Wrightsville Beach aldermen unanimously denied a special use permit application from M&M Development for a parking exemption for 100 W. Salisbury St. The property, zoned C3 mixed use, was previously a convenience store but has been vacant for several years. The vote was taken during the board of aldermen’s monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 14.
Cindee Wolf of Design Solutions revealed site plans for the project, which showed a three-story building with parking on the ground level, commercial units on the second floor and residential units on the third floor.
The project would require 27 parking spaces, but only 17 legal spaces would fit within the proposed parking lot. The board had the option to grant a parking exemption for 10 additional spaces if public parking could be found within 400 feet of the main entrance to the building.
Wolf said the board should grant the exemption because businesses that would likely occupy the building would not require much parking and many of the customers would be people walking or biking the John Nesbitt Loop.
“The vacant site has become an eyesore and it serves no purpose to the town or its residents,” Wolf said. “It’s hard to say what [businesses]will occupy there, but I don’t see high-volume retail occupying these buildings.”
The proposed commercial/retail spaces were estimated at 1,500 square feet, but the board and public’s main concern was the location of the 10 overflow parking spaces. The applicant indicated customers would be able to park on Pelican Drive or walk across Salisbury Street to the building.
Becky Steadman, of No. 2 Pelican Drive, whose property is across Kenan Creek from 100 W. Salisbury St., said parking on Pelican Drive was not consistently available.
“If I owned that business and I wanted to rely on those parking spots that’s not going to happen,” Steadman said. “Along Pelican they’re the closest spots to the beach so on any weekend they’re the first ones to fill up.”
Alderwoman Lisa Weeks agreed, adding that even with a proposed crosswalk, it was still not safe or convenient to require people to walk down that busy section of Salisbury Street.
“As far as public safety is concerned I don’t see how that’s public safety, asking someone to walk down along Salisbury and walk across,” Weeks said.
The board agreed the property needed to be developed to create something beneficial for the town and the residents, but also decided too many issues existed with the proposed project. Mayor pro tem Darryl Mills summarized the board’s mixed feelings:
“We all would like to see something happen over there,” Mills said. “But dealing with all the parking issues we’ve got … some of the residents over there want us to start policing it like we do Harbor Island, so this kind of runs counter to that. It’s not like we’ve had other ideas come to us for that area, so that kind of makes it tough.”