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Kitty Hawk Planning Board recommends variance denial

Kitty Hawk Planning Board members spent almost all of their May 27 meeting discussing a Southern Woods Subdivision lot variance request.

Property owner Abram Skibo advised that he and his wife Stacey would like to build a small unit large enough for one or two people on property that fronts Hornbeam Road and joins his property on The Woods Road.

One of less than a dozen lots fronting Hornbeam, the road is east of and runs parallel to The Woods Road with an entrance off The Woods Road north of Covered Bridge Road.

“We found the lot behind our home,” Skibo told the board. “We didn’t know what it was for, so we wrote a letter to the owner several times.”

After negotiations with the owner, Skibo purchased the lot in 2020. He went on to say at first he didn’t know what to do with the property, but he would like to see if a tiny flat top, one bedroom, one bath structure within the setbacks was possible.

During discussion, it became apparent that any development options there will be sorely limited.

Close to 100 feet wide on the northern end, the property stretches some 700 feet along Hornbeam and narrows to be only a very few feet wide on the southern end. At 38,500 square feet, the property is less than half the 80,000 Kitty Hawk code requires for lots in that area.

Speaking in opposition to the variance, Judith M. Fisher said she is a neighbor to the owners and that the property is behind her home on The Woods Road.

“I’m the one that probably will be hurt the most by it,” Fisher advised during public comments. “My house is right next to their house and if an Airbnb unit is going to be built, it will probably be on the fattest part, right behind my property.”

Fisher added that she was not aware the property had been for sale.

“If I had known the property was for sale I probably would have bought it myself to keep somebody from building on it,” she continued. “When I built my house in 1994 I was told the property was a buffer and that it would not be developed. I thought that the town owned it. ”

Board member Jim Geraghty later confirmed that, as one of the developers for Southern Woods Subdivision in 1993, the strip of land was in fact intended to be a buffer. He further explained that at one point the parcel was recommended to be split and dedicated to each of the property owners fronting The Woods Road, which would extend their property lines all the way to Hornbeam, or for it to be turned over to the homeowners association. Before long, however, the homeowners association folded and there was no action on that specific piece of property until the Skibos bought it.

It was also noted that allowing the variance would create a buildable lot that is just under half of the minimum lot size in an area intended for low density residential development. And while the Skibos have limited development plans, future owners would be open to do something more ambitious.

Faced with a lot intended to be a buffer that is less than the approved development size, board members gave unanimous approval to a motion recommending the variance request be denied.

The request will now go to town commissioners with a recommendation for denial. Commissioners, not bound by the Planning Board recommendation, will rule on the request.

The only other business for the evening was approval of the February 11 meeting minutes. The next Planning Board meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 15.

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