Dear friends and neighbors,
My brother David and I would like to take the opportunity to share the latest information about our proposed project along Hwy 24 across the street from Walmart and Murphy’s gas station. We understand there are some concerns, but we feel most are based upon old, or inaccurate information. It is especially important for us to clear up any misinformation that may exist and to also make sure we point out the benefits to the community and the entire Town of Morehead City of the conditions imposed on the rezoning request.
To start, the property’s address is 301 Hwy 24, Morehead City. This is a +/-23 acre parcel that fronts Hwy 24 directly across the street from Morehead City’s Super Walmart. If traveling east on Hwy 24 coming into Morehead City, it is located just past the Welcome to Morehead City “A Fisherman’s Paradise” sign. The application submitted to the Town of Morehead City includes a new, state of the art, Starling Marine Boat Dealership (currently located on Hwy 70 near Food Lion and in front of Mitchell Village), and also a state of the art Active Senior Living Community by Ridge Care. The tract of land would be divided into an east and west section with Ridge Care’s Active Living Center on the Western parcel. That parcel is more conducive to their physical needs.
We began communication with Powell and Mary Lynne Osteen, the owners of the property around March 2020. As the concept evolved, it was particularly important to the Osteen’s for the project to be something beneficial for the Town of Morehead City. After meeting and discussing the concept, they agreed to sell us the property. To move forward, we needed to work with the Town of Morehead City to create and apply for a “conditional rezoning application.”
Over the next several months, we hired a professional engineer & Architect to guide us through the process and met with the Town of Morehead City several times along the way. The parcel of land was surveyed for its boundaries to determine the size and lines of the property. Next, we hired a soil scientist to study and determine the area of wetlands and uplands to see where the buildable footprint was located. With the survey complete and the wetlands delineated, we were able to clearly see the best usable space on this property was along the Hwy 24 frontage. It was also determined that this parcel did not have ingress/egress access to any roads in Spooner’s Creek, and could only be accessed from Hwy 24. Another major discovery was the plentiful amount of natural buffering between the buildable footprint along Hwy 24, and the other properties adjoining this parcel. In addition, it was determined that 100% of the project would be well outside of any wetlands or flood zones, which meant we would never consider a need to clear or disturb any of these vital resources. Wastewater management is also important to us, so we wanted to make sure we could access Morehead City Water and Sewer resources. The Town has designed a water/sewer plan for this tract which would require this parcel to be annexed into the Town’s city limits. It only impacts this parcel but extends the Town’s resources. The developer has agreed to pay for this extension and donate the facility back to the Town of Morehead once completed. This is a similar process to the development of the mixed-use project at the end of Harbor Drive and Land’s End Rd. The Town installed a pump system on Land’s End Road to remove the wastewater from the “The Shores” Condominiums, Marina, Gas/Diesel Center, Clubhouse facility and more. That development inside Spooner’s Creek was also annexed into the city limits. This was vital to the development of that commercial acreage inside the Spooner’s Creek Community.
The next step was for the engineers to draft a preliminary site plan to be presented to the NCDOT in order to request their recommendation for the best way to access and exit this project from Hwy 24. The NCDOT has completed traffic studies along this section of Hwy 24 and recommended a slow down lane, as well as an individual driveway for each parcel. This would be constructed at our expense of course. Because it was the recommendation of the NCDOT, we agreed to the recommendation and implemented that into our site plan.
There is some confusion as to what exactly is being proposed and what impact it may have in and around the Spooner’s Creek area. On the western side of the parcel will be an Active Living Center, constructed and managed by a wonderful organization called Ridge Care. This project will consist of a total of (72) 1 and 2 bedrooms units. There has been information distributed stating 95 units, however, that information is false. Ridge Care currently has a facility on Friendly Road in Morehead City and is a great partner in our community already. The Friendly Road project is not an active living facility and they have determined the need for this type of project in our area. As the age of our citizens increases and more and more seniors choose to retire in our region, there is more demand for this type of housing. Ridge Care has also agreed to construct their high-end facility outside of any flood zones and will not disturb any wetlands on their parcel. Ridge Care will also be connected to the extended Morehead City Water/ Sewer service, ensuring that all of their wastewater is removed from the site. Most Ridge Care’s residents do not drive and do not even own vehicles. They have shared information from other facilities where collectively their residents own less than 10 vehicles. Because of this fact, there will be very little traffic impact from Ridge Care along Hwy 24.
As Starling Marine, we are proposing a new state-of-the-art facility on the eastern portion of this parcel. We have been operating our business on Hwy 70 near the Hwy 70/Hwy 24 intersection since 2013. I live in Spooner’s Creek and my brother David and his family are currently building a home in Spooner’s Creek North. As residents and neighbors, we are determined that our new facility does not have any negative impact, but instead, a benefit to the entire Town. These are some of the major factors behind all the conditions imposed on the “conditional rezoning” application. We are a retail sales center representing many of the most popular boat brands in the U.S. We service and perform maintenance on our client’s boats and trailers, Monday-Saturday (half-day Saturday) and are closed on Sundays. We DO NOT sell “boat storage space” are NOT a” boat storage yard”. The boats in our facility are in transition from our facility back to the owner. We are a family-owned and operated business with currently less than 17 employees. We are primarily a display showroom and service center. Many of the boats we service are picked up and delivered from local boat ramps. This allows our experienced drivers to transport these boats while on the local roads. We may average 4-5 boats on a given day coming to or leaving our facility. We have carried a very safe driving record in the 8 years operating at our facility on Hwy 70. Based upon our business model and history, and with the implantation of the recommendations from the NCDOT of a turning lane, we too will have little traffic impact along this section of Hwy 24.
There has also been some misinformation about the rezoning of this land. The rezoning request is actually called a “conditional rezoning” request as we have agreed to several self-imposed restrictions on the land in order to alleviate and address many of the concerns we have heard from a few members of the community. These are the conditions attached to the request:
As part of the request to re-zone the property located at 301 Highway 24, Morehead City, we respectfully propose the following conditions as part of the conditional use re-zoning request:
1. A maximum building height of 50’ will be enforced on the portion of the property proposed to be re-zoned to Commercial Highway.
2. There will be no disturbance to the 404 and coastal wetlands shown on the site plan. Delineation of the wetlands was performed by Tom Hinson, Soil Scientist with CPEC Environmental.
3. A 30’ natural buffer will remain along the eastern property line. There will be no disturbance to the existing vegetation within this 30’ buffer. The 30’ buffer is proposed in lieu of the landscaping and buffering requirements between CH and R20 zones.
4. A turning lane will be installed along the eastbound lanes of Highway 24 at the request of NCDOT. Each parcel will have single access off of the turn lane to be approved by NCDOT.
5. The proposed uses for the CH portion of the property will include “retail, marine-related with or without outdoor storage,” “retail & wholesale marine-related with or without outdoor storage,” and “accessory building/use” all of which are permitted uses in the Commercial Highway zoning. This will include associated uses such as part sales and service functions.
6. The proposed use for the RMF portion of the property will be as a dwelling, multi-family (age restricted).
7. Maximum density for the RMF portion of the property will not exceed eight (8) units per acre.
All other requirements for the Commercial Highway and Residential Multi-Family zones will be met
In addition, the developer will install a full stormwater run-off system designed by licensed engineers and permitted by the State of NC.
At the February Morehead City Planning Board meeting, our application for the conditional rezoning request was presented with all the imposed conditions. The Morehead City Planning Board voted 4-2 to recommend the conditional rezoning to the City Council based upon the facts of the project.