Nags Head commissioners approve site plan for cancer infusion facility
Published 1:37 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020
The Nags Head Board of Commissioners met on Feb. 5 to hold a public hearing regarding a vested right site plan for the construction of a 10,400 sq. ft. infusion facility to be affiliated with The Outer Banks Hospital. This facility was requested to be added to the existing radiation therapy building located at 4927 S. Croatan Hwy. in Nags Head.
Prior to the hearing, recognitions took place. New employees Terrance Flaugher (police officer), Nehmias Cortez (facilities maintenance tech) and Brooke Norris (deputy finance officer) were welcomed. Sanitation equipment operator Keefe White and town clerk Carolyn Morris were recognized for their 25 years of service with the town.
Also prior to the public hearing, all individuals who intended to speak and present evidence on the site plan for the infusion center were sworn in.
This construction will include the demolition of the urgent care facility currently located at 4923 S. Croatan Hwy. In addition, the applicant, Quible & Associates on behalf of the hospital, sought the permission of a conditional use permit to reduce the number of required parking spaces and rezone properties 4922, 4926 and 4928 Passage Way from a residential zone to a hotel district.
Kelly Wyatt, deputy planning director, detailed the proposed site plan. Prior to 2009, the properties on Passage Way up for consideration were zoned commercial. In 2009, the Board of Commissioners earned and approved a zoning request to rezone the area from hotel district to a residential one. The request now is to change the properties back to their original zoning of SPD-C/Hotel District, which allows for medical use.
In terms of parking, the hospital and Quible felt as though 72 parking spaces were not needed due to the way in which the infusion center will run: patients will be scheduled for two to three hour appointments with only a couple of patients being seen at one time. There will be about 23 staff members on site daily at the infusion center and 11 employees at the radiation center.
Therefore, the applicant requested the parking requirement be decreased from 72 to 57, which falls in line with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) manual regarding parking for an outpatient cancer facility center.
Wyatt explained that the Planning Board recommended a parking analysis six months and 12 months after construction is completed. If determined to be inefficient, Wyatt said there is an opportunity to provide 11 to 12 additional parking spaces at that time.
Amy Montgomery with The Outer Banks Hospital mentioned that this hospital is considered a “critical access hospital,” having 25 beds or less. There are currently over 1300 of them in the United States. Only 14 of them have cancer programs accredited by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission, including The Outer Banks Hospital.
Montgomery said that having to receive cancer treatments in three different locations, which is taking place now, “adds a burden” to cancer patients. “The goal is to have all cancer services under one roof,” she said.
After having initial conversations with the surrounding homeowners on Passage Way, Montgomery said the main concern was an increase in traffic flow. Passage Way homeowner John Castolus spoke to this: “We are concerned now because it is in front of the board and there has been no follow-up from either hospital or Planning Board to residents.”
Castolus said he was appreciative of the initial conversation, but was only notified of the board meeting to address this application only a few days prior. His concerns were with traffic on Passage Way. He suggested the board include a traffic analysis to understand the traffic currently on Passage Way.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Ben Cahoon confirmed with planning director Michael Zehner that a meeting notice is required to be sent 15 days prior to a Board of Commissioners meeting, but there is no notice required for a Planning Board meeting.
After a question posed by commissioner Kevin Brinkley regarding the parking for employees at the radiation center, the board learned that the hospital has been renting 11 parking spaces from the neighboring La Fogata Restaurant. Montgomery said the hospital intends to continue renting those spaces with the new infusion facility.
Commissioner Webb Fuller has concerns with these rented parking spaces from La Fogata. Kathleen Saunders with Quible & Associates explained that the parking spaces are not deeded with the property, so they were not taken into consideration while planning for the infusion center. Zehner agreed to take off-site parking into consideration during the six and 12 month parking analysis.
After the evidentiary presentations were complete for the public hearing, Fuller made a motion to approve the rezoning request as presented. Commissioner Renee Cahoon made a motion to approve the vested right site plan based on the findings of fact. Fuller made another motion to approve the conditional use permit with the intent of a traffic-flow analysis being performed with the parking analysis mentioned earlier. All were voted on and unanimously approved by the board.
Wendy Kelly, marketing manager for The Outer Banks Hospital, said in a follow up that for the sake of the patients and team members, the hospital is researching where to relocate the urgent care and once a location is found, the staff will be moved to that location. She said they have no plans to begin demolition in 2020; they will first find a new location for the urgent care and continue to provide care to their patients. Kelly said they are still in their “research phase” and receiving the commissioner’s approval was the first step in building the new cancer facility.