BEAUFORT — Despite opposition from nearby property owners, the Carteret County Board of Commissioners approved changing the zoning classification of 156 acres off Highway 58 just outside Peletier to a recreational camper park district.
The property at was previously zoned for single-family residential development and is largely wooded and undeveloped, with one single-family structure sitting on the property. The board of commissioners held a public hearing on the rezoning request during its regular monthly meeting May 17 at the administration complex in Beaufort.
Citing a conflict of interest, Commissioner Jimmy Farrington recused himself from the discussion and vote on the rezoning request and two other related items. He did not state what his conflict entailed.
Many of those who spoke against the rezoning live nearby on Fire Tower Road and surrounding areas. Some said they enjoy a rural lifestyle free from much of the development happening elsewhere in the county and they fear the addition of a recreational camper park would disturb their way of life, adding unwanted traffic and noise.
“The zoning presently allowed for the Peletier community is designed to allow for gradual growth, growth that allows for families to move here and participate fully in our community, not those who are here for a long weekend in the summer,” said Cathey Blackburn of West Fire Tower Road. “They want to get to the beach, pure and simple. Why should I have to give away my way of life in order for them to do that? My neighbors and I would be the losers here.”
Other attendees spoke on potential environmental effects they fear could arise from developing the property, such as cutting off access to the White Oak River for wildlife.
New Bern-based attorney George Oliver, who has family connections to the area, argued against the rezoning from a legal standpoint by pointing out it does not conform to the county’s land-use plan. County planning director Gene Foxworth, however, clarified a mapping error caused a small part of the property to be classified as protected lands and the remainder of the property is, in fact, consistent with the plan.
Ron Cullipher of the Cullipher Group, representing project developers Dirt2Dreams LLC, said the plan is to build a “resort-like” RV park on the site. He said it will include water features, walking trails and other amenities with space for several hundred RVs and campers, though the exact number of units hasn’t been decided.
“We’ve been looking at this piece of property for quite a while and we understood some of the concerns from the community that we’ve tried to take into balance with our preliminary designs for this site,” Mr. Cullipher said.
Commissioner Chris Chadwick spoke favorably about the proposal, saying he owns an RV park in Harkers Island that attracts people who he said are generally respectful of the surrounding community. He encouraged residents to work with developers to ensure the plans, which must be submitted to the County Planning Commission and commissioners for final review and approval, are suitable.
“Typically, these people that own these RV parks are well-behaved, good neighbors,” Mr. Chadwick said.
The board ultimately voted 4-2 to approve the rezoning, with commissioners Chadwick, Robin Comer, Mark Mansfield and Ed Wheatly in favor and Bob Cavanaugh and Chuck Shinn opposed. Commissioners also approved a second rezoning request made by the same developers, Dirt2Dreams, changing roughly 10 acres of the Highway 58 property to general business district.
There was also a text amendment commissioners approved Monday allowing the addition of camping cabins and manufactured homes to be located in RV parks. Nobody spoke against the text amendment or second rezoning request, and the board of commissioners, except for Mr. Farrington who was recused, voted unanimously on both items.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.