Planning Commission To Consider Professional Site Plans For New Homes

Planning Commission To Consider Professional Site Plans For New Homes Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 11 November 2015 05:00

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CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss an amendment to the Town's zoning ordinance at their Thursday November 12th, meeting to require professional site plans for residential construction to ensure all locations of utility easements are accounted for before a home can be built.
The change was brought forth by the Town's Operations Department after it was recently discovered there were a number of homes that encroached into easements owned by the Town.
Jeremy Hardison - Senior Planner for the Town - explained to the Planning Commission in a memo last week, "The Town’s Operation department has inquired about requiring professional site plans when issuing permits for one and two-family dwellings."
Currently a professional site plan is required for projects requiring a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and for new commercial or industrial development. They are also required when the use of a property is changed to a more intense use for Multifamily/Commercial uses and for new residential development with three or more units.
Hardison explained, "Over the past few months the Operations Department has discovered buildings that are located within utility easements. The recommendation is to have a professional, who is referred to as a licensed architect, engineer or surveyor to produce the site plan for single and two-family dwellings when applying for a building permit. This would help capture any recorded easements on the lot."
He explained, "There is currently a requirement that all easements be depicted on the site plan. It is the responsibility of the site plan designer to meet all the site plan requirements, but when someone other than a professional (contractor, homeowner, draftsman) performs a site plan they may not have done the research to see if any easements are located on the lot."
Hardison explained, "In 2010 Town Council adopted language on when a professional site plan is required. Town Council clarified what needs to be identified on the site plan and when should it be prepared by a professional. They discussed there should be a balance of what is needed concerning a site plan and the cost to the property owner. Based on the concern Town Council decided that a professional site plan was not required, but all other site plan requirements should be met for single and two-family dwellings."
Currently a foundation survey is required to ensure the foundation meets zoning setbacks from the property lines. That rule was adopted in 2009 after the Board of Adjustments saw a trend with a couple of "after-the-fact" structures that were located within the setbacks. Also, the Town requires "as-built surveys" to depict all structures, parking and impervious surfaces prior to the Town issuing a certificate of occupancy to allow certain intrusions into setback areas for heat pumps, utility platforms, stairs, outdoor showers and cantilevers.
If a home is in a flood area, a flood reference level must be established once the foundation is complete and a Elevation Certificate (final elevation of the building and all utilities) is required.
Hardison explained, "Currently surveyors design the majority of the site plans that are submitted for single-family and two-family permits. Staff looked back at the past 90 site plans submitted and 65 were designed by a professional, while 17 were designed by a draftsman and 8 were hand drawn."
He explained, "Staff spoke to a few surveyors and they said that the additional cost to do a site plan would be between $100-$150 since they have to do the other surveys already. Draftsmen would also have a charge for providing a plot plan. Knowing this there would be very little if any additional cost to adding the professional survey vs. the current preferred alternative of a draftsman."
Hardison said the Planning Department is proposing two options. Option 1 would require a professional site plan for single-family and two-family dwellings. A professional site plan would not be required for any work other than when permitting the initial principal structure. Fences, accessory buildings, additions, etc. would not require professional site plans. Option 2 would not require a professional survey, but it is still the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all existing and/or proposed easements are depicted accurately. "Any obstructions that occur in an easement shall be required to be removed and the permit will become null and void. The Town would then be required to review the history of the property to find any public easements."
Hardison said they recommend Option 1. The Planning Commission will consider the amendment at their November 12th, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall in the Council meeting room. Their recommendation will then be sent to the Town Council for consideration and a final vote.


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