Double waterfront lot granted stormwater variance

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The Wrightsville Beach Board of Adjustment granted Christopher Parker a variance to build his home closer to the water than the town’s stormwater ordinance allows due to the property’s peculiar northern shoreline.

Parker presented his plans during the March 12 board meeting to build a house for his family at No. 1 Auditorium Drive, a vacant lot beside the Causeway Bridge. The nonconforming definition applies to the lot’s narrow width.

The town requires structures be built at least 30 feet from the highwater line. An outfall pipe beneath the bridge has caused the shoreline to erode, allowing water from Banks Channel to encroach along the northern perimeter of the lot. The northern shoreline, formed by the outfall pipe, would prevent Parker from building his home in line with the other houses to the south.

Stormwater runoff is the main concern with building impervious surfaces too close to the water. The town’s stormwater manager, Jonathan Babin, said Parker is taking measures to ensure his home won’t cause polluted stormwater to run into Banks Channel.

“By installing a new bulkhead, he’s corrected any old erosion problems — or new erosions problems — that might have been on the property,” Babin said. “And he’s not changed the flow of the outfall of stormwater that’s coming out of the DOT pipe.”

Furthermore, Babin said, Parker had agreed to capture 100 percent of stormwater runoff from his property in filtration trenches.

The ordinance was also intended to protect the marsh grass, Parker added, and the previous bulkhead had prevented any marsh grass from growing around that location.

Board members felt comfortable granting Parker an exception to the rule because his lot is a unique situation on the island. There are no other areas in town where an outfall pipe has so dramatically affected the highwater line.

Mayor Bill Blair also expressed confidence in the landscape architect Parker entrusted to engineer the stormwater system.

“You’ve hired a guy in Frank Braxton who I’ve actually had a lot of experience with,” Blair said. “His figures are accurate and the way he would approach it would be beneficial to the beach.”

Board members agreed enforcing the 30-foot setback in this case would impose an unnecessary hardship on Parker. If his residence is set further back he would not enjoy the same views as his neighbors and his home wouldn’t have an adequate buffer from the bridge noise.

“The spirit of the rule is to protect Banks Channel,” chair Darryl Mills said. “The evidence in front of us is that they’ve designed a system that will do so, that it will capture the water.”

Parker must now undergo a review by the Coastal Resources Commission before bringing his project before town staff once more for final approvals.

email emmy@luminanews.com

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