New Hanover County Commissioners want to press pause on new 'Riverfront Urban Mixed-Use' zoning request
At Thursday's agenda meeting, the New Hanover County Commissioners gave their thoughts on the text amendment proposal for a new zoning that would create a “Riverfront Urban Mixed-Use” on the west bank of the Cape Fear River, allowing much higher density development — including a $500 million project that's waiting in the wings.
The problem? Flooding. The new zoning regulation is being requested by a developer who also wants to use it to build on Point Peter — that’s right near the Battleship North Carolina, an area that’s prone to flooding even on sunny days.
The project being proposed for Point Peter, is called Battleship Point which is set to be a $500-million endeavor. Frank Pasquale of KFJ Development requested the text amendment to allow for this project.
Environmentalist advocates have come forth in opposition to the amendment, saying the environment is not suitable for such a big development — citing concerns about flooding. Some are concerned about the potential cost to taxpayers if the government is forced to help stabilize development on flood-prone land; others have argued for preserving the Gullah Geechee heritage of the area.
The amendment proposal previously went to the planning board, who rejected it in December — but they don’t have the final say. Now, it’s being brought forth to the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Rob Zapple spoke up during the agenda meeting, saying the consensus was that there needed to be a deeper discussion on what they wanted the west bank of the Cape Fear River to look like. He pushed to table the conversation at Monday’s regular meeting to allow for a work session to be held.
“So I think it would be inappropriate at this time to move forward with a text amendment that’s being requested here,” Zapple said.
Commissioner Johnathan Barfield also expressed concerns about environmental impacts and suggested having a third party engineer look at Point Peter and provide a comprehensive report for the board to review before they make a final decision.
Currently, advocates say there is no dynamic flood or watershed modeling having been done out in Peter’s Point, making it hard to say for sure what water levels will look like with solid numbers with dredging of the river, storm surge and other factors that come together to make up “compound flooding”.
The board scheduled meeting is Monday, January 10th at 4 p.m.