Sprunt-Willetts easement approved

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Staff photo by Emmy Errante 

The Town of Wrightsville Beach Board of Adjustment denied a request for a 7.5-foot variance to the setback requirement for a mixed-use development proposed for the corner of Nathan Street and South Lumina Avenue, former site of The Glenn, an island landmark established in the late 1930s and torn down in 2008.

Setback encroachment on Nathan Street denied

Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen approved the perpetual easement for the stairs and chimney on the north side of the c. 1937 Sprunt-Willetts Cottage at 207 N. Lumina Ave. at its special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27. Since the staircase leading to the second story porch was originally built six feet into the Charlotte Street right of way on the west side of North Lumina Avenue, the propertyís potential buyers, the Suggs, applied for the perpetual easement to restore the stairs and chimney as part of a larger restoration project for the entire structure. The vote was 4 to 1 with Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti dissenting. 

Cignotti raised his concern about giving away public property at a street end to a private residence. He suggested granting the easement contingent upon the property owners achieving a National Historic Register designation. Cignotti felt that achieving that designation would justify giving away public property. 

ďIím just trying to balance my duties as an elected public official and a proponent of preserving historic structures,Ē Cignotti said. 

The lawyers representing the Suggs and the Willetts said granting the easement contingent upon the national designation would not be acceptable for their clients since the application process could require several years. 

At the board of adjustment meeting later that evening, a request for a variance in setback requirements for the lot at the southwest corner of Nathan Street and South Lumina Avenue was denied. The preliminary plans for the structure called for clearing the lot, including the removal of the historic brick building occupied by South End Surf Shop, to erect a new mixed-use structure with one level of retail and two of residential units. 

The proposed plans would have encroached 7.5 feet into the 15-foot setback requirement on the lotís Nathan Street side. Bob Hornick, attorney for property owner Aldus Baucom, argued that all existing structures on corner lots in the C2 district encroach on the setback requirements, including the Sand Peddler, situated directly across Nathan Street  from the proposed structure. 

However, the board did not consider it to be a special condition based solely on the fact that the lot is a corner lot in the C2 district, since the request was a product of the preliminary designs of the building. 

After the boardís vote, Mike Baldwin, the projectís architectural designer, said he would redesign the project to fit within the setback requirements.

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