Duck meeting covers property issues, flood maps and cancellation of events

Published 9:33 am Friday, May 15, 2020

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Recent action by the North Carolina General Assembly enabled Duck Town Council at its May 6 meeting to move forward with three separate public hearings.

Attending the meeting in person were council members Mayor Don Kingston, Sandy Whitman and Rob Mooney. Mayor Pro Tempore Monica and Nancy Caviness were included in a video link.

Town attorney Ben Gallop, also at the meeting, advised that included in the COVID‑19 related legislation signed by Governor Roy Cooper May 4 were a number of Chapter 166A changes that allow the use of video technology by local governments during a declared state of emergency.

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With new public hearing guidelines in place the first of three hearings led to council approval to add additional fill an undeveloped residential lot at 113 Bayberry Drive.

According to some of the testimony provided, there is evidence that in years past, the property may have been used as a borrow site to remove sand, leaving the western end of the property elevation as much as ten feet below the front of the property. The addition of off-site fill material is intended to raise the property to a more level elevation but still be lower than an adjoining property to the east at 115 Bayberry Drive and two adjoining properties to the rear that front Marlin Drive in the Saltaire neighborhood.

Although two of the property owners, Gail Healy and Suzanne Proctor, participated by video along with a witness, they offered no additional testimony and the request was given unanimous roll call vote of approval.

The second public hearing focused on comprehensive amendments to Duck’s Flood Damage Prevention Chapter 150.

During his presentation of evidence, community development director Joe Heard explained that the action before council was in response to new FEMA flood maps and has been years in the making.

Heard went on to say that new FEMA flood maps show a significant number of properties previously located in special hazard flood areas have now been reclassified as no longer in flood zones. Although the changes may allow many property owners to benefit from reduced insurance rates and possibly even lower development standards, the lower flood risk does not mean there is no risk. One example is a structure no longer in a flood zone that had three feet of water under it.

Concerned that the new lower ratings would produce a false sense of security Duck, along with all neighboring towns and Dare County, a minimum building elevation and other development standards were established to help prevent flood damage and mitigate the impacts of significant changes anticipated with the adoption of new flood maps for Dare County.

“The proposed standards are intended to improve the town’s resiliency to coastal flooding and minimize property damage due to flooding,” said Heard. “Many of the proposed standards will have the additional benefit of improving the town’s CRS rating and potentially reducing insurance rates for property owners.”

One provision that met with opposition from the building community was setting a minimum local elevation standard of 10 feet in X flood zones.

In response to the opposition to a 10 foot standard, coupled with a requirement that the state of emergency video conference guidelines call for an additional 24 hours public comment period, a decision on the proposed changes was delayed until the May 20 meeting.

With no opposition presented, a change in how building heights in flood zones are measured was approved in third public hearing rather quickly.

Other business for the evening included approval of March 4 and April 1 regular meeting minutes, passage of a COVID-19 Pandemic Resolution to qualify for reimbursement of virus-related town expenses, authorization for a $51,468 contract with Aptim Coastal Protection Engineering of North Carolina, Inc. for beach profile surveys and a $31,865.50 contract for to coordinate with FEMA for the reimbursement of costs related to Hurricane Dorian damages.

Special events director Christian Legner also announced that all public events through July 4 have been canceled, explaining that clearing the schedule far in advance will allow a review of the next phase of Governor Cooper’s plans to reopen North Carolina.

A special employee recognition presentation was delayed until a future meeting and council ended the meeting with a closed session to consult with the town attorney on a legal matter with no comment on the closed session discussion.



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