NC - Olsons scrap plans to buy, develop Topsail Beach property
TOPSAIL BEACH – After more than a year of emotionally charged meetings, negotiations and renegotiations, a Raleigh couple has pulled the plug on their plans to build a family compound on the southern tip of Topsail Island.
Software entrepreneur Todd Olson and his wife Laura informed Topsail Beach officials Monday that they were withdrawing their application seeking to conditionally rezone about a third of the southernmost end of town.
Todd Olson confirmed in an email to Coastal Review Online Wednesday that he and his wife no longer intend to buy the undeveloped property.
During a short meeting Wednesday morning, the town planning board accepted the Olson’s withdrawal.
The couple in a statement to Coastal Review said they “hope the best” for the property, which has long been referred to as “The Point,” and explained their decision to withdraw their application.
“Despite our repeated requests for time to discuss the details of our rezoning request and come up with solutions together, the Commissioners refused to meet with us one-on-one and routinely passed us off to the Town’s staff and external planning consultant,” the statement reads. “Meanwhile, we understand the Commissioners directly conversed with members of the community who opposed our plans. This one-sided behavior has let to confusion and an unending set of proposed conditions.”
The Olsons also said town commissioners had sent mixed messages, asking the couple and their representatives to quickly respond to complicated requests, “while also regularly reminding us of the generational nature of those decisions.”
“For example, suggesting a two-week deadline to determine the 50-year impact of our plan on the surrounding wetlands was unrealistic,” the statement reads. “While the intent of conditional zoning is to provide guardrails for development, we often felt pulled between making these decisions quickly and alone or ceding full control to a group of elected officials. Neither of these options is good for the Town.”
The Olsons had been under contract for more than two years to buy the land, a deal that depended on whether the town would approve a conditional rezoning request for fewer than 30 acres from conservation to conditional use.
That request was denied earlier this year by the planning board.
Laura Olson and representatives for the family last met with Topsail Beach commissioners Nov. 7 in a special-called meeting to discuss a host of conditions in which the Olsons and town could agree before commissioners cast a final vote on the rezoning request.