In exchange for sewer services, the Town of Leland is set to grow by 300 acres through annexation for residential development

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:52 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - When state lawmakers changed annexation laws in 2012 it saw the once common practice of involuntary annexation cease effectively limiting the growth of municipalities, but in the Town of Leland, annexations are a common occurrence. That’s because although involuntary annexations are largely a thing of the past, voluntary annexations are still permitted, and over the past few years the town has grown considerably through this process.

Last month Leland approved a resolution to ‘investigate’ a voluntary annexation request for more than 300 acres of property located in unincorporated Brunswick County.

Now, town staff has submitted an initial zoning recommendation that will allow for a new residential development on the land.

The property in question is located off Town Creek Road and in noncontiguous to the town’s primary municipal limits and it is all part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Town of Leland and J Earp, LLC that was agreed upon last year.

“Earp plans to develop the Earp Tract as a residential development with single family homes primarily and will need public sewer service for the proposed development. It is the Town’s policy to only provide new extensions of the Town’s water and sewer services to properties outside of the Town’s corporate limits to those properties whose owners have petitioned for the Town to annex the property into the Town. Earp desires to submit a voluntary petition for annexation as a condition for receiving sewer service from the Town,” according to the MOU from last year.

The MOU stated that if the property owner agreed to annex the land into Leland, the town would construct a sewer expansion and complete the project within 18 months of the request.

“The Town plans to construct a sewer lift station on this lot as part of the Hwy. 17 Sewer Request for Action Expansion II Phase 2 project that is currently in the final design phase. The new sewer will service the development that will occur in the Annexation Area,” according to the Planning Board’s agenda.

The property in question is currently zoned as R-R in Brunswick County or rural low density.

“The Rural Low Density Residential District is intended to accommodate nonresidential agricultural uses and low density residential development, as well as limited nonresidential uses that are supportive of the County’s traditional agricultural orientation including farming, silviculture operations and related activities. Development in this District should rely predominantly on individual wells and septic tank systems for domestic water supply and sewage disposal, respectively, although clustered residential development served by public water and wastewater systems may be allowed,” according to the agenda.

However, the property owner is hoping the town annex and zone the property as R-6 or medium density residential, where single-family homes could be built.

Setbacks, density requirements, and minimum lot sizes are significantly reduced in this district compared to the current Brunswick County zoning.

“The R-6 Medium Density Residential District is established for medium density residential homes which encourages the construction, and use, of land for single-family dwellings while at the same time prohibiting commercial and industrial use of the land and any other use which would substantially interfere with the development of single-family dwellings," according to the Town of Leland.

Town staff is recommending the Planning Board approve the request; the Planning Board will meet to consider it on Sept. 22. Regardless of the Planning Board’s recommendation the ultimate decision will be up to the Town Council.

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