Manteo commissioners approve social district, place moratorium on annexation

Published 12:17 pm Monday, April 17, 2023

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The Manteo Board of Commissioners formally adopted a Manteo Downtown Social District ordinance, agreed to a short-term lease on Magnolia Pavilion Unit H and entered a wayfinding and branding services agreement and moved money to pay for it at its meeting on April 5, 2023.

Also, the board on a motion by commissioner Eddie Mann voted 4-1 to stop annexation of any properties outside town boundaries for 180 days.

The Downtown Manteo Social District was unanimously recommended to the town’s commissioners by the Manteo Main Street Advisory Board.

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The district’s boundaries closely follow the B-1 Village Business District on the town’s zoning map.

Town program director Michele Bunce said “this is a flexible project.” The town can make adjustments to the district size and hours.

The ordinance permits consumption of malt beverages or unfortified wine in plastic, paper or Styrofoam cup in the public streets, boulevards, alleys, parks, sidewalks or public buildings within the district within rules set by the ordinance.

A management and maintenance plan for the social district has been created by staff.

Commissioner Sherry Wickstrom made the motion to adopt the ordinance which was unanimously adopted.

The commissioner agreed to rent space at the Magnolia Pavilion to Manteo Cyclery. Owner Brian Brockway wanted a place to rent bicycles in downtown Manteo. The lease runs from April 6 to Oct. 31, which ends in time for the town’s Christmas and winter programming. The rent is $400 per month. The town pays utilities.

With the approval of funding and a contract, Manteo is on its way to developing a wayfinding and branding plan, which are two of the five priorities on the Main Street Economic Development Implementation Plan.

The town received 19 submissions in response to its requests for qualifications.

The town’s Main Street Advisory Board evaluated each submission and rated each applicant.

The firm with the highest score for both requests is Destination by Design Studios, PLLC, from Boone.

The budget amendment moved $120,000 from the Town Common account to Contracted Services for developing the branding plan. Funds were previously allocated for the wayfinding project.

During commissioner comments, commissioner Eddie Mann said he would like to see a moratorium on annexation until the town’s empty lots are added to wastewater treatment capacity calculations and the water and sewer systems are analyzed by an engineer.

The town is currently using 54% of its wastewater capacity, reported Melissa Dickerson, manager for the Town of Manteo.

She reported that in the next two weeks the town will make sizeable repairs to the aging system. She said her concerns have shifted away from reaching capacity to just being able to treat wastewater at the plant.

Dickerson reported an annexation petition has been received from Woda Cooper about the Dare County-owned Bowsertown property. Dickerson said not all documentation has been submitted.

Town attorney Ben Gallop told the commissioners that annexation was completely voluntary from the town’s perspective. “You can say no.”

The motion by Mann was to place a moratorium of 180 days on annexation of anything outside the town boundaries. The vote was 4 to 1, with Ruth Stetson saying that the town told Woda Cooper the initial proposal was too much. The proposal talked about now is 40 to 60 units, said Stetson. She said she felt obligated to vote for the annexation.

Two citizens spoke during public comment.

Dave Stempel suggested that the commissioners update old and outdated zoning policies. He urged the commissioners to “urgently take care of this.”

During commissioner comments, Wickstrom supported Stempel’s suggestion. She suggested a workshop with the planning board during the recessed meeting in May.

Michelle Lewis told the commissioners about a letter from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. The letter reported a petroleum spill at the NCDOT state yard in Manteo on Jan. 9, 2023. The letter was sent to people adjacent to the state yard, but not the opposite side of the street. She said adequate notice was not given to neighbors.

During commissioner comments, Stetson asked about soil testing kits to use around the oil spill.

Wickstrom asked about new water bottle filling stations. Dickerson responded that four such stations have been ordered and will be placed at Cartwright Park, Town Common, Magnolia Pavilion and George Washington Creef Memorial Park, where a new one will replace the existing station.

On the consent agenda, the Manteo commissioners approved:

—Minutes from March 1, 2023, and March 15, 2023 meetings

—The Government Education Access Channels Committee’s proposed 2023-2024 budget for the operation of the Government and Education Channels. The proposed budget, which would take effect July 1, 2023, must be approved by every participating member entity of the channels, which includes the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Manteo, as well as Dare County, Dare County Schools, College of The Albemarle and UNC Coastal Studies Institute. Manteo, like all entities, will pay $1,000 membership fee and $5,000 to the Local Program Development Initiative. The budget total is $325,626.

—The Dare County Tourism Board’s Fireworks Grant for July 4, 2023 in the amount of $14,525 which must be matched by the town.

—The Dare County Tourism Board’s Dare Day Grant Award of $20,000.

—Typographical changes to the 2023 personnel policy.

—The 2023 audit contract with Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co., PA, with an audit fee of $21,750.

The commissioners adopted two proclamations:

Declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month; and

Supporting the longest-running symphonic drama the Lost Colony, which has been a part of the community for over 85 years and brings a number of visitors and guests to the Town of Manteo and all of Roanoke Island.

The next meeting is April 19, 2023 at 2 p.m.