NHC commissioners set to vote on new development along S. College Road

Whiskey Branch gets planning board approval

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County commissioners are set to vote on the rezoning of land for the Whiskey Trail development along S. College Road Monday, March 1.

Earlier this month, New Hanover County Planning Board unanimously approved the development.

Board members said this property would be developed regardless, so it was better to have a large, laid-out plan than a bunch of pieced together developments. They also agreed it was a good stop-gap between Monkey Junction and 17th Street for restaurants.

The property comprises over 64 acres of undeveloped land on the 4400 block of South College Road. Developers Ward and Smith, P.A. and property owners Dry Pond Partners, LLC requested the land be rezoned from R-15 to a Planned Development (PD).

The new development includes 280 residential units comprising single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. This is a lower number than initially requested and equates to roughly seven units per acre. There will also be a hotel, restaurants, office buildings, and a 10,000 sq. ft. shopping center. The developers will also improve drainage of the land.

The estimated build-out (completion) date is 2024, but one of the developers said that it’s likely going to be sometime after that.

Residents near South College Road objected to the traffic such a large development will bring. One resident, Nancy Downing-Gainer, said she has had to wait over ten minutes to turn from Weybridge Lane onto South College Road, even while many people are working from home during the pandemic.

“This project isn’t going to cause the traffic on College Road. The traffic on College Road is there, and this project just happens to be the last major piece. So these guys are the last ones out to get their project in where all these other developments have come in and they haven’t had to do all that this project is going to do to try to minimize traffic impact,” said Chairman of NHC Planning Commission Paul Boney.

Other residents say when you are living in a growing city like Wilmington that more traffic is bound to happen.

“We are concerned about that—but Wilmington is growing tremendously and so many areas around New Hanover County are being developed and I think that’s just part of the growth process,” said Gidget Karlof a resident in the Fox Fun Farms development.

Developers estimate the site to generate 8,900 daily trips, a decrease from the over 10,000 daily trips estimated under Dry Pond’s 2019 proposal for the land which consisted of 324 apartment units and a large shopping center. The board voted 4-3 in favor of that rezoning application before developers withdrew from the project.

A couple of people opposed to the development cited over-commercialization and loss of trees and were concerned about cars speeding through nearby neighborhoods.

“I would like to preserve the community for all of our neighbors,” Downing-Gainer says.

Other residents also expressed frustration with the proposed construction, saying they prefer to keep their community away from such rapid change.

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