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Planning board votes on Castle Hayne sand mine, townhomes on old Masonboro golf course

Published: Mar. 8, 2019 at 6:14 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The New Hanover County Planning Board approved a special use permit with conditions for a sand mining operation on Castle Hayne Road during a meeting Thursday night.

The conditions include rolling of Sledge Road, drainage prevention, stick-built fence, post-construction decibel testing with 65 dB maximum and more. Noise violations will be punished per the county law.

The sand mine decision will now move to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in April.

The board also voted to deny The Cape Homeowner’s Association’s appeal of the Technical Review Committee’s preliminary approval to build a subdivision on old Masonboro Golf Club, meaning they affirm the TRC’s decision. But the board said there are still many steps ahead before neighbors will potentially see townhomes developed.

Click or tap here to read the full agenda packet.

A proposal to build a high-intensity mining operation in the 4100 block of Castle Hayne Road was unanimously approved despite drawing opposition from neighbors in the Wooden Shoe subdivision, River Bluffs neighborhood, Indian Trail/Trail Oaks Drive community, and other concerned citizens.

More than 100 residents showed up to Thursday’s meeting wearing white in a sign of solidarity against the sand mine proposal. They also held signs with phrases like “No Sand Mine.”

Hilton Properties Limited Partnership, a family-owned company, is working with the law firm Rountree Losee LLP on a rezoning request for 63 acres of land from rural agricultural to conditional use heavy industrial. Hilton Properties also requested a special use permit to develop a 28-acre high-intensity mining operation.

At January’s meeting, the New Hanover County Planning Board voted for a continuance on the sand mine decision until its March meeting to allow the developer more time to create a plan for mitigating truck noise and environmental concerns.

Neighbors are concerned that 60-80 truckloads per day on Sledge Road would cause noise, vibration, and dust for the nine family homes adjacent to the property. Residents brought signs and recorded sound of what they say will be loud noise created by dump trucks going in and out of the proposed mine.

Neighbors also worry that property values will decline.

Will Grant, who lives about 2.5 miles from the sand mine site in River Bluffs, brought a Bluetooth speaker and played the sound of a dump truck out loud for the room to hear what neighbors might experience.

“Best case scenario, these people are going to be subjected to 72 decibels, which is what i was playing,” said Grant. "Every two minutes, for eight hours a day, for the next four to six years.”

One of the applicants refuted that the dump trucks would be as loud as the speaker played in the meeting.

Grant said now that the NHC Board of Commissions must decide, the neighbors will continue to fight against the sand mine with facts and data.

“We are totally against what was decided tonight for the noise issue, for the injury to property values we have," said Grant. "(Our presentation) was not allowed to be presented tonight. We basically feel like we were under a gag order tonight.”

The sand mine proposal team met with residents on Feb. 12 to explain Sledge Road improvement plans, which were reiterated by the applicant on Thursday.

Road improvement plans include paving, a 10-foot high fence, and a 10-15 foot tall vegetative buffer of wax myrtles. The gate entrance to Castle Hayne Road will also be moved further up Sledge Road to prevent truck back-ups, and the speed limit will be 15 mph.

Since that meeting, the Concerned Citizens of New Hanover County said it organized a plan to stop the sand mining operation from being approved because it “would present serious public safety and environmental threats and will adversely affect area property values,” according to a news release.

New Hanover County staff writes that applicant-provided evidence shows the mining operation would not endanger public health or safety. Staff also writes that it would not hurt nearby property values.

A homeowners association’s appeal of a proposed subdivision at the old Masonboro Golf Club was denied by the planning board Thursday, and residents were upset.

The appeal itself was “unprecedented territory,” NHC Planning Board Chair.

The Cape Homeowners Association said it doesn’t want the proposed Windsor Pines subdivision that would be built in the 8800 block of Sedgley Drive and in the 8700 block of Lakeview Drive. The subdivision would include 132 townhomes on about 53 acres on the land previously used for the Masonboro Golf Club.

More than 100 residents gathered while attorneys and key stakeholders spoke, and members of the general public were not permitted to share their concerns.

The Cape Homeowners Association appealed the decision because of the increased home density, increased impervious surfaces causing stormwater flooding concerns, and sole access using the Cape’s private roads.

“When you build places around other existing neighborhoods, they raise the ground or even level the ground, then they bring in all this asphalt and concrete," said Cahill. "Where does that water go? They have no plan for it to go anywhere. We live 800 feet off the cape fear river, it’s all marshlands around.”

“At this time, there has not been an agreement established to allow use of the private roads, and the applicant has stated that the HOA will not consent to the proposed development using the private streets of The Cape,” according to the agenda packet.

After back and forth from the HOA’s attorney and the applicant’s attorney, the board eventually agreed it’s not the job of the technical review committee to make judgments about the concerns raised by the HOA.

While the appeal was denied, the planning board said there are several more steps that need be taken before any development can begin, but that did little to satisfy neighbors who not only disagree with the logistics of possible construction on the land, but also felt they weren’t allowed to voice concerns.

“The public didn’t get a chance to talk. We didn’t a chance to say anything," said Eddie Cahill, who added the townhomes would be right next to his home. "They keep talking about stormwater runoff. They didn’t see that golf course under three feet of water. We did, and you’re going to build a house in the middle of that? Makes no sense. They didn’t give us a chance to talk and make our voice heard.”

The technical review committee approved the subdivision’s preliminary plan in December, and the new development would bring the area to the maximum density allowed under its zoning.

The board agreed it isn’t the technical review committee’s job to rule on those concerns, and no laws were violated.

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