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Kill Devil Hills board revisits fence request

A large part of the February 20 Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners meeting was spent discussing a request to allow chain link fences on unimproved property.

The request first surfaced at the end of 2018 to allow seven-foot high chain link fences on unimproved property in the light industrial one zone. Real estate agent Dan Hardy, speaking for Joe Lamb’s Lake Drive Corporation, explained that the desired fence would help prohibit unauthorized use of the vacant property. The Planning Board recommended denial.

In November, the Board of Commissioners was split, with Terry Gray and John Windley in favor of the request while Mayor Sheila F. Davies and Mike Hogan opposed it. As a compromise, the issue was tabled until a fifth commissioner, which turned out to be Nelson “Skip” Jones, was seated.

With a full board in place, the request was brought back for consideration.

During public comments, local residents Coleen Almoney and Sue Kelly both spoke against allowing the fence, with Kelly adding a concern about the fence having barbed wire.

In response, Hardy, again speaking for the applicant, advised that there would be no barbed wire, which would lower the height from seven feet to six feet.

Hardy repeated his claim that the fence, which was erected prior to application for a permit due to a communication error with the contractor, is characteristic with the zone and that there are similar ones in the area, specifically around Fresh Pond. Hardy added that a gate to the property will remain unlocked.

During discussion, Gray and Windley reaffirmed support although Gray conditioned his support on the addition of a buffer.

Hogan and Davies both said they were still opposed.

Hogan went on to say a four-foot chain link fence is not that much of a stretch from a post and rope barrier, but added that they should not allow an owner to have an advantage from starting the process incorrectly. There are channels for neighbor disputes.

Davies also considers a four foot chain link reasonable, but does not see a need to go more than that and added that the discussion seems to get messier the more they talk about it.

Caught in the middle, Jones said he could see the need for a fence with a buffer, but was not sure how the issue should be resolved.

Planning director Meredith Guns explained that the four foot limit was selected because it is a standard height and could delineate a property line while not being obtrusive. The code was intended for residential areas where there is no buffer requirement and fences on improved property have no height limit.

When asked about setbacks, Guns explained that setback would be 10 feet on street fronts and five feet on the remaining three sides.

After an interactive discussion between commissioners, staff and Hardy, Windley moved to send the request back to the Planning Board with a revision that the chain link fence have a six foot limit and the appropriate landscape buffer setbacks.

The approval to have the Planning Board tweak the request passed on a 3-2 vote with Windley, Jones and Gray in favor, while Davies and Hogan opposed.

When the Planning Board meets, it will have a new member looking at the request.

The selection of Jones to fill a vacant commissioner seat created two other vacancies when he resigned from the Planning Board and Community Appearance Commission. During the Wednesday meeting, Mark Evans was named to replace Jones on the Planning Board and Billy Dorn was selected to replace Jones on the Community Appearance Commission.

As the meeting continued, in response to a January board directive, town staff recommended a long-term approach to providing permanent beach access restrooms with a more comprehensive study to determine the most appropriate locations for new facilities.

Following staff’s recommendations, commissioners authorized an in-house update to the town’s Shoreline Access Plan, producing a list of existing accesses that might accommodate permanent restroom facilities with little to no parking loss, an updated list of existing accesses and features for commissioner review in March or April with the board to prioritize the accesses for improvement in April or May with a final plan to be presented in May.

Other business for the night included:

• A five year extension of the town’s subscription residential curbside recycling contract with Bay Disposal set to expire in May. The extension includes at a rate of $12.45 per cart per month along with minor franchise agreement modifications approved by the town attorney relating to purchase of Bay Disposal by Waste Connections. The previous rate of $7.82 per home has been in place since May 2011. A second five-year extension will be available for negotiation in 2024.

• A proclamation designating March 2019 as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in Kill Devil Hills.

• A resolution expressing support for continued funding for the North Carolina Active Routes to School Program.

• A resolution to be sent to the NC Department of Insurance strongly opposing proposed 25 and 30 percent increases for Outer Banks homeowners insurance rates.

• A Beach Nourishment Annual Monitoring Report report by Ken Willson with APTIM Coastal Planning and Engineering of NC.

• A College of the Albemarle presentation on Dual Enrollment and Workforce Development programs offered through the COA Dare Campus.

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