Duck Planning Board discusses redevelopment definition

Published 6:18 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

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The Wednesday, January 10 regular Duck Planning Board meeting opened with deputy town clerk Melissa Felthousen administering an oath of office for its newest appointed member Bob Webb.

Appointed to the Duck Planning Board by majority Town Council vote a week earlier, Webb fills a vacancy created when Brenda Chasen was elected to a council seat. He will serve out Chasen’s unexpired term ending May 1, 2026.

With no one offering any public comments, board members began a detailed discussion on a definition for redevelopment in Duck.

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The absence of a town code definition surfaced in late 2022 when council reviewed and approved plans to redevelop the property at 1248 Duck Road. The former Resort Realty building, vacant since November 2020, will be demolished and replaced by two structures housing a restaurant, retail space and second floor bedroom accessory dwelling units.

Among the concerns voiced by a half dozen nearby residents was that leveling the site and then building two new structures was not redevelopment, it is new development.

Since incorporation in 2001, Duck has allowed commercial site development with full compliance with standards when appropriate. Since there were no changes planned for the nonconforming parking areas and two existing driveways at the former Resort Realty property, those components were discussed but no changes required as has been the practice for other projects.

The Planning Board discussion was to determine if Duck needs a definition for redevelopment, what qualifies as redevelopment, and at what point an existing, nonconforming component within a project needs to be brought into conformity.

During his presentation of facts related to the discussion, community development director Joe Heard advised that a dictionary definition of redevelopment is the act or process of developing something again or differently. He explained also that if Planning Board members adopted any recommended ordinance changes, a more formal document would be brought back later for review.

During board discussion it became apparent that several members were not convinced there is a need to add a definition.

James Cofield pointed out also that state law essentially requires the designation of a redevelopment district.

“That calls into play a whole set of standards and conditions that I do not think Duck is ready for,” said Cofield. “It might be one day but Duck is not there yet. So it might be better to leave things the way they are.”

It was also noted that giving a project a specific name is not as important as making sure it complies with state and town building requirements because simply calling it redevelopment has no actual bearing on the project.

Although there was some level of interest in adding a definition, there was no specific recommendation. When board Chair Marc Murray polled the group, the majority consensus was to leave things as they currently are.

Moving to the next agenda item, a 2024 meeting schedule was approved with a new meeting time.

After a brief discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of several different meeting times, the board voted to meet at 5:30 p.m., one hour earlier than previous meetings, for the following dates:

January 10
February 14
March 13
April 10
May 8
June 12
July 10
August 14
September 11
October 9
November 13
December 11

Other business for the evening included approval of the December 13 meeting and brief reviews of current and proposed projects in Duck.

At the end of business, the board adjourned until 5:30 p.m. on February 14.