By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on February 7, 2011
After months of fine tuning, the Kittty Hawk Town Council approved an ordinance Monday allowing small wind energy facilities up to 35 feet high.
The windmills would be considered a conditional use, and only one with a maximum of 20-kilowatts capacity will be allowed per lot.
At a public hearing before the vote, one speaker addressed the issue, urging the council not not impose a one-unit maximum, especially as improving technology may produce quieter or smaller windmills in the future.
Town Planning Director Joe Heard told the council that the Planning Board had also endorsed the concept of multiple turbines.
But Mayor Pro Tem Gary Perry said the council wants to see how windmills are received by their neighbors and what the noise levels will actually be. The council agreed with a more cautious approach and unanimously approved the ordinance, noting that future councils can amend the code as technology improves.
Local governments are trying to get ahead of emerging wind-energy technology so that ordinances are in place if small wind turbines become more practical and popular. Southern Shores is working on an ordinance, and Dare County has begin discussions as well. Nags Head passed an ordinance last year that addressed small rooftop turbines.
Another public hearing Monday concerned a conditional use permit for a commercial crabbing operation at 3860 Moore Shore Road in the village residential zoning district. It was approved.
The final public hearing addressed the much debated open air farmers market and indoor retail site plan for the vacant Foreman’s Lumber site.
A number of speakers were sworn in and testimony began with Heard reviewing the plan and architect Ben Cahoon, representing the applicants, filling in details and answering questions from council members. Councilman Ervin Bateman recused himself because he had participated in a discussion with Cahoon outside of an official council meeting.
No one spoke against the project specifically, but one resident, Henry Walker, who worked in the building when it was Foreman’s, expressed concerns over the condition of the structure and flooding during heavy rains.
Two others, Brynn Waite and Robbie Busby spoke in favor of the plan. Waite said her web and house design business had suffered in the economic downturn, and teaming up with a partner, she had started a pottery and food business. The indoor portion of the market was tailored her business, she said, as the costs of renting a large retail space were prohibitive.
“I have been to the store (site) several times and am already imagining myself there”, she said.
Busby noted that many have lost their jobs and the market could provide a second chance at earning a living. “People can’t feed their families,” he said. “This could be a good thing for Kitty Hawk.”
Council members struggled with the unusual aspects of the site plan. In spite of several meetings between staff and the applicants, some issues were still murky. For example, rather than one use application, the current plan is seeking approval for seven conditional uses on the site.
Tenants on the site might sign leases for as little as a 30-day time period. Council members Emile Klutz and Richard Reid were unsure how these short-term tenants, who might be using chemicals and other materials for onsite craft production, would be monitored and approved on a revolving basis. Would the property owner or their sub-leased tenants be ultimately responsible?
Town staff also added 10 recommended conditions, which the applicant had agreed to, for items ranging from submitting a proper storm water plan to adding a handicapped space.
When it came time to vote on the conditional use, it became apparent the resulting motion would contain so many conditions that several council members said they were unsure how to even frame the motion. The council agreed to delay a vote until March 7 to provide more time to absorb the new information.
In other action, the council agreed to a public hearing to rezone four parcels on Putter Lane from beach residential to beach commercial to allow two retail stores to operate on the property. The council also scheduled a public hearing to amend its ordinances on commercial and non-commercial uses of horses and stabling. Both hearings are scheduled for March 7.
The council approved a $46,900 request from the fire chief to purchase the Scott Breathing Apparatus and Amkus Rescue Equipment, and the police chief saw a $12,800 request approved to purchase three in-car cameras.
Some levity was injected when council member Perry asked if any videos might appear on the “World’s Dumbest Criminals,” to which the chief responded, “I will not be letting those videos out.”
Town Manager John Stockton also said the 800-mhz public safety radio system should be operational by March 29.