Shallotte planning board attempts to close permitting loophole

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SHALLOTTE—The town planning board has recommended amending the town’s unified development ordinance to require developers to obtain town approval for driveways and roadways before they receive approval of their development plans.

At its regular meeting Dec. 9, the planning board unanimously approved the changes, prompted by a recent incident in which a “loophole” in the current UDO was discovered.

According to town administrator Paul Sabiston, developers of the now-under-construction Food Lion complex on South Willis Drive near N.C. 179 and Main Street were expected to obtain a driveway permit from the N.C. Department of Transportation, but the DOT said the matter did not involve their department.

“They got an approval with a driveway permit they thought would be approved by DOT,” Sabiston said. The town expected before issuing the permit DOT would require the developers to run South Willis Road all the way to Main Street.

About a month later, DOT representatives said the department did not have the jurisdiction to require road improvements on the town road.

Because it was not required by DOT, and the town did not have the appropriate ordinances in place to require the improvements, the developer opted not to improve the road, Sabiston said.

The amended ordinance requires developers of driveways and roadways to “first obtain a driveway and/or roadway permit from the administrator.

“If a driveway or roadway permit is not approved before a site plan, preliminary plat, final plat, master plan or similar document is approved by the town, then the requirement for a separate driveway/roadway permit…shall become an automatic condition of the approval” of those documents,” the amendment states.

“The town may require reasonable and appropriate on-site and off-site roadway improvements to provide a safe and effective road system for its citizenry as part of its approval of a driveway or roadway permit and/or as part of its approval of a site plan” and other documents.

Additionally, approval of those documents “shall not replace or override the need and requirement for approval of a driveway or roadway permit by the administrator.”