Aerial view of Ocracoke Island. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

The Ocracoke Advisory Planning Board, after a several month hiatus, regrouped and will take a fresh look at travel trailers and accessory structures on the island.

Since Hurricane Dorian struck Sept. 6, 2019, and left many islanders homeless, more travel trailers appeared on the island to serve as temporary housing.

In addition, the building inspector, John Contestable, needs some guidance on “accessory structures,” Randal Mathews, Ocracoke’s county commissioner, noted at the Nov. 11 meeting.

“Travel trailers are now being treated the same as dwellings regarding setbacks, septic capacity, density,” Mathews said, but the question arose that if a travel trailer is considered a house, can a second travel trailer be considered an accessory structure?

These are questions that the Ocracoke Development Ordinance (ODO) does not adequately answer.

Hyde County Manager Kris Noble, who also is the county planner and the county development officer, said the ODO is different from a zoning ordinance and is basically a ramped-up subdivision ordinance

Her staff will look at accessory structure definitions in several other ordinances and these will be discussed at future meetings.

Planning Board Chair Stevie Wilson said the board is required by law to review the ODO every two years. He asked the group to read over the ODO on their own and highlight areas of concern or questions for later discussion.

“We need to review the ODO so we can discuss the things we’re concerned about,” he said. “I want the support of the community rather than the wrath of the community.

He suggested that at future board meetings the public be required to notify the board 24 hours before the meeting if they want to make a public comment.

The board agreed to hold meetings on the second Thursday of the month. The next meetings will be Jan. 13 and Feb. 10 in the Community Center.

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