Joe’s Crab Shack headlines BOA

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

 WBS presentation by Board of Education proceeding meeting

Leading up to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen’s meeting on Thursday, March 14, the New Hanover County Board of Education will present the BOA with its short and long-term plans for the overcrowding issue at Wrightsville Beach School. 

Earlier this month, New Hanover County Schools superintendent Tim Markley presented NHCBE with six options to address the overcrowding issue. Those included the options of moving students to Bradley Creek Elementary School from a different area than the Airlie Road area; moving incoming kindergarteners to BCES; extending the lease of the two classrooms at Wrightsville Beach Baptist Church for an additional year or moving the students to Gregory Elementary School.

This meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall Chambers and is open to the public. 

Another hot-button topic around Wrightsville Beach will be addressed at the board’s regular meeting when it discusses whether to grant a conditional use permit allowing Ignite Restaurant Group to operate a Joe’s Crab Shack in the Johnnie Mercer’s Pier House and the parking exemption associated with it. 

The proposed exterior renovations to the building and increase in seating capacity triggered the need for a CUP. With no current off-street parking for the property, and a proposed occupancy of 270 people and 30 employees on the biggest shift, town ordinances would also require the restaurant to provide 83 off-street parking spaces without a parking exemption. 

The CUP received a unanimous favorable recommendation from the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board at its meeting on Tuesday, March 5. 

At that meeting, town planner Eryn Moller said the only aspect of the proposal Wrightsville Beach planning staff was concerned with was the effect the restaurant could have on the heavy traffic congestion and parking issues in that area of the island during peak tourist months. However, representatives from Ignite insisted that Joe’s would not contribute to those issues. 

Attached to the planning board’s favorable recommendation are planning staff’s recommendations, which include: not enclosing the outdoor dining section, installation of a net to catch any trash that may fly away from the pier dining section, signage to warn patrons of littering, no live music after 10 p.m. and creation of an acceptable traffic management plan.

Another public hearing scheduled for the board’s Thursday meeting concerns the adoption of a new dune protection ordinance for the town. Town manager Tim Owens raised the issue of tightening the town’s current dune protection ordinance at the board’s annual retreat in February because the current ordinance only prohibits moving sand from dunes during construction and carries a fine of $50. 

The new ordinance would prohibit “any person or vehicle to cross any portion of a frontal dune except for official town business or for emergency access purposes unless such crossing is over a designated pathway, wooden walkway, ramp, and/or stairs.” Other prohibited activities on frontal dunes include climbing, removing vegetation, allowing pets and any other activity that reduces the stability of a frontal dune. A violation of this new ordinance would carry a fine of $250. 

On the regular agenda the board will receive an update about the proposed Pelican Drive bulkhead and kayak launch. During the past two weeks, two petitions have surfaced both in support for and against the kayak launch component of the project. Those against the kayak launch are primarily residents of the Channel Walk neighborhood and Pelican Drive who cite increased traffic, parking issues, trespassing, and vandalism as their concerns. 

The petitioners in favor of the kayak launch cite a lack of waterway access around the town and the dangers associated with using the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s public boat ramp due to heavy boat traffic in that area. 

In his background information in the board’s agenda packet, Owens states town attorney John Wessell is still trying to determine who the owner of the plot of land is where the bulkhead and launch would be built. Until the issue of ownership is resolved, Owens recommended the board continue to table the item. 


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