Kitty Hawk adopts FY 2023-24 budget, approves text amendment regarding separate driveways for ADUs

Published 7:23 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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Kitty Hawk’s town council adopted the proposed fiscal year 2023-2024 budget at their monthly meeting on June 5, 2023. Two public hearings were held – one to address the newly adopted budget and another to edit text amendments regarding accessory dwelling units (ADUs). In addition, the board chose to move forward with Dills Architects for the new police department building, and a proclamation was read recognizing planning board member Clarence A. “Dusty” Rhoads III as an honorary town council member.

Town manager Melody Clopton presented the fiscal year 2023-24 town budget to council during the first public hearing of the meeting. “I’m happy to say that this year we were able to honor all requests that were made,” Clopton proudly shared.

Budget highlights included no use of unrestricted funds, no property tax increase and no staffing increases. The town manager explained that a “substantial amount of money” was set aside in capital reserves, and a change had been made in the vehicle retention policy from 10 years or 100,000 miles to eight years or 80,000 miles. An emergency management line item was established, “to be used for safety and security and emergency incidents,” Clopton noted, adding that a contingency for unforeseen expenses was also included in the budget.

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As far the town’s general fund, the personnel department received a 6.5% pay increase and a one-step additional increase for the police and fire department staff. “As they are the most market-sensitive positions, and we are always trying to stay in place with the other towns around us,” Clopton clarified. The town had a “good year” with their health insurance plan, with a 3.99% increase in premiums. Therefore, the town manager reported that the town would be receiving a wellness bonus from insurance provider, which will be used to cover the cost of the increase for employee portions.

As far as capital reserve funding, some anticipated future purchases include more parks and recreational development, the planned future sidewalk project (projected for 2025) and upgrading Kitty Hawk’s public works building. Clopton also shared that the town’s emergency fund of $3.5 million is maintained in the budget.

“Town manager, Liliana, department heads, you have all done an outstanding job,” remarked Mayor Craig Garriss once the council returned to regular session following their first public hearing. “There are other towns that are around us that cannot say some things that Melody just said right there regarding no tax increase, so we are very fortunate we’ve got good, capable staff on hand to take care of those things for us.” A 5-0 motion carried to adopt the fiscal year 2023-24 budget following admiration by council to staff.

In their second public hearing of the evening, the council heard from director of planning and inspections Rob Testerman regarding two text amendments up for approval regarding accessory dwelling units. The first amendment was to the definition of ADU, for which there was a duplicate. Council approved this change with no comment. The second amendment up for approval was to eliminate the regulation restricting accessory dwelling units from being served by a driveway separate from that of the primary residence.

Testerman noted in his opening statements that the town currently does not have any other restrictions on lots that have more than one driveway accessing their property. He made mention of the fact that the planning board recommended denial of a change to the amendment as it stands.

“This conversation’s not about accessory dwelling units as a whole,” councilman David Hines voiced. He noted that the difference between being allowed a separate driveway as it stood was whether or not there was a bedroom within the dwelling. “This isn’t about accessory dwelling units anymore, this is about being fair to everybody to have the right to do what their next neighbor has the right to do.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Pruitt had contrary thoughts, pointing out that the initial reason for restricting separate driveways for ADUs was to limit the use of separate structure as investment properties. “Really, it was made as a deterrent for people to build these kind of structures for rentals, I feel.” Pruitt noted that rentals mixed in with residential areas led to increased density, where ADUs were originally intended for additional space in the form of mother-in-law suites and such.

After the board returned to regular session, Hines made a motion to approve the text amendment, which eliminated the regulation restriction on ADUs in regard to separate driveways. With a 3-2 vote, the motion carried. Pruitt and councilwoman Charlotte Walker had opposed.

In other business, Clopton presented a revised proposal from Dills Architects for their architectural design services for the town’s new police department building. The project proposal totals about $354,000. With recommendation from the town manager to move forward with Dills, the council approved execution of a contract with Dills.

Reappointments for the town’s planning board were up next on the agenda. Chair John Richardson, Jim Geraghty and Chuck Heath were reappointed unanimously. Likewise, Matt Spencer was reappointed as an alternate member. All of their terms now expire in June 2025.

Mayor Garriss then read a proclamation designating planning board member Clarence A. “Dusty” Rhoads III an honorary town council member. After noting his accomplishments with the town, Garriss said, “he was very passionate the old time Kitty Hawk, and we all feel that way.” This was the first time someone had been named an honorary member of the Kitty Hawk town council. Rhoads was sworn in on Friday, June 2 by town clerk Lynn Morris. Pruitt and Walker were in attendance.

The next Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting will be held at town hall on Monday, July 10 at 6 p.m.