Memo-11-08-2016-Item-12

November 8, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Final Actions on Crew Drive Closure – Rescind Order Closing Crew Drive Between Emerald Landing Drive and Emerald Plantation Shopping Center - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider final actions associated with the Crew Drive closure that was previously approved by the Board (at the October 11 meeting).  The proposed final actions effectively cancel the Board’s previously adopted road closure order and result in no changes to the legal status of the ~ 510 linear ft. segment of Crew Drive between Emerald Landing Drive and Emerald Plantation Shopping Center.  These actions would effectively retain the status of Crew Drive as a 60 ft. wide public street right-of-way.   

If the Board approves the proposed ordinance amendment reducing setbacks in the Business zoning district and the revised site plan for the proposed Egret Landing Shopping Center that are scheduled for Board consideration earlier on the November 8 meeting agenda, there is no need to proceed with the Order Closing Crew Drive (and the associated conditions) that was approved by the Board on October 11.  As you know, although the approval granted on October 11 did not change the practical use of Crew Drive in any way (and actually enhanced it), the vast majority of the concerns expressed during the October 11 public hearing on Crew Drive and the vast majority of the concerns expressed about the proposed grocery store project centered on the change in the legal status of Crew Drive.  Although there was significant support for the Crew Drive closure and the proposed grocery store expressed at the October 11 meeting, and although the Board granted all associated approvals at the October 11 meeting, Town staff began work the very next day on ideas to address the concerns that were expressed. 

Town staff undertook this effort because, although I recognize that its simply not possible to satisfy everyone’s concerns about a particular issue, I have always believed that it’s important for the Town to at least try to address the concerns expressed.  In this instance, assuming Board approval of the earlier items on the November 8 meeting agenda, I am pleased that we were able to identify a strategy that addresses nearly every single concern raised at the October 11 meeting.  The only concern that this strategy does not address is the notion that no new grocery store should be permitted in Emerald Isle and/or at the Crew Drive site.  As discussed in great detail, that notion is simply not reasonable given the fact that  1) the Town does not have a role in determining which business initiatives should proceed (that is solely up to the free market), and  2) the long-standing Business zoning classification of the Crew Drive site.  Other than that one concern, this strategy should literally address every single concern raised at the October 11 meeting.  I am pleased that Town staff continued to work hard on this project, and I am also pleased that the developer of the proposed grocery store was committed to working with the Town to improve the plan, even after securing all approvals on October 11.  In the end, assuming Board approval, I believe the end result is a better outcome for all parties concerned, and for our entire community.

If the Board concurs with this strategy, the Board should proceed with a motion to rescind the Order Closing Crew Drive Between Emerald Landing Drive and Emerald Plantation Shopping Center, due to the fact that it is no longer necessary and the associated conditions have not been met.  Assuming approval of that motion, the Board should also proceed with a motion to formally deny the request to permanently close Crew Drive.

Town Attorney Richard Stanley and I look forward to discussing this issue with the Board at the November 8 meeting.