Letter to the Editor: An open letter to Nags Head officials regarding proposed zoning changes

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Dear Mayor Cahoon and Commissioners,

I hope you are all well and are enjoying a little rest and relaxation before we get rolling again soon in what I hope will be another great year for the Outer Banks. I am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance that is being considered at your March 1st meeting.

The amendments are unfair by singling out certain properties and businesses. Nags Head has always been a town that welcomes diversity, looks out for everyone, and treats each other the way that we all want to be treated. The proposed amendments downgrade only select businesses and properties but leaves most unaffected. I know there are at least three of you that will be voting on the proposed changes who own businesses and commercial property in the town. It would be hypocritical and disturbing that any of you would be willing to cause financial hardship to a select group of your fellow businesses and property owners without putting the same restrictions on your own businesses and properties.

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By adopting the proposed amendments, the Town of Nags Head will be “illegally taking” through “spot zoning” and setting itself up for lawsuits by affected parties. The North Carolina Supreme Court has set precedent that spot zoning businesses and properties is illegal. Not only is the proposed rezoning unfair by singling out a small select area, it is also unjust.

What bothers me the most is the way in which we found out that our properties were possibly being rezoned. This is a major issue that affects so many livelihoods and all we received was a notice in the regular mail. I did not receive my letter until the 25th for a hearing that is on March 1st. That’s only 3 business days and is completely unacceptable. Every property owner, at a minimum, should have received a 90-day notice via certified mail with delivery confirmation. We should have been given the opportunity to understand exactly why Nags Head is trying to rush this rezoning through, why Nags Head is singling out our businesses and properties and be given time to hire legal representations to protect our interests. I hope that the town will choose not to move forward with the proposed rezoning at all, but at least, I urge you to postpone the hearing for 90 or more days so that we have time to prepare and be present at the hearing.

The town has been thriving for years and business and property values have been booming. It makes zero sense to create new zoning when the existing zoning has been working perfectly. More people have been spending time and money in Nags Head than ever, so there should be no reason to change things now. My Brew Thru location in the affected area is my highest grossing store out of 5 Outer Banks locations and has been serving Nags Head locals and visitors for over 30 years. I and other business in the town just cannot get our heads around the sudden condemnation of businesses and properties that are constantly giving back and have been such a big part of our community for decades. Unfortunately, this looks like the town is listening to a handful of very loud millionaire second homeowners along the Historic Cottage Row versus considering the livelihoods and welfare of the targeted businesses and property owners and their hundreds of employees.

Many of the Cottage Row homeowners don’t even live full time or vote in Nags Head, and many of them happily purchased their homes well after the targeted businesses were in existence under even less strict zoning ordinances. These homes are mostly occupied by tourists who are renting them for a week at a time and we all know that our tourists do not care about zoning changes. In fact, most rental guests and even many of the homeowners frequent the very businesses that would be downgraded. The proposed rezoning appears to put more of the town’s concerns on a handful of Cottage Row homeowners, that visit occasionally, versus the concerns and livelihoods of the local property and business owners and employees that actually work in and contribute to the town’s well-being day in and day out.

I thank you for your time and your service to our community. I hope that you will all take a moment and put yourselves in the shoes of us who have been putting our blood, sweat and tears into our businesses, for multiple generations in many cases. We have been trying to do our best for our families, employees, customers and community. I know and respect each of you and feel in my heart that if you will consider the above, and put yourselves in our shoes, that you will do the right thing and NOT move forward with the unfair proposed rezoning amendments. In Nags Head, all businesses and property owners should be treated equally.

Thank you for your consideration and very kind regards,

Philip Foreman

President, Brew Thru Inc.

I request that my letter be read out loud and submitted into the record at the March 1st Town Board Meeting as I am going to be on a vacation that has been planned for months.

CC: Town of Nags Head Planner, The Coastland Times, The Outer Banks Voice