Emerald Isle residents raise concerns about proposed event center

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A proposed meeting and events center in Emerald Isle has some residents concerned about the potential ramifications.

For the residents of Queens Court, the possibility of an event center going in across from their homes and blocking the ocean views is terrifying.

The town’s hoping to increase tourism, but residents say it will hurt their property values.

Emerald Isle hopes to revitalize the western end of the island. It’s seeking $450,000 from the Carteret County Economic Development fund to purchase a 1.8-acre parcel of land that was a former go-kart track.

That parcel will be combined with the 4.4 acres of public beach access with the hopes of building a meeting and events center.

“We’re doing this for all the right reasons,” Frank Rush, town manager, said. “We’re trying to provide significant economic benefits to Emerald Isle and ultimately make it a more desirable place to be.”

Residents say they’re worried a private investor will build the center closer to the beach instead of further back, blocking their views and impacting their property values.

“Would you want your event center back near the race track or would you want to be oceanfront with that view?” resident Joan Pate asked. “That would be my biggest fear.”

John Huffstetler and his wife recently moved into a unit at Queens Court after he retired. They chose Emerald Isle for the quiet, family-like atmosphere.

“If we would have known about this idea up front, five months ago, we probably wouldn’t have bought here,” he said. “We probably would have gone somewhere it’s a little more family oriented.”

But Rush says the town isn’t planning to lose its access or the 165 parking spaces with it. He says the project is only in its infancy stages.

“We’re on step one of about 50 steps,” he said. “We absolutely want the neighboring property owners to be involved as we go forward and encourage the public to be involved. The question now is whether we should purchase the land.”

Residents say they aren’t against progress but are concerned about losing their property values and negative effects on wildlife like sea turtles.

“We want progress but not at the expense of the people who have been here and made Emerald Isle what it is today,” resident Margaret Estell said.

Rush says the town will work with any future developers to adhere to building height requirements and the town’s land use plan.

The town is once again meeting with county commissioners on Monday to try to obtain the $450,000 it needs for the property. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

 

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