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Moyock site may lose 'mega' moniker

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CURRITUCK – A member of the Currituck Planning Board said this week he believes changing the name of the proposed Moyock Mega-Site might help draw more citizen support for the county development project.

Board member Fred Whiteman made the suggestion during a presentation on the Moyock Mega-Site Tuesday by Carroll Collins, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates in Newport News, Virginia. Collins said based on public input, the term “mega” has folks nervous.

Whiteman seemed to agree. He noted that a number of fellow Planning Board members served in the Moyock small area planning effort, and there being “maybe a 60-40 split” between people in favor of maintaining a rural environment over those who wanted controlled growth.

“But, in both cases I would say that your idea of rebranding the word 'mega' would probably go a long way toward swaying a lot of those folks on both sides — and I would say a lot sooner than later,” Whiteman told Collins.

Whiteman said the site’s name has been a topic of discussion on social media in recent months.

“It's a huge pill to swallow when they see the word 'mega' and they want controlled growth or a rural atmosphere,” he said. “They thinking much bigger than Town Center (in Virginia Beach, Virginia). They're thinking Chicago-style growth.”

Collins told Whiteman, “That's a fair comment.”

Collins noted he and new Currituck County Economic Development Director Larry Lombardi and a Currituck planning and community development official already had discussed the Mega-Site project’s name.

“That's one of those things we need to get addressed,” he said.

The Planning Board unanimously approved recommending Currituck commissioners adopt the proposed Moyock Mega-Site master plan, which was put together by Kimley-Horn. The plan calls for roughly 3,500 acres in northern Currituck to be transformed into a mixture of commercial, office, residential and retail uses in what would be a pedestrian-friendly destination.

Following commissioners’ approval of the master plan, the next step should be picking a new name for the site that doesn't include the term “mega,” Collins said. He suggested the name change take place within 60 days.

Otherwise, public reception of the project has been positive for the most part, Collins said.

Asked by board member John McColley if citizens had expressed any concerns during the public input process, Collins said stormwater had been one issue brought up. However, he noted the existing area for the proposed Moyock Mega-Site historically has been farmland.

“We understand there's some drainage constraints today, but as this would come online, we need to get a better handle on the drainage component,” he said.

Also given the residential development in the Moyock area, the topic of a future school in the area came up. The Moyock Mega-Site proposal includes a site for a school, but pursuing one would be up to Currituck County Schools officials.

Collins said he did not hear many concerns or questions about transportation issues.

Although no one signed up in advance to address the board, Chairwoman Carol Bell, seeing Moyock residents in the audience, invited any of them who wanted to to approach the podium.

Mark Zimmerman took advantage of the opportunity to express a couple of concerns.

“Right now, Moyock has nine subdivisions being built – nine,” Zimmerman told the board. “Where are those kids going to go to school?”

Zimmerman noted he has not seen any schools built since Moyock Middle and Shawboro Elementary opened.

“That's a lot of area,” he said of the proposed mega-site. “That's a lot of houses. That's a lot of people.”

Another of Zimmerman’s concerns related to transportation. Collins had noted earlier that the mega-site plan calls for a proposed east-west road. He said the road should provide a connection between N.C. Highway 168 and U.S. Highway 17 in South Mills in Camden County.

Zimmerman said he was concerned about South Mills Road, the winding two-lane route that starts at Moyock and becomes Old Swamp Road in Camden before terminating at N.C. Highway 343 southeast of South Mills.

“They can't widen that road,” Zimmerman told the board. “How is it going to connect to 17? I'd like to know how he's going to do that. I really would.”

Addressing Zimmerman's concerns about schools, a planning and community development official said the Currituck schools will decide whether future schools are needed based on capacity figures and current daily enrollment data.

The official said the county would take the number of proposed subdivision lots, and then using a formula and assistance from the school district, determine the number of students for each subdivision. The county is OK right now as far as school capacity, but as new subdivisions are added, the school district will probably have to look at the issue, the official said.

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