Beaver Lake cabins reapproved

Published 10:44 am Friday, April 20, 2012

GATESVILLE – A measure passed by their predecessors from six years ago was upheld by the current board of Gates County Commissioners here recently.

In 2006, the commissioners – five different members from the board of today – conditionally approved a request made by Beaver Lake Property Management Group, LLC to construct as many as six cabins at the lake. The conditions attached to that permission included a review and examination by both the planning board and commissioners of the plot plan sketch for the project as a whole, the proposed septic system and a blueprint of each of the cabins.

Now the Beaver Lake partners are ready to start construction on three of those six cabins, but did not want to proceed without confirmation from the current board of commissioners that the vote from six years still stands.

“What I need is a letter from the commissioners authorizing construction of up to six cabins at Beaver Lake as they were approved to do via a variance procedure created prior to us ever having zoning,” said Gates County Planning Director Morgan Jethro, speaking to the board at their April 4 meeting.

Jethro confirmed that the variance was approved for the construction of six total cabins. However, Beaver Lake partners only plan to construct three at the present time. She added that three building permits have been requested, but they cannot be issued until the current board of commissioners approves the letter she referenced that authorizes the construction. She also presented the board a large plat detailing the scope of the work at Beaver Lake.

Jeff Mitchell, one of the Beaver Lake partners, gave the board some background on the project.

“None of the commissioners seated now were involved with this back in 2006,” Mitchell noted.

In that year, Mitchell said he and other partners came before the Gates County Planning Board to request permission to construct up to six cabins on along the lake’s shoreline. He said those cabins would be for personal use.

Mitchell said the planning board and the commissioners at that time granted permission for the project to proceed, subject to obtaining the final building permits and coming back before the planning board and commissioners with the final plat, to include blueprints of the cabins.

“That’s what you have before you today,” Mitchell said. “The plat has been professionally surveyed and planned. The three cabins of the six are ready to start as soon as we obtain the building permits.”

“Obviously there was no zoning ordinance in place (back then), so what needs to be done differently today,” asked Commission Vice Chairman Henry Jordan. “Does this need to go through the Board of Adjustments?”

“Correct, if this was a modern day request, they (Board of Adjustments) could issue a variance,” Jethro said. “But this was already approved, their variance was approved back in 2006.”

The current Gates County Planning Board reviewed the request for building permits and Jethro said that board gave the plan their stamp of approval.

“We did pass this unanimously,” said Planning Board member Chuck Brothers. “But there is one thing we need to make sure you understand….this project was special because of what it brought to the table prior to our current zoning and subdivision ordinances. If someone comes in tomorrow with these same type plans they would have to jump through all the hoops per what we have in place today. We need to let this show in our minutes, the difference between 2006 and 2012.”

Commissioner Jack Owens wanted to know if the request to build six cabins closes the book what Beaver Lake officials asked for back in 2006.

“What we saw back then was a total of six units sharing two septic systems; in what order they would be built – possibly two or three at the time – was not shared with us,” Brothers said. “If they come back now and want to build more cabins, in excess of the six approved back in 2006, they would have to jump through the modern day hoops.”

“We understand that; if we come back and request a seventh cabin or a residence to be built on the property then we would have to follow the modern rules,” Mitchell noted.

Jordan asked why the delay occurred from 2006 forward in building the cabins. Mitchell replied, saying that he and the Beaver Lake partners phased out the project over an extended period of time. They started with all the necessary infrastructure improvements to the property – ground prep and tree removal – construction of a bulkhead along the water’s edge, working on a design for the septic systems and working on the power grid.

“We deliberately moved forward every year and are now shovel ready (for the cabins),” Mitchell said. “To do this all at one time would have been a big financial burden.

“We are not a for-profit enterprise, the cabins are for individual use by the partners,” Mitchell added.

Jordan also inquired of when the other three cabins would be ready for build out.

“I do not know that at this time,” Mitchell said.

“It appears that the board of commissioners voted in 2006 to move forward with this,” Jordan stated. “Reading from those (2006) minutes, I gather from that they issued a letter, but we can’t find that letter.”

Jordan asked Jethro what was the major difference in this plan as written in the county’s current zoning ordinance. She replied that the present-day ordinance calls for only one dwelling per parcel compared to what the commissioners approved for Beaver Lake in 2006 (multiple dwellings per parcel).

“I think the proper to handle this is to refer to the May, 2006 commissioners meeting where this was approved; none of you were sitting (on the board) at that time,” suggested Gatesville attorney Pitt Godwin who serves as legal counsel to Gates County government. “You have the authority to issue a letter referring back to these (2006) minutes and write a letter allowing this six-cabin proposal to go forward. I don’t think you can go back and disallow something that another board has allowed.”

Commissioner Jack Owens motioned to approve Godwin’s suggestion with a second from fellow Commissioner John Hora. The measure passed without objection.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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