New zoning maps for Nags Head’s Historic Cottage Row district cleared by planning board

New zoning maps for Nags Head’s Historic Cottage Row district cleared by planning board

March 21st, 2023

The Nags Head Planning Board has given its approval of a new zoning map for the town’s Historic Cottage Row district, as part of changes spurred over concerns by residential property owners on the oceanfront and between the highways in the Jockey’s Ridge area.

The amended maps will now head back to the Nags Head Board of Commissioners for another public hearing later this spring.

The original proposal was subject to a public hearing by the Board of Commissioners on March 1, where current business owners in the district expressed a number of concerns that they would be considered non-conforming, limiting their ability to rebuild if damaged or destroyed, and that the district makes some currently vacant parcels undevelopable.

There were also issues brought up about lot coverage limits and architectural requirements for both new construction and possible rebuilds.

Changes were made to both the proposed text amendments and the maps by the town’s planning staff, with the text amendments approved at the commissioners’ March 15 meeting.

But the amended maps for the district had to go back to the Planning Board for their review and approval at their March 21 meeting, after requests to change the zoning of more residential properties than was in the original proposal.

The process of changing the zoning in the district dates back to last August, when several residents and property owners appeared at a Board of Commissioners meeting to complain about Nags Head Pizza Company.

The restaurant was an allowable use of a building on the Beach Road south of Jockey’s Ridge under the town’s Unified Development Ordinance at the time. The business drew criticism from property owners that included former U.S. Senator Richard Burr.

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 the pizza shop and an essential housing development that was proposed for the district.

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.

The moratorium was followed by commissioners voting in January to remove multi-family dwellings as a permissible use in the district.

On March 15, the Board of Commissioners approved the following changes to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance (click here for a detailed explanation)

  • Various text amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance establishing a new zoning district, the C-5, Historic Character Commercial District including the creation of intent narrative outlining the district’s purpose.
  • 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
  • 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”.

Text amendments to the Town Code approved by commissioners included:

  • Amendment to Section 12-143, Licensing of sexually oriented businesses to include reference to the C-5 District.
  • Amendment to Section 16-73, Maximum permitted sound levels by zoning district to include reference to the C-5 District.

While the text amendments have been approved, additional changes to the maps addressing specific properties have been submitted to the town’s planners.

“Staff has received several email communications from property owners east of 100 E. Hollowell Street, fronting on NC 12, requesting that if the Planning Board and Board of Commissioners are inclined to redesignate the Hollowell parcel fronting US 158 to C-5, to give consideration to leaving their properties within the proposed R-3 District as it creates a level of consistency with how the properties have been developed,” according to a memo from Planning Director Kelly Wyatt to the Planning Board included in the agenda packet for the March 21 meeting.

Wyatt told the planning board that other concerns and requests brought up at the March 15 commissioners meeting was to keep as much of the properties along U.S. 158 as possible designated as commercial rather than residential, while those currently zoned residential in the district want to remain that way.

Top half of the image is the existing zoning of the Jockey’s Ridge, bottom half is the map approved on March 21 by the Nags Head Planning Board. [Town of Nags Head image]
Following approval by the Planning Board, the new maps will be subject to another public hearing by the Board of Commissioners that has been tentatively scheduled for May 3, pending required notifications of property owners impacted by the change and advertisements of the hearing.


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