The City of Wilmington received an application on Oct. 13 to rezone the Echo Farms golf course property.
According to city officials, the application wants to change the property from a Multifamily Residential Medium density to R-15, Residential.
City officials said the difference in the codes is that 17 units can be built per acre in a multifamily medium density versus only three single-family units per acre in an R-15 residential zone.
A housing development project was proposed for Echo Farms in August that would build 275 single-family homes and 400 multifamily homes on and along the course. In response to the proposed development, concerned residents formed the "Save Echo Farms" group in protest.
The application was submitted by Matt Nichols on behalf of the Echo Farms Residents Association, Inc., Henry G. Winters and Irs L. Winters Revocable Living Trust, Samantha Nguyen and Beth Ann Hillman.
City officials said they are currently reviewing the request in an effort to determine any potential legal or financial impacts to Wilmington. While there are several ways a property within the city can be rezoned, a request that is not submitted by the property owner is unusual. Currently, the property is zoned multifamily “by right,” which means the Wilmington City Council would not be involved with a site plan review.
Mayor Bill Saffo released the following statement regarding the rezoning request:
The city wants to do everything we can to promote positive growth for our community. The Echo Farms property is an example of the struggles we face as our city continues to grow.
The Echo Farms group requesting this rezoning clearly cares about our growing city and they are to be commended for that. At the same time, we must continue to look overall at the rights of individual property owners and also look at any precedent that could be made depending of what types of decisions the city could make – not only on the Echo Farms property – but other potential properties.
There is a clear public process outlined in city code and state law that we will follow as we strive to do not only what is legal, but also equitable.
While no official site plan has been submitted to the city for the proposed housing project, the developer is working with the NCDOT and staff on a traffic impact analysis.
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