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Developers for the Villages at Battleship Point still considering all options, including Leland annexation

Developers put planning request on pause for Battleship Point project
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 2:18 PM EDT
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - Development company KFJ Development has confirmed it is still considering all options when it comes to the planned mixed-use community known as The Villages at Battleship Point on the western banks of the Cape Fear River.

Despite some confusion from media reports, Kirk Pugh of KFJ said all options are still on the table. That includes both a request to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners for a rezoning of the land and an annexation request.

However, the developers have asked Leland to give them more time on the annexation request and the public hearings.

“We have explored options, obviously with the town of Leland and we’ve gone pretty good way down that path. But we have stopped short of actually completing the annexation, the public hearings for the annexation, subject to further study. Leland hasn’t said no to us, we haven’t said no to Leland. But the same applies to New Hanover County,” Pugh said.

When it was debated in December of 2021 by New Hanover County’s Planning Board, a rezoning request to create a new district called the Riverfront Urban Mixed Use Zoning District, was denied. But developers have appealed that decision. In January New Hanover County Commissioners in tabled the discussion but work sessions are being held so commissioners can learn more about the proposal.

“On March 31, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners held a public work session to receive information regarding potential development on the western bank of the Cape Fear River across from Downtown Wilmington. The Commissioners appreciate the information presented by officials with the public and private sector regarding this space,” according to Alex Riley, New Hanover County spokesperson.

“More details are being gathered at this time to share with the Commissioners to help develop a better understanding of what potential development on the western bank could look like and would require. The Commissioners will continue to review the information provided to make the best decision for the surrounding environment as well as the current and future citizens of New Hanover County.”

Leland Town Manager David Hollis confirmed the request for annexation is still on the table, and delaying the public hearings will ensure transparency.

“They have not withdrawn their request. The public hearings are delayed until the May meeting. In coordination with the applicant and to assure transparency, the second step in the annexation process, the receipt of the certificate of sufficiency from the Clerk and the setting of the public hearing, is on the Regular Council Meeting agenda for next Thursday night,” he said.

“Often this second step is performed at an Agenda Meeting the Monday before the Regular Meeting on Thursday, but to assure the public is aware of this step in the process and they have ample notice of the public hearing, it has been placed on the Regular Meeting.”

The project has faced opposition from many different groups since it’s inception. One of the main concerns which continues to come up is the lack of affordable housing in the county.

Although this project would not include affordable housing, Pugh said he believes any development is beneficial to creating more affordable options.

“There is an argument to be made that housing development at any level creates opportunity at every level. So when when you see a market where which is in dire need of inventory like ours is now, what you find is that somebody who may want to luxury condominium or who may want to luxury apartment is occupying homes in at levels that they wouldn’t maybe otherwise do. So they’re in a sense taking away more affordable options,” he said.

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