From Commissioner Frank Tursi
To my friends in Swansboro: Your Board of Commissioners should have a short but important meeting Tuesday March 12th when we consider a key recommendation from your Planning Board regarding traffic spawned by new development.
Our current zoning ordinance is pretty weak in this regard and relies on the N.C. Department of Transportation to make good decisions to protect our interests. As we have learned during the continuing Walmart fiasco, DOT doesn’t often see things our way.
To give us more control, the Planning Board recommends a new definition of a “transportation network” that will give the town the ability to require a study that analyzes a proposed development’s effects on traffic on all roads in Swansboro and its outlying planning jurisdiction. The study must also offer steps the developer will take to relieve the resulting congestion. Right now, we can only require an analysis if the proposed development affects town-owned streets. There aren’t many of them. Developers planning projects along state-owned roads now follow DOT standards when analyzing traffic impacts. The change would require them to follow our standards.
Other recommendations define what those standards are and detail when those studies will be required. Residential developments that trigger 200 trips a day and commercial developments that generate 400 trips will have to study traffic demands and offer ways to meet them. The new ordinance would clarify that the town manager has the ultimate authority to determining the scope of these studies.
The traffic recommendation is the second the Planning Board has forwarded to the commissioners to meet our charge to strengthen the zoning ordinance. We eliminated a confusing and ineffective zoning classification the last time we met. We were supposed to consider the traffic recommendation as well, put it was pulled from the agenda at the last moment to give the Planning Board more time to work on it.
Giving the town more influence in controlling traffic spawned by development topped the Planning Board’s to-do list when the commissioners approved its request for a 90-day building moratorium on large-scale commercial development. I applaud our planning advisers for working overtime to get this key recommendation to us early in the moratorium and I urge them to continue that hard work on the other items on the list. Lifting the moratorium early should be the goal.
You can read the traffic recommendation and the rest of the agenda