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There may be a lot less new asphalt in Wilmington's future

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Parking lots in Wilmington are rarely if ever used to capacity.

Wilmington is in the midst of reviewing draft land development codes: they’ll define how the city grows and changes for the next several decades. And one major change may help address stormwater flooding and infill at the same time.

Back in 2019, city staff ran a study to see how many parking spaces are used in front of Wilmington businesses. They found that most parking lots in the city averaged less than half full across both weekends and weekdays.

That — and the city’s lack of green space — is why planning staff decided to eliminate minimum parking requirements in non-residential zones in the draft land use code.

City Planner Ron Satterfield explained the proposed changes at a recent joint meeting between City Council and the Planning Commission.

“We believe a majority of our retail centers, banking facilities and some of the others are over-parked, Where 60-70% of the sites are not being used,” he said.

That study found that restaurants are the exception, so those businesses, alongside vehicle repair and others, won’t see new limitations on how much parking they can build.

Getting rid of minimum parking requirements will allow new commercial centers to have more green space, will help with stormwater problems by limiting impermeable surfaces, and could let existing centers create new businesses with in-fill development on existing parking spaces, planners said.

The draft land development codes are currently under review, and they’ll receive a public hearing on Thursday, June 24 at CFCC's Union Station (502 N. Front St.), starting at 8:30 am. The meeting will be streamed live, but participants need to attend in person.