Morehead City Planning Board recommends rezoning downtown lot for waterfront condo development

This artist’s rendering shows the proposed design of a 30-unit condominium development on the downtown Morehead City waterfront. Developers submitted a rezoning request for the development to proceed, which the Morehead City Planning Board has recommended for approval. (Contributed graphic)

MOREHEAD CITY — A controversial proposal for a 30-unit condominium development on the downtown Morehead City waterfront cleared its first hurdle this week with a recommendation secured from the city’s planning board to rezone the property for the residential use. 

The proposed development, known as the Residences at Bask and located at 901 and 909 Shepard St., requires rezoning from commercial marina (CM) district to planned development (PD) district if it is to proceed. The Morehead City Planning Board considered a rezoning request from the developers, along with a request for sketch development plan approval, during its meeting Tuesday evening at city hall on Bridges Street.

The proposal has apparently sparked some controversy in the surrounding neighborhood, and a heavy crowd of supporters and detractors alike showed up to Tuesday’s meeting. Before hearing from members of the public, however, the planning board gave the floor to representatives of the developers behind the request, A-Team Enterprises. A-Team is also the firm behind Village West, a new mixed-use development in Emerald Isle.

Ron Cullipher of The Cullipher Group, which is conducting engineering and design services for A-Team, shared concept drawings and a sketch plan of the Residences at Bask. The plan is for 30 condominium units, each with three to five bedrooms, along with a swimming pool, restrooms, a community dock and boat slips, accommodated by 73 parking spaces.

Parking and traffic were big points of concern for many of those who spoke in opposition Tuesday.

Paula Hoffman, an Evans Street resident, gave a slideshow presentation highlighting the parking issue, among other concerns she saw with the development. She pointed out parking is already extremely limited downtown, and increasing development would likely only add to the problem.

“Morehead City is proud to put on a number of public events throughout the year. For each of the main events, special systems are usually approved by the city council and put into place to handle the lack of parking,” she said. “…I think you do need to consider these parking issues as part of making your decision on this zoning.”

The other concerns Ms. Hoffman presented related to stormwater drainage, structural safety/fill dirt, environmental issues and ensuring all city regulations are being followed.

Stormwater drainage and flooding were big topics of conversation among many of the others who spoke, as well.

“Our street floods on a regular basis, every full moon there is a king tide,” said Caroline Buchanan, a Shepard Street resident and local business owner.

The opposition wasn’t unanimous, however. Some residents spoke in favor of the project, saying they felt it would add value to the neighborhood and provide more housing for a quickly growing area.

“We support the rezoning. We would like to have some housing options…there’s just no options right now and we’re very excited about this possible development,” speaker David Ciampa said. “We think 30 new families would spend money and enjoy the waterfront, the restaurants, the professional services of Morehead, and they would add to the community.”

To bolster their position, Mr. Cullipher and Linda Staab, a consultant also appearing on behalf of the applicant, pointed out some of the potentially undesirable uses that could be developed under the property’s current commercial marina zoning, such as a dry stack facility or fueling station.  

“What we prefer to do is the condominium project we’ve presented tonight,” Mr. Cullipher said as he showed renderings of a dry stack building.

Several neighbors rejected that idea, however, saying they’d prefer to keep the commercial marina zoning intact over an intensive residential development. The property in question is owned by the Faith Anne Eure Matthews trust and is partially undeveloped. The Eure family also owned the property on Highway 24 involved in another controversial rezoning the city council granted earlier this year.

After more than an hour of hearing public comments, plus some time spent asking Mr. Cullipher additional questions, the planning board proceeded to vote 6-1 to recommend approval of the rezoning and the sketch development plan. Member Ronetta Gaskill cast the sole dissenting vote, though she didn’t state her reasons for doing so.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the Morehead City Council, which will hold a public hearing and vote on the matter during its next regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 9. The planning board and staff urged residents who showed up Tuesday to come to the council meeting and stay involved with the process as it continues.

“So what you’re seeing tonight are pictures, are plans, but you’re getting a feel for density … But that can change considerably before the project is actually put before the council for final approval,” city attorney Derek Taylor said. “And it will come back to this planning board again with further details, like parking, landscaping, things that will go on further in the planning process.”

 

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

(5) comments

the secret life of man

Knowing the history of between 901 -909 shepard st of flooding,has our city government lost their collective minds

David Collins

Bet it does not flood where they live .

Thirty families , bet it just turns into a bunch of rentals . Rentals that should make it a commercial enterprise and all that goes with it . That will be ignored as well , even though the town would get occupancy tax revenue .

beachmami13

It seems like there should be a higher property tax rate for non resident owners. Maybe there should be some sort of exemption based on age, not income, then a higher bracket for non resident owners.

movinonup

So your idea is class warfare? How about the opposite of your idea? A higher tax rate for full time residency. After all, you do use more city services than an out of town owner. Better logic, eh?

GrillMaster

They are proposing townhomes not condos.

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.