Southern Shores addresses concerns with retaining walls – The Coastland Times
The Southern Shores Planning Board met at the Pitts Center on November 18 to review city bank and retaining wall regulations.
During the public comment section of the meeting, some townspeople voiced their thoughts and concerns about the use of the retaining wall.
Tony DiBernardo, Deputy Member of the Planning Committee, believed that retaining walls are mostly built for building purposes rather than aesthetic reasons. DiBernardo looks at the plots that are still open for construction in Southern Shores and believes the uneven land may make them a “builder challenge”. “My fear is that if we restrict that we will inadvertently run into issues like non-compliant lots,” he said.
Doug Boulter, resident and owner of Southern Shores, said, “At a time when there is less and less arable land, retaining walls can come in handy by marginalizing the land, making it buildable, by shaping or terraforming the land around it to make it flatter. ” However, he indicated that adding a retaining wall could be at the expense of the neighbors. He hoped the board would be able to set some parameters such as standards for height, location, and maintenance for retaining walls that are allowed in the community.
Following Boulter’s concerns, Mark Martin came before the board with options on how his company made retaining walls work in certain situations. In some cases, he had to lower the height of the retaining wall to 4 feet. In other circumstances, he made brick retaining walls that snaked down the slope into a residence 3 feet high. “As you go through your thoughts, think about what we had to do about some of these things,” Martin finished with.
After the public comment section ended, Wes Haskett, Director of Planning, addressed the board. He explained the conditions that existed for walls and fences within the city law: “Retaining walls can reach up to a property line and their maximum height is 6 feet.”
Elizabeth Morey, chairwoman, had asked where the problems were in the city regarding this issue. By the time of the meeting, she had only heard of one problem at Martin’s Point that had already been addressed. “We still don’t have an example of a problem,” Morey said.
Don Sowder, board member, said he felt there was a problem because he had heard from “builders and others”. “The problem is, the remaining lots in Southern Shores are not shallow lots,” he said.
Sowder felt that the ingenuity, construction, and planning required for these plots may not even work. He believed that limiting or regulating retaining walls “would seriously affect the ability of property owners to build on these properties”. He was also not aware of any identified issues related to this issue.
Andy Ward, board member, found one negative in not regulating the retaining walls in terms of height. He mentioned that someone could put a 6 ‘high fence on top of a 3’ high retaining wall. After adding the fence, there would be 9 ‘structure on or near a property line. “I wouldn’t want to see this if I were a neighbor,” he said.
To address this issue, Morey and Ward agreed that if the city made adjustments to these regulations, they could consider a setback. Morey suggested that the board “gather more input from stakeholders” and then discuss the options at a later meeting.
“I just don’t feel that we have a strong feeling that we should change anything at this point,” said Morey to end their discussion. After learning more, the Board agreed to bring the matter up again at an upcoming meeting next year.
This was followed by a brief discussion about the size of the city banks. Hackett introduced the newly passed terms, which include height restrictions on certain buildings, including banks. He said banks that exceed 35 feet in height are no longer allowed.
In the event of a natural disaster, an existing bank could be rebuilt on the same footprint. However, newly built banks, watchtowers and other buildings in accordance with this ordinance may not exceed the height requirements.
After the board of directors listened to Haskett, Morey noted that all structures except schools, country clubs, and churches are now under this height requirement. All board members agreed that this was the best decision for the city.
The planning board decided not to meet in December. Your next meeting is Tuesday, January 21st.
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