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Signs, Street Closures, and Wind Generators
August 2021 Town Board Meeting
August 5, 2021

O
ne short term rental approved and a request for another one, street closings requested for three town events, and a time change for future meetings.

town hall sign All Commissioners and the Mayor were present: Mayor Sally Belangia, Commissioners David White, Charlie Overcash, Allen Price, Dianne Simmons, and Sandy Winfrey.

Two Public Hearings
Two public hearings were schedules for August’s monthly board meeting. One is for a short term rental, the other for an addition of a single user Wind Energy Ordinance to the town’s Growth Management Ordinance (GMO).

Wind Energy Ordinance The Planning Board took up the question of a residential or single user wind energy system in residential areas.

Currently, there is no ordinance against or regulating the use of these systems. Language from an ordinance in use in Currituck County was used in crafting the Oriental ordinance.

Town Manager Diane Miller said the planning board, in crafting the ordinance, was trying to create a balance. They did not want to limit green energy options, but also had to take residents’ safety into consideration, particularly if the wind generator should fall.

Some of the rules set forth in the ordinance are: small wind energy systems must be no taller than 60 ft., must be set back from all lot lines and overhead utilities a total of 1.5 times it’s total height, must be a neutral color, cannot be used to hold signage, must withstand max windspeed of 150 mph, must have any climbing rungs set to 12 feet above grade, have the blades at least 15 feet above grade, and more.

The Board unanimously approved the ordinance.

Short Term Rental A Special Use Permit (SUP) was requested for the property at 316 Camp Creek Dr. It is the only residence currently in the Camp Creek Subdivision.

The owner, Steven Dance, is a part-time resident, Manager Miller said.

No one presented evidence – either at the meeting, the planning board meeting, or to the Town Manager directly – against allowing the home to be a short term rental. The property passed all the requirements for an SUP, and was granted a the permit to become a short term rental.

In the past, there has been issues with Oriental’s Innkeepers and the nightly rentals that are available. To run a Bed & Breakfast in town, the Growth Management Ordinance requires a B&B or Inn to be “the permanent residence of the owner or manager of the establishment.”

A short term rental falls under the definition of “Tourist Home” in the GMO and does not require the owner to be on site while the dwelling is occupied.

Upcoming Public Hearing for a Short Term Rental There has been another request for a public hearing for a short term rental at 404 Main St.

The Planning Board will review the request at their meeting on August 18. They meet at Town Hall at 3p, in the large board room. The Public Hearing is set for the September 7 Town Board Meeting.

Requested Street Closures for Town Events
Organizers of several events gave presentations to the Town Board and requested street closures for the events. Two of the three events already have their street closures guaranteed as part of a resolution for the street closing schedule for annual events.

The Oriental Boat Show Sam Myers asked that Hodges Street from S. Water to Factory & Wall Streets be closed for the Boat Show Sept 24-26. Myers said he was in contact with all the business owners and made sure that they would have access to their stores to restock through out the Boat Show.

The street closures were granted. The Boat show’s Hodges Street venue was added to the resolution for annual street closures.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival Dottie Osmun reported about this year’s music festival. There will be 24 bands, and no headliner. This year, the festival is honoring NC bands.

There is also now a handicap accessibility plan in place for the festival. It requires that all the vendors be in the street in order to be accessible. Before, they were on the grass in Lou Mac Park.

Osmun asked that, in addition to the regular street closures, Church Street be made one way only during the festival to help with traffic and that King Street be used dedicated to get food to the vendors.

The board agreed. The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival is October 8-10.

The Flounder/Croaker Festival Candy Bohmert explained to Commissioners that she had already gotten a jump on this year’s fireworks and also wanted to make sure the roads could be closed for the 2021 festival. The Board explained that the event was one of those covered by the town’s street closure resolution and were automatically closed without needing to be asked.

Schedule and Meeting Time Changes
During a discussion of changing upcoming meetings due to conflicting events, Commissioner Sandy Winfrey asked that the meeting times be changed to 8a on Tuesdays instead of 7p.

Commissioner Overcash added that it should be a 6 month trial period to test it out.

The Board agreed to a trial period of 6 months for meetings beginning at 8a instead of 7p.

Street End Signs
Since the March budget meeting, there has been an ongoing discussion between the Board of Commissioners, the Tourism Board, and several residents of South Ave with waterfront property as to whether or not signs indicating the street ends of Wall, King, and Neuse Streets should be erected. The signs would state the grassy parcels are public property and invite people to sit on the benches at the river’s edge.

Residents on either side of the street ends spoke out against the signs (both in person and by letter) at the May Town Board Meeting. Jennifer and Frank Roe spoke against the signs at the May meeting (the end of Neuse St. borders their property) and again spoke out against the signs at the August Meeting. Frank Roe said that residents and visitors already knew the signs were public property and that the money should be spent on other town projects, such as reinstalling the street signs that were taken out during Hurricane Florence. Jennifer Roe said there were already other ways for the public to access the water including the Wildlife Ramp, John Bond Beach, and Lou Mac Park.

The Tourism Board would be the ones in charge of creating the signs. At May’s meeting, they were charged with coming up with other ways of potentially advertising the public areas.

Marsha Paplham said the roads are noted on the tourism brochure. She and Tourism Board member Carla Fisher had come up with an idea to hold a contest for arts school students to design large dragons that would go on the back of the benches, and then use that “as an eye-catcher for tourists” and denote it on the brochure redesigns.

Paplham also named the public water access points saying, “we feel it’s more than adequate.” She said that the board would do the dragons and the brochures, but that she also agreed that the money would be best used for another town project – revamping the Net House by Oriental’s harbor and turning it into the visitor’s center.

Commissioner David White said he disagreed with the assertion that visitors and residents knew where and what the street ends were. He also said that, “instead of using the words ‘we have adequate waterfront’, we ought be shouting to the top of the roofs that ‘we have public waterfront’.” White then cited Atlantic Beach as having so few places for the public to access the beach. “I consider it to be an asset that we have.”

Paplham said that the Tourism Board “will do our very best to upgrade the map and the brochure so that it is very clearly marked and concise.”

Police Report
Oriental’s Police Department has been working on grants for equipment upgrades and training. Officer Blayney reported that those grants were nearly complete.

He reported the Flounder Fest crowds “were awesome” and that there were few problems. The only problem cited was cars turning onto Hodges Street at the beginning of the parade and driving through and around people. Both Commissioners and Officer Blayney mentioned that the barriers were moved by people looking to get around them.

Blayney said that would be better addressed during the next parade.

Manager’s Report
The last USDA inspection for Whittaker Creek was completed on Tuesday, August 3. Town Manager Miller reported that “the new plantings had almost grown shut and the land accretion is happening as predicted.”
CycleNC will be back in Oriental in 2023. The event was scheduled for 2020 and was rescheduled due to COVID.
• Town Hall is closed for Labor Day, Monday September 6.
Bike MS will be at Lou Mac Park September 11. The Park will be used as a stopover during the ride, which starts and ends in New Bern.
NCDOT came and surveyed the flooding at Hodges and Broad Streets on Tuesday, August 3. The surveyor was looking for plans that corroborated his 1973 map that a drain was still physically present in that space so NCDOT does not have to start from scratch or disturb existing infrastructure.
Two CAMA permits were issued for bulkheads in the town. One is a replacement of the existing bulkhead (at 705 Midyette Street) and the other is a new bulkhead (at 110 Skipper Circle).
Oriental may be getting $24,000 more from the American Rescue Plan Act than expected. Town Manager Miller has asked the Board of Commissioners to consider using some of that money as a bonus for Town Staff (designated as essential) who worked throughout the pandemic. Manager Miller said this is an allowable use of the funds under the ARP act guidelines.

Dates to Know
The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, September 7 at 8a. The next Planning Board Meeting will be August 18 at 3p at Town Hall.

Related Information
August Town Board Meeting
• June Meeting Minutes
Short Term Rental Special Use Permit 316 Camp Creek Drive
Single Use Wind Energy Ordinance
Budget Amendment
Rotary Request for Street Closures
Public Hearing Request for Short Term Rental at 404 Main St
Town Board Meeting Schedule Changes
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Minutes

Posted Thursday August 5, 2021 by Allison DeWeese


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