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UPDATE: Planning board approves five residential developments in Brunswick County

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 6:29 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - It’s one of the fastest growing counties in America and over 4,000 new homes are on the way.

Eric Dunham, chairman of the Brunswick County Planning Board told WECT that all five of the planned unit developments on the agenda received approval at a planning board meeting Monday night.

One of the proposed subdivisions is in the Leland area, two are along Highway 211 and the other two are in the southern part of the county.

Dunham said that all the areas considered for development are currently zoned residential and that they are described in the county’s Unified Development ordinance as residential, therefore no rezoning was required.

“Having been raised here for 49 years, I have seen a tremendous growth in the area,” said Brunswick County resident and business owner Sharonda Davis.

Davis isn’t just happy seeing her home county’s growth — the Brunswick County business owner says it also means more potential customers for her small business.

“I’m the owner of Grateful 365, LLC,” said Davis. “We do event planning like bouncy house rental.”

Developers have caught on to the trend of families moving to the state’s fastest growing county.

“At tonight’s meeting, we have just above 4,000 residential units on the agenda,” said senior planner Marc Pages. “The majority of that is — probably three quarters of that is — single-family residential, and the remainder is townhomes and multifamily.”

The largest planned development proposal is Timber Farms. That would be on the corner of 17 and Longwood Road near McDonald’s and the Golf Cart Outlet.

“A lot of the activity we’re seeing, especially the larger developments, are in the western part — Ocean Isle Beach, Calabash, Sunset Beach — that bleed-over from metropolitan Myrtle Beach,” said Pages. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of pressure there.”

Three developers have worked on finalizing plans for the five subdivisions but there are no guarantees. The planning board says it will address neighbors’ concerns, adding they need to be impressed to approve the projects.

“It’s in an area that I know is sensitive to stormwater, so we have been successful in negotiating with them to over-engineer their stormwater,” said Pages. “It’ll be well above the minimum requirements.”

Another concern is encroaching on farmland. At least one of those subdivisions would be on land currently used for farming. Pages says it’s not a major concern now, but officials are working on making changes to prevent development from hurting agriculture.

“We’re in the process of also updating our future land use plan,” said Pages. “Certainly, encroachment into agriculture is a major concern and that’s going to be something that we will hopefully have some elements in the new land use plan to address that. Hopefully, we can find some avenues to make things a little bit more beneficial for everybody.”

The future land use plan officials are working on may also include incentives for affordable housing — a common problem in the Cape Fear.

“I certainly think having the mixed residential units — because it brings in three different price points — [helps with that issue,]” said Pages. “Trying to get affordable housing is a major concern.”

Even following approval, there’s no solid start date for a groundbreaking.

“That’s always the million-dollar question. Sometimes a lot of these will get approval and we may never see anything happen,” said Pages. “Given the state of the real estate market right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some movement pretty soon, but the developer has not shared that information with us.”

Davis hopes the subdivisions get approved and her business, much like Brunswick County, continues to grow.

“I think it’s going to help with the economy, being a small business owner, having people come in, so yes, I think it will help,” said Davis.

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