- Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 22:22
- Written by Super User
The Carolina Beach Town Council approved relocating their trash transfer station to land located adjacent to a residential neighborhood at their March 12, meeting after hearing from residents opposed to the plan.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach recently approved locating a trash station near the Federal Point Shopping Center and Carolina Beach Village. Earlier this week residents living in that neighborhood took legal action to challenge that decision citing concerns of excessive noise, odor, environmental concerns and other issues.
The Town of Carolina Beach has until June to find a new home for temporary refuse collection and a garage.
The Town's very own Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied the Town's request to relocate that operation to Town property at their February 14, meeting after hearing feedback from nearby residents opposing the plan.
The Council voted four to one Tuesday March 12, to approve of the plan even after hearing concerns from over 10 residents living in the adjacent neighborhood of Carolina Beach Village.
Mayor Bob Lewis voted against the plan. Council members Sarah Friede, Tom Bridges, Steve Shuttleworth and Jody Smith voted in favor.
The request from the Town of Carolina Beach was to relocate a portion of the Public Works/Utilities facility from the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) buffer zone to a nearly ten acre 427,637 sq. ft parcel at 1110 N Lake Park Blvd. That land is undeveloped and bordered to the west and south by a commercial district. The land is zoned only for residential use and is bordered to the east by the Carolina Beach Village subdivision.
The permit will allow the Town to locate trash compactors and landscaping debris containers on a corner of the lot equal to 7% of the parcel. The permit would also permit future relocation of the Town's vehicle maintenance garage. The site will be used for temporary collection of refuse from public trashcans throughout Town, along the beach front and within Freeman Park. Also, for roadside debris often picked up by the Town. The compactors would be connected to the sewer system for runoff.
Senior Planner Ed Parvin explained gated driveway access to the site will be located behind the Federal Point Shopping Center with very limited vehicle traffic to reduce impact on adjacent properties. Employee occupancy will be low.
A 15 foot buffer is being provided and 6 ft. fence to shield the facility from the adjacent properties along N Lake Park Blvd. That is above the 10’ buffer required for government facilities. A natural vegetative buffer will be between the facility and Carolina Beach Village. The distance from the facility to the closest property in that neighborhood is around 400 ft.
Parvin explained, "The majority of the property is designated wetlands and will remain undisturbed in its natural state. The refuse on site will be located in covered compactors to minimize the impacts."
The land was once part of a civil war line and many residents opposed disturbing that historical area.
Parvin explained, "This area is designated for single family development. The design of the facility should result in a use that has less impact on adjacent properties than the allowed density for the area. The facility is a low-moderate development with minimum lot coverage that is consistent with the 2007 Land Use plan."
Another requirement is that, "That the use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property, or that the use is a public necessity".
Parvin explained, "A conditional use permit is required when a certain use is desired in a zoning district, but some of its characteristics could negatively impact the surrounding area. To alleviate potential impacts on adjacent property owners the site has been left in its natural state as much as possible. In addition the site will include extensive landscaping and fencing to shield stored items from adjacent properties."
Neighbors opposed the permit citing concerns over excessive noise pollution, contaminated stormwater runoff, negative impact on property values and preserving the natural state of the land
Mary Joe Lewis Stewart told the Council her father Joseph Ryder Lewis donated the tract of land to the Town some years ago. She explained, "When the Town agreed to accept this donation they also agreed to the stipulations that went along with it. It clearly states in the deed, July 5th, 2000.... that the grantee agrees to utilize the conveyed property for the purpose of municipal development and shall attempt to preserve the natural environment and historical significance of the property for the public benefit."
She quoted an article in the Island Gazette that quoted Ryder Lewis as saying, "Ryder hopes the remaining nine plus acres will be used for a park to view wildlife and rare plants."
She asked the Council to honor her father's wishes and preserve the land and preserve the family oriented impression that greets people when they cross over the bridge. She said, "Not a waste transfer station."
Currently the Town has an extension granted by the U.S. Army to continue operating their Town Garage on military land off Dow Road until June. The original date to remove the operation and only use the building for storage was December 31. The Town continued searching for a temporary location for the garage to service their fleet of vehicles and equipment.
The Town was notified in April of last year they were in violation of their 1972 lease agreement with the U.S. Army for land off of Dow Road. The "buffer zone" is land owned by the U.S. Army for the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County. The port deals in ammunition and the buffer zone serves as a "blast zone" in the event of an incident. The zone covers the largest area of land west of Dow Road in Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher.
The property housed the Town's Operations Department including public works, public utilities, storm water department and the Town's garage. Additionally, it was home to a greenhouse, various office and storage areas and dumpsters. The 1972 lease only permitted a wastewater treatment plant, a storage building and related uses.
One of the more complicated issues is where to relocate dumpsters. Currently those dumpsters are used as a holding area until they are picked up and hauled to the County landfill. Relocating that operation to the land referenced in the permit request would allow the same operation using covered trash compactors.
Currently the Town has a similar trash compactor near the downtown Boardwalk area.
Council member Sarah Friede said options are limited on the Island and no matter where the transfer station is located it will be within a short distance of other residential properties.
Councilman Shuttleworth said Council is faced with relocating the transfer station and previously voted down a plan to locate operations to a smaller lot on another residential street. He said the Town also looked at landlocked property across the bridge the Town owns as well as other areas. He said none of those other options worked.
Councilman Tom Bridges said the existing Federal Point Shopping Center will eventually be redeveloped and will have an impact on the adjacent neighborhood with dumpsters and large trucks making deliveries.
Mayor Lewis said the compelling testimony for him was from Mary Joe Lewis Stewart regarding her father's view of how the Town would utilize the land. He said he believes in preserving the integrity of the residential neighborhoods and the Town hasn't done any research on the impact on property values of nearby residential homes.
A petition with 287 names opposing the permit was delivered to the Council.
The petition to challenge the decision was filed April 11, in New Hanover County Superior Court by Carolina Beach Homeowners Association Inc., Ashley J. Faulkner and Richard A. Walsh and Katherine T. Walsh. They are calling for judicial review of the decision to grant the Conditional Use Permit, "To allow government facilities for solid waste disposal, recycling, parking and a public works and operations area in the R-2, Residential District (Single Family Dwellings)."
The petition says a CUP must meet "specific standards and general conditions" listed in the Town's ordinance. Those are: 1. That the use will not materially endanger the public health or safety if located where proposed and developed according to the plan as submitted and approved by the issuance of the CUP. 2. That the use meets all required conditions and specifications. 3. That the use will not substantially injure the value of the adjoining or abutting property, or that the use is a public necessity, and 4. That the location and character of the use... will be in harmony with the area in which it is to be located and in general conformity with the Town Land Use Plan and policies.
Also, that a finding of the Town Council that the four conditions exist, or a finding that one or more of the four required conditions do not exist shall be based on sufficient and competent evidence presented to the Town Council at the hearing where the CUP permit is requested.
The petitioners claim at the hearing Town staff made general statements about the project, "But failed to present substantial, material and competent evidence" to prove the permit would meet those required conditions.
The petitioners claim several citizens opposed the permit request at the Council hearing and presented competent, material and substantial testimony and evidence that the permit did not met the requirements of the zoning ordinance. That testimony included concerns with having a waste transfer station and fleet maintenance facility at that residentially zoned location and in close proximity to residential uses, a petition with 287 signatures opposing the permit and testimony on noxious and negative impacts including dust, odors, noise levels, visual impacts, rodents and vermin, health concerns, and negative impact on property values.
Other testimony included concerns of waste spillage, location in a flood zone, wetlands on the property, traffic and insufficient plans submitted by the Town as well as inconsistency with the Town's Land Use Plan.
Another concern was a deed restriction on the property when it was gifted to the Town in 2000 and the historical nature of the land dating back to the Civil War. The petitioners claim the Council's decision to grant the CUP must be "reversed and vacated" because "the decision was based on errors of law" and, "The Town failed to follow procedures specified by law."
Also, that the petitioners' due process rights were not protected and the decision was not based on competent, material and substantial evidence. They also claim the decision was "otherwise arbitrary and capricious" and, "the decision was in excess of the statutory authority conferred upon the Town and the Town Council."
The Town has 30 days to respond to the petition. The petitioners are asking for "injunctive relief requiring the Town to refrain from taking action to construct the project consistent with the Court's decision on the merits of the appeal" and, "That all costs of this action be taxed against" the Town.
Mayor Bob Lewis said Tuesday April 16, "We think we can win the action but don't want to spend taxpayer dollars and then move before an injunction." He said it's best to look at other options and since the decision to grant the CUP permit, the Town has been negotiating with a property owner to lease land located off Dow Road adjacent to an existing commercial storage facility in the Industrial Zone.
He said that land already has utilities and power and current negotiations are to lease the land for a period of five years with future lease options.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said Tuesday night the Town Attorney has been directed to draft a lease agreement. He said, "Shortly after the vote we decided to continue looking for alternative locations and are negotiating terms on a site that would facilitate trash and some vehicle storage."
He said currently the Town Manager has polled himself, the Mayor and Council member Jody Smith. He said Council members Tom Bridges and Sarah Friede still need to weigh in on the issue.
Shuttleworth said the plan is to continue to locate a fleet maintenance garage on the contested land that would only do limited service on vehicles such as tire rotation and oil changes but not extensive engine replacement or transmission work.
Currently the Town is asking for another extension from the U.S. Army to continue using the existing garage off Dow Road until the end of the year. The current deadline to move that operation is June. He said without a garage they are not sure what to do with the employees and outsourcing to an automotive shop could be costly.
Shuttleworth said one misconception he wants to dispel is an incinerator. He said that was never part of the plan.
He said, "I'm disappointed anytime someone takes legal action against the Town, but we are tasked with solving things that were not of our making and out of our control." He said the root of the problems at the existing operations on Dow Road began many years ago and continued under numerous administrations.
Shuttleworth said the Town will continue to work on drainage issues within Carolina Beach Village. He said those issues were not created by the Town, but they are sensitive to the situation and will work to help improve drainage in that area.