Currituck approves two rezoning requests

Published 12:17 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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Currituck commissioners approved two rezoning requests in Moyock at the February 6, 2023 commissioners meeting, evidence of the continued growth in the northern part of the county.

The first request was for a conditional rezoning of 22 acres from Agricultural to Conditional-General Business, located just east of Moyock Middle School on Survey Road.

The parcel was part of the same parent parcel as the Flora major subdivision, and was set aside for the purpose of commercial development.

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Developer Mark Bissell laid out the plans for the “functional and attractive” commercial space, which include an “anchor” store, which is likely to be a grocery store, as well as the option for retailers, restaurants with outdoor seating, landscaped open space and 394 parking spaces.

Though the request at the meeting was only for a zoning change, commissioners did question Bissell about plans and potential concerns with the new shopping center.

In response to commissioner Mike Payment asking about delivery vehicles making sharp turns into the shopping center from Survey Road, Bissell said that the applicant is proposing a widening of the road to accommodate increased traffic and large trucks.

Commissioner Selina Jarvis, who was the only one to vote no on the rezoning, asked if there were plans to have the area signalized. Bissell responded that after an initial traffic analysis, the traffic consultant recommended a signal at the southeastern end of Survey Road, but only a four-way stop in and out of the shopping center.

During public comment, school bus driver Fred Peterson expressed concern over the traffic backup on Survey Road when parents wait in line for their children to be released from school.

“I have concerns,” said Angel Mays, who lives on Survey Road. “That’s a tight space to squeeze all that in, on one little road.”

But Chairman Bob White said that part of the conditional permit for Fost developers was to widen and change the travel lanes coming into Survey Road. Eventually it will be a right-only turn because of the severity of the angle and the amount of traffic. “A lot of changes will come to Survey Road when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Though the renderings represent a shopping center full of businesses, Bissell said the drawings shown to commissioners illustrate maximum development, and he expects them to be developed less intensely. The first phase of development will be the anchor store and the attached units. The second large building and outparcels will remain empty until businesses want to move in and develop.

The second rezoning request came from Kaylee Bynum, owner of Peaceful Waters counseling and Wellness Center in Moyock, and the real estate holding company Green Meadows Investments LLC, from which Peaceful Waters will intend to lease.

Bynum requested rezoning from Heavy Industrial to General Business for 40 acres on the northeast side of Caratoke Highway, just north of Rowland Creek Road for the purpose of expanding her rapidly growing counseling practice.

Peaceful Waters opened its doors in January 2019, with Bynum herself as the sole counselor and the help of her mom on occasion to answer phones.

She hoped to someday have a staff of three people and be able to treat approximately 200 clients. “In my mind that is what a rural county could sustain. Fast forward to today—we’ve grown faster than my wildest dreams. We not only pull clients from Currituck County but Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Elizabeth City, Hertford, Edenton, Gates County, and beyond.”

Peaceful Waters currently has a staff of about 20 and treats over 2,000 patients. Bynum said her business is the only outpatient mental health private practice in Currituck County and to her knowledge there are not any other mental health counselors that operate here.

“This means that Currituck County is essentially in a mental health desert and this is even more problematic for low-income families who are unable to travel great distances to seek care.”

After maxing out capacity in her current location, she purchased the 40-acre parcel to “someday be able to build a true wellness center that could support our growth” and was drawn to the prime location and affordable price on Caratoke Highway. She plans to build a 6,000 foot facility in the front of the property near the highway and use the remainder of the acreage for walk and talk wilderness therapy.

Her conventional loan terms culminate in a $250,000 balloon payment, but she can apply for a small business association refinance program. However, the program requires that the land be buildable and ready to go.

Because the county’s usual requirement for conditional rezoning would not be a financially feasible option for the applicant given the timeline, commissioners opted to approve the straight rezoning without going through the conditional process.

The planning staff recommended denial of the application to give commissioners an opportunity to protect the wetlands on the property, but the board instead followed the lead of the planning board and approved the request.