Planning Commission To Consider Land Use Plan Building Height Amendment

Planning Commission To Consider Land Use Plan Building Height Amendment

Planning Commission To Consider Land Use Plan Building Height Amendment Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 10 April 2018 16:33

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a request to amend the Town's zoning ordinance to allow additional building height for items such as elevator shafts during their upcoming April 12th, meeting at 6:30pm.

If approved, the Town would be required to request the State Coastal Resources Commission amend the Town's 2007 CAMA Land Use Plan.

According to Jeremy Hardison - Senior Planner for the Town - the applicant, Pelican Point CB, LLC is requesting an amendment to the 2007 Land Use Plan to accommodate appurtenances that extend above the height limit.

He explained, "This reason for the is change is so that elevator shafts and other rooftop items are not measured as part of the overall building height limit. The building height definition is the distance measured from the highest appurtenance on the structure to the front property line. In 2008 an amendment was passed that allowed hotels appurtenance of 10 feet or less to be exempt from the building height measurement. The amendment is to include that all buildings can take advantage of this allowance and not just hotels. Appurtenances means any items required for the operation and maintenance of a building, including parapet walls, skylights, ventilation equipment, domes, flagpoles, cooling towers, housing for elevator equipment, stairways, tanks, fans, air conditioning and heating equipment and similar operational devices."

Hardison said the proposed amendment is not consistent with the Town's 2007 CAMA Land Use Plan. That plan was composed based on requirements of the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management and last updated in 2007 and approved by the State Coastal Resources Commission. The plan is a guide for development throughout Carolina Beach, but serves as a ruling document for development within areas governed by the State which require CAMA Coastal Development Permits for residential and commercial developments.

Hardison explained, "The proposed amendment is inconsistent with the 2007 Land Use Plan and will need to be changed."

Policy #30 in the Land Use Plan (LUP) states:
Building Height shall be defined as that distance measured from the highest appurtenance on the structure to:
1. The front street line.
2. The nearest front street line where there is not an adjacent right-of-way.
3. An average of each front street line on through lots.
4. Hotels – appurtenances ten (10) feet or less in height shall be exempted from the height measurement.

The proposal is to amend item number four to eliminate the word "Hotels" and leave the statement, "...appurtenances ten (10) feet or less in height shall be exempted from the height measurement."
That would expand that allowance to buildings other than hotels.

Hardison explained, "It should be noted that this Land Use policy change will only effect or regulate those areas of the Town that are located within an “Area of Environmental Concern” (AEC’s) as designated by the Division of Coastal Management. Within these AEC’s CAMA has jurisdiction, and they must examine our Land Use Plan for consistency when permitting CAMA Major Development plans. For those areas outside of AEC’s but within our CBD and for commercial uses and services, and entertainment, “maximum building height shall be solely based on Conditional Use Permit Review” as prescribed in Section 3.9-1 of our zoning ordinance."

He explained, "Recognizing this from a Staff perspective, the question of building height does not lend itself to a “right or wrong” or objective answer but instead to a very subjective answer about how we want our community to look. Building height does, to a large degree, define a community and as such this question is best answered by the people and their elected representatives and not the Planning Staff. Given this, there are a variety of facts that should perhaps be considered in this decision making process, which include the following: In conclusion and because this is a value driven issue, Staff is not proposing a technical recommendation for your consideration. We are of the opinion that this decision is best suited to those who recommend and decide on the future look of what we want our Town to become."

Charles Poindexter - Developer, Harbor View - explained in a letter to the Town's Planning Department, "I have spoken with several area developers and builders and the driving force behind wanting appurtenances to not count against the existing building height requirements is that the living spaces that people have become used to have changed."

He explained, "Everyone prefers more ceiling height than the old standard of 8 feet. In fact, the new standard has become 9 feet. By allowing builder / developers to not have to count elevator shafts and other rooftop items against the height (and therefore the side setbacks), it enables us to have more interior ceiling height without having to raise the whole height of the building, which is allowed as long as you can meet setback, so we believe that this allowance would actually encourage builders and developers to not make the overall building any higher, thereby maintaining views and keeping the towns skyline in check."

Poindexter explained, "Looking at a building that is 50 feet high, but has one corner of the building that is maybe 8 feet higher for the elevator shaft is completely different than the whole building being 58 feet high. Visually you can’t really tell that the appurtenances are higher as they blend into the building from most angles. Also, as the aging structures on the island have to be replaced, the lot sizes are not going to allow for much vertical construction because the site(s) won’t meet the height / side setback rule where you must provide an additional foot of side setback on all sides for each additional foot of vertical height. In summary, we believe that this will be beneficial for the town, developers, builders, but most importantly for residents and end users of Carolina Beach because we will be able to deliver a more desirable product which means more marketable which means increased tax base for the Town."

Following review by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the proposed amendment will be reviewed by the Town Council at their May regular meeting.


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