Southern Shores event action on hold

Published 6:58 am Saturday, August 24, 2019

Planning Board efforts to monitor and in some way control the number of large special events in Southern Shores took an unexpected turn Monday with the announcement that in July Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation restricting local governments from regulating short-term rentals.

In 2016, Southern Shores defined event facilities and adopted a 6,000 sq. ft. cap for single family residential homes as steps toward restricting event home development. After continued discussions, an ordinance with additional restrictions was developed but after Mayor Tom Bennett, other council members and private citizens commented that there might not be a problem, Bennett added that council might be working on a solution without a problem and the ordinance change failed for lack of support.

Convinced there needed to be additional discussion, Planning Board member Andy Ward asked that it be on the agenda.

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After Ward reviewed a list of Planning Board suggestions that did not make it to council and there were comments on how a Duck wedding policy works, chairperson Elizabeth Morey requested comments from other board members to which Don Sowder said he might be missing something but if council, town manager, police chief and citizens felt it was unnecessary to do anything, was it necessary for the board to do anything?

Sowder pointed out that parking and noise appear to be the big issues and there are already ordinances in place dealing with those violations and perhaps they should wait and see if there is a problem. David Neal said he agreed.

During public comments, local NC real estate agent Chris Toolan said the world of vacation rentals is changing rapidly. He went on to say without family events, the ordinance addresses vacation rentals and there are already enough laws and ordinances on the books to handle any problems that arise.

Toolan pointed out that it appeared to him the issue is more of a public relations one, similar to educating the public about rip tides.

Toolan then said on July 1 Gov. Roy Cooper signed SB 483 that takes the teeth out of nine-tenths of what the board trying to do.

The bill signed by Cooper specifically applies G.S. 160A-424 and G.S. 153A-364 to properties covered under The Vacation Rental Act which was enacted in 1999 to regulate competing interests between landlords, real estate brokers and tenants rent for vacation, leisure and recreational purposes.

While cities and counties are authorized to perform periodic inspections for hazardous and unlawful conditions when cause exists, they are not – in most cases – authorized to require any rental owner or manager to obtain any local government permit or permission to lease or rent residential real property, to register rental property with the local government, levy a special fee or tax on residential rental property not also levied against other commercial and residential properties or require that an owner or manager of residential rental property enroll or participate in any governmental program as a condition of obtaining a certificate of occupancy.

Faced with new legislation that might restrict further action, the board voted to get a legal opinion from the town attorney on if any policy the board is considering would contravene state law.

In other business, two changes were recommended for current building height and fill requirements.

The first is to have maximum building height be 35 feet, measured from the average of the existing, undisturbed grade at the building corners. If the average of the existing, undisturbed grade at the building corners is less than 8 feet above mean sea level, the maximum building height may be measured from 8 feet above mean sea level.

The second recommendation is that no fill material be re-distributed or placed on a lot in the rear or side setback areas unless the final horizontal-to-vertical slope is equal to or less than 3:1 as calculated from the finished final grade to the rear and side property lines.

Town staff will incorporate the recommendations into an ordinance for review.

The next Southern Shores Planning Board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, September 16.



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