Town To Consider Regulating Boarding Houses

Town To Consider Regulating Boarding Houses

Town To Consider Regulating Boarding Houses Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 06 April 2021 20:12

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Planning Commission will consider an amendment to the Town's code of ordinances regarding "Rooming Houses" during their April 8th, meeting at 6:30pm at Town Hall.
The issue was first brought before the Town Council in November of 2020 when residents expressed a concern about a house on Monroe Avenue serving as a multi-resident boarding house with a track record of police calls that concerned area residents.
Planning Director Jeremy Hardison explained in a memo to the Planning Commission last week, "Currently the zoning ordinance does not address rooming houses or also referred to as boarding houses. There have been recent discussions at what point are you operating as a single-family home or now you are defined as a rooming house. The definition of a single-family home by the zoning ordinance means one or more individuals occupying a premises and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit, provided that a group of five or more persons who are not related by blood or marriage shall not be deemed to constitute a family."
He explained, "Staff is proposing to prohibit rooming houses in table of permitted uses and creating a definition on what exactly is a rooming house. This is a result of complaints that have generated from a house that was offering individual rooms for rent to unrelated individuals. The issues that have resulted in this type of arrangement have been parking, noise, and increase in police calls with the transient nature of the tenants. The proposed definition would regulate when offering rooms for rent on individual basis when not owner occupied, but did not want to cast a wide net to have a negative impact on vacation rentals or offering roommate living for residence that are owner occupied."
 Residents living in the area of Monroe Avenue in Carolina Beach expressed strong concerns to the Town Council on Tuesday November 10th, about activities that took place at a property on Monroe Avenue and the fact that a registered sex offender lives on the property with other tenants. Concerned residents call the property a "half-way house" in violation of the Town's Code of Ordinances.
According to the Police Department, in November 2020, there had been 13 calls to 710 Monroe Avenue since July 23rd. Of those calls, they included:
• 2 assist other agencies
• 3 legal paper services
• 1 noise complaint
• 2 reports taken one a burglary the other a fraud/forgery
• 3 follow ups for investigations
• 1 weapons incident call
• 1 information only call
Katherine White of Magnolia Avenue addressed Council stating herself and other residents of the R-3 residential zoning district, "We are all here together to speak together," and, "Those of us gathered here before you collectively represent the many families, individuals, and property owners of Carolina Beaches's R-3 residential district."
White presented a petition to the Council signed by residents living in the district.
White explained, "In the past three years there have been over 54 calls to 911 from the residence and there have been numerous calls from 911 about this residence. In 2019 alone, there were 20, 911 calls and in the first eight months of 2020 alone, there have been 13 calls thus far. Let that sit for a minute. I ask you, how many times in your lifetime have you
called 911 from your residence. It's a lot. This is all according to reports detailing all 911 communications from the residents included in your packet. Please take special note of how many of those calls were for assault, domestic disturbance, harassment and overdose."
She explained, "We want to talk about detrimental to our quality of life per the code of ordinances. I have personally pulled my child out of his bed into the floor after gun shots rang out of the residence the night of April 21st, 2020. My neighbor has found hypodermic needles while mowing her lawn. Another neighbor had been forced to execute both restraining and criminal trespassing orders to threats of violence and destruction of property. And what about the children no longer allowed to play outside, bike or skateboard the block alone for fear of the countless felons, paroles and sex offenders that have rented and are currently renting rooms at the property. Nearly all of them have extensive criminal records that include violent and sexual crimes and we have documentation of that as well."
White said they purchased property in that area of Town because of the large lot sizes and family-based community atmosphere in a lower density area with less traffic. She explained, "To enjoy a familiarity with our neighbors and less traffic for the kids. We wanted a sense of community. A friendly fun place for our kids to grow up. Yet here
we are showing our kids mug-shots of people to avoid helicoptering over them while they play in the back or the front yard. The owner of this house has single handley  driven down the family value and potentially the property value of our neighborhood all while he makes money hand over fist and rents an oceanfront condo."
She explained, "It is time you did something about this problem you have known all about for far too long. Rules and codes exist to be enforced to preserve the integrity of the districts as the Town has zoned them. That is what we expect you to do. Stop the non-conforming rooming house at 710 Monroe and keep it from happening anywhere else in R-3. It's in your hands where it has always been. Handle it before it becomes a tragedy that you will instead have on you conscious."
Town Manager Bruce Oakley explained, "We've investigated and there have been some issues. We have met several times trying to come up with an ordinance. It is really tough to enforce based on our current ordinance. We are working on trying to do something. We were actually having conversations here."
White said that neighboring Town's have similar language in their code of ordinances as the language in the Town of Carolina Beach ordinances and they are carrying out enforcement.
White said she is concerned that if the Town doesn't enforce the current ordinance and amends the code, the property in question will be grand fathered in and not subject to an amended set of rules. She explained, "That's just unacceptable because if they can enforce it, why can't we."
Mayor Leanne Pierce said she owns property in close proximity to the area and, "I certainly know what you're talking about as well" and asked the Town Manager to revisit the matter.
Manager Oakely said Town staff will work on the issue.
White explained, "It's been going on for years and there have been people that have moved out of their homes who have come before you, nothing happened.  They have sold their house. We have people now renting their house out because they don't want to live there. We have people renting a condo because they don't want their children around there. It's just really terrible to think that this is what is going to happen to our neighborhood."
Mayor Peirce said, "We will wait for staff to do some research on this and come back to Council and put that on our workshop agenda."
Councilman Lynn Barbee said, "I think it's important that we don't let it drop... make sure it gets followed up on."
Pierce said, "We will get it quickly."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "What frustrates me is when we hear from the public that they've looked at ordinances from other municipalities and they seem to be able to enforce them and we seem not to.  I would say that issue has been going on... it's just not right."
Oakley said, "I think we agree. There are some holes in our ordinances when it comes to that. We don't even have a definition of boarding house I don't believe in our ordinance. That's why we are trying to work on it without grand fathering, as they pointed out for that use."
Shuttleworth said, "We had one on one conversations with the property owner and said we really rather you not do this."
The term "Grand fathering" refers to situations that can continue to exist following a change in the code of ordinances even though the same situation can not be created after an amendment. Town's have the option in certain situations to create a time frame to come into compliance with the amended code.

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