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Council To Consider Their Own Permit To Relocate Garbage Station

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach has until June to find a new home for temporary refuse collection. The Town's very own Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied the Town's request to relocate that operation to Town property at their February 14, meeting after hearing feedback from nearby residents opposing the plan.
The Council will hold a public hearing and consider their own request for a conditional use permit at their upcoming March 12, meeting at 6:30PM.
The official request from the Town of Carolina Beach is to relocate a portion of the Public Works/Utilities facility from the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) buffer zone to 1110 N Lake Park Blvd. 
According to Ed Parvin, Director of Planning and Development, "This request is in reaction to the federal government’s recent notice to the Town stating that all activities outside the wastewater treatment plant shall be removed from the buffer zone. Government facilities are allowed by conditional use permit in the R-2 zoning district" where the proposed property is located.
He explained, "The property at 1110 N Lake Park Blvd is town owned land that currently has a storm water pond that services the town hall facilities. The property area is 427,637 sq. ft.  The disturbed area for the facility is approximately 7% of the lot.  On the south side of the property is the federal point shopping center where the town is currently leasing a portion of the property to store supplies, materials, equipment and tools."
He explained, "The northern and east side the property is adjacent to Carolina Beach Village. The west side is adjacent to Highway business zoning district where there is vacant land and some residential dwellings along N. Lake Park Blvd. The facility is to include solid waste disposal, recycling, parking, and a future public works and operations expansion area. The site will provide for vehicle parking, trash incinerator, recycling, and vegetative debris. Access to the property will be from the Federal Point Shopping Center property limited to town and contracted employees. Town trucks and waste haulers will enter the area a few times a day to dispose and pick up waste and recycling." 
The site will be used for temporary collection of refuse from public trashcans throughout Town, along the beach front and within Freeman Park. Also, for roadside debris often picked up by the Town.
Parvin explained gated driveway access to the site will be located behind the Federal Point Shopping Center with very limited vehicle traffic to reduce impact on adjacent properties. Employee occupancy will be low. 
He explained no parking spaces will be used. A work truck will drive to appropriate areas for pickup and drop off. Any temporary parking would occur within a fenced in area to help maintain a safe, clean appearance. Refuse will be collected at the location and, "The site will be kept in a clean, clutter-free condition at all times."
A 15 foot buffer is being provided and 6 ft. fence to shield the facility from the adjacent properties along N Lake Park Blvd. That is above the 10’ buffer required for government facilities. A natural vegetative buffer will be between the facility and Carolina Beach Village. The distance from the facility to the closest property in that neighborhood is 460 ft.
Parvin explained, "The majority of the property is designated 404 wetlands and will remain undisturbed in its natural state. The refuse on site will be located in covered compactors to minimize the impacts. There will be a recycling ben and an open vegetative debris container."
One requirement for approval of the permit is the "location and character of the use... will 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."
Parvin explained, "This area is designated for single family development. The design of the facility should result in a use that has less impact on adjacent properties than the allowed density for the area.  The facility is a low-moderate development with minimum lot coverage that is consistent with the 2007 Land Use plan."
Another requirement is that, "That the use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property, or that the use is a public necessity".
Parvin explained, "A conditional use permit is required when a certain use is desired in a zoning district, but some of its characteristics could negatively impact the surrounding area. To alleviate potential impacts on adjacent property owners the site has been left in its natural state as much as possible.  In addition the site will include extensive landscaping and fencing to shield stored items from adjacent properties."
Currently the Town has an extension granted by the U.S. Army to continue operating their Town Garage on military land off Dow Road until June. The original date to remove the operation and only use the building for storage was December 31. The Town continues searching for a temporary location for the garage to service their fleet of vehicles and equipment. The Town was notified in April of last year they were in violation of their 1972 lease agreement with the U.S. Army for land off of Dow Road. 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 property housed the Town's Operations Department including public works, public utilities, storm water department and the Town's garage. Additionally, it was home to a greenhouse and various office and storage areas.
The Army is demanding the Town comply by the end of 2012. The 1972 lease only permitted a wastewater treatment plant, a storage building and related uses. One of the more complicated issues is where to relocate dumpsters used to hold trash collected from public trashcans throughout Town and along the beach front as well as debris picked up from the side of the road. Currently those dumpsters are used as a holding area until they are picked up and hauled to the County landfill. Relocating that operation to the land referenced in the permit request would allow the same operation using covered trash compactors. Currently the Town has a similar trash compactor near the downtown Boardwalk area.
Numerous area residents living adjacent to the property expressed concerns over excessive noise, odor, traffic and other related environmental issues. Some residents expressed a concern that in the future the Town would expand use of the land closer to their homes in the adjacent neighborhood negatively impacting their property values and quality of life.
Commissioner Ked Cottrell said he was concerned with the environmental and historical aspects of that area. He said, "I wish there was just a nice wide open spot in the industrial zone to put it. I don't know what the answer is, but I don't like it there" in a residentially zoned area of Town.
Commissioner Rick Knott said, "I don't think its a matter of if there will be a problem, its a matter of when."
Commissioner Leann Pierce said her problem is placing that type of operation in a residentially zoned part of Town even though she understands to the need for the Town to find a new location for that use.
The Commission voted unanimously to deny the Town's request.
The Town Council will consider their recommendation and make the final decision at their March 12, meeting.