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

Jan 10, 2020

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.