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Town Board Meeting, January 2017 - A Recap
Short Term Rental, Floodplain, Electric Charging Stations
January 13, 2017

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he Oriental Town Board’s first meeting of 2017 included a Short Term Rental public hearing and talk of floodplain maps and electric vehicle charging stations. Three of the five commissioners – Charlie Overcash, David White, and Allen Price – and mayor Sally Belangia were present for the January 3 meeting.

SUP for Vacation Rental in Residential Neighborhood
The Board held a public hearing over a Special Use Permit request from the owners of 409 High Street, to rent out the property by the day or week. Short term rentals are not allowed in Oriental’s residential neighborhoods — such as the R2 district which includes 409 High — unless the owners apply for and get an SUP.

During a failed attempt last year to relax the rules in the R2 and R3 neighborhoods, it emerged that some homes have been rented out short term without an SUP. Some of those property owners are now seeking them.

Cynthia and Roy Gallinger’s application was the 2nd the Town Board considered in 3 months. The couple, who live in Sylva, in western NC, did not attend the January 3 hearing. Two neighbors did.

Jackie Mahan, who lives across the street raised the issue of whether a Special Use Permit, once granted, could be retracted.

Mahan asked what recourse the neighbors would have if a short term rental property disrupted the residential neighborhood with, for example, parties, noise or parkIng; or if property values could be shown to be adversely affected.

Butch Rasmussen, who lives around the corner on Mildred Street
voiced similar concerns about how the short-term rental might affect nearby property values.

The Board said that an SUP can be removed if there are repeated violations or if there’s a proven decrease in property value, but it was also noted that rescinding an SUP involved a legal process.

The Board voted to grant the SUP.

In his comments, Commissioner Charlie Overcash said that if the public has concerns about an SUP application in their area, they should speak up at meetings that happen before the public hearing.

That would mark a departure from past practice and from the Town ordinance which says the Board should base its SUP decisions on “sworn testimony and admitted evidence.” The SUP public hearing is supposed to be quasi-judicial which sets it apart from the more informal public comment periods at other meetings.

Under the Town’s ordinance, Town Hall has to notify adjacent property owners of an SUP Public Hearing at least 10 days beforehand. A newspaper ad is required between 10 and 25 days before the Hearing. While the subject may come up at Town Board and Planning Board meetings, the public may not have much advance warning; in the past year agendas have been made public by Town Hall as little as a day or two in advance of meetings.

Microbrewery SUP Hearing Set
In other action, the Town Board scheduled a Public Hearing at its February meeting for a Special Use Permit request of a different sort.

Frank and Lili Bacon are planning a craft microbrewery and taproom in the former Croakertown property on Broad Street next to the Post Office. The property is in Oriental’s MU or Mixed Use (Commercial and Residential) district.

A public hearing to discuss the microbrew’s SUP has been set for February 7 and will be “the first of many hurdles Mr. Bacon has to jump,” according to Town Manager Diane Miller.

Floodplain mapping
Floodplain mapping update was discussed. The maps are used to set building elevation standards and flood insurance rates. Mappers with the state will lead a meeting at the Pamlico County Courthouse on January 10.

View the trial floodplain maps, here.

The update takes in to account data from the last floodplain redrawing in 1988 up to 2010. Data about properties that flooded in the historically high storm surge of 2011’s Hurricane Irene will not be included in the update. That could potentially spare some property owners a hike in flood insurance. In light of that, Commissisoner David White offered a note of caution,“This data is pre-Irene,” he said. “You may be out of the floodplain, but think twice before dropping your insurance.”

Boat Show
The Rotary Club Boat Show, slated for April 21-23 was discussed. The 9th Annual will have six to seven new exhibits. It made $25,000 last year.

The Board approved closing New St and adjacent S Water St from 7a Friday, April 21 through 7p Sunday, April 23.

Electric Charging Stations
A motion was made to accept a $10,000 grant for two Duke Energy PEV charging stations. Town Manager Diane Miller will be in charge of the grant. One station to recharge electric vehicles will be placed near the new public restrooms on the harbor, the other at Town Hall. Installation may go over budget to make both handicap accessible. The Board approved, 3-0.

Police report
Chief Dwaine Moore reported a great end to 2016 and a great start to 2017.

Town Manager’s report

  • Still in the Hurricane Matthew/FEMA process
  • Town Hall continues to collect “pothole addresses,” locations in town where potholes need filling. (If you know of any, send the address/location to admin@townoforiental.com.
  • There has been a budget amendment for new street signs. Because of new DOT standards about street sign retroreflectivity, some damaged street signs were not replaced promptly, as the backup ones didn’t meet the new standards.
  • Classes offered by Pamlico Community College begin again at Town Hall this month.
  • Tennis court poles reinstalled at Lupton Park courts. Powerwashing, repainting, and restringing will happen when weather is warmer.
  • Larry Summers’ suggested signage at public restrooms has been installed.

*This month’s project for the Public Works Dept will be drainage, which will entail clearing ditches.

Posted Friday January 13, 2017 by Melinda Penkava

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