Kill Devil Hills public hearings brought the town in
Published 4:09 am Thursday, October 24, 2019
The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners met Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. to hold two public hearings on proposed zoning amendments involving landscape and off-street parking/loading regulations.
The first public hearing pertained to modified landscaping requirements to include single-family and duplex dwellings with greater than 6,000 square feet lot coverage. Jay Overton questioned what the vision of the town was involving landscaping to these buildings. He asked the board to take no action. Eddie Goodrich followed that up by saying, “the oceanfront has set the pace for everything the town is worth.” He felt this issue was too large to make a decision on during the meeting.
Commissioners Nelson “Skip” Jones, Terry Gray and John Windley were in agreement that more time was needed to make a decision on the amendment. “We should create a committee with people from both sides of the issue to look at this a little longer,” Jones suggested. Gray had reservations with the non-conforming properties and the impact on town financials. Windley felt this was a “monumental decision” that needed more public input.
Commissioner Mike Hogan was satisfied with the amendment, referring to the August meeting they had when the issue was first brought to the board’s attention. He said the new landscaping requirements would “not be a burden on builders and there would be no affect to the size of the building.” Mayor Sheila Davies agreed this issue has come up and the “goal and purpose of the landscaping buffers would not have a financial impact” based on notes from the planning and development board.
Windley made a motion to table the proposed amendment until the next meeting. Davies recommended tabling it until the next seated board is in place. After discussion with the town manager, Windley withdrew his initial motion and made a new motion to deny the zoning amendment because “the board finds the amendment to be inconsistent with all comprehensive plans and other officially adopted plans for the town of KDH and the amendment is unreasonable in public interest.” The motion was seconded by Jones. In a vote 3-2, the motion carried.
Several residents came to speak on the second public hearing involving modified off-site parking requirements for single-family and duplex dwellings with eleven bedrooms or more. James Almoney from the KDH Planning Board shared he was in favor of the amendment due to his involvement with the Maryland fire department. “Bringing these large homes up to some fire safety standards may be a good step in the right direction,” he said.
Jones replied to all those opposed and in favor of the amendment by stating “the state does control a great deal of what we can and cannot do.” Windley asked Meredith Guns, planning director, how many houses would become non-conforming if the ordinance was adopted. She replied, “31 homes.” Windley felt there would be “significant consequences if it were to come into effect,” referring to the ordinance.
Hogan disagreed. He felt that this amendment is “something we can do about safety.” Hogan and Davies felt that the safety issues are not going away and it was the right time to take action.
Hogan made a motion to approve the proposed amendment. The motion failed in a vote 2-3. Both amendments were added to the January agenda.
During public comment, Colleen Almoney was disappointed in the decisions to not approve the amendments. “Something needs to happen and it needs to happen now,” she said. Sandie Markland thanked the staff for all their help with the Historic Homes Tour: “it was a rousing success.” She also reminded everyone that early voting will run until Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day at town hall.
Aaron McCall from Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve presented annual updates from the park. On Thursday, Nov. 14 the preserve will host a 40-year anniversary celebration from 3 to 5 p.m. on site. He told everyone about the new audio tour at the park and that HGTV had done a segment on their preserve. “They thought it was unique to have a forest so close to the beach,” McCall said.
The meeting ended with a public forum, open to any and all questions and comments from the public. Beth O’Leary and Martha Vaughn showed a PowerPoint presentation on their “KDH Against Mini-Hotels” movement. The focus was on their opposition to large, event-style homes. Upon completion of the presentation, O’Leary and Vaughn asked for a 30-day moratorium on the current construction near their homes.
Davies, along with town attorney Casey Varnell, explained why a moratorium was impossible: “North Carolina law restricts local governments from establishing a moratorium for the purpose of developing and adopting new or amended plans or ordnances pertaining to residential use of property,” Varnell read.
Jones brought up his suggestion from the beginning of the meeting, hoping that putting a committee together to discuss these matters would get more public involvement and everyone could work to find a solution.