Sunday, April 21, 2024

Raleigh tech giant ups development acreage for ‘The Point’ in resubmitted application

Olson is looking to rezone two parcels, totaling 30 acres, to construct seven dwellings, a swimming pool, boat dock and accessory buildings. (Courtesy Topsail Beach)

TOPSAIL BEACH — Todd Olson’s proposal for rezoning a portion of undisturbed land in Topsail Beach to build on has been updated for the second time in two months. 

Olson submitted the conditional rezoning request to the town March 14, asking to add 13 more acres than previously submitted in January. The planning board will review the application at its March 27 meeting.

READ MORE: Pendo founder submits revised plans for The Point with half the acreage

ALSO: A ‘David and Goliath struggle’ ensues: Topsail residents grapple with potential development of The Point

Olson’s application was considered incomplete when he first sent it to the board in January; staff requested additional information such as proposed ingress and egress easement, height of the proposed deck and gazebo, and denoting which areas of the property will remain in conservation. Initially, Olson wanted to rezone 37 acres when he presented his plan in October, which came with pushback from the public. After hearing their concerns in a forum, Olson decreased it to 16.9 by January. 

He is now asking to rezone 30 acres and has increased the impervious surface, the total amount of newly constructed building area, by 37% from October’s plans. In January, Olson had already proposed a 10% increase.

Olson is under contract with the McLeod family to purchase all 149.86 acres, currently zoned conservation, at the southernmost tip of Topsail Island. 

CATCH UP: One man’s vision to build a family compound on part of 150 acres has Topsail residents decrying its development

The new submission proposes two parcels instead of one to be rezoned — one 26-acre tract in the center of the point and a 3.9-acre property adjacent to the Banks Channel. 

The new submission also increases the number of dwellings to be constructed to seven — in January Olson submitted six. Of the seven, six would be 4,000-square-feet, single-story 41-foot-tall buildings, with one being 2,400 square feet.

The exact location of all buildings has not been determined and Topsail planning staff has agreed to allow flexibility, as long as future construction takes place within a predetermined “building envelope” — or allowable section of land.

The updated proposal also calls for a swimming pool and cabana, maintenance building, beach access and pedestrian walking, septic systems and a marina to accommodate six vessels (previously nine according to January’s submission). The marina is not intended to obstruct pedestrian or boat access along the Banks Channel beach.

Olson is still requesting a 20-foot-wide gravel driveway to access the compound, which will sit behind a gated entrance.

According to the application, the rezone is considered “low density, low-impact development” since the total impervious surface is 0.8% of the nearly 150 acres total; no wetlands will be impacted; the driveway would be constructed with pervious surface; and the remaining land would remain conservation.

The Olson family also announced it has been discussing a partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust — which oversees the land directly south of Topsail Island, Lea and Hutaff islands — to ensure 119 acres are conserved.

Olson and his wife Laura, as well as friend and business partner Eric Boduch and Jen Sikora, sent a letter to town council stating they will formalize the conservation proposal before closing on the land purchase to “overcome the concerns and lack of trust of the community.”

Topsail locals fear any development on the land will lead to more construction. Dubbed “The Point,” the area is considered a “treasure” on Topsail Beach — a 2.5-mile portion of undisturbed sand, dune and ocean. Many want to conserve it in its entirety and have suggested Olson would not allot continued access to the beach; however this is not the case, nor is it legal to prohibit the public from using the land.

The letter states it will take about a year to determine exactly which areas are best to protect to better guide the location of construction. The 12 months gives architects, landscapers and contractors time to analyze how to develop in a way that is low impact for wildlife habitats, another sticking point for locals.

The parking lot at the end of the adjacent neighborhood, Serenity Point, will remain open to the public, as will beach access except in front of the private development.

“As a limited low-density single-family project, this property should not be required to provide public ocean or sound access,” the application states in reference to the private driveway access. “Any access to the Atlantic Ocean or to Banks Channel will be self-contained within the tract, as shown on the plan, and will be for the sole use of the applicant.”

Public access to the beach through Serenity Point and the existing lot will remain. People will still be able to walk the loop from ocean side to sound side.

Buildings will be phased, starting with one or two dwellings and amenities, and is scattered to be built over “several years” after closing on the property.

While many residents continue to protest the proposed development, Olson sent a letter to town council attempting to assuage concerns.

“If it wasn’t for our strong desire to see this property end up with owners who are determined to find that good balance of low-impact development and land conservation, we would not have injected the chaos and expense of this process into our lives,” the letter states.

Resident Roy Costa, who has been vocal about opposing the development, stands by his need for zero impact to the land: “Conserving the Point is of utmost importance to many of us. Any development will forever destroy this natural habitat.”

The planning board meets at 10 a.m. Monday, at Topsail Assembly Building, 720 Channel Ave, and the application will be considered as an action item.

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