Council nixes drystacking boat storage in O&I district

Published 12:20 pm Thursday, December 16, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington’s City Council voted not to allow commercial marinas with drystack boat storage as a permitted use in the city’s office and institutional zoning districts.
The question of where to allow drystack boat storage facilities in the city was returned to the city’s Planning Board, which recommended drystack boat storage be allowed in the O&I districts. The council’s rejection of the Planning Board’s recommendation came during the council’s meeting Monday. Currently, drystack boat storage is not allowed in O&I districts.
Councilman Doug Mercer said he considered allowing drystack boat storage in O&I districts “improper” because those districts are not limited to waterfront areas. Mercer said he did not like the idea of drystack facilities being built in some O&I areas not suitable for such facilities.
John Rodman, the city’s planning and development director, said the city’s intent is to keep drystack facilities adjacent to public-trust waters. By requiring a special-use permit for a drystack facility, the city can impose conditions on where it would be located, Rodman said.
Councilman Bobby Roberson expressed concerns with the O&I district’s height limit of 96 feet for structures. Roberson said he has problems with a drystack facility being that tall.
Council members William Pitt and Gil Davis joined Mercer and Roberson in voting not to allow drystack storage in O&I districts. Councilman Ed Moultrie cast the lone vote against the motion to reject the Planning Board’s recommendation.
Bridge Harbor, LLC sought the change so it could offer drystack storage as part of its proposed marina complex, which would have about 130 slips for boats, on about five acres at the foot of the U.S. Highway 17 Business bridge. The property was once home to Waters Oil Co.
In the spring of 2007, Bridge Harbor, LLC was proceeding with plans to build two eight-story buildings that would house 42 condominiums on that property. At its March 15, 2007, meeting, the council approved a preliminary subdivision plat for the proposed residential project, which included a clubhouse and pool.
Now, Bridge Harbor, LLC is pursuing the marina project.
In other action, the council OK’d awarding a $19,350 contract to Mark Smith Architect for site-management services at the Festival Park site.
The city’s plans to develop the Festival Park area got a boost earlier this year when it accepted a nearly $300,000 grant to help kick off the project.
In addition to the $295,125 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant awarded to the city by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the city is providing another $295,125 toward the project.
In January, the council added the Festival Park master plan to the city’s parks and recreation master plan. Festival Park will occupy most of the green space between the N.C. Estuarium and the former Maola plant on Water Street.
That master plan calls for a performance venue, public restrooms, a children’s play area, picnic shelter and benches, among other things. Susan Suggs, who helped develop the master plan, told the council earlier this year she believes Festival Park will be a complementary addition to the city’s waterfront.
Several private groups have said they are willing to help pay for Festival Park amenities, possibly allowing the city to decrease its obligation toward the project.
City officials believe Festival Park will support live performances, provide open space where people may relax, create play areas for children and provide opportunities for access to the Pamlico River.