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Carolina Beach Council To Consider Outdoor Storage In Residential Areas

The Town of Carolina Beach owns undeveloped property on Spartanburg Avenue where they are proposing to locate an outdoor storage yard. Area residents are upset citing impact on property values in their quiet neighborhood.  The Town says their options are limited. They have to relocate off military land by the end of the year.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach has to relocate their Operations Department (Public Works) from land owned by the U.S. Army off Dow Road.
The Town is planning to locate an outdoor storage yard on undeveloped property on Spartanburg Avenue.
Residents are upset citing the impact it will have on the quiet neighborhood and their property values.
The Town's Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend denying the Town's request to use the property on Spartanburg Avenue at their September 13, meeting.
The military land was leased to the Town in the early 1970's by the Army with a condition that it only be used for a wastewater treatment plant and associated uses including a storage building and outside storage area. Over the years other uses became routine on the property. Earlier this year the Town was notified they were in violation of their lease and had to remove all uses not permitted under that lease. The Army is demanding the Town comply by the end of 2012. 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 Town was given until the end of June to present a plan for compliance to remove items stored for auction, multiple storage buildings, FEMA trailer, marine vessels, generators, undercarriage water station, maintenance shop and multiple dumpsters and retention pond.
Owens advised the Council in August that one option would be to get a zoning permit to relocate a "lay-down" storage area near Greenville and Spartanburg Avenues on residential property currently owned by the Town.
Owens said other potential locations such as behind Town Hall or purchasing land elsewhere require time which is limited. A short-term option would be renting space in a local shopping center.
A plan to comply with the lease by the end of the year was submitted to the Army a few weeks ago and as of last week Army Corp officials had not responded.
The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission considered at their September 13, meeting an application by the Town to the Planning Board to amend zoning definitions to increase allowances for government facilities to include outdoor storage in all zoning districts as either permitted by right or by conditional use permit. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend Council deny that zoning amendment.
Then they considered the request for a conditional use permit (CUP) to locate a "Government Facility – develop a storage yard for Public Works and Public Utilities, 617 Spartanburg Avenue."
Planning Director Ed Parvin said the Commission would still hear the CUP request because Council may or may not agree with the Commission's recommendation to deny the zoning amendment and if they adopt it, they would proceed with considering approval of their own CUP permit on Spartanburg Avenue.
The 24,972 square foot property at 617 Spartanburg is bordered on the western and southern sides by undeveloped land located within the MOTSU Buffer Zone.  Developed residential properties border the proposed facility. The purpose of this facility is to provide the Environmental and Stormwater Departments with a location to store supplies, materials, equipment and tools.  Each department will have designated storage sheds within the fenced in area that will contain various supplies and tools.  This may include items such as small tools (shovels, hammers, screwdrivers, etc.), small pumps, fittings, concrete mortar, nails, screws, painting supplies, wood, tarps, signs, Christmas lights, small drainage materials and other various equipment.  Single story storage buildings will be spaced relatively close together for space conservation.
Parvin said the impact of the Town storage yard is less than if someone developed nine residential units on the property.
Planning Commissioner Brett Keeler said he feared it would set a precedent when telling business owners they can't enjoy the same right. Parvin said it's totally different because it's a government operation.
Keeler said, "It could happen in your neighborhood next" because land for government uses in Town is limited.
One resident said their property values are already down 20% and if it's approved three of their bedrooms and kitchen will be looking down upon the storage yard. They said eight homes would be better than a storage yard for property values. Another resident said fencing doesn't help because their homes are elevated on pylons where even the first floor would look down on the storage yard.
The commissioners generally agreed the proposed storage yard is not in harmony with the neighborhood and there are likely options elsewhere in Town that could be purchased or rented in the short term that are more suited to such a use.
The Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Town Council deny their own conditional use permit application for the storage yard citing the permit does not meet required findings.
The most notable is that the location and character of the use if developed according to the plan as submitted and approved will not 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.
One commissioner said it could pave the way for such a yard to locate next to their home and there are other options for the Town to purchase or lease land in more appropriate parts of Town.
Responding to a citizen complaint about materials being stored on a lot on Clarendon Ave for a water and sewer line project, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth explained, "As to who requested the item brought before council to amend the current zoning ordinances to allow storage by the Town in all zoning districts,  it was staff initiated. However in their defense it was an action to help provide possible alternatives in the event  SUNNY Point disallows our  current Town operations center as it is currently functioning."
Shuttleworth explained, "As a concerned Citizen I am sure you want Staff and Council to explore all  options prior to buying more property to facilitate the possible relocation. Yes that may include land owned by the town  in residential neighborhoods."
At the Planning and Zoning meeting, Planning Director Ed Parvin said the Town felt they already had the authority to locate an outdoor storage facility in the residential area, but, "Due to an abundance of caution, we wanted to completely make it clear there is no inconsistency with the ordinance that we are using that allowance" for government facilities.
The Town Council will consider the permit at their October 9, meeting beginning at 6:30PM at Town Hall.