After a pair of meetings that ran more than four hours, and changes to address concerns of current business owners in the Historic Cottage Row district, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners have adopted a new zoning district for an area east of U.S. 158 in the vicinity of Jockey’s Ridge.
Along with a number of businesses and homes of both full-time residents and vacation properties, the change impacts undeveloped properties in the central part of Nags Head.
Cited among the main concerns about the proposed changes is that under the original proposal, their businesses would have been designated as non-conforming and would have to obtain special use permits to rebuild if they suffered damage or were destroyed by fire or storms. Others say this makes currently vacant parcels in the new district undevelopable.
Town leaders say the changes approved on Wednesday address most of those issues.
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.
That project has since been essentially abandoned after commissioners declined to approve a special use permit for the proposal.
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.
Town planning staff and the planning board recommended adoption of several text amendments to the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance to create the C-5, Historic Character Commercial Zoning District, including amendments to the table of uses and activities, dimensional standards, and special commercial building design criteria.
They also recommended adoption of a zoning map amendment to rezone the moratorium area to a combination of R-3, High Density Residential Zoning District and the C-5, Historic character Commercial Zoning District.
Finally, they recommended adoption of a zoning map amendment to include properties on the east side of Memorial Avenue from Bainbridge Street south to Hollowell Street from C-2 to R-3.
Since the drafting of the original recommendations, town staff presented additional recommended revisions to the proposed historic character commercial text and map amendment during a public hearing at the March 1 Board of Commissioners meeting..
Public comment at the start of Wednesday’s meeting was mostly positive about the changes from business and residential property owners in the proposed district.
Kitty Hawk Kites CEO John Harris noted he still had concerns about limits on lot coverage and setbacks and that the amendments are still restrictive, in some cases unintentionally, on commercial properties.
“I do still have concerns about the harm and anxiety being caused by this proposed zoning change,” said Old Nags Head Cafe owner Michael Roderer, who sent letters to commissioners and town staff on Tuesday outlining concerns about grandfathering rights, lot coverage and other points.
Several of the impacted business owners have retained attorney E. Crouse Gray, who spoke to commissioners during the public comment session.
Gray reviewed a number of their concerns about lot coverage and other changes, but also noted the short-time frame for review of the changes by the board and the public.
The changes formally presented by Planning Director Kelly Wyatt during the March 15 meeting included:
- Amendments to Section 6.6, Table of Uses and Activities, proposing the uses to be allowed within the C-5 District.
- Amendments to Section 8.2, Development Standards to establish dimensional requirements for the C-5 District. Note that lot coverage allowances for the C-5 District are proposed under Section 18.104.22.168.
- Amendments to Section 8.3, Special Development Standards to outline special commercial building design criteria for both new and existing commercial structures within the C-5 District.
- Amendments to Section 10.24, related to signage allowances within the C-5 District, Section 10.82 related to the applicability of commercial design standards, Section 7.23 related to setbacks from sexually oriented businesses, Section 7.45 related to lot coverage for religious complexes, Section 7.78 related to wall and fence height.
- Amendments to Appendix A, Definitions to include reference to the C-5 District within the definition for “Commercial Transitional Protective Yard” and to propose definitions for the uses, “Convenience Store”, “Fueling Station” and “Grocery Store”.
Following discussion between board members and Planning Director Wyatt for clarification of the lot coverage, building size limits and setbacks, the text amendments were approved on a 4-0 vote by Mayor Ben Cahoon and commissioners Kevin Brinkley, Renee Cahoon and Bob Sanders. Commissioner Mike Siers was absent.
Changes to the proposed zoning map must still be reviewed by the Planning Board at their March 21 meeting, and then will be presented to the Board of Commissioners in April.
Watch the full meeting below: