Armory garage demolition begins as hospital moves on plans for helipad on former National Guard property

The former National Guard armory building sits at 3413 Bridges St., across the street from Carteret Health Care at the busy 35th Street intersection, also near the U.S. Post Office. The hospital plans to construct a helipad on the property, but it must be rezoned by the Morehead City Council for medical arts use first. (Elise Clouser photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Crews have begun tearing down the dilapidated armory garage building situated on the former National Guard property on Bridges Street as Carteret Health Care officials proceed with plans to construct a helipad on the site.  

As part of a statewide consolidation effort, the N.C. National Guard announced in 2019 it planned to shutter the Morehead City armory and divest ownership of the roughly 5-acre property back to Morehead City. Following the announcement, in 2020, CHC offered the city $1.2 million to purchase the lot – located at 3413 Bridges St. directly across the street from the hospital – in order to pursue plans to build a helipad. The hospital has been using the armory property to launch and land patient-transport helicopters for years, and with the National Guard now vacated, CHC wants to build a permanent structure.

“Completion of this long-anticipated project will greatly enhance the safety of future air transports,” vice chairman of the CHC Board of Directors Julius Taylor said during the board’s September meeting.

As required by the master lease agreement between CHC and Carteret County, the county technically owns the former armory land and leases it to the hospital. CHC is still responsible for all costs associated with the purchase and future improvements on the property.

In addition to the $1.2 million, the city received ownership of the Morehead City Curb Market property on Evans Street, which was previously owned by the county.

Mr. Taylor reported during the CHC board meeting Oct. 25 demolition crews have begun removing the armory garage structure that sits on the property. That effort is estimated to cost $33,000 and take around six weeks to complete.

Hospital officials haven’t indicated any definite plans for the armory building itself.

Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor reported design work is proceeding as planned for the new helipad, with design and construction costs estimated around $700,000. The hospital has selected Greenville-based engineering firm The East Group, along with Cincinnati, Ohio-based FEC Heliports, to do the engineering work for a twin helicopter land pad.

Before any construction can begin, however, CHC – vis-à-vis the county – must secure approval from Morehead City to rezone the former armory property for medical arts (MA) use. The property is currently zoned for R5 residential use, so the county submitted a rezoning request that was considered by the Morehead City Planning Board during its Oct. 19 meeting.

One resident, Craig Weber, who lives on a street adjoining the former armory property, spoke at the planning board meeting to express some concerns about the rezoning request, wondering whether it would negatively affect nearby property values and lead to more noise pollution.

The planning board members acknowledged his concerns, but pointed out the hospital provides a necessary service to the community and the zoning change was necessary to allow it safely transport medical patients. The board ultimately recommended approval of the rezoning, and the request will go before the Morehead City Council for a public hearing and final decision in November.

 

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

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