Board takes on tasks assigned by City Council

Published 12:21 pm Saturday, March 3, 2007

By Staff
Former Evans Seafood property, building heights on agenda
By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
After being tasked by the Washington City Council to make recommendations about what to do with the former Evans Seafood property, the Planning Board tackles that assignment at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The board also will discuss building-height regulations in the city, another tasked assigned to it by the council. The council met with the board Monday to begin initial discussions on building-height issues.
Last month, the board received input from the public and representatives from several agencies and organizations on what the city should do with the property. The board took no action, other than notifying people who attended its special meeting Feb. 19 that it plans to hold several more meetings in which the public will be asked to provide additional input.
The meeting scheduled for Wednesday is part of that process to receive public input on the issue. Some people want the property to remain as open space. Others believe it should be developed.
The former Evans Seafood property, about a half an acre, is part of the approximately 4.5 acres of land between the N.C. Estuarium and the former Maola facility on Water Street. The city owns the former Evans Seafood property and the other piece of the 4.5-acre area.
The property’s zoning classification is B1H, or central business/historic district. That classification determines what uses of that property are allowed.
As for the building-height issue, it surfaced last year after council members began considering whether adjusting the city’s height restriction on new buildings along its waterfront may be required to protect its waterfront skyline. Several development projects — ongoing or proposed — along the city’s waterfront have resulted in some people voicing concerns that new buildings, if they are several stories high, would interfere or destroy existing views of the river from places more inland than the developments. Others are worried that rooftop additions to existing buildings could also interrupt views or adversely change the city’s skyline.
During their meeting with the board earlier this week, council members weighed in on the matter.
Councilman Mickey Gahagan said the key to establishing building-height controls is finding the proper balance between aesthetics — preserving the skyline — and protecting the environment. He was referring to the fact that buildings that go up usually require less land than buildings that spread out.
Bobby Roberson, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department, agrees.
Councilman Archie Jennings wants the city, with help from the Planning Board, to find a way to protect existing buildings from effects of any new construction that may occur in the city.
In other business next week, the board is scheduled to review a preliminary subdivision plat for the proposed Bridge Harbor project on the south side of the Pamlico River and east of the U.S. Highway 17 bridge. Last year, the property’s zoning classification was changed to O&I (office and institutional). The property, about six acres, had been classified as B2 (business) and RMF (residential multi-family).
The project calls for building 82 condominiums in two buildings on the property.