A group of business and residential property owners are asking Nags Head town leaders to delay making a final decision on proposed zoning changes in the Historic Cottage Row district.
“Some prominent and long-standing businesses and residences would be non-compliant with the proposed zoning or not allowed at all,” said Michael Roderer, owner of Nags Head Cafe located on N.C. 12 across from Jockey’s Ridge.
“Several concerned citizens, (including myself), John Harris of Kitty Hawk Sports and Philip Forman of Brew Thru, are significantly affected, but were only recently notified of this proposal, giving us insufficient time to understand the implications,” Roderer said.
Along with a number of businesses and homes of both full-time residents and vacation properties, Roderer said the proposed change would also impact undeveloped properties in the central part of Nags Head.
The Nags Head Board of Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday at 9 a.m. to consider revisions to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance and a Zoning Map in the town’s Historic Cottage Row area, and review the current moratorium on new construction in the neighborhood.
Last October, commissioners temporarily prohibited all non-residential developments in the C-2, General Commercial Zoning District, from Hollowell Street south to Danube Street, between U.S. 158 and N.C. 12.
The moratorium followed complaints about a pizza shop that opened last summer and an essential housing development that was proposed for the Historic Character Area.
With backing from the Dare County Board of Commissioners, private builder and manager Woda Cooper had proposed a 4.7-acre, 54-unit workforce housing project at the intersection of South Croatan Highway and East Holloway Street, across from Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
Nags Head Pizza Company opened in a building farther down the Beach Road that was approved for use as a restaurant, but drew criticism from several adjacent property owners including former U.S. Senator Richard Burr.
The moratorium was followed by commissioners voting in January to remove multi-family dwellings as a permissible use in the district.
The proposed zoning classification change that is scheduled for the March 1 hearing would designate a “Historic Character Area”:
- some properties in the C-2, General Commercial district be rezoned to R-3, High Density Residential
- other properties be rezoned from C-2, General Commercial, to a new zoning district, C-5, Historic Character Commercial
Along with properties between U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 from Hollowell Street south to Danube Street, the proposal includes plots on the east side of Memorial Avenue from Bainbridge Street south to Hollowell Street.
“These zoning changes would create consistency with existing land uses and would be compatible with the current intensity of development in this area,” according to the town formal announcement of the hearing.
Mayor Ben Cahoon told Coastal Review in January that the C2 district was the only one in town where multifamily uses were permitted.
“I believe we need multi-family housing. But multi-family is now not permitted in the town anywhere,” Cahoon said. It will take study, a proposed ordinance, and another public hearing to put it back.”
Roderer sent a letter dated for Monday to Cahoon and the Board of Commissioners, requesting the delay. A copy was provided to WOBX on Sunday evening.
“As a small business and property owner within the boundaries of the area being considered, I have had insufficient time to understand and discern the impact of this change,” Roderer said in the correspondence.
“It has been only six business days since I received a letter in the mail of the hearing scheduled for March 1,” Roderer said.
“Not only do I believe that some of the information published by the town regarding this matter may inadvertently be conflicting, but frankly, there has not been the level of engagement or discussion with affected property owners that I think has characterized matters of such significance in the past,” Roderer said.
“I am concerned that such a serious decision, made in haste, may have serious implications for the future and therefore request additional time, 120-180 days or more, to understand the significance of the “Historic Character Area” and engage with planning staff and stakeholders,” Roderer said.
Roderer noted that he has been out-of-town since before the public hearing was announced, and would be unable to attend Wednesday’s commissioners meeting. He asked that the letter be read into the formal record.
Cahoon said Monday morning that delaying the hearing is possible.
“Tabling is possible on any issue, if the Board needs more information or wants to see other options,” Cahoon said. “But it is rare to table a decision more than 30 days or so (i.e. to the next scheduled meeting).”
Cahoon also informed Roderer that with COVID-19 pandemic protocols set aside, letters are no longer read aloud during meetings.
“We encourage anyone with questions to review the proposed ordinance on the town website and if necessary contact the Planning Department,” Cahoon said.