Manteo commissioners hear about event center

Published 7:58 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

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In two Dare County locations, tourism officials presented a concept for a proposed Event Center facility for the Event site in Nags Head.

On Dec. 7, 2022, Manteo Board of Commissioners heard comments from Dare County Tourism Board Chairman Tim Cafferty and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau executive director Lee Nettles.

The next night the duo appeared at a community meeting in Rodanthe to talk about the tourism board and information about the Event Center.

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The mission of the county’s tourism board is to “increase overnight visitation of leisure, business, and other travel to Dare County’s Outer Banks in the less-than-peak months.”

Current venues in Dare County top out at 300 people, reported Cafferty. Events have outgrown available sites and outside sites, such as the current Event Site, are vulnerable to weather.

As projected, the Event Center will have an event hall of 26,000 sq. ft., a 15,000 sq. ft. meeting room, a training/test kitchen and almost 18,000 sq. ft. in lobby space, etc.

Flexibility is the key. A retractable wall is featured and numerous sport venues are possible. The capacity runs from 300 to 2,500 people.

“This is not a convention center,” said Cafferty.

The indoor event center and Event Lawn are projected to bring in $25.15 million in new spending.

Cafferty pointed out that the facility will operate at an annual deficit of $312,000. The projections show 14,000 new room nights, $1.17 million in new tax revenue, 191 new jobs with nine full time employees at the Event Center.

Some other positives include the layout that preserves three-fourths of the soundside view and four curb cuts reduced to two, said Nettles.

Some issues remain unresolved.

The event site is in Nags Head. The town must approve parking, building site and height. “The building is bigger than an ordinance allows,” reported Nettles.

Governed by the state are septic system permit, stormwater management plan and traffic impact.

The Dare County Tourism Board cannot borrow money and will need to consult with the Dare County Board of Commissioners about financing Event Center construction.

“Things are happening in Dare County,” said Manteo Mayor Bobby Owens.

During public comment, Bill Husted, who chaired the Manteo Preservation Trust’s Holiday Tour of Homes, said that 500 people participated in the tour, arriving from 17 different states. This year, four restaurants and two inns offered discounts to participants. A business provided bikes for participants. Husted thanked the town for its permitting support.

The town’s planning board recommended several text changes to the B-1 Village District.

Building height as proposed states under definitions of basic terms: “Building height – The vertical distance measured from the bottom of the first floor of the structure to the top plate. Cupolas and other similar architectural features are not to be included in the determination of the building height. Building height shall not exceed 3 habitable floors.”

In the B-1 zone statement of intent, the planning board recommended changing the word “commercial” to “retail” and adding yoga, wine bar shop and brewery to the list of uses for a special use permit.

The planning board also recommended changing lot coverage in a mixed-use structure: “Maximum allowable lot coverage by principal use and all accessory structures: 50 percent except the lot coverage may be increased by five percent up to a maximum of 70 percent total for each 1,000 square feet of mixed-use retail sales and services so long as at least 500 square feet of year-round dwelling units are provided on each floor above the first floor.”

Only one public comment was received for the hearing. An email was received from Jamie Hatchell asking that the multi-family use not be deleted. Such an action will make multi-family housing under construction by Old Tom Properties a non-conforming use, affecting value and insurance premiums.

After the discussion, the board tabled the recommendation to its next meeting, Jan. 4, 2023 at 6 p.m. Town manager Melissa Dickerson “we can make it better in January.”

The board adopted budget amendments setting up an account for revenue from golf cart permits, which will cost $25. The town is expecting to issue 50 permits.

In another amendment, the town met the threshold and the town’s budget was amended to send $2,743 to the salary line item from American Rescue Plan funding.

The board agreed to accept ownership and maintenance of Exeter Street, a privately-owned side street bordering an approved housing development project, “The Quarters” by MFK Realty. The town owns and maintains all other roads surrounding the development, states the adopted resolution.

The next Manteo Board of Commissioners meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023 at 6 p.m.