Planning Board votes down 2,000-acre proposed development

Planning Board votes down 2,000-acre proposed development
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 12:09 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 10:34 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Brunswick County Planning Board unanimously voted against the rezoning for a project that included a total of 4,918 housing units after several community members voiced their concerns about the project.

“This development is just way too much too soon,” said one community member at Monday night’s planning board meeting.

Criteria Development applied for the East Lake Planned Development. The development would sit along Malmo Loop and Colon Mintz roads -- just off of U.S. 74/76. The proposal included 3,925 single-family lots, 693 townhomes and 300 multi-family units.

A development of this size comes with extra scrutiny as recommendations from the county’s Technical Review Committee include at least 25 acres for a viable school site and a site indicated for a future Fire/EMS facility.

Developers have submitted a traffic study based on the preliminary site plan. On an average workday, the study found that the development would add approximately 32,000 trips. Many of these would impact U.S. 74/76 and I-140, with the former bearing the most impact.

Several community members spoke at Monday’s meeting, voicing concerns about wildlife and an already frustrating problem with flooding.

“If this thing goes through, damn well better get, like the guy in ‘Jaws’ said, and get a bigger boat,” said Pete Samsel, who also pointed out that his property floods regularly despite it not being in a flood zone.

“The roads are washed out now and it’s just us there,” said Lana Humphrey, whose property backs up to the proposed development. “Right now, if it rains just four inches, Malmo Loop Road’s going-out-lane is covered in water at two different branch crossings.”

Humphrey says her husband’s family has lived on Colon Mintz Road for generations. Over the years, she’s seen the area grow and even welcomes new neighbors. Although she isn’t against development, she fears something this large would cause problems beyond flooding.

“A disaster is waiting to happen,” said Humphrey. “When you put this many people in a small, crowded area, the pollution imprint is bad enough — but when you don’t have the infrastructure to support it, you run the wildlife onto the highway, [they get] hit on the highway and then it injures a child and you don’t have the ambulance to pick it up and you don’t have a hospital that can get them in the door when arriving with an ambulance. That is a problem.”

A representative from Criteria Development told the board they are willing to plan for a 100-year flood. However, when dealing with an area that’s seen road washouts from normal rainfall, that wasn’t enough to win the board over.

“My motion is to disapprove this at this time,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Joy Easley, citing the concerns presented by community members and her own hesitation after the developer’s representative could not answer a question about a portion of the site located in an unstudied A flood zone.

Both the chairwoman and the developer’s representative declined to comment after the meeting. It’s unclear if Criteria Development plans to adjust the proposal and resubmit it in the future.

While this massive development didn’t get the green light, another development across the street did and is slated to bring 1,800 units to Malmo Loop Road. As developers take notice of this quiet patch of Brunswick County, these residents are ready to fight for their community.

“We want to talk to our commissioners,” said Humphrey. “We’ll probably be at the next meeting if nothing else, just to bring this to the forefront so they are very aware. We all need elbow room. We don’t need 5,000 people in a two-mile area. We all need room.”