Letter to the Editor: Manteo resident expresses concerns over proposed development

Published 7:21 am Tuesday, August 30, 2022

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Dear Editor,

I am writing about the large seven building, three stories high development that is being considered for the vacant lot to the east of CVS on Roanoke Island – our “Entrance District” and in response to your article, “Manteo Commissioners Delay Decision on Salt Meadow Landing Project” that appeared in the Sunday, August 14, 2022 edition.

Let’s remember that the B-3 Zoning Ordinance is our one and only entrance district. I repeat: one and only entrance district. The area everyone will see first when they come to our special island.

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After reviewing the Town’s August 3rd meeting agenda packet, the special use permit application states it is limiting its residential dwelling unit request to the 22 unit maximum, but the site drawings in the agenda packet show 44 units.

What set of plans are being considered for the special use permit? I am confused.

  • How many more vehicles and commercial delivery trucks will be driving on Hwy. 64 through the Mid-way intersection and Russell Twiford Road?
  • Is it 22 or 44 residential units?
  • Will the residential units be weekly or annual rentals or homes for sale?
  • What businesses will occupy the 36,843 square feet of commercial space?
  • Will there be a restaurant or not? Maybe. Maybe not.
  • Will there be a drive thru, a tattoo parlor or vape shop?
  • What does it look like? Does it conform to the “Manteo way” of building? Who knows?

Nothing seems to be locked down.

The Comprehensive Plan states for our entrance district:

“Permitted uses approved by the Zoning Administrator.

  • Single-family detached residence only

Uses approved by the Planning and Zoning Board.

(1) Home occupations;

(2) Temporary structures

(3) Accessory dwelling units;

(4) Automobile parking lots”

That is what the entrance district was intended to be. Think about it. It was intended for single family homes.

This brings us to why there is a quasi-judicial hearing that began on August 3rd and will continue on September 7th. There has to be a special use or exception for the entrance be used for anything different. I repeat – anything different. But it takes the town commissioners to agree to that exception.

Multifamily units and commercial spaces are not automatically approved for the entrance district.

So the original authors of the Comprehensive Plan put this special use provision in the plan to give the Board of Commissioners pause.

Pause to make them think and really study long and hard if it is really what they want at the entrance to our historic island.

We have a beautiful Sarah B. Owens visitors center at our west entrance that honors someone that was a dear friend of mine and very gracious lady. Don’t we want something at the east entrance that looks just as good?

I remember when Kitty Hawk Land Company developed Marshes Light. The mayor, town manager and commissioners stood firm and were adamant about making the developer conform to the Comprehensive Plan. As a result, Marshes Light is a residential development in downtown Manteo that we can all be proud of.

The result of the commissioners’ decision will be their legacy. If approved, then as everyone enters historical Roanoke Island will they say, the mayor, town manager and commissioners stood firm and made the developer accountable? Or will everyone say, “What a mess. It looks awful and traffic is even more of a nightmare. What were they thinking?”

I will touch on key concerns.

First and foremost, traffic safety is an issue. This problem must be resolved before NCDOT permits any new construction.

Secondly, stormwater runoff and road flooding is another significant concern along Russell Twiford Road and the developer should be required to pay for all stormwater management mediation that may result to adjacent properties.

Third, the developer should be required to demonstrate that there is an unserved demand for commercial property and have a clear written disclaimer that the property owners are not permitted to convert unused commercial space into residential dwellings.

Finally, if approved, that there be a time limit on it. That it be valid only for specific time period to validate conditions have been met and maintained by the applicant.

I hope the commissioners make a decision in the best interest of the Town of Manteo and its residents and homeowners, and not feel pressure to deviate from Manteo’s thoughtfully developed B-3 Zoning Ordinance from a developer seeking to maximize their profits. Any development at the entrance of Manteo should enhance the attractiveness of our lovely town, not increase traffic safety concerns, and be fully compliant with all existing zoning ordinances … full stop, no exceptions. Just say, “No.”


Yvonne M. Farmer

Peninsula Drive


August 16, 2022