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Council considers condemnation for development

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Wilmington City Council considered a resolution at its Tuesday, Jan. 20 meeting for the approval of an appraisal for condemnation that would allow the Charlotte-based State Street Developers to provide an additional access to a multi-family development off of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

With multiple developments within Wilmington already, including Mayfaire Town Center and the redevelopment of the old Galleria Shopping Center land, State Street Developers is planning to construct a multi-family development on 43 acres of property just north of the Target shopping center and south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

The only access to the development would be through Hunters Trail, a two-lane residential street. With multiple private properties surrounding State Street’s property, one option for an additional connection State Street pursued was to cut through the retention pond behind Target off Columb Drive and connect Hunters Trail with Columb Drive. However, State Street was unable to reach an agreement with the owner of the property, listed as Centro Heritage New Centre of Scottsdale, Ariz., to cut through the retention pond with a second access. As a result, State Street requested the City of Wilmington move forward with an appraisal to condemn the retention pond property so as to grant State Street an easement for a city street access to the development by way of eminent domain.

Wilmington Deputy City Manager Tony Caudle said another option would be to connect Hunters Trail with the stump of Ringo Drive next to Target. However, that would require an easement grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation because it would pass through a state-owned piece of land. Previously the state did not have any interest in allowing State Street access through the land but Caudle said NCDOT would entertain an application from the city.

“There was no commitment on the part of the state but they said they would be glad to process the application,” Caudle said.

Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady voiced concerns about the city condemning a piece of land owned by one developer for the benefit of another.

“Eminent domain is an awesome power and we should be careful how we use it,” O’Grady said. “I just don’t think it passes muster. It only benefits one property owner and it does seem like it is interfering with a business transaction that couldn’t be made.”

Councilman Charlie Rivenbark said there would be no negative impact to the retention pond property, as the land would remain a functioning retention pond, just with a city street through it.

As a compromise, Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes motioned to both approve the resolution for an appraisal for condemnation and apply to NCDOT to construct a street through its property.

Haynes’ motion passed with only O’Grady voting against it.

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