New Hanover County commissioners want more time to discuss vision for developments on west bank of Cape Fear River

The now-empty land is New Hanover County property, but two projects are still on the table that could potentially add to the county’s skyline
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:34 PM EST
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The discussion continues over proposed developments on the west bank of the Cape Fear River. The now-empty land is New Hanover County property, but two projects are still on the table that could potentially add to the county’s skyline.

[Is development of the west bank of the Cape Fear inevitable? Both high density development proposals are still on the table]

The company developing the plan for The Villages at Battleship Point, a 20-story apartment complex wants to create a new zoning district to move the process along. Developers will present their case to the county commissioner’s on Monday. The request was denied by the county planning board in December, but this appeal is the next step in the process.

At their agenda review meeting on Thursday, county commissioners said it is unlikely they will make a decision on the text amendment, saying they want more time to discuss their vision for the future of the west bank of the Cape Fear River.

“We’re going to need a little bit more time to actually just look at the area and see what it is that the commissioners actually want to see there,” said Julia Olson-Boseman, chair of the county commissioners.

New Hanover County Planning Director Rebekah Roth spoke recently about what past county leaders have envisioned for this area.

“Our current policy is that we want it to look like downtown Wilmington,” said Roth. “That is something that our board of commissioners has established several times over the past 25 years.”

Commissioner Rob Zapple, however, says he wants to use the new proposals as an opportunity to speak with the community about what to do next.

“We have a moment here to just stop and take a breath and let’s have a discussion.” Zapple said. “What do we want this to look like in the future? Do we want skyscrapers and glass and steel structures, or do we want something more modest that focuses on the beautiful landscape, the environmental issues, the history of there, the culture of our area there or anything in between?”

Zapple suggests the commissioners will table any action during Monday’s meeting.

“That’s what we were anticipating,” said Zapple. “Hitting the pause button on anything, including this project.”

The group behind the text amendment proposal and Battleship Point development says they are ready to answer any questions and concerns the commissioners may have and want.

“We are doing what we think is right and taking care of all the issues that people have raised and we’re very proud of our product,” said Jim Lea, the attorney representing the development group.

The commissioners meeting is set for Monday, January 10, at 4:00 p.m. at the New Hanover County Courthouse. To view the meeting agenda and the proposed text amendment, click here.

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