Wilmington Planning Commission approves College Acres townhome development

Wilmington Planning Commission approves College Acres townhome development
Rezoning for a 45 unit townhome development was approved for College Acres Drive. (Emily Featherston)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A controversial 45-unit townhome development moved closer to becoming a reality Wednesday, as the Wilmington Planning Commission approved a rezoning request for the Cottages at College Acres.

At the meeting, commission members voted unanimously to approve a rezoning of 4716, 4718, 4722, 4726, 4730 and 4738 College Acres Drive from a residential, R-15, zoning to an office and institutional, O&I-1, zoning.

Located on College Acres Drive between College Road and Racine Drive, the townhomes would be three to four bedrooms each, and sit directly adjacent to the UNCW campus.

Wilmington Planning Commission approves College Acres townhome development

The development originally came before the commission in September, when commissioners voted that it be carried over to allow developers more time to meet with neighbors and UNCW to address concerns raised during the public hearing.

Residents of the College Acres neighborhood were concerned the townhomes would increase traffic, noise and crime they said they already experience living near the university. Representatives from UNCW said at the September meeting they had not had sufficient time to review the plan.

At Wednesday’s meeting, consultant Cindee Wolf represented the developers, and said there had been several changes to the plan since the September meeting.

The biggest, she said, was redesigning the units that front College Acres Drive to be more residential in style, including adding porches, gables and other elements. New plans also include an additional 20 parking spaces, bringing the total to 109, and slight changes to the stormwater management on the site.

Wolf said she and the developers had been in contact with the neighbors, and tried to address the concerns as best as possible.

Several College Acres residents were once again present at the public hearing, and reiterated their concerns that traffic and noise would increase. Several said they also did not believe the designs to manage stormwater would actually work.

Sandra Privette, who was also present at the first meeting, said after the commission’s decisions that she thinks they are not taking the experiences and perspective of the neighborhood into account.

“They do not live out in the area. They do not observe what we observe," she said. "You cannot just go by what’s on paper, you’ve got to investigate it.”

The unanimous approval of the rezoning request came with several conditions, including that there must be some type of “decorative” security fencing on the perimeter of the property, and the Technical Review Committee must sign off on several architectural and engineering aspects of the plan.

Wilmington City Council will consider the rezoning request at a future meeting.

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