- I will be writing more on this subject later in the day, but I wanted to share the article that appeared in the Sunday, November 1 edition of the Carteret News-Times. Already the site visits to the blog has jumped since the publication of the article online, so I welcome all first time visitors to the site and I hope that your visit here helps to educate and enlighten you on the events that took place in and around Newport during the Civil War.
Civil War site targeted for rezoning
Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 1:06 AM EST
NEWPORT — Town council will consider Tuesday night a rezoning request that involves a Civil War site here.
The board is set to meet at 6 p.m. at the town hall. Two opportunities for public comment are on the agenda in addition to two public hearings for rezoning requests, which will be held soon after the start of the meeting.
Ballou Enterprises of Morehead City seeks to change various zoning classifications now in place for property it owns at the end of Fort Benjamin Road, off East Chatham Street near Newport Middle School to an all-encompassing R-20 residential classification. That would allow for development of home sites of about a half-acre each.
The site and the battle that took place there are the subject of an historical marker on East Chatham Street (Old Highway 70) and also described on a state Civil War Trails marker at the corner of Main Street and East Railroad Boulevard.
The roughly 44-acre parcel currently falls into a “mixed bag” of zoning classifications including R-20, R-15 and industrial warehouse, Town Manager Dick Casey said Friday.
Mr. Casey said he was unaware of any expressed concerns regarding the significance of the site or any town policy in place for handling historic preservation concerns.
“I don’t think we have a specific procedure for that but it would be part of the whole review process,” said Mr. Casey.
John Davis, chairman of the town planning board, which already reviewed the request, said the potential historic significance was discussed but, so far, no subdivision plans have been submitted.
“But we really didn’t have any discussion of what the impact would be,” he said. “It would become an issue once a subdivision request is submitted.”
According to CivilWarTraveler.com, Confederate soldiers built the barracks here early in the war but they were occupied by Union forces during the Fort Macon operations in 1862. A battle here in early February 1864 resulted in a short-lived Confederate re-occupation of the area.
Former Newport Councilman Eric Lindblade, now living and working at the Gettysburg, Va., historic site and set to release a book on the battle of Newport later this month, said any development of the site would be a tragic loss.
“It’s a pretty significant historic site in that not only were three Union regiments at that site through the duration of the war but it was also the scene of the battle of Newport Barracks,” Mr. Lindblade said.
He said Carteret County has already lost many of its Civil War sites to development, such as the site of the Bogue Sound Blockhouse now part of Brandywine Bay near the corner of McCabe Road and Highway 24. That site is also marked on a Civil War Trails marker at Gethsemane Cemetery.
“If a subdivision comes in, you’ll lose an entire battlefield in Newport,” he said. “The site, there is obviously not much out there now and I’ve never heard of any efforts to preserve it, but this is a battle site where three members of the 9th Vermont won the medal of honor. Nowhere else in Carteret County can make that claim and there’s a chance Confederate soldiers are still buried on that site.”
Mr. Lindblade’s book is based on years of research of the Newport battle. He also recently purchased a U.S. flag that was flown over Newport Barracks by the 9th Vermont. He has posted photos of that flag on Facebook and on his Civil War blog site at http://newportbarracks.blogspot.com.
Calls made Friday to Ballou Enterprises’ listed phone number were not answered.
The other rezoning public hearing on the agenda concerns a request for a townhome development just off Roberts Road. That request relates to a subdivision zoning nuance few other than bank loan officers would appreciate. But it does reflect the current state of the residential lending market.
Developer Kim Willis, a former member of the County Board of Education, plans to build townhomes on the sites of two former mobile home parks, which have since been cleared, in the town’s one-mile extra-territorial jurisdiction outside the corporate limits. Town building inspector Bob Chambers described those parks at “substandard.” Although there will be no difference regarding the construction, a zoning change is needed to allow the units to be sold as townhomes with the developer’s desired layout.
Originally planned as duplex apartments to be sold as condominiums, Mrs. Willis was previously granted a special-use permit to build four duplexes on the north side of Oscar Hill Road and three on the south side. Two units have since been built, along with a common sewer system and well to accommodate four buildings and a paved driveway on the north side of the property. But the economic downturn made financing condos “impossible,” according to Mr. Chambers’ report to town council.
“She now wants to convert the whole project to townhomes,” Mr. Chambers said.
That’s because banks are more willing to make loans for townhomes, he said.
“A condominium is an ownership concept only and has nothing to do with the construction or type of building,” Mr. Chambers said, adding that the buildings in place are “structurally independent.”
The only zoning classification that would allow the type ownership and site plan desired is a planned unit development (PUD).
PUD approval is a multi-step process, beginning with the council’s approval of a sketch plan. Then, a hearing must be held for the PUD zoning amendment and conditional use permit. The town planning board must review the preliminary plat prior to that hearing. The preliminary plat will be presented to the public at the hearing.
At the close of the hearing and after council deliberates, there is a three-part process for PUD approval, including a vote to approve the zoning amendment for Phase 1 on the north side of Oscar Hill Road and Phase 2 on the south side; a vote to approve the conditional-use permit for phases 1 and 2 and requirement of organization of a homeowners association; and a vote to consider the plat on the north side of the road as “Phase 1 final,” which will allow conveyance of the two buildings (four units), which are ready for occupancy.
The Phase 2 final plat for the south side of the road will be presented for council approval at a later date.