Nags Head close to approving budget; makes changes to gas station requirements

Published 1:17 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

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Nags Head commissioners put off passing the 2023-24 budget at their June 7 meeting, though they are expected to pass it at the June 21 mid-month meeting.

Town manager Andy Garman reminded the board and the public that the “driving force behind the 4.25 tax increase are the two projects the board financed earlier in the year totaling $19 million.” These projects are the redevelopment of town’s Public Services Complex and the installation of the advanced digital water metering infrastructure.

Garman said the town-wide tax increase is designed to cover the debt service on the financing.

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Though the town has experienced significant increases over the past few years in both capital and operating expenses, mainly due to inflation, Garman said the town has been able to absorb a lot of this with shared revenues over the past few years.

“We certainly need to be cautious about how we budget shared revenues in the future years moving forward as any number of factors could affect this. We think this proposed budget gets us where we need to be. The board and staff have worked hard to produce a responsible budget that allows us to maintain a strong team and continue to make progress maintaining our infrastructure and services,” he said.

After asking some additional questions, the board opted to table the approval of the budget until the mid-month meeting.

Commissioners moved on to approve a text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance dealing with fueling stations.

When the town created the new C-5 Historic Character Commercial Zoning district, the regulations for that district limited fueling stations to no more than four pumps, restricted new developments of fueling stations, and limited the square footage of a convenience store to 3500.

In March, commissioners expressed a desire to extend these regulations to the entire town.

Planning director Kelly Wyatt said that planning staff believes that large fueling stations with numerous pumps “do not meet the values and the aesthetic of the Town of Nags Head,” citing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan that seeks to ensure that the character of Nags Head is preserved as a single family residential beach community with ties to the natural environment.

The amendment would make the 7-11 at 3643 S. Croatan Highway and Wally’s at 7309 S. Virginia Dare Trail non-conforming because of the dual frontage on NC-12, but Wyatt said there’s nothing about the language in the amendment that precludes those uses from continuing to operate just as they are. Additionally, Wyatt said, those business can make improvements to their property if desired as long as those improvements meet current code regulations and do not increase the degree of non-conformity.

Looking ahead at items the planning board is considering, Wyatt updated commissioners about the application for a drive-through restaurant that was denied by the planning board but is being reworked by the applicant for reconsideration. Also in the works is a sketch plan for a Starbucks Coffee being proposed for the Outlets at Nags Head. Wyatt said the plan is getting a few revisions before it will be submitted to the technical review committee.

The board then moved on to discuss the possibility of placing a conservation easement on all or part of a town-owned 285-acre tract of land surrounding Fresh Pond, which serves as watershed protection for Fresh Pond and forms a portion of the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve.

The Nature Conservancy has had a lease agreement with the town to manage a part of the property and the trail system that runs through it since 1985.

Due to some requests to develop a part of the property for use as a park or boat access, commissioners are exploring the option of putting the land in conservation to protect it. Grant funding may be available to the town for the value of the conservation easement.

In another discussion about easements, commissioners approved the removal of their open space easement at the Village at Nags Head for a mailbox facility.