Cluster housing proposal heard by Dare’s commissioners

Published 7:13 pm Sunday, April 9, 2023

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After public comment at the April 3 Dare Board of Commissioners meeting, the quasi-judicial hearing about the special use permit for the proposed Village at Old Wharf Road development started about 8:30 p.m.

Dare County attorney Robert L. Outten opened the court-like hearing, at which point commissioner Ervin Bateman said that he would recuse himself from the hearing. From the outset, he said, he had opinions about the project and voiced those opinions. He reached out to applicant Brad Alexander with his opinions. He didn’t know it was wrong. Bateman left the meeting.

Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard made the motion to recuse Bateman. Board Vice Chairman Wally Overman seconded. The vote by the remaining five commissioners was unanimous. Outten commented that an 11-item packet had been delivered to the commissioners and applicant.

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Attorney Lloyd C. Smith Jr., with Pritchett & Burch, PLLC, in Windsor, conducted the proceeding on behalf of the applicant, Brad Alexander and Aria Construction and Development, Inc.

Noah Gillam, planning director for Dare County was first called to be sworn, as were all the witnesses called by Smith.

Gillam responded “yes” to the question about the project meeting each ordinance requirement.

Smith moved to enter the planning department packet as Exhibits 1 through 11.

Brad Alexander, the developer, was the next witness and responded to questions posed by Smith:

The purchase agreement for the land has been extended to June 16, 2023.

The project has 36 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom houses, built in a “shotgun” style.

Each house has parking spaces on concrete under the house and more in front on gravel.

As to length of lease, the Dare ordinance calls for 31 days. Alexander said “no problem” to a six-month lease and would consider an annual lease as a condition placed on the development.

Pre-construction price is $299,000 for the two-bedroom and $329,000 for the three-bedroom house.

The ordinance requires that buildings not exceed 1200 square feet. The project’s two-bedroom is designed at 960 square feet, and the three-bedroom at 1120 square feet.

The houses will conform to the North Carolina building standards including withstanding 140 mile per hour wind speed.

When 51% of the houses are sold, the homeowners association will take over the commonly held land and maintenance of the septic systems.

Woodard asked questions.

The entrance through a gate off Brinkly Road is for emergency vehicles. A fire department universal lockbox is expected to be installed.

Regarding the phrase “mobile homes on stilts,” Alexander responded that all are stick-built houses.

Rents will be between $1,800 and $2,200, responded Alexander to Woodard’s question. Woodard characterized the structures as “market rate.” Alexander said “yes.”

About existing trees, Alexander said all the tall pine trees will be taken out.

Overman asked about flood control and capacity of swales, which are designed for a 10 year, two-hour storm.

Commissioner Steve House asked if the houses will be sprinkled. Alexander said he would look at it.

Asked about play areas, Alexander pointed to the vacant repair areas required for septic systems as a possibility.

Rick House, with House Engineering P.C., added additional information.

The lot coverage is 28%. He confirmed that the storm drainage system is designed for a 10 year, two-hour storm. He said the plans are designed to “not let anything leave the property.” He said the rules call for keeping 4.3 inches. “We carry twice that.”

He called the septic system TS2 meaning Treatment Standard 2 for the quality of effluent.

Woodard asked about an approach lane into the community. House said “I think we would consider that.”

Overman queried about responsibility for maintenance. The response was Alexander until 51% of the houses were sold, then the homeowners association.

Asked about cleaning the septic system, House said an operations and maintenance agreement would be in place, with a response time of 24 hours, which is the storage capacity of the systems.

The expert testimony about the septic systems was delivered by Mike Stidham, vice president of Easy Treat, Inc. The system is not affected by stormwater. The six units to be installed in the Wanchese project would be visited four time per year and twice a year the effluent would be tested. Five or six operators are in the region. Stidham said the maintenance contract must be in place before an occupancy permit is issued.

Asked by Woodard what would go into the drain field, Stidham replied “water.”

The last person to testify was Jody Lewis, with VBH Engineering. The firm’s conclusion is “the proposed development is not projected to have a significant impact on the traffic operations for any of the existing intersections within the study area.

“Therefore, no offsite roadway improvements are recommended as a result of the additional site traffic that this development is expected to generate. The proposed stop-controlled driveway is projected to operate at LOS A during the weekday and weekend peak hours under the Build (2024) conditions.”

Traffic counts were taken at the following locations on Old Wharf Road (SR 168): Mill Landing Road, Pugh Road, Brinkly Road and a driveway.

Three possible scenarios were analyzed to evaluate the impacts that the proposed development may have on the surrounding roadway network: existing, no build, build.

Video cameras were used to record typical morning (6-9 a.m.) and evening (4 to 6 p.m.) weekday and a Saturday peak hour analysis. The counts were taken in February.

The analysis shows that the level of service (LOS) remains at A and B, the highest levels of service.

The traffic analysis did not address the line-of-sight on old Wharf Road at the proposed entrance to the development.

Rex Mann was granted standing. He asked if the count included a tractor-trailer. Lewis answered that none were counted. Joseph T. Willis tried to intervene but he was denied.

At 10:30 p.m., the hearing was recessed to be taken up again on May 1, 2023 at 5 p.m.