Duck Planning Board recommends approving new Hazard Mitigation Plan
Published 9:29 am Monday, May 18, 2020
Duck Planning Board members at their May 13 meeting voted to recommend Town Council adopt a new Hazard Mitigation Plan and that the mayor be authorized to establish reasonable temporary zoning regulations consistent with an emergency declaration.
Although Duck has been part of the Albemarle Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan – one that encompassed Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties along with the municipalities in each of those counties – it was determined that the vulnerabilities, risks and needs of the inland areas are considerably different than those of the coastal communities.
In 2019 The NC Division of Emergency Management funded development of an Outer Banks RHMP for Currituck and Dare Counties and the municipalities in Dare County.
Hazard Mitigation Plans, updated every five years, identify measures that can be taken to protect people and property from the effects of natural and human-caused hazard events, improve recovery efforts, help maintain eligibility for mitigation funding and disaster relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and to help improve Community Rating System (CRS) scores with the goal of maximizing flood insurance rate reductions.
According to community development director Joe Heard a 36-member steering committee worked on the plan, with input from more than 850 public comments, to develop a 648 page document that identifies a number of high risk, moderate risk and low risk hazards and the relevant mitigation actions for those events.
Board members were also provided with four 11×17 pages of Duck-related items.
With little discussion, the vote to recommend Town Council adopt the plan passed on a unanimous roll call vote.
The entire Outer Banks Hazard Mitigation Plan document can be viewed at: http://www.obx-hmp.com/, an abbreviated version with elements most relevant to the Town of Duck is at: https://www.townofduck.com/wp-content/uploads/PB_Agenda2020-05-13item3a-DuckExcerpts.pdf
The next agenda item, in an expedited response to current COVID-19 restrictions, board members looked at modifying several zoning ordinances that might help accommodate restaurant and other business operations during an emergency declaration.
Earlier this month, Dan Lewis, president of the Outer Banks Restaurant Association and part-owner of Coastal Cravings and Coastal Cantina restaurants in Duck, asked Duck Town Council members via email to adopt special provisions for restaurants to reopen under COVID-19 restrictions in the near future.
As Governor Roy Cooper begins a phased lifting of current restrictions, it is anticipated that restaurants will be allowed to open soon, but limited to 50 percent capacity.
Under Phase One of North Carolina’s three-phased recovery from COVID-19 restrictions that went into effect 5 p.m. May 8, although assemblies still have a 10-person limit, people can leave home for a wider range of activities and more businesses are allowed to be open, with retail 50 percent capacity allowed with cleaning and social distancing. Restaurants and bars remain take-out and delivery only.
In response to the request from Lewis, town attorneys Ben Gallop and Robert Hobbs drafted an ordinance intended to create allowances for the mayor to authorize the town manager or other designee to establish reasonable temporary accommodations in zoning regulations consistent with an emergency declaration and establish parameters for what types of accommodations that can be created.
Although the intent, as explained by board Chair Joe Blakaitis, was to make something happen quickly that would benefit local businesses, Vice Chair James Cofield said he had an issue with sending something to council that would allow town code to be modified without going through regular channels.
The vote to recommend adoption passed 4-1.
In a continued discussion, the board recommended 3-2 to allow the use of food trucks for food preparation on the same site as the restaurant, provided there is no selling from the truck, with a re-evaluation at each phase.
Other proposals for council to consider included allowing temporary outdoor seating and dining not to exceed the reduced inside seating limit based on health department guidelines, allowing some use of parking for outdoor seating and dining with no consensus on a percentage number, allowing the use of directional signs and the use of tents for outdoor dining.
Council is scheduled to consider the board’s recommendation to modify several zoning ordinances at its 1 p.m. May 20 mid-month meeting.