Duck Planning Board reviews zoning request; James Cofield to chair board

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Most of the June 8 Duck Planning Board meeting time was spent reviewing a request to add residential duplex structures to the C-1 zoning district.

In 2004, Duck removed residential structures from a list of permitted uses in commercial districts with second floor residential accessory apartments still allowed in the C-1 district.

In 2014, Andrew Meredith was granted a special use permit to have a first floor commercial and second floor accessory apartment addition to his watersports business at 1448 Duck Road. Although designated for commercial use, Meredith said he has found the market for that first floor area to be better suited to residential use. The text amendment change is needed to avoid Meredith’s property being a non-conforming use.

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If approved, residential duplex structures would be added to C-1 zoning regulations and apply to all properties zoned C-1 in Duck Village.

When board member Tim McKeithan expressed some concern that adding residential uses back into commercial areas might hurt commercial development, Duck planning consultant Donna Creef explained that there are only three C-1 zones in Duck and most are already developed. She then added that she does not anticipate a flood of other requests if the change is approved.

Board member Marc Murray added that residential use is a less intense use of a property and that most commercial owners do not object to having additional options for their property. Board member Randy Morton then added that after COVID, there is a move in this direction all across the country.

During discussion on the request, board member James Cofield asked if there has been any focus on public input for the change. In addition to a staff member advising that there had not been any, Murray commented that seeking extra public input was not part of the process and Creef cautioned that once additional steps are added to a process it could then become part of the required process and have to be included for every request.

Satisfied the change is in fact little more than an adjustment to reflect changing market conditions, Planning Board members gave a unanimous vote of support to a motion recommending approval of the request.

The Planning Board’s recommendations will go to Duck Town Council, which will hold a public hearing on the request, most likely in August, prior to its consideration of the text amendment application.

In other business for the evening, minutes from the April 13 meeting were approved and the annual election of a chair and vice-chair took place.

Normally held at the May meeting, the elections were delayed until the June 8 meeting since a Planning Board meeting was not held in May.

Repeating an earlier announcement that after serving close to 10 years as Planning Board chair, Joe Blakaitis said it was time for new leadership and he would be stepping down.

Randy Morton and James Cofield were the two nominations for the position, with Cofield receiving the most votes.

Cofield then nominated Blakaitis to be vice-chair and, as the only nomination, he was elected unanimously.

With business completed, the Planning Board adjourned until its 6:30 p.m. July 13 session.