CAROLINA BEACH -- An issue near and dear to many Carolina Beach residents went before the town council Tuesday night. Council voted on re-zoning areas from conservation to residential and vice versa. Some property along Virginia Avenue and Canal Drive in Carolina Beach is split zoned, meaning it falls into the zoning categories of residential (R1B) and conservation. While you can build on both zoning areas, the difference is how close you can build to property lines: 7.5 feet for R1B and 20 feet for conservation. Town Planner Gary Ferguson says changing parts of these wetlands to residential could be a good thing for people who own nearby property. Ferguson said, "It may give them a greater opportunity to expand their development sites that front on Virginia." But many neighbors say they're just not interested. A big concern of many people who live nearby is that if more houses are built behind the houses that are already here, it will be an issue of flooding after heaving rainfall. Rainfall isn't the only concern. Carolina Beach resident Bryan Keller said, "We get a lot of high tide flooding as it is already, but if they build all the way from Oceana -- from Canal Road or Canal Drive -- everything here's going to be under water." Ferguson says the town's interest isn't to build on the property. He says the driving force is to get rid of split-zoned properties, such as condo complexes like the Breakers and make them completely residential. "If their properties are totally wiped out by a storm, the town, through its non-conforming section of our zoning ordinance, will allow them to rebuild back exactly like they were," Ferguson said. Condominiums that were in a mixed zoning area have now been rezoned all residential. That stretch of wetlands between Virginia Avenue and Canal Drive will remain zoned a conservation area, which means no building on that land.
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