Corolla project highlights challenge of ‘quasi-judicial’ process
By Matt Zabierek | Outer Banks Voice
Earlier this year, a group of Corolla residents tried to lobby the county to deny a special use permit to a local developer who was seeking to put a restaurant, eight housing units and several recreational amenities on a nearby .92-acre parcel that also houses a large water and telecommunications tower.
Residents worried the project’s high density, along with the unusual mix of residential, commercial, and utility uses, would mismatch with the surrounding neighborhood, lower property values and lead to increased traffic in a busy area of Route 12. The site, at 1099 Ocean Trail, is located at the intersection of Route 12 and Shad Street and is part of the 240-acre Corolla Light planned unit development.
Some of the residents outlined their concerns in a letter to the county, and a few spoke in opposition at the Jan. 19 hearing where the project was presented to the county’s board of commissioners. The county’s professional planning staff echoed many of the residents’ density and incompatibility concerns and recommended denial of the permit in a staff report.
But due to standards and procedures in North Carolina state law for how use permit applications must be handled, the board’s seven elected members couldn’t consider any of the public’s input in voting 6-1 to approve the application.