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Final vote on Wilmington’s updated Land Development Code expected in August

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 12:52 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Dozens of residents packed into the Wilmington Convention Center Friday morning to attend the final joint meeting between city council and the planning commission to discuss some major changes to the city’s Land Development Code (LDC).

Residents, developers, and other stakeholders voiced their concerns with the existing code, as well as things they would like to see changed. Issues with setbacks, noise restrictions, height restrictions, and historic districts were all discussed.

The LDC has not been rewritten in decades and this is a multi-year project that is nearing completion, it’s something that the city says needed to be done since the existing LDC is outdated.

“The city’s current Land Development Code is based on development patterns and building practices that were common in the 1980s. Today, Wilmington faces a different set of challenges than in the 80s, including the need to re-develop vacant and underutilized properties within the city,” according to the city’s website.

There are plenty of things affected by the proposed changes, including several topics of particular interest of city residents.

“The proposed code responds to these new and emerging needs with strategies to improve traffic conditions preserve and grow the city’s tree canopy, better manage stormwater, and develop a more convenient, compact, and connected future city with a smarter approach to land use,” according to the city.

One of the biggest concerns facing residents at the meeting was the encroachment of new developments and existing neighborhoods.

“What we’re hearing a lot of in this public setting today is buffering and how the new LDC affects neighborhoods that are abutting commercial properties, especially in the historic districts, the historic overlay districts but all over the community too,” Saffo said.

So what would these changes do to help alleviate and address some of these problems?

The city provided the following examples:

  • Reduce sprawl by encouraging the re-development of vacant or underutilized properties in the city. This helps to reduce long travel times on major roads and improves access and convenience for nearby neighborhoods.
  • Locate residential housing closer to retail, restaurants, other services and offices. This lessens the need to drive major corridors, which relieves traffic congestion and makes the community more convenient, walkable and bike friendly.
  • Make tree replacement and tree preservation a priority in order to grow Wilmington’s urban tree canopy.
  • Encourage the on-site management of stormwater runoff and structured parking instead of expansive surface parking along major roads. This reduces the amount of runoff and flooding on surrounding roads and properties, and also enhances the appearance of major roads.
  • Locate buildings closer to the street to create a sense of place and make the community more walkable and connected.

As far as when we can expect to see the new LDC get approved, Saffo said he thinks it will be soon — but it won’t go into effect for several months.

The vote will probably take place on August the 17th it may go beyond that, we don’t know there’s a lot of questions that we have to have addressed and answered. I think moving forward, once we adopt it would be sometime after January until the actual ordinances actually take hold

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