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Development group requests annexation of west bank property into Town of Leland

One of the fastest growing towns in the state could be getting a little bit bigger.
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 6:50 PM EST
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - One of the fastest growing towns in the state could be getting a little bit bigger.

The developers of the Villages of Battleship Point proposal are seeking annexation from the town of Leland after hitting road blocks in the New Hanover County planning process.

The proposal includes 24 stories of retail and residential space, featuring hundreds of condos and apartments, a hotel, a museum, restaurants, and shopping amenities, like a grocery store, to make the area self-sufficient.

The New Hanover County planning board denied their requested text amendment back in December. KFJ development appealed their ruling in January, but the discussion among commissioners was tabled before the meeting began.

Developers are now looking for support across the river, where the project has caught the attention of Leland town leaders. A text amendment to create a riverfront mixed use zoning district will go before the town’s planning board this week.

”We’re looking for opportunities to grow and this looks to be a possible development that would grow the boundaries of the town, so those are some benefits,” said Town manager David Hollis.

It’s a move New Hanover County leaders didn’t see coming.

”It certainly caught our attention,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple. ”I know that our planning staff and county manager is looking into it carefully and I know there will be staff discussions between Leland and our staff and Brunswick County as we sort out what the details are around this.”

Kirk Pugh of KFJ Development says they will continue to keep the New Hanover County proposal alive too, but after facing the delays in the rezoning process, they went looking for other options.

“New Hanover County is our home obviously and it’s where we went to begin with, but it doesn’t appear that the county will be able to act as expeditiously as the Town of Leland can,” said Kirk Pugh of KFJ Development.

The zoning delays cost money and in Leland, approval could happen in as little as three months. If the text amendment and the zoning changes pass the planning board, they will go before town council for final approval in mid-April.

“It’s really the first hurdle in a long race… we haven’t been able to cross the first hurdle yet,” explained Pugh.

Environmentalists and the NAACP have already sent letters to Leland with their concerns about the sprawling 24-story complex. Developers and town leaders alike say those worries will be addressed in the permitting process they must clear before the shovels hit the ground.

“If they’re able to build something there, great. if it’s what they dreamed to be built, that’s great, but if it’s something different that’s allowed with the zoning, that’s okay too,” said Hollis.

The text amendment is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s planning board meeting in Leland.

New Hanover County leaders haven’t set a date for the workshop to discuss the future of the property, but it’s likely to be sometime in March.

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