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Streets amendment raises concerns in Sandpiper Bay

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUNSET BEACH—Several residents in newly annexed Sandpiper Bay had questions as town council approved a streets amendment Monday night.

The amendment deletes an exception and requires roads in new subdivisions to meet town design standards. The measure was approved by the town planning board at its Aug. 14 meeting and forwarded to town council for consideration.

In the past, the exception allowed subdivision developers to put in private streets that did not meet NCDOT standards, town building inspector Jeff Curtis said. When that was the case, the town would not take responsibility for the roads’ upkeep.

Town administrator Gary Parker explained one reason for the proposed change is buyers of homes in new subdivisions assume roads meet town or NCDOT standards.

That is becoming the case in Sandpiper Bay subdivision, which was developed by Centex Homes and annexed by the town last year.

In response to a question from councilman Lou DeVita, Parker said the amendment does not affect existing or already approved developments such as Jaguar’s Lair.

“That’s why we’re trying to get this amendment passed and to begin implementing it, because as we all know from a number of contacts about substandard streets, it creates a problem for the property owners,” Parker said. “Not everybody asks about streets.”

Jerry Ard was among Sandpiper residents voicing concern.

“We have our roads not being taken over by Sunset Beach because we don’t meet your standards,” he said, adding a Centex map states roads would be built up to NCDOT standards.

“We can’t get Centex to even talk to us now,” he said, adding they are seeking help from a lawyer because roads in the subdivision are “terrible.”

His wife, Mary Ard, president of the Sandpiper Bay homeowners association, asked who would be the “enforcer” if roads aren’t built up to standard.

“The communities are having to deal with it, and they’re having to deal with extraordinary amounts of money,” she said, asking who would be responsible for boring roads to determine problems.

“I foresee the town making sure that the roads are built to DOT standards,” Parker said. “Where I’ve seen it done before, the boring cost was borne by the town.”

The developer may be required to do that in some communities, he said.

“But in any event, yes, the roads will be checked to make sure [they meet] DOT standards,” Parker said.

Parker said the town has been doing tests after the fact in Sandpiper.

“That’s when we discovered the roads weren’t up to standard,” he said.

In response to more questions, Parker said it’s fairly common in local government ordinances not to build roads up to DOT or city standards and to build private roads instead. It is then the responsibility of the HOA to maintain the roads, he said.

Planning board appointments

On another matter, town council approved reappointing chairman Al Seibert, Bob Perry and Eddie Walters to the planning board. Former board member Carol Santavicca also applied for one of the seats that expired in August.

Town councilman Ron Watts said Santavicca is qualified.

“Please think of us as this comes up again in the next year or two,” Watts said.

Steiner thanked Santavicca for having an interest in it.

“Please keep your interest,” he said.

Other matters

Council also approved an amendment allowing accessory structures as a permitted use in commercial districts—mainland business (MB-1 and MB-2), beach business (BB-1) and mixed use developments (MUD).

The board also continued discussion of a proposed site for a second fire station. Town staff has concluded the area between Leak Street and Georgetown Road and possibly the Sunset Commons area are the only sites that meet town criteria.

Before the town closes on purchase of a $1.9 million boat ramp site next Tuesday, council approved a request by English Construction Co. to use the 1.2-acre property for its construction materials, including six-foot rebar and casings, as new bridge construction continues. The material will cover about 90 percent of the lot and will be eventually be removed.

“We can’t do anything with that property until (bridge) construction is complete,” town administrator Parker said.

Council deferred until its Oct. 6 meeting discussion on appointing a committee to address the town’s proposed Sunset Boulevard streetscape project.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.