Meeting to nail down building ordinance

Published 4:16 am Wednesday, October 3, 2007

By By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
The Beaufort County Planning Board has begun filling in the blanks on a draft height-restriction ordinance that may determine how high future buildings in certain areas of the county are allowed to reach.
At a special meeting Tuesday night, the board started identifying those areas and the specific height restrictions it will place on them.
The purpose of the ordinance, as stated in the draft, is to “regulate height of structures in the county, to protect waterfront areas, facilitate growth consistent with that expected around cities and towns by restricting height limits and establish orderly height patterns adjacent to major travel corridors.”
But, until Tuesday, specific height limits had been left blank. With the draft ordinance written out, the board began filling those blanks with numbers the members could agree on, beginning with measurements for the zones in which restrictions would apply.
The board settled on restricting any structure within 1,500 feet of a navigable waterway, within 2,500 feet of the existing corporate limits of a town or city or within 1,500 feet of any of the county’s major highways.
Board members were at odds about policing building heights in areas near city or town limits. In an area near a city or town, the governing body of that place has the right to extend extraterritorial jurisdiction — or ETJ. The Planning Board is considering setting up restrictions for areas just outside any ETJ.
Board member Starlon Credle said she thought the board should let the ETJs do the job of regulating height, rather than extend restrictions with the ordinance.
The ordinance places separate restrictions on structures in the county outside the three specified zones. Credle and fellow board member Frank Hollowell felt those restrictions should apply rather than a separate zone extending from a city or town ETJ.
Concerning future homes within 1,500 feet of the county’s waterways, the board began setting specific height limits. In those zones, the board agreed that single-family homes shall not exceed a height of 35 feet from base flood level or natural ground level, depending on site restrictions. That would limit most traditionally designed homes to two stories — three, if specially designed or with a flat roof, Spruill said.
The board will meet again to continue filling in the blanks on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.