Despite resident opposition, Monteray Shores project moving forward

By on November 8, 2023

Preliminary rendering of proposed development for Aug. 21 commissioners’ meeting.

As plans move forward for a proposed 13-acre mixed use development in the Monteray Shores subdivision of Corolla, residents and property owners in the area have launched a petition drive opposing the project.

The online petition STOP Proposed Multi-Use, High Density Development Plan in Corolla – Monteray Shores makes a point of “requesting Currituck County Commissioners place an immediate halt to this plan.” As of the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 8, the petition had garnered 1,150 signatures.

Although plans for the subdivision are still tentative, a preliminary plan presented by the developer, CB Land Development and SAGA CEO Sumit Gupta, would include a 172-room hotel, retail and restaurants with apartments above the business space, as well as residential homes.

In a Zoom interview with the Voice, Michael Momenee, whose wife started the online petition drive, explained his concerns. “This development…is very much not in keeping with the remainder of the adjacent neighborhood in which we own and reside,” he said.

Skip Lane, who has owned a home in the Whalehead Club since 2021, expressed similar concerns, noting though, that the zoning allowing a hotel had been approved some time ago. “The zoning has been in place for such a development, mixed use, no specifics, not on the size of the hotel… Condos that are going to go in this complex on top of the retail. So it’s quite dense,” he said.

Currituck County zoning for the property has been place for 16 years according to Bill Newns, Interim Director of the Currituck County Planning and Inspections Department.

Corolla resident Elizabeth Lindemann, who has owned property in Corolla for more than 35 years, raises another concern. She points out that since the plans were originally approved, circumstances have changed dramatically in the area, noting, among other things, that “the fact that Route 12 is a death trap in the summertime was not necessarily in play all those years ago.”

Concerns about the property and plans for its development were triggered by an Aug. 21 quasi-judicial hearing when the Currituck County Commissioners voted to approve an amended sketch plan for the development that would reduce open space by 1.45 acres.

According to Newns, the reduction in open space would still meet “the open space requirements for Monteray Shores Planned Unit Development as well as the subject parcel.”

The rules governing a quasi-judicial hearing are very specific. It is an evidentiary hearing and unless compelling evidence is presented to commissioners indicating information on the request is either being withheld or incorrect, the commissioners must vote to approve the plans.

Nonetheless, Corolla residents are continuing to press for the approval to be reviewed. And at the Nov. 6 Currituck Board of Commissioners meeting, Corolla residents addressed the subject in public comment.

“I strongly believe the high density…hotel project…will irrevocably change Corolla, both as a safe destination and family friendly tourism destination. You will see that as a poison chalice,” Corolla resident Don Howard said.

“The Corolla market is overwhelmingly families and groups of families who stay in in homes for a week at a time. A 172-room hotel, surrounded on three sides by residential communities, is plainly not in harmony with the area,” Bill Tarlton said.

SAGA’s Gupta contends that a hotel is needed.

“We don’t have enough hotel rooms, they’ve gone down on the Outer Banks,” he said during an interview with the Voice, adding that the area is disproportionately dependent on vacation home rentals.

“Those [rentals] have to be, whether we like those or not, staying somewhat full, otherwise they’re dead weight,” he said, adding that “We need hotels to bring new people to keep those houses relevant, to create new demographic people to have options here.”

Under any circumstance it is unclear if the county could legally rezone the property. A property zoning carries with it vested rights, defined by the NC General Assembly as, “the right to continue a use or complete a project as it was approved, despite subsequent changes to the ordinance.”

The approval of the commissioners on Aug. 21 was for a preliminary plan. As the project moves forward, detailed plans will have to go through a technical review committee. That review process, however, is internal and does not include public comment.

“It’ll all be internal department staff,” Newns said.



Comments

  • Mike Momenee

    Thank you for your article and I hope that this reaches persons that may not be aware of this proposed development. I would, however, like to point out a couple of items that I believe may be not entirely correct:
    1) Your article states that unless information is either being withheld or is incorrect, “…the commissioners must vote to approve the plans.” Article 2.3.8:C(2) of the county’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) states – that unless otherwise bound by NC law, “…the body
    conducting an evidentiary hearing is not bound by the rules of evidence, or
    limited to consideration of evidence that is admissible in a court of law”, and Article 2.3.8:(D)(2)(c) of the UDO does allow the evidentiary hearing body to disapprove or approve with conditions the request being considered; and
    2) Your article also quotes Mr. Gupta as stating that “We don’t have enough hotel rooms, they’ve gone down on the Outer Banks.” The owner of the nearby Corolla Inn has stated that July 2023 was his best month and he was only at 66% percent capacity. This is only one of several hotels in Corolla and this occupancy rate suggests that there remains plenty of hotel room capacity in the Outer Banks.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 7:27 am
  • The Captain

    Very interesting. Mr. Gupta is an incurable plague. Saga will develop every possible piece of land without regard for local opinion. Ask Mr. Gupta to personally direct Saturday Traffic on Route 12. How about asking them to build a 4 Lane road from Kitty Hawk to Corolla? Then build affordable housing to support the Outer Banks needs on his lands.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 7:34 am
  • The Deuce

    Saga is slowly destroying the Outer Banks.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 7:39 am
  • Obxserver

    Vote! The law of return on investment is like the law of gravity. Investment will seek and find the maximum return. It does not care about the environment, the land, the neighbors or the community. We will continue to see proposals that maximally increase density in ways we can not currently imagine.

    The WAGS are suggesting; since creating a double-decked highway system to handle traffic flow is obviously cost prohibitive, that WE build more bridges and create smaller sections of the OBX each served by it’s own bridge. Think that through. New bridge on the north end of Roanoke Island to Colington? Or do we launch that one from Point Harbor. How about a second Currituck Bridge to serve Duck? VOTE

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 8:21 am
  • Tim

    Build the bridge and articles like this will be everyday issues many times worse than today.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 8:24 am
  • Greg

    I first started working in Corolla when it was a dirt road beginning at the county line. It is now downtown. No development plans have been denied. One thing to consider. There is essentially no public beach access in Corolla. The Light House parking lot is the only place to park a vehicle to go to the beach. The folks in this proposed development will have to walk to the beach access 1/3 mile from the development. There is no parking at that access.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 8:45 am
  • Buck C

    @The Captain, you say “Saga will develop every possible piece of land without regard for local opinion.” You do understand they are a development company, correct? They are also developing land they own…..maybe it is time to start directing some of the frustration to the people that are selling them the land. SAGA isn’t buying land to preserve the Outer Banks.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 9:31 am
  • Regpepper

    Saga will say anything to get what they want. If he thinks there’s not enough motels, why does he keep building huge houses wherever he can. Many of his business properties are eyesore because he fails to keep up with maintenance. He is not a steward of this area, he is a money hungry parasite.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 9:40 am
  • Kitty Hawker

    Residents of Corolla, please fight this!!! We are trying hard in Southern Shores to fight Saga’s development they are proposing directly as you cross off the bridge. Contact DOT to demand a traffic study, HWY 12 cannot handle anymore influx of traffic especially on weekends. Someone in your fight should contact Corinne Saunders at the Virginia Pilot, she is awesome in covering these stories on the Outer Banks. The irony on Mr. Gupta’s (the king of mega homes!) statement on the ” need for more hotel rooms ” is lost on him. Where are the workers going to come from to fill these jobs for these new business? Enough with Saga and their over developing of our beautiful home!!!

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 9:49 am
  • Jay

    Looks like another reason to build the bridge.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 10:06 am
  • Skip Lane

    This project has nothing to do with the entire outer banks. It has a very negative impact on Corolla and its residents, citizens, guest, homeowners, and the local Corolla business community.

    Safety is a very great concern in the area of this project on RT 12 and Herring Street and even more so after the new Mid Currituck Bridge lands less than 1000′ from this project. One main reason for guest coming to Corolla is the natural environment and very limited commericialization. If we are not careful, Corolla will become the next Ocean City, MD or Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with their extremely high density development and overcrowded beaches.

    This is not the Corolla community we want to live in, visit, and own propoerty in vs the quaint, tranquil, family oriented, and safe beach community we have now and want to keep.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 10:11 am
  • Rita C

    Time to build that bridge from the mainland to Corolla ASAP!

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 10:49 am
  • Beachie Keen

    So wait- these are the same commissioners who are concerned about the wild horses and overcrowded 4WD beach parking?!

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 11:16 am
  • Mym

    To get some prospective on the size of the proposed hotel, the Hampton Inn in Corolla (near Pine Island) has 123 rooms on 3 floors and the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk has 180 rooms on 5 floors. This Saga project will degradate the whole ambiance of our area here in Corolla.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 11:49 am
  • Steven

    Like the NIMBY folks in town, now Carolla is being NIMBY.
    What folks dont seem to realize is there are a plethora of high-density dwellings, especially in Kill Devil Hills, as far as one can see in both directions, east side and west side of road..

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 12:35 pm
  • Kitty Hawker

    Skip you are wrong in thinking this is not an entire beach problem and solely the burden for Corolla. This thinking that all towns are separate has made Saga the monster that it is. We are a “beach community” and what happens in one town trickles down to the next. If we want to start making a difference, the beach as a whole needs to fight Saga as a united front.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 1:38 pm
  • Jeff Walker

    One can’t help but note the irony of people taking full advantage of the regional disparity in capital resources to buy up and overdevelop what had been one of the last few remaining unspoiled bits of coastline, now getting sand in their britches over someone with even more resources and less concern for the sustainability of this place doing the same.

    A pox upon all their rental houses and mixed use condo developments.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 1:45 pm
  • BK

    Kitty Hawker spot on/ yes this development impacts everyone who relies on RT12N and the homeowners in SS whose roads are used as pass throughs that add more snarl when only 2-3 cars fit back on 12 after a light change.
    And yes/ it has been divide and conquer whether it’s Duck pedestrian crossings, or MCB etc.
    Where are all the homeowner associations and doesn’t Corolla have a civic association and Whalehead community a property group? How did this get so far along?

    The property in question only a few years ago was a single family with PUD overlay and the parcels in question were commercial within the PUD. The Currituck BOC voted FOR a special use

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 2:47 pm
  • Alice Momenee

    I am a property owner in the Whalehead subdivision in Corolla, who is in adamant opposition to the proposed multi-use, high density development at Rt 12 and Herring St. With a small group of other residents and property owners, we have been diligently working to try to stop this unnecessary addition to Corolla’s landscape, which will have a devastating impact to the community. There are so many reasons why this is wrong, and I firmly believe that the county could have and can still stop this development, or at least work to mitigate its extremely negative and permanent effects.

    As the author of a recent petition, which has garnered 1,200+ signatures (and growing), I feel that I can speak for the hundreds of residents, property owners, and visitors that have contacted me in the last week to express their concern over this project. I firmly believe that the only people that want this project, especially the 172-room hotel, are those that will directly or indirectly financially profit from it being built, i.e., Currituck County tax dollars, SAGA, and those that own tourist businesses, such as a horse tours or other retail businesses. I would challenge the county and SAGA to examine their conscious on the long-term effects of expansion — how would this type of increased daily traffic/people in northern Corolla and Carova even begin to be advantageous to the precious resources that Currituck County and the region pride itself on protecting – our natural habitat, scenic beauty and not to mention – our wild horses? These are just some examples, but there are so many others as to why this type of development is incredibly detrimental for Corolla and goes against our community values and statutes. Corolla does NOT need a large hotel…and those who think so, do not understand, or appreciate the values of the Corolla community, or want to protect these commodities.

    I can say with certainty that people not only in Corolla, but all over the eastern seaboard and throughout the US, oppose this development and other similar ones in the northern Outer Banks.

    County commissioners and the developer have the power to stop or mitigate this development. It’s not too late for both of them to DO THE RIGHT THING for the community, instead of just looking at their own financial gain.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 3:33 pm
  • Dano

    Corolla civic association represents businesses mainly. I think you can see why they never oppose any new rental home building. Our county Commisioner’s are to influenced by rental home companies. Corolla used to be a nice place, now it’s getting to be Jersey shore south.

    Thursday, Nov 9 @ 5:24 pm