September 28, 2015
Residents of tri-villages get first look at proposed zoning mapsProperty
owners in Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo now have a proposed zoning map to
consider that gives the community wide berth in deciding what uses
should be allowed or not.
BY CATHERINE KOZAK
“This map is driven by community input,” Dare County Planning Director
Donna Creef told residents at a packed meeting Thursday night, Sept.
24, at the Community Building in Rodanthe. “It is going to
reflect what the community tells us it wants.”
An open house at the same location had been held in March, when Creef
asked the 70 or so attendees to fill out forms about their views on
creating stricter zoning in the tri-villages. She also invited people
to call or e-mail her with questions or concerns.
At last week’s meeting – which was nearly as well-attended as the first
– Creef emphasized that the county has no intention of implementing
zoning regulations against the wishes of the community.
“This is not a done deal,” she said. “You have zoning, so if we don’t adopt any changes, we still have S-1 zoning.”
Members of the county Planning Board also attended, sitting at a table in front of the room to listen.
All of Hatteras Island was zoned S-1 in 1987, including the three
villages on the north end of the island. The designation restricts
setbacks and building heights, but permits nearly all uses on
parcels. Hatteras village was the first to adopt stricter zoning,
followed by Avon and Buxton. Frisco, however, rejected proposed changes
in 1998 and is still zoned S-1.
Going through hand-outs of color-coded maps and lists detailing four
proposed new zoning designations, Creef explained to villagers who
filled the room – despite a looming northeaster - that much
consideration had been given to maintaining current uses of property.
At the same time, some uses deemed detrimental to the well-being of the
community – for instance, discontinued or abandoned businesses -- would
be addressed by the proposed zoning.
“I think everybody in this room knows what business I’m talking about,”
she said, alluding to long-neglected Waterfall Park, which has become a
sprawling blight along Highway 12 in Rodanthe. “This is designed to
address those businesses that are not here – they simply walk away from
The concrete plant in Waves that sparked the current zoning effort
would fall under permitted uses in the S-2 commercial district, which
is very similar to the current S-1. The difference is S-2 allows light
industry but prohibits high hazard uses (such as manufacture of
explosives.) Mining operations such as borrow pits have also been
prohibited in the proposed plan.
Strictures in the zoning plan, like required buffers, would not be
retroactive for existing businesses, Creef said, unless they were
expanded 50 percent or more. And if someone comes in later and builds a
residence next to your business, then demands a buffer, she added,
well, too bad. You were there first.
Intrinsic in the plan are things that don’t change. In the commercial
districts, for instance, building heights are still limited to 52 feet,
setback and lot coverage are the same as what is currently permitted.
Most existing uses would be allowed to continue.
The proposal also includes language that would not permit itinerant
commercial uses, such as a restaurant operating a mobile food cart.
“I will tell you,” she said, “that I’ve had calls from some of these
restaurant owners telling me ‘Donna, these mobile food carts are
As to worries she has heard from commercial fishermen, Creef promised
that the zoning proposal is written to respect the nature of their
“Don’t let that be a concern,” she said. “Nobody’s going to tell you
that you’ve got to move your boat, you’ve got to move your nets.”
The RWS-3 designation provides for a “very broad range” of commercial
uses, she said, and is based on both existing and future uses
appropriate to a village.
For residential districts, Creef said that most of the numerous
subdivisions, such as Hatteras Colony, Wind Over Waves and Mirlo Beach,
are regulated by covenants, many of which are stricter than both the
existing S-1 and in some cases, the proposed zoning changes.
Those covenants would not be affected by the proposed zoning changes.
The RWS-2 zoning provides more flexibility than RWS-1, allowing mobile
homes and duplexes. It also would permit second
mother-in-law-type homes of up to 1,200 feet to be built on property,
chickens and horses in the yard, and traditional village
The Wanchese zoning plan served as a model for tailoring the permitted
uses to the community’s unique patchwork of small businesses. But
unlike the tri-villages, Creef said, Wanchese had no zoning and was
starting from scratch. “We said what you had is what you have,” she
said about Wanchese.
The S-1 zoning put in place in 1987 was for 30 years, she said, making that language applicable until 2017.
Creef urged everyone to review the documents and contact her with
questions or concerns. She said another meeting would be held in
early November to get the community’s feedback. After that, she
hopes to be able to schedule a public hearing with the county Planning
Board. Based on the hearing, the planning board would make a
recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, which would then vote to
approve or disapprove of the zoning.
But she hesitated to nail down a timetable for the process to be completed.
“We may come down here in November and hear we’re way off the mark,”
she said. “We will have as many meetings as we need to have. That being
said, we don’t need to drag it out if people aren’t taking advantage of
Before the meeting ended, Elmer Midgett, planning board chairman,
pleaded with the public to come to board with their input, even if
they’re opposed, rather than stay silent.
“I can’t scratch your itch unless I know where it itches,” he said. “If you don’t like it, give us an opportunity to fix it.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To view the proposed zoning maps for Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo and to
see other information about and explanations of the proposed new zoning
ordinance, go to the Dare County Planning Department website at http://www.darenc.com/planning/rwszoning0915.pdf