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Overlay district considered in Southern Shores

Southern Shores Town Council at a December 11 regular session meeting discussed amending town code regulations for large homes and then sent the proposed draft to the Planning Board for review.

Southern Shores has, as have other municipalities, wrestled with how to revise its standards for residential density since 2015 when a legislative change removed all local authority to impose any direct or indirect limits on the number of bedrooms.

During a special November council meeting, town staff and the town Planning Board were directed to draft a zoning amendment that would create an overlay district with stricter building heights, setbacks, buffers and lot coverage regulations based on a structure’s size for properties east of and along the west side of NC 12.

After a brief look at the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting, council voted to send it to the Planning Board to look at additional zoning regulations related to wastewater treatment capacity, use of properties as residential rentals and regulating the number of water use fixtures in a residence.

According to Mayor Tom Bennett, in addition to house size, there should be some kind of control on how many people stay there.

When town planner Wes Haskett asked if the directive included taking a look at both septic capacity and occupants based on capacity, Bennett advised that they should be included along with any other ways the Planning Board thinks might apply.

Town manager Peter Rascoe then pointed out that some cities have used water capacity as a guideline.

Prior to discussing the town code amendment, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Nason, who has provided architectural drawings for construction companies affected by the amendments, asked that he be excused from the discussion and vote to avoid a perception of a conflict. Without details, he also said the safety of his family was a concern.

Town attorney Ben Gallop said an elected official is required to participate unless there was a conflict and there is statutory support that no conflict exists in this case. Fred Newberry also pointed out that a recusal could potentially leave council deadlocked with a 2-2 vote, killing any action.

With only Nason and Bennett supporting recusal, Nason’s motion to be excluded was defeated 3-2.

In other business for the day, council recommended Nason be reappointed to the Dare County Tourism Board, with Bennett and Jim Conners included for consideration. Dare County commissioners make the appointment from the names submitted.

Council also voted to reappoint Lorelei Costa, Tony DiBernardo and Richard Perkins to the town’s Historic Landmarks Commission and approved a 2019 council meeting schedule to include:

Tuesday, January 8, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 5, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 5, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 7, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 4, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 9, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 6, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, September 10, 5:30 p..m.
Tuesday, October 1, 5:30 pm.
Wednesday, November 6, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, December 3, 5:30 p.m.

Also scheduled are:
Tuesday, February 26, 9 a.m. (council planning session)
Tuesday, April 23, 9 a.m. (budget work session)
Tuesday, April 30, 9 a.m. (budget work session)

After a verbal battle over allowing the mayor to cancel any meeting when there is no business to transact, that authority provision was removed.

During the discussion Gallop explained, however, the absence of that authority caused a problem in another jurisdiction when it was necessary to have a meeting to cancel a meeting and several of the people involved were out of town.

Gary McDonald responded, saying that if it had not been an issue in the past he didn’t see any need to change it now.

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