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Town Board Meeting November 2017
GMO approved, Fulcher LUP issued, donation for a dog park
November 10, 2017

ovember’s Town Board meeting reviewed topics familiar and new. Proposed changes to the Growth Management Ordinance were approved, questions about pests and firearms arose, and The Piggly Wiggly was unanimously annexed into Oriental. (That means shoppers can now buy wine and beer at 10 am Sunday, starting this weekend.)

Fulcher LUP
town hall signTown Manager Diane Miller told the Board that she had issued a Land Use Permit (LUP) for Chris Fulcher’s latest proposed project on Oriental’s harbor. The scope of the project, as stated in the application, is to “replace/extend bulkhead on harbor side of Fulcher Seafood Property, remove dilapidated pilings, install new docks and boardwalk along bulkhead, dredge.”

Last month, the Town Board held a special meeting to craft a response to CAMA outlining the Town’s concerns. In the letter to the state permitting agency, the Town cited stormwater permits. The Town noted that it could not see any evidence of stormwater monitoring on the property.

CAMA, in their October 3rd response to Fulcher’s agent Mr. Fornes, listed nine items that needed revision before the application could be considered complete and under review.

GMO Changes
Diane Miller said that changes to the GMO were overdue, in part because some pieces of legislation passed in the past decade and a half made sections of the GMO illegal.

Additionally, she noted several of the changes were made with an eye to future development of land that is not already annexed in, but could potentially be annexed in in the future.

“What we are looking at with this is a 40 acre tract on the current outskirts of our town. That is the new recommended development method where there is housing, entertainment, food, shopping all in one place, kind of self-contained. Those are the kinds of developments that this is aimed toward.”

Public Input at GMO Public Hearing
Jennifer Roe and Jim Barton said the public would have benefited if the Town had posted a side-by-side comparison of the existing GMO and the proposed changes.

Some residents took issue with the proposed change that would for the first time allow schools, libraries, museums, and houses of worship in Oriental’s R1 lots. Town officials said at earlier meetings that federal rulings required that if a zoning district allows for development of places where people may gather, it has to also allow churches. The GMO had allowed tennis courts and golf courses – but not institutional buildings – in the R1 residential neighborhoods and on that basis the change was proposed.

While some R1 residents over the past month objected that institutions such as churches, schools and museums would change the nature of the residential neighborhoods, others thought that the covenants for most subdivisions in the R1 would prevent such construction.

Martin Barrow and Carol Wright spoke to a possible conflict between deed restrictions and covenants and the changes to R1 in the GMO. Miller said she spoke with the Town Lawyer on this specific subject. The Town only enforces the GMO.

“The GMO is a living document that should expect to be changed according to changes in statute. Most of these changes are because of changes in statute to make us compliant.” Town Manager Miller also said that the more stringent will rule and that covenants are more restrictive than the GMO. Issues with the covenants are taken up with homeowner’s associations and then with the courts; she said the Town does not get involved in these disputes.

Jim Barton said he had an issue with the manufactured homes (MFD) section of the ordinance, specifically the banning of anything other than a Class A by type and size. He thought the Board needed to give the public it’s reasoning and legal justification for this exclusion. Barton cited a general state statute from 1987 that did not allow municipalities to exclude this type of housing as well as a legal summary from 2014 from UNC professor David Owens.

Diane Miller responded that the Class A rating was based on date of manufacture as well as wind and flood ratings. “Anything built prior to that [1996] is not going to withstand a 90 mile-an-hour wind or it’s just not built to withstand the weather that we have. Rather than restricting the size of the home – if somebody wants a small home, or a more affordable home – they can get a class A manufactured home of a smaller variety. We’re not pricing anybody out by doing that. But we are preventing them from bringing in a home that is physically dangerous in a storm situation.”

Barton then read aloud the statute from 1987 to which Miller responded the Town was following the updated version that allows justifiable reasons to exclude certain classes. “It is justifiable to exclude a house that is likely to come apart in a storm that is likely to happen in this area.” Barton was not persuaded and maintained it was at odds with his research into the matter.

Chapter H Amendment – Firearms Regulation
Jim Barton also used the public comment period to raise an issue about guns. He sent a letter to the Town on October 20th after he was compelled to look up the firearm ordinances due to reports of rabid foxes in his Dolphin Point neighborhood. He said he had asked Diane Miller to review and clarify the language he took issue with in Chapter H. The ordinance addresses the use of .22 caliber firearms and #8 shot as a means of pest control and the discharge of a firearm as a means of self-defense. Barton also questioned the authority of the Town to restrict firearms and asked for a citation of that authority.

Town Manager Miller told the Board she had consulted the Town Attorney, Scott Davis, on the email and existing ordinance. In emails to Miller, Mr. Davis replied that the caliber restriction applied only to pests, not to self defense; these were two different exceptions to the restriction. He also cited state statutes describing the authority of municipalities to regulate the conditions when a firearm could be discharged. Mr. Davis advised a change to Chapter H, deleting a subsection due to redundancy and conflict. This email exchange is why the amendment was before the Board at the meeting.

In addition to restating the arguments he made in his email, Barton showed several photographs of .22 caliber weapons that resembled semi and fully-automatic weapons often associated with larger caliber weapons. He said he spoke with Mr. Davis and did not agree with his assessment and so spoke with other lawyers, including one representing the NC NRA. Miller stated the statutes as given to her by Mr. Davis, again explaining the caliber restriction did not apply to self defense.

The Board voted 4-1 to strike subsection b from Section 6 – Firearms Regulated and leave the rest of the language as is. Commissioner Barbara Venturi was the one dissenting vote. She said did not feel prepared to vote on Chapter H, and advised she would prefer more time to look into the matter and the pictures of the .22 caliber guns Barton provided. Commissioner Charlie Overcash said he believed the issue had been well researched by Town Manager Miller and Mr. Davis.

The amendment to the Chapter, as well as Mr. Barton and Mr. Davis’ emails are in the links below titled Chapter H.

Grace Evans asked the Board for a definition of the word pest in the ordinance as well as clarification on the open carry laws. “I don’t know what the laws are about open carry and all that, but I have gotten very upset, just shocked me, to see somebody open carrying [at] Croaker Festival, going through the yard across from Lou Mac Park where all the vendors were and all.” Ms. Evans said she didn’t like to talk about it, but did want to know.

Piggly Wiggly Annexation
The Piggly Wiggly at 1400 Broad Street was unanimously annexed into the Town of Oriental. It was zoned MU (Mixed Use) and is annexed in as-is, effective immediately. This expands the western boundary of Oriental and, according to the annexation paperwork, will help the Town when petitioning to have the 35mph zone extended along Broad street.

The extension of 35 mph zone would allow the many residents who use golf carts to access The Piggly Wiggly and the Silos.

Town Projects – New
Dog Park
Miller announced the Town has received an anonymous donation of $10,559 for the completion of a dog park. The park will be located behind the fire station on Straight Rd., between the gravel parking lot and a line of cedar trees. The Tree Board has already been out to the site to plant more trees for shade. The odd amount of the donation was a result of the estimates needed to fence in the area and provide a water fountain.

Maintenance of the area will be jointly shared between the county and Oriental. Town Manager Miller requested a budget amendment to add the amount to the Parks and Recreation fund. The Board approved the amendment.

Safe Sidewalks
The Town has received an estimate from a sidewalk repair company for $8,400 to repair Oriental’s sidewalks and curbs (see the link to the Manager’s report). This amount does not include three identified sidewalk areas that have been damaged by tree roots. Miller asked the Board what funds they wanted to use to pay for the repairs. The Powell fund, a state fund designated for municipality infrastructure needs, has $3,000 earmarked for sidewalk repairs. The Board opted to use the General Fund to pay for maintenance of Oriental’s sidewalks and to use the Powell fund to pay for the replacement of the tree damaged sections.

Town Beach Beautification
The County Extension Service is working with Master Gardener students on a project at Oriental Beach. The program requires participants to complete a physical project before receiving their certificate. The students put forth two proposals. One involved a raised planter bed, the other a painted dinghy as a flower planter. Town Manager Miller requested they put in grasses that keep the sand out of the street and vegetation that discourages snakes; the rest of the design is their choice. They have begun planting oat grass in the area.

Town Projects – Updates
Pierce Creek Dredging Project
Lisa Thompson says the Pierce Creek Dredging project is past the halfway point. She expects the project to be finished before Thanksgiving.

Raccoon Creek Flood Study/Flooding on Hodges St
An open public survey is scheduled for March 1st, 2018. The public is invited to give input about the flooding of Raccoon Creek and its impact on Hodges St.

Dutton SUP
The Dutton SUP for Seahorse Landing has been rescheduled until December 5th. Mr. Dutton is still attempting to contact the homeowners in the area to have the access road deeded to the Town of Oriental.

Manager’s Report, Board Vacancies, and Appointments
Flood Insurance
Town Manager Miller gave an update on the Flood Insurance issue carried over from the October Meeting. The Town Hall building, now being higher than it was in it’s previous incarnation before Hurricane Irene, has received a new certificate that takes it out of the the flood plain, placing it in an X zone. The League of Municipalities Insurers told Miller if the building is in an X zone, the Town’s existing property insurance covers for flood damage with a $50,000 deductible.

In the past, the Town has retained additional flood insurance at $1,508 a year. If the Town were to continue paying premiums to their previous flood insurance provider, The Hartford, it would cost $2,500 a year for a $2,500 deductible through June 30th, 2018.

“If this building goes down, we have much larger problems,” Miller said. “We paid somewhere around $300,000 to build this building from scratch. A $50,000 deductible probably wouldn’t kill us. And we would have been in a position where a $50,000 looks good.” The Board agreed and opted to stay with the current insurance coverage and forgo the extra flood coverage at this time.

Planning Board
The Planning Board has two vacancies. One member, Eric Dammeyer, who was elected as a Town Commissioner stepped down from the Planning Board last month. Another member, Bonnie Knapp, will be sailing for the next several months. Miller asked the Board members to consider who should be appointed to those positions, keeping in mind that the Planning Board “has fairly intensive work sessions.”

Tourism Board
Victoria Hardison is seeking appointment to the Tourism Board. Her resume was forwarded to the Town Manager from Tourism Board member, Suzanne Gwaltney. Victoria is resident of Pamlico county and Realtor with Sail/Loft Realty. The Board approved the appointment.

Police Report
There was a report of a theft of an antique, handmade row boat on the outskirts of town. The thief took the boat from the land where it was stored, placed it in the water, and rowed away. He or she has not yet been found.

Officer Blayney caused several children to hurl themselves into a ditch when, on Halloween, he approached them from behind and turned on his cruiser’s blue lights. He offered up his Halloween candy as community service.

Town Hall Closings and Dock Closing
Joe Valinoti requested both Town Docks be closed for the Spirit of Christmas’ flotilla of kayakers. The Board approved, closing both docks from noon on Friday, December 8th to noon on Sunday, December 10th.

Town Hall will close for Veteran’s Day, Thursday 11/9 at 3p through Friday 11/10. They will also be closed for Thanksgiving, beginning Wednesday 11/22 at 3p through 11/24.

The Town Board’s Quarterly Workshop has been rescheduled to January 25th, after the new commissioners have been sworn in.

The next Town Board meeting will be December 5th.

Related Information

Posted Friday November 10, 2017 by Allison DeWeese

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