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Wrightsville Beach
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Tonight’s agenda: new restaurant, church lots, Old Causeway Drive parking

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Tonight at 5:30 p.m., the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen will hold its monthly meeting. Three public hearings are on tonight’s agenda. Below are a few of the issues on which the aldermen will vote.

New restaurant at former Buddy’s location
Church parking lots
Old Causeway Drive parking
Speed hump on Oceanic Street

Public hearing: New restaurant at former Buddy’s location

The board will vote whether to grant a permit to the new owner of the former Buddy’s location so a restaurant can move in.

The planning board voted unanimously to recommend the aldermen grant the permit. During that May 3 public hearing, three residents spoke in favor of the proposal and none spoke against.

The owners plan to renovate the building’s interior for likely tenants Danny and Earl McPherson, who own nearby King Neptune Restaurant. The McPhersons would run the new restaurant in addition to King Neptune, developing what they called a “high-end, custom-made menu” with items like crème brulee French toast, fresh seafood from Motts Channel Seafood and oysters on the half shell.

Town building rules prevent the new owners from extensive renovations, so despite shrinking the bar, the dining area will still be small. McPherson likened the proposed restaurant to a Cheers-like establishment, “Where everybody knows your name.”

“We’re really trying to focus on family,” he added.

Residents were in favor of the project because they said it would provide a necessary upgrade to the Johnnie Mercer’s Pier area. The main concerns raised were by town staff: planning staff pointed out the limited parking in the area, meaning the permit must include a parking exception for 27 spaces, and fire staff had safety concerns about the building itself, which is more than 75 years old.

Police Chief Dan House had public safety concerns based on the building’s former occupants. Despite Buddy’s origins as a restaurant, he noted, his department received 178 complaints about the establishment over the last five years related to alcohol and noise.


Public hearing: Church parking lots

Currently, at least four churches in Wrightsville Beach open their parking lots to beachgoers on busy weekends. The board of aldermen agreed earlier this year the town should start regulating the practice in case it’s ever an issue, and tonight board members will decide how to do so.

The town’s planning board recommended the practice be a permitted use instead of a conditional use. That would put less hardship on the churches because they wouldn’t have to go through the lengthy, expensive process of seeking a conditional use permit.

Under a permitted use, the churches would simply obtain a permit from town staff. But they would still have to comply with a set of rules the aldermen will create tonight. The planning board recommended regulations to address tailgating, trash pick-up, signage and noise. Churches also must monitor the lots and only accept donations.

The rules would only apply on holiday weekends: Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.


New parking on Old Causeway

The aldermen will vote whether to take the next step in a project to add 39 parking spaces to the west end of Old Causeway Drive.

The spaces—29 regular and 10 compact—would be added by replacing parallel parking with angled spaces. The project would eliminate the existing bike lane but town manager Tim Owens said sharrows would likely be installed to indicate where bikers should travel in the new configuration. The project could also include creating a sidewalk along Old Causeway, he added.

The town already hired an engineering firm to assess the feasibility of the project, and SEPI Engineering & Construction determined the cost for Phase 2—engineering and design—to be $8,360. Tonight’s vote will determine whether to proceed with that phase, which includes permitting.


Speed hump on Oceanic Street

Residents of Oceanic Street have signed a petition asking the town to install a speed hump to stop people driving quickly down the road looking for parking.

There is no street parking on Oceanic Street, but it is one of the first streets beachgoers pass after turning onto N. Lumina Ave. Oceanic Street resident Dave Jacobs expressed concerns to the town “about the number of cars that speed down the street looking for parking.”

Most residential streets have speed humps, a town memo states. The cost of a speed hump is $2,250.



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