CEDAR POINT — Cedar Point commissioners Tuesday night adopted a resolution opposing state legislation they believe would improperly impinge upon the town’s right to regulate residential development.
The action came as part of the consent agenda, a list of items that can be approved with a single vote, during the board’s regular meeting in town hall.
Commissioners discussed the resolution during their work session earlier in the month and agreed with town manager David Rief’s assessment that the bills would cause dramatic problems for Cedar Point and other towns, especially small ones.
House Bill 401, titled “Increase Housing Opportunities,” would create what is called “middle housing,” a designation that encompasses duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and townhouses, and would require local governments to allow them in all residential zoning districts.
It would apply to areas served by public water or sewer systems. Cedar Point does not have a sewer system, but does have a water system, from West Carteret Water Corp.
Another section of the bill – one Mr. Rief called “equally damaging” to Cedar Point – would require local governments to allow at least one accessory dwelling for every single-family residence. The dwellings would not have to be occupied by the owner of the residence. In other words, they could be rentals, greatly increasing housing density in neighborhoods.
“You could see them popping up all over,” Mr. Rief said during the work session.
Commissioners agreed the legislation – which sponsors say is intended to increase housing opportunities in a time of crunch availability and soaring costs – holds potentially devasting impact for Cedar Point’s neighborhoods. They also agreed with Mr. Rief’s assessment that another section of the bill, which would prohibit local governments from banning land uses, except for industrial uses, nuisance uses or uses that pose a serious threat to public health, safety or welfare, would seriously harm the town.
“It takes away local control, and I’m opposed to that,” Commissioner Pam Castellano said.
H.B. 401 has companion legislation in the state Senate, Senate Bill 349.
Commissioners did not discuss the legislation again Tuesday before approving the consent agenda.
Both Pine Knoll Shores commissioners and Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper have spoken against the bill.
At the end of the meeting, commissioners voted to oppose another piece of state legislation, House Bill 496, titled “The Property Owners’ Rights/Tree Ordinances Act,” which would require local governments to get General Assembly approval before adopting any ordinance that regulates the removal of trees from private property.
“The (N.C.) League of Municipalities sent this out and wants towns to look at it,” Mr. Rief said to the board near the end of the meeting.
Commissioners discussed adopting a resolution at the meeting, but in the end decided to ask Mayor Scott Hatsell and Mr. Rief to work together to craft one for future consideration.
Unlike Pine Knoll Shores, which also opposes H.B. 496, Cedar Point doesn’t have a provision in its unified development ordinance to limit the trees private properties owners can remove from their own land. What the town does have is a section in the commercial site plan ordinance that provides incentives for developers of commercial property to retain existing trees.
“I don’t think we’d ever need to have anything like Pine Knoll Shores,” Mr. Rief said Thursday. “Not many towns do.”
But he added he and the commissioners thought it was the right thing to do to support other towns that the bill would impact. The key for Cedar Point was the potential for continued loss of local control, he noted.
As of Thursday, H.B. 496 is in the House Committee on Local Government, Land Use, Planning and Development, and H.B. 401 is in the same committee.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.