Manteo Board of Commissioners denies Dare’s request for sewer hookup

Published 5:07 pm Sunday, January 16, 2022

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Manteo commissioners stopped Dare County’s request to hook up to the town’s wastewater treatment system in order to build essential housing on a county-owned property close to Bowsertown Road.

For well over an hour on Jan. 5, 2022, Dare’s county manager/attorney Robert L. Outten presented information and answered questions.

At the end of the discussion, Manteo commissioner Jason Borland, with assistance from town attorney Ben Gallop, made a motion to allow Dare County to connect to the municipal wastewater system. Mayor Bobby Owens called for a second. He again called for a second. Owens announced the motion had failed for the lack of a second.

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Dare County’s project was stopped.

Outten initially made “the ask” to hook up to the Manteo system at the board’s last meeting, Dec. 15, 2021. He also asked for a waiver of the $1,240,800 tap fee.

At that meeting, Outten laid out the plans for the Bowsertown project for workforce housing. He said “we can’t just do nothing,” saying the need for workforce housing is “critical.”

Dare’s plan called for building 120 mixed income units with 20% for people making up to $34,600 and 63 of 120 units for moderate income folks. Rents would range from $730 to $900 for one-bedroom and $875 to $1,150 for a two-bedroom apartment. The project would be public-private partnership with the private sector partner able to charge market rate for 33 units.

At the January meeting, Outten addressed some of the questions from the previous meeting. He took the fee waiver off the table.

The board asked questions about annexation, which Outten said was okay.

The building height would be three to four stories, not a high rise hotel, said Outten

The board delved into ad valorem tax revenue that might be realized. It would depend on the ownership of the project.

What about traffic generated by the project? “We know there’s a problem with traffic,” said commissioner Sherry Wickstrom. She said a traffic study is being requested.

Outten made a final plea. “We’re stymied,” he said. He needed to know “whether we have or don’t have sewer capacity.”

Manteo’s board answered no.

Manteo’s wastewater treatment system is at 50% capacity. When it reaches 80%, the town must stop giving hook-ups. The town has engaged a consultant which is now working on the carrying capacity of the collection system and finishing a project that will let the town calculate the anticipated load of new projects.

Dare County is now exploring options, like a package treatment plant or peat system, reports Outten.

Three planning and zoning matters were on the Jan. 5 agenda.

The first was a proposed zoning text amendment to modify the ordinance to allow multi-family use in the B-1 Village Business District without the requirement of commercial use or retail on the first floor of the building.

At the hearing, two people spoke against the proposal. Jamie Anderson told the commissioners that adopting the change would “create a slippery slope.”

Commissioners expressed concern that the residential units would be turned into AirBnB properties. No, said a representative for the developer.

Borland made the motion, moving to deny the zoning amendment. Wickstrom seconded. The board agreed and voted to deny the application.

The second planning and zoning item was to consider a special use permit for the project needing the zoning text amendment. That item, a quasi-judicial hearing, was withdrawn.

The third matter, requesting another zoning text amendment, was moved to a February agenda.

The board made the following appointments:

Planning and Zoning Board: Reappointed Nicole Northrup and Jamie Daniels and appointed Dave Stempel. Northrup was tapped as chair of the committee.

Board of Adjustment: Reappointed Clarence Lewis and Stuart Wescott and appointed Hannah Forslund.

Cemetery Board: Reappointed Jamie Daniels and appointed Christine Walker and, to serve as commissioner liaison, Ruth Stetson.

Special Events Committee: Appointed Hunt Thomas to the committee and tapped Stetson as commissioner liaison.

Commissioner Eddie Mann suggested that the committee rules need to be adjusted to include committee members who have three unexcused absences should not be on a committee. He also suggested a town transportation plan, but was told that one exists. He suggested that the Planning Board review it.

The next Manteo Board of Commissioners meeting is Jan. 19, 2022 at 5 p.m.