North Topsail Beach: Special Use Permits for “Larger Houses”

On Wednesday, May 13, a Public Hearing of the North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen was held to receive citizens’ comments on enacting a moratorium on building homes with more than six bedrooms. THANK YOU TO THE CITIZENS, BUSINESS OWNERS, BUILDERS AND REALTORS THAT TURNED OUT IN FORCE.

Nonetheless, the Board of Aldermen voted to move forward on doing “something” on larger homes and the issue was advertised for a public hearing on June 5, 2014 at 6:30 PM. This accelerated timeline put the Town’s Planning Board in the precarious position of having to consider a staff proposal on Special Use Permits for homes “exceeding 6 bedrooms and 5,000 heated square feet.”

The Planning Board did a very thorough job in debating the issue at hand and making an alternate proposal to “require a Special Use Permit for Single Family exceeding 8 bedrooms and 5,000 heated Sq Feet or Duplex exceeding 10 bedrooms and 5,000 heated Sq Feet”

The Planning Board proposed alternate criteria increased the threshold to 8 bedrooms (from 6) and amended setbacks, height and impervious coverage limits (example below). The planning Board made similar amendments for Duplexes.

Sec, 4.03.21 Single family greater than 8 bedrooms and 5,000 heated sq. ft.

(A) General Requirements

(1) Side setbacks are 10’ required for zoning district.

(2) Height is limited to 48 feet.

(3) Maximum impervious surface is limited to 30% outside the ORW

(4) Parking Plan

(a) To include 1 space per bedroom up to 10 and 2 spaces per bedroom over 10.

(5) Engineered Stormwater plan for all impervious surface.

(6) The proposed development is harmonious and compatible with surrounding area.

The Planning Board and Board of Aldermen had a productive work session last week to discuss the issue and potential solutions. Planning Board member Paul Dorazio did an excellent job of illustrating why the initial staff proposal was flawed due to a number of existing factors.

BASE feels that the Planning Board’s alternative language is a much better option than staff’s initial proposal. That said, creating additional criteria for larger houses still does not address the alleged existing problems (parking, trash, etc.) which initiated this discussion in the first place.

Since Oak Island has been used as an example of why North Topsail needed to have a moratorium to amend the ordinances to address the issue of larger homes, the following story is interesting. Essentially, in their haste to get out from their illegal moratorium and amend their ordinances, Oak Island actually created “thousands” on non-conforming uses, impacting the ability of existing homeowners to build back in the event of a hurricane or fire.

V_ E_ UDO Amend 4_1 and Use Specific Standards SF Dup

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