The process for getting a special use permit in Wilmington has changed. Last night the City Council voted to streamline the procedure and remove a step. The new rule means applicants will not have to appear before the planning commission.
A special use permit is needed when a property owner wants an exception to the city’s zoning code. Now, City Council will cast the only vote. Council member Charlie Rivenbark approved the change.
“The Planning Commission will not have a vote. And that's one of the reasons why we thought all along about just removing it from the planning commission because they don't have a vote.”
Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes says because the process is a quasi-judicial one, removing a step in the public discussion makes the process more fair to the applicant.
“So we are really sitting as judges up here and we are only supposed to make decisions based on what we actually hear at that meeting. So when it's all been verbalized and vetted prior to our meeting, if we should happen to hear that or be a party to that, then we should not be doing that.”
Kevin O’Grady and Clifford Barnett voted against the measure. O’Grady wants to keep the public hearing in front of the planning commission in place, although without a commission recommendation to council. The new process is effective immediately. Vince Winkel, WHQR News.