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Duck looks at budget, land use plan update

Among the items covered during the May 1 Duck Town Council meeting was a proposed fiscal year 2020 budget presentation, creation of a CAMA Land Use Plan Advisory Committee and a brief discussion on the value of routine nighttime business checks.

Town manager Christopher Layton opened his budget presentation with a review of several basic goals he wanted to achieve, which included no ad valorem tax increase, full CIP funding and a merit salary increase for employees.

Layton went on to explain that the proposed budget is based on expected revenues of $10,820,932 and does not include a tax increase.

Notable items in the budget include:
– 1.5 percent merit pay increase and 3 percent merit bonus for employees
– $69,125 for the addition of an assistant town manager position
– $217,723 for fire and police vehicle replacement
– $724,558 for pedestrian improvements
– $60,000 for repairs to the Public Safety Building, and
– debt service on the town’s beach nourishment project of $1,447,608.

General Government and Public Safety are the two areas expected to consume almost half the projected budgets at $1,469,296 and $3,527,161 respectively.

Actual revenue totals for the current year are estimated to be $11,317,808.

Council has a work session for the budget scheduled for 1 p.m. on May 22.

Earlier in the evening, council authorized a public hearing for an ordinance adding criteria for the approval of conditional use permits.

According to director of community development Joe Heard, amendments to the town’s criteria for approval of conditional use permits were recommended by the town attorneys.

Heard said the recommended changes are intended to withstand legal challenges and are similar to those of other areas throughout North Carolina for many years and have been upheld by the courts as a reasonable set of criteria for approval.

“The proposed criteria are intended to be relatively general in nature,” Heard added.

Proposed amendments add more detailed approval criteria for conditional use permit applications in Section 156.155(E) of the Town Code:
i. The use does not materially endanger the public health or safety;
ii. The use meets all required conditions and specifications of the ordinance;
iii. The use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining property and is not a public necessity; and
iv. The use will be in harmony with the area in which it is located and be in general conformity with the comprehensive plan.

Heard went on to say that the changes will help potential applicants better understand the review process and provide relevant information for council’s consideration.

In other business for the evening, council authorized the town manager to execute a $55,810 contract with Stewart, an interdisciplinary design, engineering and planning firm located in Raleigh, to update Duck’s comprehensive plan and CAMA land use plan.

Layton said Stewart stood out among the six firms considered as the consultant best suited to facilitate the planning process and prepare an updated land use plan for the Town of Duck. The process is expected to take about 12 months.

In a related move, a CAMA Land Use Plan Advisory Committee was established.

A December resolution called for a seven member team to advise the selected planning consultant and staff during the development of an updated land use plan. During the selection process, however, it was decided with additional names submitted from the Planning Board, Board of Adjustment and Town Council membership it might be beneficial to include two members from each of those groups for a total of 10 advisory committee members.

Following a motion to amend the original resolution, council appointed Planning Board members James Cofield and Sandy Whitman, Board of Adjustment members Ed Sadler and Kent Zimmerman, Duck Merchants Association member Leigh Raskin, Neighborhood Association member Jeff Shields, at-large members Henry Blaha and Douglas Brook.

Town Council members Jon Britt and Nancy Caviness were also named as advisory committee members.

During the evening’s departmental reports, Police Chief John Cueto related some of the events around Officer Justin Naquin discovering a mulch fire at the Waterfront Shops during a routine nighttime business check.

“I will tell you with the wind conditions, it was flaming up,” said Cueto. “And we don’t have smoke detectors in the mulch, so it could have spread.”

Cueto said that Naquin was able to grab a fire extinguisher from his vehicle and control the fire until the fire department arrived.

The next Duck Council meeting is the May 22 mid-month budget workshop meeting at 1 p.m.

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