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Wireless guidelines considered

Among the actions taken at the April 3 Southern Shores Town Council meeting, a Planning Board vacancy was filled and town staff was directed to come up with additional guidelines for wireless telecommunication and for development on 50-foot wide lots.

During his staff report, town planner Wes Haskett gave a report on wireless guidelines in place at other jurisdiction as requested by council last month. The request for information came as recent North Carolina General Assembly legislation placed limits on local authority oversight for wireless communications. Haskett was asked to see what other municipalities are doing.

Although town attorney Ben Gallop advised that in all likelihood the new legislation was written by the telecommunication industry, leaving very little room for local regulation, council member Gary McDonald wanted to know what other localities are doing in order to determine what restrictions the town could impose.

Haskett said that requests for information in other parts of the state on what additional regulations are out there in addition to what the statutes allow produced only a few responses.

Haskett said he did get some examples dealing with distance requirements.

Following Haskett’s report, council voted to have staff come up with additional ordinances to address new utility poles in the right-of-way that establish guidelines for the addition, placement and spacing.

During a lengthy discussion on the development of 50-foot wide lots, concerns were voiced that such development is not consistent with the town Land Use Plan nor with the town vision.

Council then voted to direct staff to recommend guidelines that address development on 50-foot wide lots and take it to the Planning Board for review and recommendations for council.

Looking at a Planning Board vacancy created by the resignation of Jay Russell, two current alternate members, Carlos Gomez and Glenn Wyder, were nominated to fill the one open regular member seat position.

After a discussion on past town procedures and precedent for filling vacant seats, Wyder was determined to be the better candidate and was appointed by majority vote, which now creates an alternate seat vacancy.

In other business for the evening, town manager Peter Rascoe advised that the town has received a $7,742.87 Government Access Channel grant for upgrades to the Kern Pitts Center. He also reported that money for the architectural design work for the new fire station is not likely to be spent in the current fiscal year.

Mayor Tom Bennett said he plans to file a proposed budget at the May regular session meeting to allow time for public review and comments with a public hearing at the June meeting. An April 17 budget workshop is scheduled.

McDonald asked if a trial “No Left Turn” at the US 158 and Dogwood Trail intersection was still being planned. The turn restriction would be an effort to limit cut-through traffic on Dogwood during the peak summer months. Rascoe said the issue is expected to be on the May meeting agenda along with a budget amendment to cover the associated expenses. A target date for implementation is the end of June with public announcements through a number of different sources.

A Pelican Watch Homeowners Association request to move enough sand to widen the dune in that area was tabled since the state closed the door for any environmental permit during the turtle nesting season.

On a motion by McDonald, $6,000 will be set aside to share the cost with Pelican Watch Homeowners Association for additional sand fence at the Pelican Watch beach.

During a discussion on one item removed from the Consent Agenda, Rascoe explained that the intent of the budget amendment is to put $160,000 unspent capital fund project money and a projected $30,000 from bulkhead maintenance into the council’s Capital Reserve fund. Not taking the action would allow the unspent money to roll over into the general unassigned fund balance. Following the discussion, council voted to approve the transfer.

Consent Agenda items approved include March 6 council meeting minutes, tax pickups and releases, a contract renewal for auditor services and, for acknowledgement purposes only, a bid tabulation sheet for the town manager’s contract award to Millstone Marine to perform capital improvements to Yaupon Trail bulkhead.

The next council meeting is a planning and budget work session scheduled for 9 a.m., Tuesday, April 17. The next regular session meeting is Tuesday, May 1, at 5:30 p.m.