MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

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

SUBJECT:           Proposed Rezoning – 3307 Emerald Drive

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to consider the proposed rezoning of 3307 Emerald Drive (adjacent to Flip-Flops retail store) from Business (B) to Residential-2 (R-2) at the November 10 meeting.  Prior to considering the proposed rezoning, the Board must first consider an amendment to the Town’s 2004 CAMA Land Use Plan.  Public hearings have been scheduled on each item at the November 10 meeting.

Resolution Amending Land Use Plan

As noted in the attached memo from Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, the proposed rezoning is not consistent with the Town’s 2004 CAMA Land Use Plan, which projects the ~ ½ acre parcel in question as “Eastern Commercial Area” on the Future Land Use Map.  If the Board wishes to proceed with the proposed rezoning to R-2, it must first amend the Land Use Plan.  The attached resolution and map would formally amend the Land Use Plan to project this parcel as “Single/Dual Family Residential”.

The parcel in question is on the western edge of the “Eastern Commercial Area”.  The properties located west and south of 3307 Emerald Drive are also projected as “Single/Dual Family Residential” in the Land Use Plan, and the property across NC 58 (Waters Edge Mobile Home Park) is projected as “Mixed Residential”.

The “Eastern Commercial Area” includes a total of 10 parcels (including 3307 Emerald Drive) occupying approximately 5 ½ acres total.  The existing Flip Flops retail store and Dollar General store are located on 2 separate parcels that occupy approximately 2 ½ acres.  A kayak rental operation is located across NC 58 across from the Ocean Drive intersection on 1 small parcel that occupies less than ¼ acre.  A telephone service facility is located east of Dollar General on 1 small parcel and occupies approximately ¼ acre.  Aside from the ~ ½ acre parcel in question, there are 5 other parcels east of Dollar General that are vacant, and these parcels collectively occupy approximately 2 acres.  Thus, if the proposed rezoning is approved, there would remain a total of approximately 2 acres for future commercial development in the “Eastern Commercial Area”.

The attached memo from Josh Edmondson includes excerpts from the Land Use Plan that outline the intent behind the “Eastern Commercial Area”, which was established to promote a future commercial node to serve eastern Emerald Isle.  The attached memo also describes other regulatory constraints (CAMA regulations, flood zone requirements, etc.) impacting the parcel in question that make commercial development more challenging than residential development.

Rezoning Request

If the amendment to the Land Use Plan is approved, the Board may proceed with the rezoning request.  The attached memo from Josh Edmondson outlines the rezoning request, and a rezoning map and formal Record of Zoning Amendment are also attached.  The rezoning map is essentially identical to the Future Land Use Map in the Land Use plan.

If the rezoning is approved, the applicants, Ritchie and Marcie Creech, would have the ability to subdivide the parcel into two residential lots, with a minimum lot size of 12,500 sq. ft. each.  Future residential development would likely be similar to the surrounding lots to the west and south, which are currently zoned R-2.

The Board may recall that a similar Land Use Plan amendment and rezoning request was considered for the vacant parcels currently occupied by Dollar General in the mid-2000s.  The Board rejected that request in order to preserve available land for future commercial development in this area, and Dollar General was constructed a few years ago.  In that case, history has proven the wisdom of the Board’s decision on that rezoning request, as the Dollar General now provides convenient retail services for eastern Emerald Isle residents and visitors.  In the case of 3307 Emerald Drive, however, it should be noted that this parcel is approximately one-third of the size of the Dollar General parcel, is located on the edge of the “Eastern Commercial Area” rather than in the middle, and is encumbered by other regulatory constraints that did not impact the Dollar General site as significantly.

As noted in Josh Edmondson’s memo, the Planning Board voted 4-2 to recommend denial of the rezoning request.  The Planning Board cited the inconsistency with the Land Use Plan and also the planned future development (in the long-term) of a new fishing pier at the Eastern Ocean Regional Access, and the likelihood that facility will create demand for additional commercial facilities in this area of Emerald Isle.

Josh Edmondson and I look forward to reviewing the proposed rezoning request with the Board at the November 10 meeting.