OCEAN — The N.C. Coastal Federation’s plans to build a new headquarters and boat ramp on recently acquired land bordering Bogue Sound in Ocean encountered a setback with the Carteret County Planning Commission’s decision this week to partially table a rezoning request for the property.
The planning commission met Monday evening at the administrative building in Beaufort to consider the rezoning request, which was submitted by county staff. Carteret County partnered with the federation in March to purchase more than 76 acres of land off Morada Bay Drive in the community of Ocean to be used primarily for light recreation and conservation purposes.
In addition to establishing walking trails and nature viewing areas, the federation plans to build a Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration on the property to house the NCCF’s offices. The federation and the county will also work with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to build a public boat ramp and extend road access from Highway 24 into the property.
To make the new developments a reality, the county submitted a request to rezone its 69.47-acre portion of the property, plus the NCCF’s 10.06-acre portion, from R-20 (single-family residential) and B-3 (planned business) districts to B-1 (general business) district.
County Planning Director Gene Foxworth noted the county’s portion of the property is subject to a number of easements that largely protect the land from intensive development.
“The (U.S.) Marine Corps holds easements on (the land), the Clean Water Management Trust Funds holds easements on it and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund holds easements on the county portion of the property,” Mr. Foxworth said. “On the coastal federation portion of the property, only the Marine Corps holds easements there.”
David Rief, a resident of the nearby Bogue View Court subdivision, spoke during the planning commission meeting to express opposition to the proposed B-1 zoning for the NCCF’s portion of the property, which isn’t subject to the same extensive development restrictions as the county’s portion. He said he doesn’t oppose the project in general, but he asked to add a conditional use to the rezoning request to protect the property from future development.
“Anytime you look at a rezoning, you have to look at all the permissible uses in the B-1 zone, not just what’s being proposed by the potential developer,” Mr. Rief said. “…With regard to the coastal federation, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be there for 100 years, if they find a better parcel somewhere else, or if they go belly up and they decide to sell. With it being a B-1 zone, the next use that could come in there could be totally opposed to a residential district, and with that property adjoining so many of our residential lots, that’s our concern.”
There were no representatives from the NCCF on hand Monday to say whether the federation would be open to a conditional-use rezoning, so the planning commission tabled the part of the rezoning request regarding the federation’s share of the land. At the same time, the commission decided to recommend the rezoning request for the county’s 69.4-acre portion of the land.
The part of the request the commission recommended will next appear before the Carteret County Board of Commissioners for final approval. The other part of the request will be sent back to the federation for modification before coming back to the planning commission for reconsideration.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.