Planning board fills in more blanks

Published 8:35 am Saturday, October 27, 2007

By Staff
Height-restriction ordinance draft gets more definition
Staff Writer
The Beaufort County Planning Board on Thursday continued filling in blanks on a draft height-restriction ordinance that could limit how high county buildings can reach.
The draft ordinance will not go into effect until it is approved by the county’s board of commissioners.
Conversation at Thursday’s meeting focused on defining how high multi-family dwellings should be allowed to reach within 1,500 feet of the county’s navigable waterways. The planning board also discussed the allowance of a 2-foot crawl space in addition to the 35-foot height restriction it agreed to at a meeting on the issue last month. The height restriction will be measured from natural ground level or from base flood level, as applicable, the board decided in September.
The board settled on penciling in an allowance in accordance with state building standards in addition to the 35-foot height restriction.
Another of the tenets of the planning board’s draft ordinance deals with limiting the height of multi-family structures, which members agreed to limit to 35 feet above natural ground or base-flood level. The restriction would apply to structures with six or fewer dwellings. That equates with the height to which the board decided to limit single-family homes in September.
Starlon Credle voiced concerns about preserving the “character of existing neighborhoods” within the ordinance. She recommended prescribing mandatory setbacks from the waterfront and from existing structures.
The planning board agreed to set the same height restriction for multi-family structures with six or fewer dwellings at the same 35-foot mark as they set for single-family homes. The board agreed to handle structures with seven or more units on a case-by-case basis.
The board agreed to replace Mercer’s ‘X’ with 60 feet. It also agreed to apply that same height to commercial and manufacturing structures within 1,500 feet of the county’s navigable waterways.
Spruill introduced the number 60 thinking that it would allow four story structures to be built in the county.
It was decided also to require commercial and manufacturing developments to respect a foot-for-foot setback from neighboring residential structure when building above the height restriction determined by the ordinance.
Multiple times during the meeting the board began discussing the long-term effects of the ordinance it was asked by commissioners to prepare. At the same time, sentiment rose around the table that the board was exceeding its commission in discussing the regulation of business and subdivision development.