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TOWN OF DUCK

PLANNING BOARD

REGULAR MEETING

June 13, 2007

 

 

The Planning Board for the Town of Duck convened at the Duck Municipal Offices at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, 2007.

 

Present were Chairman Ron Forlano, Vice Chair Jon Britt, John Fricker, Joe Blakaitis, and Claiborne Yarbrough.

 

Absent:  None.

 

Also present were Council Liaison Denver Lindley, Jr., Director of Community Development Suzanne Cotellessa and Zoning Technician Sandy Cady. 

 

Others Present: Olin Finch and Andy Szakos.

 

Chairman Forlano called to order the Regular Meeting of the Planning Board for June 13, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. 

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

None.

 

OLD BUSINESS

 

A.  Worksession/Discussion on Building Height (TC ref. 1/24/07)

 

Director Suzanne Cotellessa was recognized to speak.  Director Cotellessa stated there were a couple of things that building height in the Zoning Ordinance was designed to accomplish, such as differentiating lots that were in flood zones that are now out of flood zones.  She stated that a question was raised as to how the Town should design their regulations to deal with high hazard zone construction.  She stated that FEMA wants homes up on pilings but most builders want to build a house with a ground floor.  She stated that the Town’s regulations are interpreted as such as the two (2) foot free and clear was a reasonable standard.  She noted that lots in V zones are above flood elevation but still need to be free and clear of obstruction. 

 

Director Cotellessa stated that the second major discussion point was how height would be measured.  She asked if the Board wanted to measure it from the level of original grade, encouraging people to build into the topography of the site, or make allowances for people to level out a lot and build a house.  She stated that staff had provided a few recommendations that would state height would be measured from finished grade as long as there aren’t any areas of fill in excess of one foot and if a home is raised in a special high hazard flood zone, the homeowner would receive an allowance to build a three (3) story structure above it.  She stated she was looking for a consensus form the Board to move forward on the issue and bring back a draft ordinance for public discussion on building height.

 

Chairman Forlano stated he did not understand finished grade not being more than six (6) inches at the corners of the building.  He asked for an explanation of the meaning.  Director Cotellessa stated that there have been some instances where the slab of the finished grade is not always level at the same height at the corners.  Member Blakaitis asked why the Town has to even bother with it.  Director Cotellessa stated that there may be instances where the slab could have a stiff corner to make the building level.  Member Blakaitis pointed out that the slab is always level.

 

Olin Finch of 116 Sandy Ridge Road was recognized to speak.  Mr. Finch stated that surveyors are surveying the area around the house and not the slab itself.  He stated that if there is a slab under the house, it is level.  He stated the elevation of the house should be defined. 

 

Member Fricker felt the Board was dealing with two (2) issues – whether the proposed language is necessary and where height should be measured.  He stated that the second issue should be addressed since it didn’t make any sense.  Olin Finch stated there was another issue – what happens to the height of the house if a homeowner wants to put parking under it.  He stated that Director Cotellessa’s point about the height to the ground could vary by as much as a foot or more.  Member Blakaitis asked if houses were still being built with sand under them instead of a slab.  Olin Finch stated he was correct. 

 

Director Cotellessa stated that the language notes that height is defined as from the top of the slab at the approximate center of the structure.  She stated that height could be measured from the finished grade or the slab.  Member Fricker asked if the measurement could be from the highest point on the roof directly down to the slab or finished grade.  He asked if that could not be applicable to a certain house.  Member Blakaitis thought the house proper should be defined.  Olin Finch stated a good example would be a house with a tower.

 

Chairman Forlano asked if the regulation could state that no other tower could be higher than the peak of the main part of the house.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Town’s code allows towers to go five (5) feet beyond the peak of the house as long as it is no more than sixty-four (64) square feet in area.  She pointed out that it is a very predominant part of the Town’s architecture.

 

Member Fricker asked if the peak of the roof of the tower had to be within the thirty-five (35) foot height limit.  Director Cotellessa stated it if is sixty-four (64) square feet or less, it can go five (5) feet above that, to forty (40) feet.  Olin Finch stated it wouldn’t matter how much the grade drops off or what the grade is as long as it is no more than five (5) feet above the roof line.  Director Cotellessa noted that it was important to think about allowing it.   

 

Chairman Forlano asked if it was needed in the regulations where the finished grade doesn’t vary more than six (6) inches at the corners of the building.  Vice Chair Britt clarified that Chairman Forlano was proposing to leave it out.  He asked if he wanted it to stop at the top of the slab.  Director Cotellessa clarified it was the top of the slab or finished grade.  Member Fricker agreed with the suggestion

 

Olin Finch asked if the surveyors should be measuring above finished grade or where finished grade should be established.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Board was proposing to end the sentence with: “…to the top of the slab at the approximate center of the structure.”  Member Fricker suggested the sentence read: “…to the top of the slab or at finished grade at the approximate center of the structure.” to allow for instances where there isn’t a slab.  Director Cotellessa agreed.

 

Member Yarbrough asked if the Board would look at the document portion that deals with how varying finished grades would be changed.  Member Blakaitis felt it should be stricken from the document.  Director Cotellessa stated it could be stricken.  She stated that for people that build homes into the topography the question would be where to measure height from.  She suggested bringing back another option to the Board.

 

Member Fricker asked how height would be measured if the design of the house was such that the roof was more to the left.  He asked if it would work to the benefit or detriment of the designer of the house with respect to height and the level of finished grade.  Director Cotellessa stated the thirty-five (35) feet would be from whatever the average is.

 

Member Blakaitis asked if there were many homes built into the topography in Duck.  Director Cotellessa stated that there were not many. 

 

Director Cotellessa pointed out that the Town would give homeowners a one (1) foot allowance for leveling.  She stated that if homeowners wanted to do two (2) feet, the house would be thirty-four (34) foot tall.  Member Blakaitis wondered if one (1) foot allowance was enough.  Olin Finch felt it wasn’t enough as houses vary more than one (1) foot.  Vice Chair Britt asked what would be enough.  Mr. Finch stated it should be enough for people to grade properly.  Vice Chair Britt clarified that it should be enough to allow people to tweak it and make it work.  He asked if it should be two (2) feet.  Mr. Finch stated that lots vary from ten (10) to twenty (20) feet in height.  He stated that relatively flat lots could vary at least a foot.

 

Member Blakaitis felt the language should be easy to understand.  Director Cotellessa stated there should be a differentiation between moving dirt on a lot versus bringing in dirt.  Olin Finch pointed out that homeowners are allowed to fill up to three (3) feet for septic systems.  Member Fricker asked where the three (3) feet of fill limit came from.  Director Cotellessa stated it was from the current regulations.  She stated that a lot of the questions and concerns are being driven by the current practice of three (3) full stories of living space. 

 

Member Fricker pointed out that the regulations state that a homeowner may have to build two (2) feet with respect to the septic field.  He wondered why.  Director Cotellessa stated it was a Health Department regulation.  Olin Finch thought it was also in reference to the water table. 

 

Chairman Forlano reminded the Board to stay on the topic of building height.  Director Cotellessa noted that one of the upcoming discussions would be on fill regulations. Vice Chair Britt stated that if the Board was talking about definitions of fill and definitions of height but if fill hasn’t been defined, it becomes like a circle.  Chairman Forlano agreed but felt the Board should stay on the topic.  Olin Finch felt the two (2) should be separated.  Director Cotellessa stated that they are separated in that the current draft separates height from fill and relates height to finished grade.  Olin Finch stated that if the Board could get away from fill being related to the height of the house, then they could take the fill back as a separate issue and define the height of the house from the finished grade.  Director Cotellessa stated they had accomplished that.

 

Chairman Forlano asked the Board for their comments.  Member Fricker stated he still did not understand all of the implications.

 

Olin Finch stated that the Board had not touched on height with respect to oceanfront homes.  He stated that if they were going to require homes to have airspace under the lowest structural member.  Member Fricker suggested the Board deal with the topic on hand apart from oceanfront properties as it was a different set of issues.  Mr. Finch pointed out that it was about height.  Member Fricker agreed, but when he read the documentation he thought it was a simple issue.  He now felt it was more complex and wasn’t sure if he understood the issue as well as he had thought.  He asked what the downside would be if the Board decided to strike everything but the revised first sentence.  Director Cotellessa stated the Board could make it very simple by saying that height would be measured from finished grade.  She cautioned that they would still need to have in the regulations that finished grade would be established in accordance with the Town’s fill regulations so there are no open ended issues.  She stated that the rest could be stricken up to the flood zone information.

 

Member Yarbrough thought it was a good idea and felt it should be kept simple.  Member Fricker felt the Board was getting to a consensus.  He suggested tabling the issue and go to the fill issue to see what comes out of that and then come back to the height issue to see if the two (2) items mesh.  Vice Chair Britt thought it was a good idea.

 

Chairman Forlano suggested the Board start the discussion on fill and grading to see how it relates to height.

 

B.  Worksession/Discussion on Fill/Grading

 

Director Cotellessa stated that the Board had previous discussions regarding confusion with the meaning of fill as defined in the Town’s ordinance.  She stated that local practice is to level the lot out prior to development with fill brought in many times once the septic system is raised.  She stated that the Board had a philosophical discussion about building into the topography versus leveling and building up.  She stated that there were earlier concerns about filling lots above the level of the adjacent street.  She pointed out that most of the discussions were regarding stormwater and runoff issues.  She stated that the fill regulations were designed to provide for the ability to raise certain portions of a lot up to the level of three (3) feet provided that the fill for the re-graded area of the lot was brought in from the lot line.  She added that there was concern regarding short term stormwater runoff.  She stated that the original discussion was that if the house was not in a flood zone, there wasn’t a reason to raise it as it was a standard practice to raise it three (3) feet.  She stated that the discussion would now be about the language of leveling out a lot as well as allowing people to re-grade up to one (1) foot or up to three (3) feet. 

 

Member Fricker asked if a lot with a hole could be filled with three (3) feet of fill.  Director Cotellessa stated the Town was allowing the fill for the hole.  Chairman Forlano clarified that the Town was also allowing three (3) feet.  Director Cotellessa stated that the rules state that three (3) feet of fill would be allowed if the other regulations are met.  Member Blakaitis stated anything that is not necessary would come out of the house. Director Cotellessa asked what was necessary.  Member Blakaitis stated anything unnecessary would be anything that would have to raise the house to base flood.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Board seemed to be contemplating other than that.  She stated that she thought the Board was saying they wanted to allow leveling of the lot, put in the septic and allow three (3) feet of fill before height is counted.  Member Blakaitis didn’t think the Board wanted that. Chairman Forlano stated they had as the height was measured from the finished grade of the slab.

 

Chairman Forlano asked if three (3) feet was a given.  Member Blakaitis didn’t feel it should be.  Member Fricker agreed.  Olin Finch suggested the Board find what their objectives were that are causing problems.  Director Cotellessa stated she was worried about a few issues – in some instances three (3) feet of fill would be needed for some homes.  Member Yarbrough agreed.  She thought some of the issues were being driven by regulations that the Town has no control over.  She stated that if septic allows for three (3) feet of fill, height should be measured from there.  Director Cotellessa noted that the Sanderling subdivision does not allow ground floor living space or building above the level of the street.  She stated that the regulations for septic are for what the Health Department allows. 

 

Member Fricker stated that the Board’s goal was that they did not want lots filled higher than the street or adjacent properties.  He stated that if septic gets filled two (2) feet, then a homeowner could do that across their lot but suggested not giving homeowners three (3) feet on top of the two (2) feet.  Director Cotellessa stated that the two (2) feet for septic may be above the level of the road.  She cautioned the Board about whether fill can be above the level of the road or adjacent lot as there may be a requirement by the Health Department that may be above the level of the road.

 

Olin Finch asked what could be done if the lot is already higher than the road with areas that still need to be filled.  Vice Chair Britt pointed out that the Osprey subdivision was a good example of lots higher than the road.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Town needs to allow for some evening of the lot based on the Board’s previous discussions so houses could be put on the lots.  She stated that if the Board wished to allow houses to be built on higher lots without bringing in more fill and leveling out what is already there, it could be considered.  She stated that it could be arranged and planned so the septic is at the lowest part of the lot instead of the house being there.  Member Yarbrough pointed out that if stormwater is a concern, it was addressed in the language. She stated that even though it may be an extra hurdle, a potential problem could be avoided with regard to fill.

 

Member Blakaitis stated that fill may be needed for lots where people want viewsheds.  Olin Finch stated that many lots use the fill that is already on the lot.  He stated that it would be very likely that lots would need more than three (3) feet of fill above original grade.  He stated that there was no such thing as “original grade” on a lot.  Member Yarbrough pointed out the language considers it pre-disturbance.  Mr. Finch agreed but wondered what pre-disturbance was.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Town requires a site plan for pre-disturbance elevations within nine (9) months of construction of a house.

 

Member Blakaitis asked how it can be that a homeowner may end up with more than three (3) feet if they just move what is already on their lot.  Olin Finch stated that the corners could be moved.  Director Cotellessa state that people can build on their lots as is but anything above one (1) foot of fill in a non flood zone would count against the height of the house with the draft language.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that it is impossible to build a house without any data beforehand.  Member Fricker stated that people are saying that building a house in Duck is impossible.  He asked why.  Olin Finch stated that data wasn’t required.  Member Fricker asked if the data that was proposed or the data that is already on the books wasn’t required.  Olin Finch stated that only one (1) other town requires the original grade data.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Town of Southern Shores requires ground elevations.  Member Fricker asked how long they have been requiring it.  Director Cotellessa guessed approximately four (4) years.  Member Fricker felt that it didn’t mean that it couldn’t be done.  Chairman Forlano stated it has been done but with a lot of angst and problems.

 

Director Cotellessa stated that one of the issues is that two (2) different surveyors could go out and get two (2) different numbers.  She stated that the argument has always been that it is not always exact because the sand shifts.  She didn’t think the approach was to allow people to do whatever they want and then measure the height at the end to see if the height is correct.  She stated that the Board had discussions on how they were going to try to capture information with respect to fill, and determined to require spot elevations.

 

Chairman Forlano felt the Board needed to be careful.  He thought the Board should be careful when looking at ordinances and changing them especially in the way they are worded.  Member Yarbrough thought that the language was an attempt to be less draconian.  She stated that the language may not be perfect but thought it was more permissive than the current language.  Member Fricker stated he liked the proposed language.  He thought it was consistent with the existing three (3) feet and allowed more flexibility.  He stated that he was concerned with Section B where the post-fill condition could be considered as pre-existing ground elevations.  Director Cotellessa stated that the language states that if there is a depression on a lot, a person could put in three (3) feet of fill and move around the rest of it.  Member Fricker stated he was in favor of the amendment.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that the lot on the corner of Plover would have not existed because of the deep hole.  Director Cotellessa stated that anything where the Town is varying from the regulations, whether by height variance or putting in more fill than is allowed; has avenues for allowing it.  She stated that a variance can be obtained for the fill regulations through the Board of Adjustments, as well as a variance for the height regulations.  She stated that the language is trying to address the majority of the building conditions.  She pointed out that there will be odd lots.  Chairman Forlano clarified that if there is an odd lot with a deep hole, a property owner could obtain a variance. Vice Chair Britt stated he did not like using variances as a net.  He stated that variances are almost impossible to grant according to the rules of the Board of Adjustment. Director Cotellessa stated that variances were not a net for three (3) story homes but can be a net to build any home on a lot.

 

Olin Finch pointed out that Duck is the only town with the ordinances that define original grade under the four (4) corners. He stated that the Town of Southern Shores comes close, but they allow more leeway for property owners.  He stated that if there was some aspect that showed the Town has improved as a result of the ordinances, it would help in determining how important they are.  Director Cotellessa stated the discussion was prompted by the overfilling of a soundfront lot that had an extreme amount of fill that ended up with ten (10) foot walls.  She stated that there was also discussion where fill and bulkheading on the oceanfront created a tunnel effect.  She stated the original discussion was to maintain natural grade and if filling, do a slope that would allow vegetative cover as opposed to bulkheading.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that with the suggestions and the ordinances themselves, he thought the Board had solved most of the issues of the ordinances as they were written.  He stated that the suggestions are only tweaking things.  Director Cotellessa agreed.  She stated that the Board is loosening things by making these changes.

 

Olin Finch stated that in the past, property owners did not have to indicate whether or not they were going to fill a lot or put in a bulkhead.  He stated that it is still the current situation in most of the other municipalities.  He stated that if all construction, including fill and bulkheads, be required to be shown as part of the permit, then it will be left up to the discretion of the Planning Department as to whether it will be done unnecessarily.

 

Andy Szakos of 100 Shell Circle in Kitty Hawk was recognized to speak.  Mr. Szakos stated that he works for Sun Realty as a realtor and came to the meeting as an observer and had also applied for the Director of Community Development position.  He stated that his impression of the Town is that it wants to be special.  He thought that if the Board wanted to create a community, it should be done in a way where there are clear rules on what is and isn’t allowed.  He stated that the clearer the rules are, and the less subject to interpretation they are, the better the Town would be.  He stated that it seemed that the Board was trying to loosen the regulations with the building community nudging and encouraging the Board to go further.  He asked the Board to be cautious about how far they would go.

 

Member Yarbrough asked if Mr. Finch’s comments were administratively feasible.  Director Cotellessa stated that when a site plan comes in, staff always looks at it with respect to the four (4) corners and if fill will be needed.  She stated that Council reviews anything in an ordinance that may allow too much discretion with respect to the Planning Director.  She pointed out that ordinances were not 100% black and white in every case.  She stated the ordinances are not subject to the “whims” of whoever is the Planning Director.  She stated she would prefer as little discretion as possible.

 

Member Fricker thought if there were no regulations on a subject and an administrator does something with the issue while the next one does something else, it would cause criticism of the Town having arbitrary, capricious behavior which would run the risk of lawsuits.  He stated that the Town could go too far and address everything.  Vice Chair Britt stated that the only way to do what Mr. Finch suggested would be for everything to come before the Board and not to the administrator.  He stated that that would be the only way it would be fair.  Council Liaison Lindley stated that if it was done that way, there would be a lot of criticism.  Vice Chair Britt agreed.  Council Liaison Lindley stated that there is a structured way of doing things that will protect the future of the Town.  He stated that it may not be perfect but it was the job of the Board and the administrator to take care of things.  He stated that without structure, the Town would be in chaos.

 

Olin Finch stated that building codes are pretty cut and dried.  He stated there are multiple interpretations with respect to building codes.

 

Chairman Forlano asked the Board how they felt about the land disturbing activity proposal.  He asked if there were anymore arguments against it as it stood.  Vice Chair Britt clarified that the issue would be brought back at the July meeting for recommendation.  Director Cotellessa stated he was correct.  Chairman Forlano asked the Board what their feelings were so Director Cotellessa could bring something back in July for a vote to send up to Council.

 

Member Blakaitis felt it was a fair job of simplifying it.  He stated it provided a foundation for what the Board wanted for the building height.  Director Cotellessa stated that she had heard the consensus on the building height.  She thought the Board needed to think about what the limit would be for smoothing with respect to allowing it as far as not counting it against the building height.  Vice Chair Britt felt they should be thinking if a foot was enough.  Director Cotellessa agreed and suggested the Board think about if a foot was reasonable.  Vice Chair Britt stated his hang up was if a foot was enough and if there was a relationship to the septic fill requirement that could be put in.

 

Director Cotellessa stated she would put in a few options for the next meeting.

 

Chairman Forlano asked if the Board agreed to eliminate the corners with respect to building height.  Director Cotellessa stated that the consensus of the Board was to change the first sentence, put in the second sentence and take out the rest until the Board gets to the issue of special flood zones. Vice Chair Britt stated he was fine with it.  Chairman Forlano asked where the Board was with respect to flood zones.  Director Cotellessa stated that the question the Board needed to answer was if the two (2) foot free and clear area would be counted against height.  Member Fricker asked if landowners would be penalized with regard to the height of the house by two (2) feet because other regulatory bodies state that they must have two (2) feet free and clear.  Director Cotellessa stated that FEMA does not say it has to be two (2) feet, but that it has to be free and clear, which could be defined in the Town’s ordinances as a foot.  She stated that FEMA’s rule in the high velocity flood zones state that free and clear of obstruction is needed due to wave action.

 

Olin Finch asked if anything was ever received from the Building Inspector that shows two (2) feet.  Director Cotellessa stated she had.  Mr. Finch asked what it was.  Director Cotellessa stated it was FEMA guidance that two (2) feet was a free and clear number.  Director Cotellessa stated that FEMA has to approve the Town’s flood damage ordinance in order for the Town to obtain flood insurance.  She stated that FEMA gives municipalities a model flood ordinance that provides flexibility for towns to use.  She stated that some towns have a two (2) foot freeboard requirement even in lesser flood zones.  She stated that the Town made a determination a few years ago not to require a freeboard, but to be at or above base flood elevation.

 

Olin Finch felt the issue was a big deal.  He stated that it was not because of how many feet it needs to be, but because it is not defined.  He stated that FEMA would be ok with one, two or three feet free and clear of obstruction.  He stated that the Town is enforcing the two feet, but that it was only an interpretation.  Director Cotellessa suggested having the Building Inspector attend the July meeting with the information he has on FEMA.  She stated that he is the Town’s certified floodplain manager and would discuss the issue with the Board to see what direction they wished to go.  She suggested the Board think about the greater philosophical issue as to how houses should be built on the oceanfront and should the Board design the regulations to accommodate three (3) level homes on the oceanfront.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that FEMA had been making recommendations to New Orleans and that was where the two (2) feet was mentioned. Vice Chair Britt thought they needed more than two feet. Chairman Forlano agreed.  He felt the two (2) foot clearance was a safety issue that a lot of people were not aware of and should be.  He thought FEMA’s rules were good ones.

 

Member Yarbrough asked if it would be too simple to allow houses to be thirty-seven (37) feet with the two (2) feet under it.  Director Cotellessa stated that the draft revised language states that now.  She stated that she asked the Board to think about it if it was a reasonable thing to do.  Member Yarbrough thought people would still build three (3) story houses and that it was a way of life.

 

Member Fricker stated that houses on the oceanfront are longer and narrower and have to be up on pilings.  He stated that the Town would have to do what FEMA would like them to do, which is to have a great deal of open space with houses on pilings.  He stated it may reduce the insurance part not only for oceanfront properties but for properties further back.  Olin Finch stated there was no additional benefit if a structural slab is allowed to be poured at grade.  He stated that the Town of Southern Shores has a freeboard that allows two (2) feet.  Director Cotellessa stated that Southern Shores has a two (2) foot freeboard requirement which doesn’t just apply to oceanfront properties.  She stated that the new rules would require Duck to be free and clear of obstruction.  Vice Chair Britt clarified that the Town would not get lower flood insurance rates because they say the free and clear is three (3) feet.  Director Cotellessa agreed, except that a greater freeboard may affect discounts.

 

Member Fricker asked if the Town, by exceeding to the wishes of the building community, would be setting itself up for disaster.  Director Cotellessa though it was a philosophical question.  Member Yarbrough stated that it seemed like there was an ordinance in front of the Board with proposed language but there was still a whole set of issues the Board didn’t know about.  She stated that the ordinance potentially addresses some of Olin Finch’s concerns.  She thought maybe the Board should acknowledge that the issue was more than what they could do this evening.

 

Member Blakaitis pointed out that free and clear of obstruction could mean nothing as the sand would wash out under the pilings of a house.  Olin Finch stated that there would also be the difficulty of deciding where the two (2) feet would be.  Vice Chair Britt felt the issue was not going to go any further.

 

Andy Szakos felt that Mr. Finch had made some good points. He stated that the Floodplain Administrator needed to come before the Board to discuss the issue.  He thought the Board needed to figure out how concerned they were about safety with respect to flooding. 

 

Member Blakaitis asked if Building Inspector Cory Tate would be able to come to the next meeting.  Vice Chair Britt stated that the Board could not make any decisions without meeting with the Floodplain Administrator.

 

Chairman Forlano suggested tabling the issue until the next meeting.  It was consensus of the Board to bring the issue back at the July 11, 2007 meeting.

 

C.  Worksession/Discussion on Driveways and Parking

 

Director Cotellessa stated that at the last meeting, the Board wanted something that would encourage the use of permeable materials, consider stacking, try to get rid of parking across the front of a property, as well as some discussion regarding reducing the size of parking spaces.  She stated that the Board had before them a mark up that states that a driveway can be approved with concrete, asphalt, etc.  She stated that parking spaces would be approved as well but with no concrete or asphalt unless there was a topography issue.  She stated that in both cases, she added language that if there is a loose stone surface for the driveway, it should be bordered by either concrete or timbers to hold the gravel in.  She stated that the last section would be an addition that states when a homeowner comes in to the lot line, it can’t be more than twenty (20) feet coming in across the property and they can’t exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the lot width with parking.  She stated from a staff perspective, she would not recommend the requirement that parking spaces be in gravel or porous paving.  She thought there were too many people who would prefer to have their driveway and all parking spaces in just concrete.  She stated that if the Board was simultaneously counting the parking as lot coverage, which they were not doing, it could make a difference.  She stated that the language would require homeowners to have the parking in gravel which automatically leads the amount of lot coverage available to be put back in the house.  She pointed out that lot coverage was not being decreased but would be requiring some of the parking to be gravel. She recommended that wherever there is gravel, it should be bordered.

 

Chairman Forlano asked how gravel could be kept from running into the street.  Director Cotellessa stated there wasn’t any way if grade goes up to the edge of the pavement. Chairman Forlano asked if gravel would be allowed to go up to the right of way.  Director Cotellessa stated that right now, it is allowed.  She stated that the new language does not change that. She stated that in many of the neighborhoods, concrete aprons are required from the right of the way.  Chairman Forlano asked if a concrete apron could be required to keep gravel off the street.  Director Cotellessa stated it could.  She cautioned that a lot of communities may not like it.

 

Chairman Forlano asked if the gravel in the road was a problem in the Sanderling subdivision.  Council Liaison Lindley stated he didn’t think it was.  He stated there was a certain amount of upkeep but it was simple.  Member Blakaitis stated that if the lot is street level, it’s not a problem and very easy to clean up.  Director Cotellessa stated that the Board could specify that driveways abutting NC 12 would need to have a concrete apron.

 

Chairman Forlano asked the Board for comments regarding the proposed changes to the language in the ordinance.

 

Member Fricker stated that he did not envision parking to be stacked outside of the drive aisle.  He asked for clarification on stacking.  Director Cotellessa explained stacking to the Board.  Member Fricker asked if Director Cotellessa cared if the stacking was perpendicular or parallel. Director Cotellessa stated she didn’t. 

 

Member Blakaitis clarified that nothing had been done with regard to the width of the parking.  Director Cotellessa stated there was nothing about the size of the spaces or the number of spaces.  She stated that the language states that the driveway has to be concrete or asphalt and parking spaces cannot be concrete or asphalt.  Member Blakaitis asked what the caution would be.  Director Cotellessa stated that she thought people might prefer to have it in concrete or asphalt.

 

Vice Chair Britt pointed out that gravel would do away with a lot of the concrete that fronts some of the homes.  Member Yarbrough agreed.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that stormwater runoff was his biggest concern. 

 

Member Blakaitis asked how it would affect major renovations to a house.  He asked if the homeowner would have to keep a gravel driveway.  Director Cotellessa stated that the rules state that a driveway can be concrete, asphalt, gravel or pavers.  She stated that the exception was for those with pre-existing concrete driveways as they would have to bring their driveways up to code.  Member Fricker felt it would be prudent to grandfather driveways.  Vice Chair Britt thought the grandfather rule could be used.  Director Cotellessa stated it could be done. She recommended that an exception could be made for renovations for people that already have concrete.  Chairman Forlano stated he would like to see that put in the language.  Vice Chair Britt agreed.

 

Member Fricker asked if the Board was saying that the ordinance should be brought back to them with language stating that there would be a requirement for gravel parking.  Director Cotellessa stated that the language says that now.  Member Fricker asked the Board if they were agreeing that they liked the language.  Chairman Forlano, Member Blakaitis, Vice Chair Britt and Member Yarbrough all stated they did.  Member Fricker stated he was still unsure.  He thought requiring it would be a bit much.  Vice Chair Britt stated that people wouldn’t do it unless it was required.  Director Cotellessa stated that if the owners are using concrete, it will come out of the pool or the house because they will need it for their lot coverage. 

 

Member Fricker stated that if gravel parking is required, it would negate the homeowners from putting in more house.  He stated that the efforts to help stormwater runoff would not be accomplished and it would probably make a lot of homeowners angry.  Director Cotellessa stated that if a homeowner is allowed to choose a concrete driveway, they would need to take that amount of lot coverage out of the house or the pool.  She stated that it may create more angst in Town.  She stated that the question was how to encourage homeowners to use gravel.  Olin Finch pointed out that nothing will be lost by requiring gravel parking.

 

Vice Chair Britt felt gravel should be required.  He stated that he was happy with the language and wanted the grandfather language included.

 

D.  Worksession/Discussion on Peat Pods as Lot Coverage

 

Director Cotellessa and the Board had a short discussion on peat pods as lot coverage.  The Board was ok with the draft revisions.  Director Cotellessa stated she would bring the language forward for recommendation at the next meeting.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

A.  Introduction of Discussion on Fence Regulations

 

Director Cotellessa stated this would be the first time the Board would be discussing fences.  She asked the Board for direction.

 

Member Blakaitis clarified that there are a lot of fences in Town that were not just for pools.  Director Cotellessa stated that most fences are installed to surround a pool.  Council Liaison Lindley asked if the Town has a requirement for a fence.  Director Cotellessa stated that for pools they are not called fences but barriers.  She stated that the way it has to be built is to prevent people from getting in.  She stated that there is no requirement or limit as to how tall a fence should be but there is a minimum limit for getting over one.

 

Vice Chair Britt pointed out that Town code restricts residential fences to six (6) feet.  Director Cotellessa stated that the language reads very poorly.  She stated that she added language to put limitations on height in the front yard which the Board could consider.  She didn’t think six (6) foot fences were aesthetically pleasing in a front yard.  Members Fricker and Blakaitis agreed.

 

Chairman Forlano pointed out that some other jurisdictions prevent or prohibit solid fences.  Director Cotellessa agreed as they have to have an open look.  Member Blakaitis asked if fences could be differentiated in the code.  Director Cotellessa stated they could.  Vice Chair Britt stated that there is a specific code for pool barriers that have to be followed. 

 

Member Fricker asked if there was anything in the existing ordinance that states if someone wants to put up a fence, that the finished side is facing outward.  Member Blakaitis stated that a lot of municipalities have that requirement.  Member Fricker asked if it was something that the Board wanted to address.  Member Blakaitis asked why fences were being addressed at all.  Director Cotellessa stated that at the last meeting, the Board discussed several issues, with fences being one of them.  She stated that people will put the finished side of the fence out if it is serving as a pool barrier since there is no way to climb over it.  Vice Chair Britt stated that the existing language needs to be cleared up.  Director Cotellessa agreed.  She stated that she needed to know whether or not the Board wanted to deal with different heights in front yards versus rear yards.  She stated that right now the maximum height of six (6) feet all the way around a house and to the lot line is allowed.

 

Member Fricker asked if the Board was dealing with barriers around the pool, privacy fences and open fences.  Director Cotellessa stated the Board was discussing all different types of fences. Member Fricker clarified that privacy fences can be six (6) feet high in the current regulations.  Director Cotellessa stated he was correct.

 

Chairman Forlano stated that he agreed with several other municipalities where the fence could be allowed up to the lot line.  He stated that by bringing the fence in off the lot line, it would be giving the neighboring property the area where there isn’t a fence.  Director Cotellessa stated that the other choice would be to allow a fence around a pool but leave the rest of the property with an open fence.

 

Member Fricker stated that the Board started out with a simple issue but thought there were many issues to deal with now.  He asked the Board if they wished to look at the issue comprehensively. He thought if they did, all fences would have to be re-examined.  Vice Chair Britt and Member Blakaitis felt the issue would be like opening a Pandora’s Box.  Member Yarbrough stated she was in favor of pool barriers around pools but not in favor of having a fence around the whole yard.  She felt more discussion was necessary.

 

Director Cotellessa stated she would bring back examples at the next meeting for the Board to discuss.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

A.  Planning Board Meeting May 9, 2007

 

Vice Chair Britt moved to approve the minutes of the Planning Board Meeting of May 9, 2007 as presented.  Member Yarbrough seconded.

 

Minutes for the Planning Board Meeting on May 9, 2007 were approved 4-0.  Member Blakaitis could not vote as he was not present for the meeting.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

None.

 

STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

BOARD COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Vice Chair Britt adjourned the meeting.

 

The time was 9:38 p.m.

 

 

Approved: ______________________________________________

                        /s/ Ron Forlano, Chairman


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