Currituck commissioners amend UDO, vote on island development

Published 8:52 am Thursday, December 12, 2019

The most recent meeting of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners on Monday, December 2 saw board members re-elect Bob White as chairman and Mike Payment as vice-chair. Additionally, the Fire and EMS Board membership was expanded to include residents in Corolla and Knotts Island, the Unified Development Ordinance was amended to allow distribution of agronomic products in specific zoning districts and a vote to allow development on islands accessible only by boat was taken.

In what appeared to be an oversight in the Unified Development Ordinance, commissioners corrected an omission by amending chapters four and 10 to allow the distribution of agronomic products in the agriculture, limited business, general business, light industrial and heavy industrial zoning districts.

A request by Fenton Eure of Nutrien Ag Solutions on Central Lane in Shawboro to erect an additional building on the property led to the discovery that the area was zoned general business and not for the distribution of agronomic products such as seeds, fertilizers and soils, even though it has been in business there since 1965, if not earlier.

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Consensus was that the operation was simply overlooked when the current UDO was passed.

The proposed building will be located on an area now used for vehicular staging and is expected to help make the site more user friendly.

The amendment commissioners approved defines “agronomic uses” and includes other changes to allow distribution of those products under the same use category as agricultural products.

Returning to an old business item, commissioners took another look at a request by Guy Lunsford that the county allow development on islands accessible only by boat.

In November, Lunsford detailed how The Currituck Island Company LLC purchased property in 2006, his role as the managing member and then, in March 2017, becoming the sole owner.

Looking to turn a failed investment around by developing Long Point, a Coinjock Bay island, Lunsford said the requested change could open the door for development of 21 privately owned Currituck Sound islands.

Opposition to development centered in the inability to provide firefighting, police, emergency medical and several other services. Lunsford’s position that most people willing to live on an island are willing to forgo those services was enough to have commissioners take a closer look.

In a November mid-month workshop, commissioners hammered out a number of details that would allow island development. Leading the list is a maximum of one single-family dwelling not to exceed 4,000 square feet on an island with accessory dwelling units prohibited. The structure must have an approved sprinkler system with a storage tank, pump and emergency backup power source installed for fire protection. In addition, the owner must provide transportation for county staff or other public agencies to access the island for official business.

An earlier requirement for a designated mainland boat launch with parking for automobiles and boat trailers was eliminated and islands accessible only by boat are exempt from the requirement that they abut a public or private right-of-way and do not need to maintain at least 20 feet for ingress/egress of emergency service vehicles.

During Monday’s discussion, Payment, who missed the workshop due to an illness, advised that he had heard from several hunters and other residents in his district that they were not in favor of allowing island developments.

Concerns again resurfaced that county services would not be available and it was pointed out that plats must contain the note that firefighting, emergency medical services, school transportation, public potable water, sheriff’s office and solid waste disposal will not be available to the island.

Paul M. Beaumont added that while there are no guarantees that police or fire can arrive at any location in a timely manner, there are larger houses in the four-wheel drive area that might not be as safe as this house with sprinklers.

After more than 30 minutes of discussion and debate, the measure passed on a 5-2 vote with Payment and Kevin McCord voting nay.

Other business for the night included:
– increasing the Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Advisory Board membership from five to seven by adding resident appointment positions from Knotts Island and Corolla and changing meetings from once quarterly to monthly.
– made technical corrections to the county alarm systems code and added the ability to assess civil penalties for emergency response to false alarm calls.
– reappointed Laura Hill and Nancy VanClief to the Animal Services and Control Advisory Board with terms expiring May 30, 2021.
– reappointing Thom Roddy and Lynn Hicks to regular Board of Adjustment terms to expire December 31, 2022, which  leaves an alternate vacancy.
– reappointing Chief Ralph Melton to the county Fire and EMS Advisory Board.
– reappointing Trevor Old and Robert Romm to the Game Commission to serve terms expiring June 1, 2021.
– reappointing David Doll and Juanita Krause to Planning Board terms that expire December 31, 2021.
– reappointing Todd Cartwright, Doug Brindley, Sharon Price, Sophie Bennewitz and Ben Beasley to the Tourism Advisory Board.
– reappointing E.T. Smith, Chet Moore, and Jennifer Kuhnen to the Veterans Advisory Board for terms that expire August 6, 2021.

Commissioners also heard a report from Economic Development Director Larry Lombardi, who covered a number of business development projects and initiatives in the county, including a new NC DMV License office at 257 Caratoke Highway in Moyock.

During public comments, J.P. Knapp Early College Principal Denise Fallon explained that there is incorrect information in the community that only the best and the brightest kids with straight As are accepted. Adding that grades are not an admission requirement, Fallon said her staff take students as they are and turn them into college students, with more than 80 percent of Knapp students graduating last year with an associate degree or certificate from College of The Albemarle.

Also during public comments, Nathan Morales urged commissioners to reconsider subdivision requirements for new developments and include a downstream stormwater analysis for any new developments. Morales said when it rains, three 36-inch culverts drain into one 36-inch pipe, which is set at an improper elevation that back-flows water to the north onto his Baxter Lane property, causing the water table to rise and water to flows into his septic tank.

During commissioner reports, Selina S. Jarvis said it was distressing to hear a report during a Trillium Health Regional Advisory Board meeting that by the end of October, there have been 1,888 vaping lung injuries reported nationwide with 66 of them in North Carolina.



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