In the first week of the new year, local governments will take the preliminary step to review planning and zoning changes that could have an immediate impact on development in the Wrightsville Beach area and throughout the county. Both Wilmington and New Hanover County have controversial issues scheduled for their planning board meetings.
On Wednesday, Jan. 3, the Wilmington Planning Commission will consider a rezoning request from the owners of Dockside Marina & Restaurant for property across Airlie Road which is used for a parking lot.
Dockside owners are again seeking a rezoning from the city to make upgrades to the restaurant’s parking lot. The owners of the lots at 1303 and 1308 Airlie Road are asking the city to approve rezoning part of the lots to residential R-5 zoning, from its current R-15 zoning, and approve a special-use permit for the parking lot to pave and enhance the lot, creating 80 parking spaces. The zoning request also creates two residential lots on the property. The Wilmington city planning staff recommended approving the zoning change, with some conditions.
In May 2016, Wilmington city council members urged the restaurant to continue to work with neighbors, who argued that rezoning the parking lot to commercial would invite more development to the west side of Airlie Road. In August, Dockside owners withdrew the rezoning request.
During the Jan. 3 meeting, the city’s planning commission will also consider rezoning 139 acres of the Echo Farms Golf & Country Club, which developers are proposing to change to residential R-15 to accommodate a new residential development. Many neighbors are opposing the change, arguing it will bring more traffic and put more pressure on the Barnards Creek watershed.
On Thursday, Jan. 4, the New Hanover County Planning Board is scheduled to review changes to the special-use permit policy, which oversees how county planners review and approve industrial development projects. The policy was enacted after the controversial Titan Cement plant proposal in Castle Hayne, but business leaders argued the process was too demanding, driving potential employers out of the county.
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