Planning Board mulls building heights

Published 4:37 pm Friday, August 3, 2007

By Staff
Will have ‘working language’ to study by early September
News Editor
The Beaufort County Planning Board soon will have “working language” to study as it crafts a set of building-height restriction recommendations.
Board members on Thursday night charged Eddy Davis, a planner with the Mid-East Commission, to offer language related to countywide restrictions and also location-specific conditions. He also will bring back recommendations for any “structure intended for human occupancy,” which covers residential, office and commercial units.
Beaufort County pays dues to receive planning-related services from the Mid-East Commission, a nonprofit organization that serves local governments in several eastern North Carolina municipalities and counties.
The Planning Board been tasked with “evaluating the need for height restrictions and offering options” to commissioners, said planning board Chairman Doug Mercer. Thursday’s meeting was “kinda a first step” toward that goal, said board member Jeff Peed.
Again and again, board members termed The Rembrey at Pamlico Shores a “wake-up call” and the impetus of the discussion on building heights. The high-rise condominium project is set for the former Whichard’s Beach property in Chocowinity. It calls for building two 13-story buildings on the land.
Wilmington limits buildings to 35 feet or 40 feet — between three and four stories high. But in December, that city will implement a “riverfront mixed use” ordinance that will loosen height restrictions on some buildings that meet additional qualifications.
Board member Frank Hollowell said he wants to be careful about what kind of limits the board places on buildings because he doesn’t want the county to “tie too many hands.”
But board member Starlon Credle said a developer shouldn’t disturb the “quiet enjoyment of a neighborhood” with a too-tall building.
Dick Leach, who was in the audience, said he had a petition bearing more than 700 names of people who are in favor of building-height restrictions.
The board should have what Davis called “working language” by Sept. 4.