Lengthy Duck Town Council meeting includes three public hearings

Published 3:38 pm Monday, March 9, 2020

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Duck Town Council business during a lengthy March 4 meeting included three public hearings, looking at proposed changes to a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, filling two Board of Adjustment vacancies, and authorizing design and bidding on work at Town Park.

In the first of three public hearings, Sharon E. Hart was seeking a special exception permit to construct a three-foot high bulkhead with several cubic feet of fill behind it on her Currituck Sound property at 1398 Duck Road.

Duck has allowed bulkheads on Currituck Sound properties to stabilize existing shorelines with fill of only a few feet in width, but not increase the amount of land supported by a bulkhead.

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Hart said because storms have taken a considerable amount of sand from her property, the continued erosion is threatening a swimming pool and her home.

In January, the Duck Planning Board reviewed her plans and voted unanimously to recommend denial based, in part, on a lack of information provided for the amount of fill requested and no analysis on the impact a bulkhead would have on adjoining properties. It was also mentioned that other shoreline stabilization options exist that do not involve bulkheading.

Returning in February with a Shoreline Stabilization Engineering Report by local engineer Barrett Crook, the Planning Board was split (2-2) on a motion to deny, which meant there was neither approval nor denial by the Planning Board.

At Wednesday’s meeting, in response to council questions, Crook explained that the amount of fill proposed would be needed to support the bulkhead and, in his opinion, was the minimum amount necessary. He said also that the area was a high energy environment with too much wave action to support a living shoreline project.

After two hours of witness testimony and council deliberation, the vote to approve the request failed on a 2-3 vote.

Monica Thibodeau and Rob Mooney each said while they were not convinced there would not be project-related problems, the project does appear to be a reasonable attempt to protect the property. Mayor Don Kingston voiced concern that there were too many unknown variables and Sandy Whitman said he could not approve the request without seeing more detailed plans. Nancy Caviness said she agreed with the Planning Board that there could be other options with less impact.

Following the meeting, Hart’s attorney, E. Crouse Gray Jr., said among the available options for his client were an appeal to Superior Court or to develop a substantially different project. He added that it was too soon to say the next step would be.

Presenting the next public hearing, Duck community development director Joe Heard explained that the applicant Bobby Speight was requesting to clear, grade and add fill to accommodate the construction of a bulkhead approximately five feet high across a portion of his Currituck Sound property at 1336 Duck Road, but was unable to attend the meeting and asked that his special exception application be deferred until the April 1 Town Council meeting. Heard added that staff had notified all parties about the requested deferral.

Council then voted to continue the hearing at the April 1 meeting.

The third and final public hearing for the night saw council approve a request by Dave and Jeannine Cotner for construction of an addition at 108 Cook Drive.

Heard explained that the 1988 structure was built in the Bayberry Bluff area, an older subdivision established in 1971 with 10,000 square foot lots. Under the current 15,000 square foot standards, the lot is nonconforming, but can still be developed.

The residence was, however, built at a significant angle to front and side property lines rather than parallel to the street and side property lines, creating a substantial challenge for anyone to design and fit any additions on the property.

Although a majority of the proposed addition to the southeast corner of the existing house is three stories of additional living space for the residence, a portion of the proposed addition is a one story two-car garage that will encroach four feet into the front 25 foot setback.

Heard added that Duck has allowances for development in older subdivisions, but the front setback is not one of them.

With little discussion, council gave the project a green light with a 5-0 vote of approval.

Other votes included directing town manager Christopher Layton to have VHB Engineering NC to begin the permitting, final design and bidding for construction of a sill at the Town Park, approval of the consent agenda with February 5 regular meeting minutes and a Government Education Access Channel Committee Proposed 2020-2021 Budget.

Council also voted to have Board of Adjustment alternate Robert Wetzel fill a regular seat for the unexpired term of Randy Morton, who was appointed to the Planning Board, and have John Pucciano fill the vacant alternate position. Council also voted to move forward with a Dare County Tourism Board contract for a $147,806 grant toward phase IV of the comprehensive pedestrian improvements plan. The $487,956.70 project includes construction of a sidewalk, revetment improvements and other shoreline work for the southbound segment of NC 12 between Resort Realty and Sunset Grille.

During the first public comment period of the night, Mary Jane Slesinski provided council with new 2020 Citizens Guides prepared by The League of Women Voters of Dare County. Slesinski said the guide has been published annually since 1988 with 7,000 copies printed this year for distribution throughout the county.

Also speaking during public comments was former Town Council member Chuck Burdick, Duck’s representative on the Dare County Tourism Board, with a brief report from the February Tourism Board meeting. Heard spoke as a member of the Dare County Complete Count Committee providing information about the April 1 U.S. Census project.

Council members also took an initial look at amendments to the town’s flood damage prevention ordinance with another more detailed look planned for the April 1 meeting and ended the meeting with a closed session with the attorneys to discuss the Hovey v. Sand Dollar Shores Homeowners Association, Inc. case.

The next Duck Town Council meeting is April 1 at 7 p.m.



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