County commissioners rezone 156 acres near Peletier for recreational camper park

The Carteret County Board of Commissioners voted to rezone 156 acres off Highway 58 near Peletier, shown on this map outlined in red, from residential to recreational camper park district. (Carteret County map)

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 elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(14) comments

Speakeasy

I'll tell you why Mr. Farrington recused himself. He's a partner in the LLC developing this. Not taking part in this vote is the right thing to do but you know those other good ole boys on the commission know he's going to bank off this and voted to approve it, no matter what the county use plan or nearby neighbors have to say.

Nec_Nova_Tributa

This should not be surprising. There should never be any doubt that an elected official representing western Carteret would vote in favor of changing zoning for a development that would benefit a sitting commissioner residing in the same area. The land clearing and work on that property has been ongoing for quite some time. Hence, the vote was a foregone conclusion. The RV park will be a vacation destination for those attending the racetrack events and North Carolina residents that have been priced out of staying on the island. Now they can enjoy a nice vacation next the recycling center while they feed the meter to park on Emerald Island. Comer would not even entertain a serious discussion regarding the distribution of tax revenue to the small coastal towns that will continue to shoulder the burden of this unfeathered development and continual cronyism.

noitall

Politics defined, Everything for everybody - and a little bit for me. And later on we can change the zoning again and create more wealth for the next wave of politicians. And you know the truth is there is something very wrong with our form of government.

DunnDone

Dirt2Dreams LLC, who is the LLC of the project, registered address is Transportation Impact in EI.

Commissioner Farrington and Commissioner Comer are best friends, Commissioner Comer stated he wrote the language for the RV park that his best friend has a vested interest in. Commissioner Mansfield was reaching when pointing to other development in the area, that was zoned by Pelletier.

Having done their homework it may have given the appearance of objectivity, but this is a classic case of SPOT ZONING.

I don't get this Counties infatuation with RV Park's. Dollar per Sq Ft on an acre, absolutely the best return on investment, absolutely. But there is little evidence to suggest that they are a part of a strategic economic growth model.

I mean you basically sell your community and neighbors out for a few bucks in your own pocket for the "blue-collar" vacationers from Rocky Mount and WIlson...? Everything including gas is more expensive in Carteret County, they are bringing all if their stuff from where it is cheaper!!!

Also, the way these are taxed needs to be also addressed, they need to be taxed per site hook up not the whole parcel.

It looks like the County Commissioners and some Municipalities instead of taking necessary initiatives for growth keep lining their own pockets and those of their friends!!

drewski

Land use plan, planning commission, long term goals...it would be funny if it were not so sad. Keep voting in the same commissioners year after yr, because they have R next to their names. You get what you voted for, more development, more traffic, hi density housing, that is billed today as tastefull and serene, with park trails..and amenities. In just a few yrs it will be dilapidated, and filled with low end tourists, and the working poor,frequent visits from the sherriffs..

You know the name of this tune right?

movinonup

... You sound like you are comparing an RV park to an old “trailer park”. They are two completely different things with completely different types of people. RVs are not cheap and most people don’t live in them full time. The lot rent in these parks is extremely expensive.

Have you ever been to Goose Creek? No you haven’t. Because they have a gate and a manned guard house. You can’t just ride in there. The lot rent is 4 to 6 thousand dollars a year and they have a stringent application and criminal background check. Ever been to White Oak Shores, or Chadwicks in Harkers Island, I doubt it. ...

I have no affiliation with any of these parks. I simply enjoy traveling all over in my Motor Coach and don’t run into anything but nice people.

(Edited by staff.)

David Collins

An R can also stand for ripoff .

Dreams can turn into nightmares .

Nice property owners can attract not so nice disrespectful short term tenants .

Be really interesting to see the rules and regulations for the clients of this venture . You know that it will be far more than a trailer and a couple of nice folks . Everybody travels with at least one dog which they love to turn free to explore the new surroundings . Gosh , what could possibly go wrong with that ? By the way , this will all be on private property so county rules may well not all apply .

drewski

You are free to doubt whatever you wish. There is a difference between trailer parks and rv parks, just as there is a difference between tiny homes, and mobile homes.

While some rv parks are nicely maintained, there are some that are not so nice. Perhaps you have seen/ avoided them in your travels? Whom is to say how this one will end up The?

The issue here is the county commission heck-bent on approving developments,any type of development by changing the existing zoning to accommodate the developers, and in this case allegedly to the personal benefit of a commissioner who recused himself from the vote.

You don't need to be an angler to smell something fishy.

noitall

The planning should be sacred and not to whims of any developer. People make choices and the developer follow up with a change that will benefit only them. Requiring a benefit for all would be a refreshing change. Alas such trust is not profitable is it?

Nec_Nova_Tributa

Two seated county commissioners are friends. Commissioner "A" has a financial stake in the rezoning of land within the county boundary. The land is on a seam with a small town that recently had a very contentious rezoning challenge. Commissioner "A" will receive financial gain and recuses himself. His friend, Commissioner "B" who SUPPOSEDLY assisted in drafting this private proposal did not recuse himself. Is Commissioner "B" now a lobbyist and commissioner? Can you serve in both roles simultaneously? Is financial gain the only legal test regarding conflict of interest? When does intent come into play? How many other spot zoning decisions have the county approved and who benefited? Just look at the topography. The downstream residents along West Firetower Road and the surrounding area should prepare now. The development of nearly 380 acres is certain to change the already challenging drainage issues in that area. The residents of Peletier stood strong to ensure the Silver Creek land was responsibility developed. Their next door neighbor, a sitting commissioner, was rewarded with a change in rezoning along with an amendment to add cabins and other structures. Peletier residents should brace for forthcoming increases in town taxes, it's unavoidable. Just look at Cedar Point and Cape Carteret. The theory that increased commercial development and a larger residential tax base will assist in maintaining lower taxes is a myth. Don't look for Commissioner "B" to assist with your challenges to the current county tax distribution structure, he's may be too busy crafting language for private entities to circumvent exiting zoning plans. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

DunnDone

Careful with not comparing RV and Trailer Parks they are becoming synonymous

https://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_76353abe-185b-11eb-941c-f32a51bfa5a6.html#comments

The issue is you took a hugely residential tract of land and rezoned it to accommodate development that is not conducive to that area, and had nearby property owners against it. Coupled that with the fact that Commissioner Comer helped Commissioner Chadwick set his RV Park up (remember Comer stated in the meeting he helped craft the ordinance some 20 years ago). Commissioner Comer is best friends with Commissioner Farrington. This was already a done deal and you saw that there was little evidence supported or showed to illustrate how this zoning was compatible and consistent with the adjacent tracks. What appears to have occurred is Spot Zoning and that is illegal.

Again, an RV Park generates fewer taxes per sq ft than a multifamily housing complex in the same area, which is essentially the same use, although I would say RVs are a bit more work due to the nature of the septic system. What is interesting to me is that if it degrades the nearby property values, the collected tax rates will actually be lower, possibly generating a net loss of tax revenue on nearby properties which doesn't seem like a positive financial impact to the County's coffers?

I have been to many RV parks, and enjoyed a Thor Class A for some time. Please don't assume.

The users of this area will go to Wal-Mart in Swansboro and get cheaper groceries than nearby Lowe's food, so adjust your tax revenue estimate calculations for Carteret County accordingly. They will have filled up on gas already where it is cheaper, which isn't this county.

For me again, how can these public servants have prepared and profited themselves financially to profit from the growth in this county, but in their capacity when in positions of public service in government, not act at all and leave the area so unprepared?

That to me indicates a lack of leadership in your public service role and seems sheisty.

David Collins

My point exactly .

They major on selling the sizzle and minor on showing the toughness of the meat .

drewski

Perhaps in the next few elections their bacon will be cooked? (Seems doubtful)

noitall

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???" Is this a new planning regulation or requirement. "Generally Respectful?" - now that IS a mouthful. What will you do with those who fail this "litmus test? Money talks does it not!

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