MOREHEAD CITY — The planning board last week recommended approval of a rezoning request that would allow a pottery studio and art gallery at the corner of Bridges and N. 20th streets to continue operation as a studio once it is taken over by new owners.
The Morehead City Planning Board convened via Zoom Nov. 17 to consider the rezoning request for 1910 Bridges St., among other agenda items. It was submitted by Jeffrey Bolduc, on behalf of Joseph Haines, to rezone the approximately 0.23-acre property from R5 (residential) district to CN (commercial neighborhood) district.
Mr. Haines and his wife are relocating to western North Carolina and are selling the property, which contains a pottery studio/gallery operating as Bridges Street Pottery, along with a residence within the same building, and Mr. Bolduc and his wife, Becky, are the prospective buyers. Mr. Bolduc said they intend to continue using the building as a pottery studio and gallery, with the addition of art classes to be taught by Ms. Bolduc.
“Our intent with purchasing this property is just to continue it as it’s currently being used, with just an expansion of additional art classes beyond pottery alone,” Mr. Bolduc said.
The current property owners were issued a special-use permit to use the building – originally built as a church – as a dwelling, with up to 20% of the floor space allowed for the studio and art gallery. The Bolducs plan to expand the business and don’t intend to continue using the building as a residence, requiring it be rezoned for commercial use. Mr. Bolduc said he’d have to make some interior renovations, such as adding handicap-accessible restroom stalls and spaces for classrooms, but said no exterior changes would be needed.
Several members of the public spoke up in support of the Bolducs, saying it would add to the growing local arts community. However, two nearby residents said while they support the art gallery and studio, they’re concerned the rezoning could lead to increased commercialization of the area in the future.
“I’m afraid if we open up the 1900 block to commercial development, that we’re going to lose the sense of this neighborhood that a lot of us really would like to maintain,” nearby Arendell Street resident Mike McGinn said.
The proposed CH district allows a slew of commercial uses, including offices and restaurants, all of which would be available to the Bolducs or a future owner if the rezoning is approved. Some planning board members agreed with Mr. McGinn’s concerns over potential commercial development down the line, but the majority, six members, voted to recommend the rezoning, and one member, Ronetta Gaskill abstained.
Planning board recommendations are passed on to the Morehead City Council, which holds a public hearing and makes a final decision to approve or deny the request. The council will consider this rezoning request during its Tuesday, Dec. 8 regular meeting.
The planning board also made recommendations to approve the following items:
· A request for a multi-family plan review and alternate landscape plan for Elijah’s Landing apartments, to be located at 3200 Bridges St.
· A request to rezone 4531 Arendell St. from CM (commercial marina) and R7 (single-family residential) districts to CM district only.
In addition, one item that was originally scheduled for review this month was moved, at the request of applicant Bryan Starling, to the agenda for the December planning board meeting. It concerns a request to rezone 301 Highway 24 from R20 (single-family residential) district to RMF (multi-family residential) and CH (highway commercial) districts.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.