November 14, 2017

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:       Ordinances Amending Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to Implement the “Commercial Village” Concept - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider 5 amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance to implement the “commercial village” concept outlined in the Town’s 2017 Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  A public hearing is required before Board consideration of these amendments, and has been scheduled for the November 14 meeting. (Amendments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

As outlined in the attached memo from Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, the Planning Board has been working for the past several months to develop the proposed ordinance amendments to implement the “commercial village” concept.  The proposed ordinance amendments include various changes to development regulations in the Town’s Business zoning district aimed at allowing mixed-use buildings, promoting more of a traditional “downtown” feel along NC 58, and providing greater flexibility and opportunity for property owners in the Business zoning district.  The proposed ordinance amendments also include a few additional changes in the Village East, Village West, and Marina Village zoning districts (that were previously established to allow mixed-use structures) in an attempt to promote consistency in the Town’s regulations across similar districts. 

The 5 amendments essentially include the following changes:

  • complementary residential uses would be allowed in the Business zoning district on upper floors of a mixed-use buildings only (stand-alone residential structures would not be permitted),
  • commercial and mixed-use building setbacks along NC 58 would be reduced to 0 feet if the building entrance fronts on NC 58 and side and rear parking is provided, and rear and side yard setbacks would also be slightly reduced,
  • the current 15% natural area requirement in the Business zoning district, which allows the septic area to count as “natural”, would be replaced with a requirement for 15% vegetated area (using the same concept as the Village East, Village West, and Marina Village districts),
  • the current 25% vegetated area requirement in the Village East, Village West, and Marina Village districts would be reduced to 15% vegetated to match the Business district, and
  • a maximum sidewalk width would be established for sidewalks that connect commercial and mixed-use buildings to Town sidewalks or the bicycle path, in an effort to insure the retention of a vegetated strip between structures and Town sidewalks or the bicycle path.

It is important to note that the proposed ordinance amendments would only impact limited areas of Emerald Isle.  The Business zoning district is indicated in RED on the attached zoning map excerpt, Village East is indicated in BROWN-WHITE, Village West is indicated in BLUE-WHITE, and Marina Village in BLUE.  These zoning districts are generally centered on NC 58 between the Emerald Isle bridge and the Town Government complex, on Islander Drive, and on Bogue Inlet Drive.  Combined, these areas include approximately 200 acres of land area, much of which is already developed with commercial structures.  In total, these 200 acres represent approximately 6% of the total Emerald Isle land area of approximately 3,200 acres. Realistically, these are likely the only remaining areas in Emerald Isle where any development other than single-family homes or duplexes will occur in the future.

After several months of review and discussion, the proposed amendments were unanimously recommended by the Planning Board at its October 23 meeting. 

Josh Edmondson will be available to answer any questions at the November 14 meeting.