Developers withdraw permit application for restaurant at former Scotchman site in Wrightsville Beach

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The developers behind the proposal to put a restaurant and bar at the former Scotchman convenience store site withdrew its plans from the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board on Tuesday, April 3.

Attorney Matthew Nichols told the board that the developers were “respectfully withdrawing” their application for a conditional use permit for the restaurant proposal at 100 W. Salisbury St., where the derelict convenient store building has stood unoccupied for nearly a decade. Nichols told the board that the developers looked forward to “working with the town” going forward, but did not provide the board or Lumina News with details on plans going forward.

After some criticism from planning board chairman Jim Smith for providing short notice for the decision to withdraw, Nichols said that the developers did not make the decision until late Monday evening, with the attorney notifying town staff in the morning.

The withdraw comes after several neighbors raised objections to the proposal, primarily on the grounds that the restaurant would bring in too much traffic and parking to the surrounding area, with some speculating that the restaurant would be more of a bar. Several residents also raised concerns about the boat traffic that the restaurant’s docks would draw. During the March 6 planning board meeting, after several neighbors and residents spoke against the project, the developers asked for a one-month delay to try to better address the concerns.

In the time since the previous meeting, the town’s board of aldermen received about a dozen emails from Wrightsville Beach homeowners and residents raising similar concerns. During the March planning board meeting, several residents also spoke in favor of the project, describing the empty lot as an eyesore and expressing interest in developing a commercial use for the spot.

The restaurant, which would be named “South Seas” if developed, would have turned the 20 foot by 48 foot building into a restaurant with an outdoor seating patio, with capacity to serve 33 people, 17 inside and 16 outside. A nine-slip dock at the end of pier would be available for rent and a single dock in Kenan Creek would be available for the transient boaters to stop at the establishment.

The lot is owned by Reggie Barnes through his WB Watermen, LLC, though Chris Batten told the board in March that he would be the operator of the restaurant. Batten, helped develop Wilmington’s Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods, which he also said uses a small kitchen system similar to the one proposed for South Seas.

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