MOREHEAD CITY — Using a new decision-making process outlined by the UNC School of Government, the Morehead City Planning Board recommended approval of two items at its regular meeting this month.
The planning board met April 20 in the council chambers of the municipal building to consider the slate of agenda items. Morehead City Planning Department staff kicked off the meeting by introducing the SOG’s new guidance for planning boards when making decisions on whether to recommend approval or denial of requests.
Specifically, the new guidance asks planning boards to consider whether requests are consistent with the city’s land-use plan by seeing if they reasonably conform to various policies.
“Based upon the guidance from the school of government, staff has developed worksheets to help the planning board evaluate the zoning map and text amendments,” planner Karyn Reid said. “The worksheets include land-use plan policies and sample criteria for evaluating reasonableness as provided by the school of government.”
Planning board Chairperson Tom Outlaw said the new procedure, as he understands it, is meant to improve transparency and ensure decisions are being made in accordance with the city’s land-use plan, a document meant to guide development in town.
The planning board tried out the new process on a request from the Cullipher Group asking to revise the approved sketch development plan for subdivision Morey’s Point by reducing the density from 15 to six single-family residential lots. Chase Cullipher with the Cullipher Group explained the change was requested so the development can be considered low-density for state stormwater permitting purposes.
He said the lower-density development, to be located near 4700 South Shore Drive, will have less impervious surface than previously proposed.
“This is about as environmentally friendly as you can get in a development of this sort,” Mr. Cullipher said.
Using a worksheet with some of the relevant criteria from the city’s land-use plan, the board determined the request was consistent and recommended its approval.
The board carried out the same process for its next item, as well – another request from the Cullipher Group, this one on behalf of Pinnacle Storage of Morehead City, for review of an alternate landscape plan for the storage facility. Developers requested the alternate landscape plan due to the unusual shape of the property in relation to abutting properties, as well as to give residents of the nearby apartment complex, Vinings at Wildwood, open views of a stormwater pond on the site.
The planning board recommended approval of the alternate landscape plan, passing on its recommendation to the Morehead City Council for final review.
The board thanked Mr. Cullipher for acting as a “guinea pig” as they tried out the new procedure last week, with staff noting the process could be tweaked somewhat going forward.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.