Tuesday, February 23, 2010

4WD Commercial Development rejected by planning board, goes up for BOC approval in May

Commercial Development has always been a wildly unpopular idea in the 4WD off-road area of the Outer Banks. The most recent (and most ridiculous) proposal came before the planning board on Feb 12th, and fetched a resounding NO. Below I am pulling the minutes from the planning board meeting for accuracy on this subject.

PB 10-03 Swan Beach Corolla: Request to rezone 37.36 acres from Outer
Banks Limited Access Residential (RO2) to Conditional District-General Business
(CD-GB). The property is located in Swan Beach, Tax Map, 101 and 101A,
Parcels A,B,C,D,1A,M1 and M2, Fruitville Township.

Brian Plumlee, Mark Bissell, Elizabeth White, Debra Lanucci, Lillie Daniels, Bob
Albrecht, Michael Cherry and Greg Lampy appeared before the board.
Ms. Voliva presented the following case analysis to the board.
Link for case analysis for PB 10-03 Swan Beach Corolla
Mr. Plumlee stated they are asking for conditional zoning meaning they would be
required to follow the conditions set by the county. Mr. Plumlee stated his client
has been paying taxes on this property since 1969 as a business parcel. What
his client is proposing to build is a private beach resort for weekly rentals and
special events. It would include a chapel, fire and rescue station, wellness center
and commercial for neighborhood services. At the south end there would be a
fishing pier. Mr. Plumlee addressed staff recommendations for denial.
• The proposed request is not consistent with the Carova Sub-area Policy:
What they are proposing is an old beach village style development and
clearly these plans can be tailorrd by the county. They will be very small
structures, 900 to 1200 sq. ft. They are looking into the potential of shuttle
service for people using the resort.
• The proposed uses and development plan does not promote compatibility
between the subject property: Having smaller structures is going to be a
better development.
• The intensity of the proposed uses and development plan will encourage
commercial services in the off-road area: The pier will be at the southern end
of the property and the Inn will be at the northern end. The Inn will not
encourage adjoining commercial structures because of shuttling people in.
Currituck County Planning Department
February 9, 2010
Page 11
The fishing pier is to encourage fishing. Mr. Plumlee stated to consider these
two items separately, the Inn and the pier. His client is mostly focused on the
• Vehicular access: Mr. Plumlee stated he hopes they have addressed this
with the shuttle services and they would have to buy their own private
Mr. Bissell provided an overview of the project, addressed the community
meeting comments, and examples of the building styles.
Ms. Taylor asked where in Corolla are the cars are going to be parked.
Mr. Bissell stated the developer has a special use permit for a remote parking
Mr. Wright asked how vehicles or emergency vehicles will pass under the pier
when the water comes up and the height of the pier will decrease as it gets
closer to the dune line?
Mr. Bissell stated this will have to be addressed in the design.
The Board was concerned with more traffic being routed from the beach to the
local roads.
Mr. West asked for clarification on the Inn and individual cottages.
Mr. Bissell stated it is an Inn in multiple structures. Two buildings will have 8000
sq. ft. on each floor with 12 units per floor. It will be operated under single
management. Mr. Bissell stated each unit will have their own individual septic
Ms. Wilson stated that Mr. Plumlee stated that Mr. Friedman is doing this for the
community. She lives in the community and from the community meeting that
was held the community is not asking for this. Ms. Wilson stated that
architecturally it is nice but it is still a commercial development. Ms. Wilson stated
it is setting a precedent because other properties that are currently zoned
residential could put in a request for conditional rezoning for commercial.
Mr. Clark asked if the beach would be open in front of the development so the
public to drive down the beach.
Mr. Bissell stated yes.
Ms. White stated she is a resident of Swan Beach and the president of the Swan
Beach Property Association. The members of the Swan Beach Property
Association are against the conditional rezoning request and are in agreement
with staff recommendations for denial. Ms. White stated this request will lead to
Currituck County Planning Department
February 9, 2010
Page 12
incompatible and disruptive activity and will be detrimental to the general welfare,
safety, health and well-being of their community. The community is not
requesting any of the services in this proposal. The Swan Beach Property
Association is asking that the board deny this request.
Ms. Lanucci stated she is property owner in Swan Beach and is against the
rezoning request because it is a drastic change in the landscape of Swan Beach.
Ms. Daniels stated she hopes the board will deny this request and leave it like it
is. It has worked in the past and hopefully will work in the future.
Mr. Albrecht stated he is against the rezoning request because of the lack of an
adequate infrastructure, septic systems, and not in harmony with residential
nature of the community.
Mr. Cherry stated he is the former president of the Swan Beach Property
Association. Mr. Cherry stated he lives in a house that had been moved and if
the pier was built this would eliminate the ability to do this. Mr. Cherry stated this
project is not in harmony with the residential nature of the community and asking
that the board deny the request.
Mr. Lampy asked the board to deny this request.
Mr. Plumlee stated what is popular is not always right and what is unpopular is
not always wrong. They do believe this project would reduce impacts compared
to the results of residential developments at this location. The pier is not the main
part of the project. This development will not decrease the value of adjoining
properties. This is a lower impact plan. If it is the concern to lessen impacts then
you would adopt this plan, if it is the issue of controlling what is happening at all
times around you then you would reject it, it is as simple as that.
Ms. Wilson stated she has a letter from the North Swan Beach Property Owners
Association, a statement from the C.O.A.S.T. environmental group and the
Corolla Wild Horse Fund in opposition to this rezoning request.
Ms. Wilson recommended denial with staff recommendations and LUP Policies,
OB6, CD5, ES8, ES7, and ES6 to rezone 37.36 acres from Outer Banks Limited
Access Residential (RO2) to Conditional District- General Business (CD-GB).
Ms. Taylor seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

The final say will be on May 3rd when the Board of Commissioners vote to approve or deny. I cannot see how the BOC will approve so close to an election and without planning board approval in the midst of rewriting the Unified Development Ordinance. Nonetheless, if you have an opinion, it is important to be heard. There are two websites to visit depending on your stance on this issue. If you oppose commercial develpment, you should go here. If you are for commercial development, you should visit here.