School’s use of church approved by planning board

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

At its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend New Hanover County Schools’ plan to utilize two rooms in Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church for two fifth grade classes at Wrightsville Beach School to the board of aldermen for a final vote at its Oct. 11 meeting. 

Per recommendation by town staff, the permitted use of the church facilities would only be valid for the current school year, with a requirement that the school request the use of the facilities again next year if the problem of overcrowding continues. 

Three hundred and fifty students are presently enrolled, while the maximum capacity of the school with its additional mobile units is 247. Eddie Anderson, director of facility planning and construction for NHCS, said relocation of some students to the nearby church would be a temporary solution until a more permanent fix for the overcrowding issues present throughout the county. Anderson alluded to long-term solutions like redistricting and the addition of more onsite trailers.

One issue the planning board directed NHCS to address concerned the traffic pattern of the bus carrying the students to the church. Anderson said the bus would pick the children up from WBS in the morning to take them to classes at the church, and return to WBS where it would wait to transport the students back to the school for lunch, recess and elective classes in the afternoon. 

Planning board members and Wrightsville Beach resident Gary Lee, who lives directly across from the church on Coral Drive, raised concerns about the heavy traffic in the area during the times when the bus would be in service, as well as the crowding of the church parking lot after paid parking begins again in March. 

Anderson could not provide specific details about what route the bus plans to take in the morning but the board recommended that NHCS have a clear plan to present to the board of aldermen since navigating buses down Coral and North Channel drives in the middle of school traffic could cause more of a traffic issue than already exists. 

Following the discussion of WBS, Neal Briggi presented an in-depth report of his campaign to amend section 2.15 of the Unified Development Ordinance addressing the use of nonglare and nonreflective roofing materials. Briggi argued that, due to the close proximity of the homes within the town and the varied roofline heights, language needs to clarify that section of the UDO to address how to determine if the material used in a proposed metal roof is nonreflective or not. 

The planning board took no action on the presentation but Briggi said he would present his report to the board of aldermen and address the issue at the Oct. 11 meeting when the adoption of the UDO is expected. 

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