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Sunset Beach Town Council approves zoning land, ETJ request

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

SUNSET BEACH—Town Council on Monday approved zoning a newly annexed tract and expanding the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

Approval is for a 64.25-acre tract east of N.C. 904 to Recreational Institutional (RI-1). A new “continuing care community” is planned for the site, which was voluntarily annexed into the town in January.

Al Seibert, chairman of the town planning board, noted annexation was approved before the property was zoned.

“We got the cart before the horse,” he said. “Now we apply [zoning] to this particular parcel.”

“Continuing care” is described as a special use that would be permissible upon application to the town board of adjustment. But with RI-1 zoning, any permitted uses listed under that zone in the town ordinance would be allowed.

Council also approved a resolution requesting an extension of the town’s ETJ within one mile of town limits. The measure addresses certain areas within one mile of town limits that are zoned by Brunswick County.

The proposed extension is between the town’s easternmost limits and Ocean Isle Beach’s ETJ. It also includes a section from Old Georgetown Road to U.S. 17, and from N.C. 904 to Thomasboro Road, extending about one mile from current town limits.

Town administrator Gary Parker, pointing out the targeted area on a color-coded map, said it was decided to include the area that extends north of Old Georgetown Road.

“We thought as long as we’re doing an extension of the ETJ why not do an area that extends from the entire town limits,” Parker said. “We added the yellow area here.”

Klein pointed out another yellow section in the Metcalf Drive area, adding it cannot be annexed at this time because the area has not been built out enough.

In response to a question from councilman Bob Bobinski, town fire chief Chris Barbee said some of the areas proposed for extension extend beyond the town’s fire district.

Klein added those sections are not necessarily bound up by the fire district. Barbee said the Grissettown-Longwood Fire Department could respond to part of the area proposed for extension.

“Those things can be negotiated if county commissioners get involved,” he said.

Barbee said the town also may want to consider locating a fire substation closer to the post office instead of the current EMS station on Old Georgetown Road because of response time.

Watts said he trusts Barbee’s judgment.

Parker noted once council approves the resolution, the request and a revised map will be presented to the county. County approval is required before the town can have a public hearing, tentatively targeted for May or June.

Sewer hearing

Parker announced a public hearing is slated for April 22 or 24 at Seaside United Methodist Church for citizens to review plans for the town’s “mammoth sewer project soon starting here in Sunset Beach.”

He described the event as “sort of an open house to outline what’s going to be done,” with displays and engineering and county officials expected to be on hand to answer questions from the public.

Parker said plans are still under way to buy a new ladder truck for the town. The estimated cost of the 75-foot ladder truck being manufactured in Florida is $785,000. Parker said it will be on council’s April agenda.

Council approved having a budget retreat on March 19 at Sea Trail.

Councilman Lou DeVita outlined landscaping and beautification projects planned at Sunset Boulevard medians on the mainland and island, including new 400-pound cement benches to be installed in the parking area near the gazebo.

A “beautification day” is planned for April 9, DeVita said, “just in time for the beach season.”

Land negotiation

Klein announced he had talked with town attorney Mike Isenberg regarding Parker’s authority to negotiate for the town regarding potential land purchase of two tracts at 101 N. Sunset Blvd. from Twin Lakes Development, “to see what kind of price there would be with the understanding that town council is making no commitment on said acquisition.”

The measure was approved by council.

Council also approved an amendment to the beach business (BB-1) district to allow for beautification of the island entranceway.

“It’s a possibility of a streetscape with landscape improvements, and we added that on the computer model,” Seibert said.

Watts noted nonforming buildings couldn’t be rebuilt under the “50 percent” rule, citing as examples the Island Market and the Trading Co.

“I think it’s a fair way to go,” he said.

Before the start of the “major tourist season,” resident Carol Scott urged council to consider increasing the town’s fireworks fine from $50 to $500, same as that in Ocean Isle Beach, to get the attention of parents who are vacationing here with their children.

Another resident, Charlie Nern, commended council for allowing former water department employees to do landscaping and clean-up work, which he said has been a noticeable improvement.

“I think they deserve more credit for what they do,” he said. “They’re certainly not unworked employees.”

“That’s a lot of good work coming out of that crew,” Klein agreed.