Compass Hotel Passes Planning Board, But With Conditions

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The Beaufort Planning board approved site plans Monday night for the controversial Compass Hotel coming to Cedar Street. The project has garnered criticism from some residents due to it’s design, height and adherence to town ordinance.

After two hours of presentations, public comment and discussion, the board voted 3-2 to send the project to the Board of Commissioners.

The plans were not approved outright, however. Two conditions were included: that two strips of NC Dept. of Transportation right-of-way be conveyed to the owners, and that an existing marina on the property be brought up to current town code.

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The hotel’s site plans show a 77,632 square foot hotel with 101 guest rooms. The hotel, outdoor pool, and parking lot cover most of the 2.8 acres that are to be developed, including sections of the NC Dept. of Transportation right-of-way.

A letter from NCDOT indicated that the agency would saw no reason not to convey the two sections right-of-way, and that the issue would likely be discussed a meeting in November.

According to Town Planning Director Kyle Garner, several town departments reviewed the plans before they were sent on to the Planning Board. Town staff concluded that the plans met all town requirements, and Garner recommended the board give its approval.

Garner, Town Engineer Greg Meshaw and representatives from the hotel took questions from the board ranging in topic from parking adequacy to stormwater run off. After the board’s inquiry wrapped up, eleven members of the public took to the lectern – all of them concerned about the hotel.

Concerns voiced during public comment included:

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  • Stormwater management and flooding on Moore Street
  • Light pollution and the height of a divider fence
  • The size of the project in relation to the size of the property
  • Whether the project includes enough parking
  • Questions about the satellite parking lot’s zoning
  • Whether the FAA had, or would, permit the project to move forward
  • The possibility of additional attractions, such as a restaurant, being added to the project and placing additional strain on parking
  • The maintenance of a proposed retaining basin
  • Public safety regarding a driveway exiting onto Orange Street

After public comment ended and a few more minutes of discussion by the board, a motion was made to deny the application. That motion was seconded but failed 2-3.

Eventually Planning Board Chair Ryan Neve put forward the motion that eventually passed 3-2, including the NCDOT right-of-way and marina conditions and four recommendations: that dark sky lighting be used to reduce light pollution; that the town get another opinion on stormwater management, that consideration be given to whether there is adequate parking to support marina traffic, and that the orange street public safety issue be addressed.

Before the plans go before the Board of Commissioners, the hotel’s developers have to submit another application to the town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) regarding the satellite parking lot within the local historic district. The first application they submitted was tabled in June, then deemed incomplete and denied at an Oct. 2 meeting.

The next HPC meeting is Nov. 5, and the earliest the Board of Commissioners will review the plans is December.

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