Opportunity to Provide Input on Draft Commercial Area Master Plan

The Commercial Area Master Plan committee (CAMPC) met on Thursday, February 16, 2023. During this meeting, the Village’s planning consultant (Cole Jenest & Stone) shared the draft plan, the committee provided its recommendations for the plan and its recommended future actions for the Village Council, and the committee received comments from the public.  If you were not able to attend this meeting in person or online, you still have an opportunity to view the draft plan presentation and provide input.  Details on viewing the presentation and submitting input will be shared later in this announcement.

The draft plan reflects the review of Bald Head Island Limited’s Design Guidelines, the Village’s zoning ordinance, and survey feedback from over 200 survey respondents, as well as information obtained from CAMPC and stakeholders on its December 5, 2022, walkabout.

After the presentation of the draft plan, committee chair Kevin Arata commented on behalf of the committee.  Below is his entire statement:

After the January 27, 2023 meeting (the CAMPC’s work session, view minutes HERE), we believe it is important to take a step back and carefully consider the impact of rapid development on our island. The growth and change on Bald Head Island have been rapid and constant, and while this has brought about many positive benefits, it has also put a strain on our infrastructure, resources, and community cohesion. That development and some of its resulting impacts that do not align with the character of our island can have a negative impact on the quality of life for residents and contribute to traffic and parking congestion, as well as other environmental concerns.

The CAMPC has reviewed BHI Limited’s Commercial Design Guidelines and the Village’s Zoning Ordinance. We also reviewed the Vision 2025 work, which was completed in 2017. We noticed many similarities in the Vision 2025 survey and the survey results obtained during the development of the draft Master Plan, as obtained by Brian’s team (Cole Jenest & Stone). The comments from the recent survey have been taken into account for much of what is going to be recommended. Additionally, one of the resounding themes of the Vision 2025 plan was that of “Living in Harmony with Nature” – a theme that we feel should be applicable not only to residential development, but commercial development as well, and this too is reflected in our recommendations.

CAMPC’s Recommendations for Updates to the Presented Plan HERE

CAMPC’s Recommendations for Village Council HERE

After reading the above recommendations, Mr. Arata stated:

In the end, I’d like to think we all want the same thing – an opportunity to get this right this time and set rules in place that ensure Bald Head Island’s few remaining commercial properties are properly developed to fit the character of our island and ensure its viability for years to come.

The purpose of the Village placing a moratorium on development of all unimproved commercially zoned property is to allow our committee to bring back to the Village a set of guidelines and zoning initiatives that would align with a master plan for the island. Allowing one or two projects to move forward before the commercial guidelines are in place would appear to be irresponsible on the Village’s part, as well as politically motivated.

An extended moratorium on all unimproved commercially zoned property will provide us with an opportunity to continue to reassess our current policies and procedures as well as engage in a meaningful dialogue with residents and stakeholders to determine the best path forward. This would ensure that commercial development of the unimproved commercially zoned properties is in line with the values and priorities of our community, and that they are designed to meet the needs of all residents, now and in the future.

The Commercial Area Master Planning Committee therefore strongly recommends the extension of the current moratorium on development on all unimproved commercially-zoned property on the island, until zoning/ordinances can be set in place that codify the proposed Master Plan. This would very likely take upwards of at least another nine months.

If you were not able to attend yesterday’s meeting in person or online, a recording of the broadcast can be viewed online.  The video is posted at the bottom of the CAMPC webpage HERE.  The CAMPC is accepting input on the draft plan through next Friday, February 24, 2023.  There is a contact button below the video on the CAMPC webpage that enables you to email all the committee members at once.