Tempers flare at Fun Park hearing
By Toby Tate
Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tempers flared Monday as dozens of Corolla business owners and residents directed room-clearing anger at Currituck County Commissioners about the proposed Corolla Fun Park.

The applicant is seeking a special use permit for a proposed fun park, which will include a 36-hole miniature golf course, a go-kart track, spin zone, children’s playground area and arcade.

Several opponents attended Monday night’s hearing, only to see it delayed because additional information was brought up by a representative of the applicant, IG Holdings of Kitty Hawk.

“The applicant has asked that we continue item five due to some review issues that arose within the last 45 minutes,” said Commission Chairman Paul O’Neal.

Many of those who came to speak at the hearing, however, were not convinced of the reasoning behind the continuance, shouting their disapproval as commissioners struggled to continue the regular meeting.

“This is on your agenda,” one man declared. “You represent us and you want our votes?” shouted another. O’Neal was forced to call a five-minute recess to clear the room.

Kitty Hawk resident and business owner Michael Meredith, who opposes the Fun Park, told The Daily Advance that the continuance was an injustice.

“I feel like it’s an injustice for the whole community of Corolla to drive an hour and a half each way,” he said. “We met at 5 a.m. and we won’t get home until 9 p.m. We had to rent vans so everyone could get a ride.”

Meredith said there were at least 40 people who came for the meeting.

“Everybody collaborated and came together as a community and for (commissioners) to just not even give anybody a chance to speak seems like an injustice,” he said. “It’s not fair for all these people to go to that much effort and time to get here and then delay (the hearing) like that.”

Meredith’s brother, Andrew Meredith, also a business owner, pointed out that the county attorney and the applicant were meeting in a back room of the courthouse during the first few minutes of the commissioner’s meeting.

“Why wasn’t that out in the open? How come they didn’t have that discussion here in front of us? This is a public hearing,” he said. “They’re making deals in the back room. They obviously made a deal to continue the meeting.”

Michael Meredith believes the continuance was made in hopes that fewer residents will show up at the next meeting to oppose the project.

“That’s why they did it. I think it’s kind of obvious to everyone involved that that’s why,” he said.

The hearing had already been delayed from the last commissioners meeting because there had been no motion made on another related action item concerning additional acreage for the Fun Park site. That item was approved on Monday night.

According to County Attorney Mike McRee, a discrepancy has been noted between a dedicated green area on the property and the NCDENR allocations of green area.

“We found out some information within the last hour that has some potential to have a significant impact on the project,” McRee told The Daily Advance. “In all fairness (to the applicant) because it is critical, we feel like we need to share it. It’s something that we need to evaluate.”

McRee said green space and wastewater irrigation areas for Monterey Shores needs to be properly identified before the project can move forward.

“It might have an impact on the staff’s position on the project and it may be that it can be corrected by moving it somewhere else within Monterey Shores,” he said.

McRee and County Manager Dan Scanlon also pointed out that the county had been asking Carolina Water Service, which operates the wastewater treatment plant for the area, for plats showing a modified green area and wastewater disposal area since last Thursday.

Carolina Water Service could not be reached for comment.

Contact Toby Tate at ttate@dailyadvance.com