Currituck considers but waits on UDO changes for large hotels

Published 1:06 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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Currituck commissioners heard a request for an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that would put some limitations on the proposed 172-room hotel project on NC-12 and Herring Street in Corolla.

The amendment, which commissioners ultimately tabled until September, would require a special use permit (SUP) for development projects in Corolla that are 30,000 square feet of floor area or for hotels with 50 or more rooms. The SUP would include a traffic impact analysis study and stormwater plan.

A special use permit requires that applicants go through an evidentiary hearing for approval. It provides more oversight by the county to ensure that the development is in line with community goals and standards.

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Also included in the request are amendments to the Community Compatibility Standards section of the UDO for these larger projects, which, if passed, would require a setback of 75 feet from a lot line shared with an existing single-family dwelling, and a maximum height of two stories and 30 feet for buildings that share a lot line with existing single-family dwellings within 100 feet.

The request came from Corolla property owner Donald Haller, who stated to commissioners June 3 that his proposal is intended “to fix some huge holes in the Unified Development Ordinance that prevent you, the county’s elected officials, from having the authority and information needed to assess the impacts of major development projects in Corolla.”

Haller, who said his proposal was solely his own and not on behalf of any other person or organization, called for changes to the UDO that would allow more oversight on large-scale projects.

“I believe Corolla is at a critical crossroad which could irrevocably alter its character as a desirable destination for groups of families,” Haller said. “Unprecedented high-density development is being sought by developers that could irrevocably harm Corolla as a desirable tourist destination for families and overwhelm the infrastructure, but does not trigger review by its elected officials to assess impacts because the UDO has a huge hole – it only requires a special use permit for certain types of uses without regard for the scale of the projects. Thus, under the current UDO, you, as the elected stewards of the county’s welfare, require special use permit for a tiny miniature golf course located in a mixed-use zone to assess its impacts in a public hearing but have no authority to assess potential harmful impacts of a massive 172-room hotel that Saga seeks to build.”

Commissioners conferred with county attorney Megan Morgan about the legality of the amendment. If passed, she said the applicant, CB Land Development, LLC, a subsidiary of Saga Realty & Construction, would have a vested right that would most likely allow the company to supersede any new regulations.

Chairman Bob White questioned the impact of existing businesses that would be made noncompliant if the amendment were passed, and what would happen in the event of a fire or other disaster event. He also asked commissioners to consider the actual impact of a hotel versus 25 six-bedroom houses. In his example, a similar number of rooms could be generated, and therefore causing a similar draw on infrastructure and traffic, if the 13-acres were used for large single-family homes.

After a brief recess, commissioners agreed unanimously to revisit the issue in September to allow planning staff to work on the amendment.