The Nags Head Planning Board has for a second time recommended denial of a proposed amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance requested by the owners of Outlets Nags Head as part of their plans to bring a Starbucks to the shopping center along U.S. 158 near Whalebone Junction.
The planning board serves as an advisory panel to the town’s Board of Commissioners, and can only make recommendations to the commissioners.
The board voted unanimously to recommend denial of allowing drive-through restaurants in the town’s Commercial Mixed-Use Development overlay, based on the town’s planning director recommendations.
According to a memo from Nags Head Planning Director Kelly Wyatt, SRE Mustang, LLC. is seeking modification of the town’s Unified Development Ordinance that would allow a drive-through restaurant to be located in commercial mixed-use developments.
“Currently drive-through restaurants are only allowed in the C-2, General Commercial Zoning District with supplemental regulations,” Wyatt said.
While the Outlets Nags Head is in the town’s C-2, General Commercial, zoning district, it is also in the Commercial Mixed-Use Development overlay district which supersedes the C-2 designation.
A site plan for a Starbucks was submitted in June for a 2,460 square foot building, outdoor patio and drive-through that would be located in the shopping center’s parking lot to the south of the main entrance off U.S. 158.
SRE Mustang has also asked for additions to the UDO that define the type of drive-through restaurant that would be allowed in the Commercial Mixed-Use zoning district with a number of stipulations.
Those include the restaurant being located in a shopping center development that covers at least 20 acres along U.S. 158, has a traffic signal for access, and that the restaurant be less than 3,000 square feet, all which are currently met by the Outlets.
Town regulations require drive-throughs to not be along the side of a building facing U.S. 158, but a request for a Special Use Permit allowing that design was part of the proposal.
Wyatt said in her memo to the planning board “that while text amendment requests are not site specific, it is helpful to understand that this request is being made in an effort to allow development of a drive-through restaurant (Starbucks) within an existing shopping center/group development (Outlets Nags Head).”
“The applicant is aware that any site-specific site plan approval is contingent upon the adoption of this text amendment,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt notes in her memo that the shopping center is located in the Whalebone Junction Character Soundside Area and the U.S. 158 Corridor Character Area, which have a number of currently approved specific uses that are allowed for development.
Drive-through restaurants are currently not included as one of those allowable uses in those areas.
“As referenced throughout the 2017 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Town of Nags Head generally has concerns with the development of drive-through restaurants to include their appropriateness within various character areas within the town, including the US Hwy 158 corridor,” Wyatt said.
“As such, drive-through restaurants are currently only permitted via the special use permit process in the C-2, General Commercial District as a standalone principal structure,” Wyatt said. “Staff submits that numerous concerns are likely to arise as a result of proposing a new drive-through restaurant as part of an existing mixed-use development.”
Wyatt said that among those concerns were traffic issues and backups, fewer parking spaces, pedestrian safety and potential obstruction of fire lane access.
“Based upon the staff analysis above, staff would recommend denial of the proposed text amendment to allow drive-through restaurants as an acceptable use within commercial mixed-use developments, including shopping centers,” Wyatt concluded.
A similar denial recommendation was presented by Wyatt at the board’s July meeting, both for the text amendment and the application for the restaurant itself, with the planning board voting to deny both applications.