Southern Shores Planning Board recommends non-conforming exceptions

Published 10:09 am Sunday, May 5, 2019

After rescheduling its April meeting, the Southern Shores Planning Board on April 23 recommended that the town’s attorney and planning department staff draft a zoning text amendment to address the sale and development of non-conforming lots in the town.

The recommendation came as part of a continued discussion on how the town can control increased density with a focus on limiting, if not preventing, the sale and development of small non-conforming lots while at the same time providing exceptions for certain property owners.

Following the meeting, deputy town manager and planning director Wes Haskett explained that, based on the Planning Board’s unanimous recommendation, staff will draft language to address the five or maybe six different known scenarios.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

According to Planning Board chair Elizabeth Morey, when Southern Shores passed an ordinance near the end of 2018, text amendment 18-07, it closed the door on some people being able to develop, sell or otherwise benefit from the use of their non-conforming lots due to the peculiarities of their ownership.

The 2018 change specifically targeted undeveloped lots adjacent to a lot with a house and owned by the same family. Undeveloped non-conforming lots adjacent to developed lots owned by someone else are not affected.

“We asked staff to draft a zoning text amendment that includes all the known non-conforming lot situations to be able to provide some fairness to those owners,” said Morey. “What we are trying to do is prevent more 100-foot lots being divided into 50-foot lots.”

Morey went on to say that the way 18-07 was written, it gathered situations where people were basically under a hardship because they owned a lot for 20 years that happens to be a non-conforming lot and that happens to be adjacent to a developed lot owned by the same family.

“Now they can’t do anything with it because of 18-07,” added Morey. “Ownership is everything.”

The Planning Board recommendation includes adding exceptions for non-conforming property owners who hold title to nonconforming lots that are adjacent to lots owned by family members that are at least 20,000 square feet in size but less than 100 feet wide provided their deeds were recorded before Sept. 5, 2018.

“This has become a confusing matter,” said Planning Board member David Neal.

Southern Shores has, according to Haskett, more than 3,000 total lots with 28 vacant lots 50 feet wide.