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Currituck Plans to Steer Growth to Maple and Barco

By Jeff Hampton

The Virginian-Pilot ©

January 6, 2012

Maple, NC

A Currituck County complex covering nearly 700 acres has the potential to attract enough commercial and residential growth to Maple and Barco to rival Moyock, officials say.

The complex already has an airport, a business park, a large cooperative extensive center and a new YMCA/senior center.

Now the county is planning to spend $9.3 million more over the next five years to build tennis courts, a skateboard park and tournament-quality softball fields. Currituck officials are hoping the new projects will cause restaurants, stores and possibly motels to spring up on nearby farm fields.

Two miles away, at the busy intersection of N.C. 168 and U.S. 158, a 57-acre tract zoned for mixed use of businesses and homes is for sale. Just a few miles north, along N.C. 168, is Nicholson’s Point – a part-residential, part-commercial subdivision that was stalled by the sour economy but could be restarted at any point.

Two years ago, the county mapped Barco and Maple into a plan that allows for clustered development with smaller lots and setbacks. A sewage treatment plant at the Maple complex could be expanded to service the new growth, said Currituck County planning director Ben Woody.

Combine all of that with a new bridge proposed to connect the mainland to Corolla and conditions are ripe for planned growth that could convert the farming communities into what Woody called a more pedestrian-friendly version of Moyock.

“We have a chance to create a unique place,” he said.

With the advantage of sitting near the Chesapeake line, Moyock has grown to a community of about 7,000 – Currituck’s largest, and more than twice the size of Maple and Barco combined.

Barco already is seeing a small sample of development with a convenience store, a bank, a shoe store, a nursing home and crab-processing plant along N.C. 168.

The new bridge would shorten the drive from there to the Outer Banks to about 15 minutes, adding a selling point to the new business park that so far is still vacant, said Currituck economic developer Peter Bishop. The facilities, the bridge, new neighborhoods and businesses could fuel a “mini-reversal” of the recession for the area, Bishop said.

The county business park offers 11 large lots designed to attract light manufacturing. College of the Albemarle and the county plan to build an aircraft maintenance training facility there, and a new YMCA and senior center just opened two weeks ago. A cooperative extension center opened four years ago.

Plans are in the works to build new animal shelter there. The county’s new reverse-osmosis water treatment plant and the sheriff’s office and jail also sit just on the other side of the 5,500-foot airport runway.

Locals have not complained much about the complex or proposed subdivisions, but there is concern.

“I think it’s a good thing, as long as it is being built observing the impacts on people who already live there,” said Ginger Morris, owner of Morris Farm Market in Barco.

John Sawyer, a resident of nearby Ponderosa Mobile Home Park, is less enthused.

“I want it to stay country,” Sawyer said. “We’ve got a 7-Eleven on the corner.”

Jeff Hampton (252) 338-0159 jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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