Topsail Beach Planning Board recommends rejection of controversial development proposal
TOPSAIL BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - The Topsail Beach Planning Board recommended the rejection of a conditional rezoning request Wednesday. A family looking to bring seven single-family homes to an area of conservation land on the southern end of the island submitted the rezoning application.
The board voted unanimously to recommend that the town’s Board of Commissioners reject the rezoning application for the development. The proposed complex is south of the Serenity Point neighborhood. A majority of those in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting spoke out against the proposal.
“It appears that the majority of the people are asking not to allow this to go through. So, I think that that has taken into effect of the board,” said Planning Board Member Jerry Hall.
The Olson family submitted plans for the development to the board earlier this year. The family had been contracted to purchase 150 acres of that land. While many of those against the project raised concerns about protecting wildlife in the area, Laura Olson says the family’s plan includes options to improve the environment on the 120 acres that would be preserved outside of the development area.
“The goal of it is to improve the environment of the south end and protect the biodiversity,” said Olson. “And we hope that by actually owning it and working with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust that we can actually improve the situation for birds that are migrating and the local habitat.”
Ryke Longest has been visiting Topsail Beach for decades. He worries about the impact the development could have on the tourism industry and visitor experience.
“I don’t own property here,” said Longest. “So, like many visitors, I depend upon public access as my way of enjoying the beach. And that’s how most North Carolinians who get a chance to enjoy our beaches do so. We do it through public access. So, maintaining public access and maintaining dedicated public parks is a really important value for me and for my kids.”
Ryan Meyer says any development on the southern end of the island, currently zoned as conservation land, is unnecessary.
“I’ve been coming here with my family for 25-plus years,” Meyer said. “Came here with my grandparents, hope to someday come here with my grandchildren. And so, the commitment today to keep the point as conservation land, protected, is something that we’re really encouraged to see.”
The recommendation to deny the rezoning request will now go before the Topsail Beach Board of Commissioners. The board can either accept the planning board’s recommendation or choose to move forward with the application.
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