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Request to Add Commercial Development in Neighborhood Faces Pushback, Gets Postponed

City of Wilmington
The site is located at 122 Sebrall Ave., located near Oleander Drive and in the Seagate neighborhood.

A rezoning request to add commercial development to a residential community generated controversy at the Tuesday, Jan. 7 Wilmington City Council meeting. The request was tabled, and was granted a 120-day extension. 

The owners of a vacant single-family home -- a block off Oleander Drive -- want to open an art shop to sell merchandise on the property. The problem? It’s currently zoned as residential.

Their proposed solution is to rezone the property to a community business district, which allows for retail and restaurants. 

Members of the City Planning Commission, who initially denied the request, worry that this could create a domino effect in the area -- turning a residential community into a mixed-use one, meaning more commercial activity.

Some neighbors, like Kendra Bentley, agree:

“I'm all for people building businesses. But why wouldn't you go somewhere that's already zoned for this instead of going through this kind of process?”

Another concern among City Planning staff: if the property were to change hands, what’s to prevent future owners from turning the site into a fast-food restaurant? 

After the public hearing, Mayor Saffo asked the owners if they would consider re-submitting their request as a conditional use rezoning. That, if approved, would limit the property uses to conditions set by the City. The owners agreed, and the motion passed 6-1, with Councilmember Kevin O’Grady opposing.


Hannah is WHQR's All Things Considered host, and also reports on science, the environment, and climate change. She enjoys loud music, documentaries, and stargazing; and is the proud mother of three cats, a dog, and many, many houseplants. Contact her via email at hbreisinger@whqr.org, or on Twitter @hbreisinger.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR