Staff brief NHC Commissioners on Cape Fear River west bank development options
Development on the west bank of the Cape Fear River has been discussed for a long time, but in recent years, projects have come forward to the county to consider. Last week, a second work session was held to discuss potential zoning changes to continue development while addressing concerns.
New Hanover County Staff presented county commissioners with the pros and cons of five options, laid out from least to most dense: conservation, limited use, working waterfront, small-scale mixed-use, and urban mixed-use — the latter is effectively the current zoning.
Each option addresses concerns of flooding and cultural heritage to different degrees and, as staff noted, there are planned transportation projects from NCDOT that need to be taken into consideration as well.
Another potential issue is public spending, regardless of who owns the land. Public money would have to be used to supply sewer and water lines to the area, and that only increases with the density. However, an appeal for higher density is increasing the tax base for New Hanover County.
While flooding was not explicitly mentioned in all of the background materials, Planning Director Rebekah Roth was quick to mention that it is one of their main concerns with developing this area.
“I do think a more detailed flood risk and potentially even hydrologic assessment sounds like what y'all would want to have in place before foreign policy decisions were made about development in this area," she said.
Staff said it’s impossible to have an exact image of what the west bank will look like in the coming years because the amount of sea level rise may change, but that sea levels are expected to rise.