Planning board views height proposal as a start

Published 1:20 am Sunday, January 20, 2008

By Staff
Ordinance would limit building size in Beaufort County
By PETER WILLIAMS, Managing Editor
A height ordinance presented to the Beaufort County Commission this month is simply a starting point, says the chairman of the planning board that drafted it.
The ordinance would limit how tall buildings can be if they are within 1,500 feet of a navigable waterway or a highway corridor. The highways listed are U.S. Highways 17 and 264 and N.C. Highways 33, 32, 92, 99, and 306.
The Rembrey, a 13-story high rise project on Whichard’s Beach fueled the original discussion about imposing a limit on how tall buildings should be in Beaufort County. The planning board decided to take an even broader look.
Current structures would be grandfathered in, but new buildings would have to conform if the county adopts the ordinance, Mercer said.
The new ordinance would limit single-family dwellings and those with six or fewer units to 35 feet in height. Larger multi-family units would have a base limit of 35 feet, but could be as tall as 60 feet if they met certain conditions. A developer would have to provide a one-foot setback from the side yard for every foot in height that exceeded 35 feet. The current subdivision rules require a 15-foot side setback, so a 60-foot building would require an additional 25 feet for a total of 40 feet.
The same 60-foot limit would also apply to commercial and manufacturing buildings. Any other zoning category would be viewed on a case by case basis and the 60-foot limit would not apply.
In the end, the county board did not set a date for further discussion on the ordinance.
Mercer said Commissioner Robert Cayton expressed concern about the limit on single family structures, saying the home he grew up in was taller than 35 feet. Mercer also said Commissioners Ed Booth and Hood Richardson had some issues.