Dare Planning Board denies proposed SSO text amendment, approves Rodanthe cluster housing

Published 1:22 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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At its March meeting, Dare County Planning Board turned down a request for a zoning text amendment for shared space-occupancy dwelling and approved a cluster housing development for Rodanthe.

The proposed text amendment was submitted by attorney Casey Varnell on behalf of Patricia Pledger, the owner of the Pledger Palace Child Development and Education Center in the Martin’s Point Commercial District. That district was released to Dare County by Southern Shores in November 2023. The district has 10 parcels, making it the smallest zoning district in unincorporated Dare County.

As proposed by the applicant, the definition of “Shared Space-Occupancy Dwelling (SSO) means a private structure in which shared spaces are offered for long-term rental. Each shared spaced offered for rent within the structure shall exist within the confines of four walls, and separate and apart from any other shared spaced located within the structure. Residents of the SSO shall share a kitchen facility and common living area with all other residents.”

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The definition as classified by the 2018 Building Code would be either a congregate living facility or a dormitory. The classification is what building code officials use when reviewing plans.

The text amendment proposes for a special use permit eight requirements:

– Maximum number of occupants in shared space is 12 with each occupant having 50 square feet of living space, which is the definition of dormitory. In his memorandum to the Planning Board, Noah Gillam, the county’s planning director, wrote that the two requirements do not establish a density limit.

– Bathing facilities: each shared space shall contain two toilets and two sinks and bathing facilities provided with a ratio one facility per five occupants, which meets the building code requirements for dormitories. However, unlike the ratio for bathing facilities, the toilets and sinks are not in a ratio.

– Eight washing machines and eight clothes dryers. The requirement should be stated in a ratio of the equipment to the number of occupants.

– Parking in the proposal is one space for each five occupants. The applicant states in the application that the housing is intended for J-1 work visa students. “The overwhelming majority of J-1 Work Visa students will not have a motor vehicle. The primary transportation for these residents will be either: 1) bicycle; or 2) on foot/pedestrian.”

Gillam writes: “The proposed parking language as written by the applicant is not adequate for the intended use.” He states that parking should be stated in a ratio like hotels. J-1 students are here for the visitor season. For the rest of the time, the shared use space could be used by construction workers, for example. The recommendation is one space per three occupants.

– The SSO shall be a minimum of 100 feet from any residentially zoned area. A setback is required in zoning districts throughout Dare County. In the Martin’s Point Commercial District, the requirement is for a visual buffer of fencing six to eight feet in height or a vegetative buffer at least six feet in height along rear property lines, writes Gillam.

– The last condition is for one designated person to have duties to oversee and manage a SSO. Gillam advocates 24-hour a day, on-site management.

Also pointed out, the proposal does not address open space requirements or dimensional requirements for kitchen space and common living areas.

Most importantly, the Dare County Board of Commissioners must find that the proposed amendment is consistent with the 2022 Dare County Land Use Plan. Two policies are applicable, but the planning director and the Planning Board found the proposed text amendment inconsistent “with the existing patterns of development and scale of surrounding zoning districts and neighborhoods in Dare County.”

The Planning Board received three comments, all negative to the proposal. Timothy G. Baker wrote on behalf of the Martin’s Point Homeowners Association and Joe Watson and Donald Newell wrote a joint letter. Former Planning Board Chairman John Finelli, a Martin’s Point resident, wrote a five-page memorandum.

Patricia Pledger was provided a time to speak. She asked “why not give us an opportunity.”

The board voted unanimously to deny the application on language provided at the March 5, 2024 meeting.

The board also considered a special use permit application for constructing eight, three-bedroom, wood-framed individual dwellings at 23244 Midgetts Mobile Court in Rodanthe as a cluster home development. The parcel is 1.3 acres and is zoned S-1, which permits cluster housing. “The proposed design meets the minimum requirements of the Ordinance,” writes planner Morgan Potts.

The parcel is vacant, but contains a sand mine borrow pit and fencing. Derek Hence is the owner and House Engineering, the firm that proposes the system to fill the pit. The pit will be backfilled in four layers. Each layer will be laid, compacted and then watered down. One of the conditions is that a third-party engineer be hired to certify the materials used will support vehicular traffic, emergency vehicles, the proposed dwellings and building pads.

Parking is one space per bedroom, with two paved parking spaces provided under the dwelling and a third between units. The wastewater system will be engineered and fees collected for monitoring and maintenance.

The proposal calls for a homeowners association to be formed. The development has two years to secure building permits. The developer and then the homeowners association will also maintain the landscaping. A road to access the dwelling units will be built and the developer then the homeowners association will maintain. A fire hydrant must be installed and a lock box key for a gate must be provided to the Chicamacomico Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department.

The board voted unanimously that the conditions in the draft special use permit are reasonable and appropriate. The special use permit request moves to the Board of Commissioners.

In a brief item, the planning board approved the preliminary plat with a change in lot lines for the Jonna O. Midgette subdivision in Rodanthe.

The next meeting of the Dare County Planning Board is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, 2024 at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Dare County Administration Building, located at 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr. in Manteo. On the agenda is a Recombination Plat, Lots 53R and 55R, Phase 3, Wind over Waves Subdivision, submitted by Stomp OBX Holdings, LLC.