Major subdivision approved for Moyock

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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Currituck commissioners approved preliminary plat/special use permit for a 177-lot major subdivision off Puddin Ridge Road in Moyock on May 15, 2023.

The 256-acre property, owned by FPI Carolinas, LLC, was rezoned in 2007 from Agricultural to Single Family Mainland. It is currently undeveloped and partially wooded.

The applicant, Allied Properties, LLC, is proposing 0.7 dwelling units per acre and 77 acres of open space to meet the 30% open space requirement. Additionally, Allied Properties would dedicate 4.5 acres at the southeast corner of the site adjacent to Guinea Mill Canal to the county for recreational space. Proposed lots would range from 40,000 to 57,745 square feet.

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Lots will have public water and on-site septic, tree-lined sidewalks on both sides of the street, streetlights and reforestation of open spaces.

Additional amenities proposed on the preliminary plat include a tot lot, a playground area, a trail, park benches, a fire pit and a picnic shelter for the main recreation area, and a dog park at the smaller recreational area, as well as a natural wooded area for hiking.

The development is planned in four phases. Phase 1 begins on January 2025 with the construction of 48 homes, and the remaining phases are six months apart with the construction of 42, 37 and 50 homes, respectively. Assuming a build time of about six months, the earliest expected occupation of phase 1 homes is late summer 2025.

This date is significant because of the effect on school capacity. Lotus Ridge subdivision is expected to generate 44 students. Though Moyock Elementary is currently beyond capacity, an expansion project is planned for the school. Additionally, the new construction of Tulls Creek Elementary School in Moyock expected to open in the fall of 2027 will create 800 new seats.

Land use attorney Jamie Schwedler with Parker Poe called five expert witnesses to testify that the request met the requirements for approval, including conformity to the land use plan, adequate public facilities including utilities and school capacity and assurance that the development will not adversely affect neighboring property values or public health and safety, or cause significant traffic issues.

All witnesses provided by the applicant voiced approval and expressed no concerns with the request.

Several neighbors and citizens did have concerns, however.

Shane Kelly questioned the possibility of flooding on his property and Michelle Ekoniak thought the traffic generated by the development would add significant time to her daily commute to work. James Mims said he thought the public schools could not accommodate the additional strain of more students.

“I have reservations,” resident David Esty said, citing concerns particularly with large number of septic systems, their ability to perk properly and the developers’ intentions to provide what is necessary.

“The engineering on that doesn’t add up,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of ‘we will’ or ‘we’re going to.’ Do we truly want to accept something that will be done? We often make every promise in the world to get phase 1 … I implore you. Don’t take the ‘will do’ or ‘we anticipate.’ It’s unacceptable. Tell them to put their money where their mouth is, put it in writing and let’s protect the citizens of Currituck.”

The request, on behalf of Allied Properties, LLC, was heard through a quasi-judicial or evidentiary hearing, which means that the board of commissioners acts as a body to interpret the law. The board must rely solely on expert testimony and cannot consider public opinion when making their determination to approve or deny the request.

“We cannot consider your feelings on a subject,” Chairman Bob White told the gathering at the courthouse. “We cannot accept your opinion as fact to weigh what is before us … It’s not that we don’t care about your opinion. We do.”

County attorney Ike McRee, in an email response to The Coastland Times on May 19, said that “Because the applicant met its burden under the law and there was not an opposing case overcoming that evidence, the Board of Commissioners had no legal option but to approve the application.”

Over the last several months, commissioners have publicly expressed a desire to limit growth in the county. McRee has said during commissioner’s meetings that the best time for community impact regarding development is at the rezoning phase: “Consideration of a rezoning application is legislative, rather than quasi-judicial, and the Board of Commissioners may consider all statements from the public in its rezoning decision making.”

Commissioner Owen Etheridge, when making a motion to approve the special use permit for Lotus Ridge, said he voted against the rezoning of that parcel of land when he was on the board in 2007, but it was passed anyway.

After Mims expressed disapproval of the project, White urged Mims to form a civic association with other members of the community. White said that the board must consider only the evidence put before them. “It puts the public at a great disadvantage and it’s not your fault. I’m just advising you that you should absolutely try and form your own civic association so you can have a united voice and hire someone to help you out in these situations, and give the board something to work off of,” White said.

The special use permit was approved 4-2, with White and commissioners Paul Beaumont, Owen Etheridge and Mike Payment voting yes, and commissioners Selina Jarvis and Kitty Etheridge voting no. Commissioner Kevin McCord left the meeting early for a family emergency.

The board also approved a special use permit for North Beach Watersports, LLC to expand the water-based outdoor recreation uses operating from the Inn at Corolla Light, and approved the purchase of 2.93 acres on Maple Road for $175,000.