Former Evans Seafood site focus of planning session

Published 11:12 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2007

By Staff
City council willdiscuss what to do with half-acre site
Contributing Editor
Washington’s City will discuss the former Evans Seafood property during a planning session that includes a history of the property, appropriate uses of adjacent green space and whether to sell the nearly half-acre site.
The planning session begins at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
The tentative agenda includes the following items:
Some people don’t want the city to sell the land, preferring it be used as green space or a site for an amphitheater or similar entertainment venue. Other people believe the property should be sold for commercial development. Several people have suggested a boutique hotel be built on the land. Other people have said additional commercial uses should be considered.
Several people have suggested that commercial development of the former Evans Seafood property and the existing adjacent green space can co-exist.
In March, the council voted 3-2 to accept the Planning Board’s recommendation the property be sold for commercial development that would be the “highest and best use” of the property. The board’s recommendation included a provision calling for open space adjacent to the former Evans Seafood property to remain that way. The council, by way of a 3-2 vote, also decided to begin receiving development proposals for the former Evans Seafood property.
Councilman Archie Jennings has said the planning session is needed because it will provide answers to questions that must be answered before the council can make an intelligent decision on what to do with the land. Jennings wanted to hold off discussing the property until after the council finishes its work on putting together the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. Last month, Jennings said he considers formulating the budget a more pressing need than discussing the future of the property.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette has been ready to take up the issue. In March, Jennette said it’s time she and council members “talk about what we want to see” in regard to the half-acre on Water Street between the North Carolina Estuarium and the former Maola facility.
In March, the council decided to consider development proposals for the half-acre site. That action included a provision that any developer’s proposal to develop the property, which the city owns, include a park component that includes design and maintenance elements.
Councilmen Darwin Woolard and Ed Gibson have said they are willing to listen to prospective buyers and developers of the land discuss what they want to do with the property. Entertaining proposals for the land in now way obligates the city to selling the land and allowing it to be developed, they have said.