Council Hears Update On Adopting A Downtown Historic District

Council Hears Update On Adopting A Downtown Historic District

Council Hears Update On Adopting A Downtown Historic District Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 30 September 2020 19:05

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Town of Kure Beach is working on designating the downtown area as a Historic Preservation District. The Council heard a presentation on the matter during their Monday September 21st, meeting.

Planning Commission Chairman Craig Galbraith explained the Historic Preservation Committee submitted an initial report over seven months ago to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (NCSHPO) to establish a Historic Preservation District. To this date they came back with a number of comments."

Galbraith explained, "The two primary comments were that we needed a better architectural narrative to describe actually what is unique to the downtown area that could then be translated into design standards later on as well as we were missing a good quality map."

He explained last year the Committee spoke to Council and Town Building Inspector John Batson proposed spending about $5,000 for the report. Since that time three proposals were received from design firms.

Galbraith said two of the proposals received were well above $5,000 dollars. The committee is proposing contracting with SWCA Environmental Consultants for their services for an architectural narrative that will lead to design standards for buildings in the downtown area.

He explained SWCA proposed a contract cost of $3,000 dollars.

The report is expected to take three weeks and presented to Council shortly thereafter.

Following the report and approval by the NCSHPO, the Town will hold public hearings before any amendments to the Town's Code of Ordinances or Zoning Laws are voted upon in order to give the public a chance to offer feedback.

Councilman Joseph Whitley explained, "We need to finish this because we need to have to roll it into the Land Use Plan. The Town's state mandated Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Plan guides development throughout the Town and mandates regulations in close proximity to the ocean.
Whitley explained, "We have some urgency that is beginning to build as we look twelve, eighteen months down the road."

Galbraith explained, "I think everybody recognizes the characteristics of what our Town is about, has to do with scale and design. It's not architectural, it's not materials" and, "It's going to be more based upon scale rather than looking at the actual materials."

The proposal doesn't actually require the design firm to visit the Town in person which could increase the cost of the study. Photos of the area will be provided to them.

Council member Allen Oliver questioned why SWCA would not come to Town to view the downtown area first hand.

Galbraith explained, "Proposal one does not require them to come to Town, that's clear, but I think what Mr. Eldridge is saying is that if they do come to Town we should make sure there is insurance coverage for that."

Oliver said, "I just don't know how they can do the job without coming to Town."

Galbraith said if SWCA doesn't come to Town, he will likely walk around the area and take photos and videos of the area and provide that to SWCA. He said, "The State didn't even come down. They usually come down but they realized it was such an effective way of looking at a community that they may establish in the future but they don't actually visit when they designate."

Galbraith also pointed out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, State officials are prohibited from coming to Towns for the purpose of considering Historic Districts.

The Council voted unanimously to approved of the contract. The purpose of seeking to establish a downtown historic district is to preserve the small town atmosphere that has for many years made Kure Beach a popular low-key tourism destination and residential community with low profile, old style buildings and while there are larger homes and subdivisions located throughout Town, the downtown area and residential areas south of K. Avenue continue that old fashioned atmosphere that so many people enjoy.

According to SWCA, "The Town of Kure Beach, North Carolina is a small coastal community located at the southern end of New Hanover County. The Town is interested in protecting and safeguarding its history, particularly its unique mid-twentieth century commercial district. In February 2020, the Town of Kure Beach HPC began the process of designating a four-block area as a local historic district by submitting a Report and Recommendation for the Designation of the Downtown Kure Beach Historic Overlay District to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (NCSHPO). On April 17, 2020 the NCSHPO responded to the report with a list of recommended edits. The Town is seeking a consultant to revise the report based on some or all of the NCSHPO comments."

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