land-use plans are worth reading
By ROB MORRIS
Outer Banks Voice
note: The Dare County Board of Commissioners will conduct a
public hearing on the county’s 2009 draft update of its land-use plan
on Monday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room in
the Dare County Administrative Building in Manteo.)
During one of my nine lives as an editor, I was responsible for the
Virginia Beach Beacon, a community news section in The Virginian-Pilot.
flowed more freely back then, and the tabloid would sometimes balloon
to 80 pages or more. Despite a staff that was hefty by today’s
standards, there were times when we wouldn’t have enough material to
So once, I
run a city planning document word-for-word in a three-part series. As a
dutiful editor, I read the whole thing before putting it in the paper.
passed, and I cannot tell you in any detail about the plan except to
say it was quite large. I think it was the city’s entire comprehensive
plan or an oceanfront master plan. In any case, a lot of time and
effort clearly went into it.
counties and towns update similar documents every five years. You won’t
see them published word-for word in the newspaper, but you can find
state, they’re called land-use plans. Around here, the state’s primary
interest in them is to protect coastal waters. The county and its towns
each have one.
also mandated. But you have to be a planner to fully appreciate
land-use documents, which might explain why it is unlikely many people
will have anything to say about them.
purpose besides fulfilling a state requirement. For one, they can offer
an insight into a town or county’s philosophy about development. A
“blueprint” if you will.
contain anything legally enforceable, they serve as policy statements
that lay the groundwork for local ordinances. They can also be
precursors for future development.
committee, for example, is looking at creating land-use language that
says the town would be amenable to taller oceanfront hotels under
certain circumstances. Most of the discussion has centered on general
theories about how this could benefit the town’s economy. But no one
should be shocked if a developer or two already wants to build a hotel
taller than the current 42-foot limit.
incorporated new language that says it no longer frowns on central
sewage systems. It includes a statement to the effect that they could
help water quality threatened by the county’s longtime dependence on
true, septic systems have also restricted growth, and I could deduce
that someone is thinking about actually building central sewage — if
not the county, private developers. The possible consequence, of
course, might be higher density development.
use plan is several hundred pages long. Reading it word-for-word is a
tall order, but it can serve as a nice reference manual. It is a
repository in words and graphics of just about everything Dare County,
including population, numbers of homes and community-by-community
county’s positions on issues that it does not control, such as dredging
in Oregon Inlet and access to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Even if you
know all the specifics of the plan, there’s nothing to prevent you from
offering your vision of what your town or county should be.
of The Outer Banks Voice – www.outerbanksvoice.com)
You will have several opportunities to comment on the Dare County
Nov. 15 meeting and present comments on the draft update. Also, written
comments may be submitted to the Board of Commissioners at P.O. Box
1000 Manteo, NC27954.
Following the hearing, the board may adopt the draft update, defer
action until a later date, or choose to make revisions to the draft
update based on hearing comments or subsequent board discussion.
After local adoption of the plan, the draft update will be submitted to
the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission for certification. This
is another opportunity to be heard.
objections, or statements of support of the draft update may be
submitted to the Division of Coastal Management following local
adoption of the plan.
Written comments, objections, or statements may be submitted to the
Division of Coastal Management District Planner, Charlan Owens, at 1367
U.S. Highway 17 South, Elizabeth City, NC 27909 no less than 15
business days prior to the Coastal Resources Commission meeting at
which the Dare County land use plan update is scheduled to be
considered for certification. The District Planner may be contacted at
The land-use draft update is on the Dare County website at http://www.co.dare.nc.us/Announce/LUP.pdf