Currituck approves inn at Corolla, after complaint

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Shown here is a rendering of a 12-bedroom inn Currituck commissioners approved for construction in Corolla.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, February 11, 2018

CURRITUCK – The Currituck County Commission approved construction of a 12-bedroom inn in Corolla last week.

Before approval, however, the board heard from a future neighbor of the inn who said he’d been misled by the project’s engineer who stated in a letter that the plan called for a bed and breakfast.

Hadley Twiddy plans to operate the future inn at what’s presently an empty lot at the northwest corner of Persimmon Street and Corolla Village Road, just west of N.C. Highway 12. During Monday’s commission meeting, Corolla resident Scott Austin said he believes the future site is going to be an “unmanned hotel.”

Twiddy countered that a staffer is going to be on the premises most daytime hours and said she’ll have a phone number guests can call at night. She also noted the structure will include a designated place where a staffer can spend the night if needed.

The project apparently has been planned for quite a while, with the previous county commission in January 2014 granting a conditional use permit for a 10-bedroom inn. On Monday, Twiddy asked for and received commission approval to increase the future site plans to 12 bedrooms.

Attorney Pat Hudspeth of Kitty Hawk, representing the Twiddy Family Partnership, told the board the switch from plans from a 10-bedroom to a 12-bedroom inn was being requested “frankly because it’s more bang for our buck.”

Currituck Planning and Community Development Director Laurie LoCicero told the board concerns about noise from the future lodging establishment surfaced when community meetings were held about the proposal. Austin said he felt misled by letters to the community from the Quible and Associates engineering firm. Austin presented the letters to commissioners.

“What I have a problem with is with the letters I’ve received assuming this was a bed and breakfast, as stated in the letters,” Austin said. “They said nothing about an inn.”

Austin said he plans to build his retirement home close to the future lodging establishment. He said he’d be OK with a bed and breakfast, because such a business would have a staffer on the premises.

“I think I’ve been hoodooed,” he told commissioners. “A bed and breakfast is fine. A hotel – no.”

LoCicero, in response to Austin stepping forward with his documents, acknowledged it’s a bit misleading to say the plan is for a bed and breakfast.

“It’s very misleading,” Austin said.

Commissioner Kitty Etheridge noted Monday’s commission meeting agenda packet included a letter, dated Nov. 2 from Quible and Associates, stating the plan is for a bed and breakfast.

Twiddy told the board the plan going as far back as 2014 is for an inn. She said Austin is expressing concerns about noise, which she noted she understands given he’ll be a neighbor.

“We certainly have no hopes that there will be loud noises coming from the building,” she said. “If there are, they’re going to upset the other guests. On our end, that’s not a good business plan.”

Commissioner Bob White said other than proposed porches, he doesn’t see a lot of potential gathering places outside. Twiddy said the loudest place in the area is a bar by the Corolla Post Office.

“I think our inn is going to be on the quiet side,” she said. “If anything, I’m worried about our guests complaining about the music from the bar.”

Commission Chairman Bobby Hanig asked Twiddy about whether they’ve had discussions about the future inn’s business hours. Twiddy, noting she’s in a learning curve, said her thinking is to seek input from successful innkeepers about what has worked for them.

Commissioner Marion Gilbert said commission records from 2014 make clear to her the proposal is for an inn. As for the wording of Quible and Associates’ letters, Gilbert said she believes that was an oversight by the firm.

Twiddy acknowledged that was a legitimate mistake, but she said she believes 90 percent of what has been said about the proposal has used the correct terms. 

Austin questioned whether the project is going to open the way for others with commercial properties to build hotels in the area.

White said there are other commercial entities already in the area. He said,” Anyone coming forward is going to build something in conformity with what’s going on now. I don’t think you’re going to get a 100-bedroom inn or anything like that,” he said.

Austin made clear he understands Twiddy needs the increased numbers of rooms to have a successful business. However, he said he had been mislead about the project. “And I hope it gets caught onto sometime,” he said.