traffic delays in lower Currituck during its heavily populated summer months, especially in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.

NC BIWA

The North Carolina Beach, Inlet & Waterway Association held its 2019 Spring Local Governments Meeting April 29-30 in Emerald Isle. Justin LeBlanc of the Ocracoke Waterways Commission presented on the 600-car-per-day reduction in Ocracoke Ferry traffic effected by Hatteras Inlet shoaling and the Commission’s ongoing discussion with the Army Core of Engineers as to how dredging efforts might proceed to restore greater access. Slides from Mr. LeBlanc’s presentation are view-able HERE.

Dr. Braxton Davis, Director of the NC Division of Coastal Management, presented on forthcoming 2020 Sea Level Rise Assessment Report revisions to include updated inlet hazard areas projected to encompass about 900 additional lots. Slides from Dr. Davis’s presentation are view-able HERE.

Dr. Coley Cordeiro from the NC Division of Water Resources presented on the budgetary status of various state and federal waterway and beach preservation projects, including the allocation of a $15 million forgivable loan from the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel Dredging and Aquatic Weed Fund to Dare County for the purchase of a shallow draft hopper dredge, and $1.9 million from the Other Water Resources Development Grant Program for dredging of the Manteo Channel. Dr. Slides from Dr. Cordeiro’s presentation are view able HERE.

Raleigh

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering the state’s FY2019-21 budget, packaged in House Bill 966, which addresses several issues of importance to NC REALTORS®. The budget includes a new requirement that the State Board of Education develop a mandatory personal financial literacy course for inclusion in public secondary curricula emphasizing the true cost of credit, choosing and managing a credit card, borrowing money for large purchases, home mortgages, credit scoring, and financing postsecondary education. The budget also extends the sunset date of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit from 2020 to 2024, allocates $2 million in Hurricane Florence disaster relief funds to the Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management for the creation of a pilot program providing two years of flood insurance premiums for nearly 2,000 residential property owners, and increases the standard deduction for all categories by an average of $515. Of additional importance is a Monday May 6 House Rules Committee hearing on House Bill 464, which would establish standards for the creation of association health plans for independent contractors, including thousands of REALTORS® who are income-disqualified for health insurance subsidies but cannot afford coverage.

Town/County Updates

Town of Southern Shores:

The Town of Southern Shores Board of Adjustment held a hearing on Friday April 26th to consider petitioner Gwendolyn Snyder Smuts’s request for review of Planning Director Wes Haskett’s issuance of a residential zoning permit to SAGA Construction for its project at 134 Ocean Boulevard. Ms. Smuts’s contention that the project constitutes a nonconforming commercial structure due to its intended use as a rental property invited sympathetic commentary, if little deliberation, by the Board. In issuing the simple majority vote of 3-2 required to affirm Mr. Haskett’s issuance of the permit, the Board acknowledged both 134 Ocean Boulevard’s satisfaction of Town Code’s definition of a detached single-family dwelling, and the absence of its authority to legislate a revised ordinance within a quasi-judicial forum. The dispute resembled a years-long controversy which originated in 2013 surrounding “The Chesapeake”, a 24-bedroom oceanfront house in Corova Beach, occupancy of which was prevented by an NC Court of Appeals decision to reverse a Currituck Superior Court ruling affirming its permitting. Though local and state headlines mischaracterized the Court of Appeals as having ruled against The Chesapeake’s size and intended use, the legal question decided was actually whether the project constituted multiple buildings and thus violated the Currituck County Uniform Development Ordinance (UDO). The Court of Appeals found that lower courts had overlooked “the essential element” of the case in “focusing on the residential use of the project and the definition of ‘one dwelling unit’ based upon the intended function of the project”, which it considered uncontroversial settled law. The Court of Appeals found the project’s use, occupancy, bulk, and other properties similarly relevant to popular debate surrounding “mini-hotels” immaterial to its qualification for permitting as a Single Family Dwelling, and examined only whether Currituck’s UDO’s allowance of “accessory structures” embraced components subordinate in use but not square footage to a “principal structure”. The Court of Appeals decided that The Chesapeake’s two wings failed to constitute conforming accessory structures because of their equivalency in square footage with the project’s third, kitchen-containing component, and ruled the Chesapeake to constitute three separate buildings and therefore exceed designation as a Single Family Dwelling.

Town of Nags Head

Nags Head Beach Nourishment
Work began Wednesday May 1 on a 90-120-day beach nourishment project jointly funded by the Town of Nags Head and Dare County to restore shoreline between Pelican Street and Jennette’s Pier by adding 4 million cubic yards of new sand. Comprehensive reporting on the project, including its financing, is available HERE from the Outer Banks Voice.

Nags Head Accessory Dwelling Units
Commissioners met Wednesday May 1 in part to review the Planning Board’s recommendation that a public forum be held for community commentary on a proposed ordinance establishing conditions for the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) intended to diversify available housing and address the proliferation of extant unpermitted ancillary dwellings within Town jurisdiction. Finding the proposed ordinance both overly narrow in its specificity to workforce housing expansion and potentially too conservative in its restriction of ADU rental occupancy to 30 days, the Commissioners requested the Planning Board’s reconsideration of the issue prior to any public forum. The Commissioners also requested that Planning Board members submit for Town records all public input on ADUs that has been addressed to them via personal email, and stipulated that continued dialogue with members of the public on issues before the Planning Board be conducted via official email. Planning Board members and staff have 60 days to present new findings on ADUs to the Commissioners. Under the current proposed ordinance, about 10% of Nags Head lots would support ADUs.

Town of Duck

Town Council met Wednesday May 1 in part to consider authorizing a public hearing on a proposed ordinance adding additional criteria for approval of conditional use permits. Director of Community Development Joe Heard described the new language as boilerplate standardized by many North Carolina municipalities to preempt litigation by codifying a wider breadth and diversity of grounds on which conditional use permits may be denied. The Council voted to schedule a June 5 public forum on the new ordinance.

Monday May 6
9:00 a.m. – Dare County Board of Commissioners
6:00 p.m. – Currituck County Board of Commissioners
6:00 p.m. – Kitty Hawk Town Council

Tuesday May 7
5:30 p.m. – Southern Shores Town Council

Wednesday May 8
6:30 p.m. – Town of Duck Planning Board

Monday May 13
National Association of REALTORS Party Convention in Washington, D.C.
5:30 p.m. – Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners
6:00 p.m. – Dare County Planning Board
7:00 p.m. – Dare County Waterways Commission

Tuesday May 14
National Association of REALTORS Party Convention in Washington, D.C.
9:30 a.m. – Dare County Board of Commissioners Oregon Inlet Task Force advisory meeting
6:00 p.m. – Town of Manteo Planning and Zoning Board

Wednesday May 15
National Association of REALTORS Party Convention in Washington, D.C.
1:00 p.m. – Town of Manteo Board of Commissioners workshop
6:00 p.m. – Town of Nags Head Board of Commissioners

Thursday May 16
National Association of REALTORS Party Convention in Washington, D.C.
6:00 p.m. – Town of Kitty Hawk Planning Board

Monday May 20
5:00 p.m. – Dare County Board of Commissioners
5:30 p.m. – Town of Southern Shores Planning Board
6:00 p.m. – Currituck County Board of Commissioners

Tuesday May 21
9:00 a.m. – Town of Nags Head Planning Board
5:30 p.m. – Town of Kill Devil Hills Planning Board

Wednesday May 22
1:00 p.m. – Duck Town Council (rescheduled from May 15)
5:30 p.m. – Town of Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners

Thursday May 23
11:30 a.m. – General Membership Meeting

Wednesday May 29
3:00 p.m. – Legislative Meeting

Friday May 31
11:30 a.m. – OBAR 30th Annual Charity Golf Tournament

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