After months of fine tuning, Wilmington City Council approved the creation of a new zoning classification during its March 19 meeting.
Tuesday’s decision resulted in the rezoning of about 600 parcels, most of which are located between Dawson Street and Greenfield Lake.
The new classification, urban mixed-use, is designed to spur growth within the 1,945 corporate limits where current zoning regulations have been thought to deter development. Zoning requirements are designed to promote the reuse and redevelopment of existing buildings and parcels of land.
The new zoning district allows for buildings along arterial streets to be four stories or up to 45 feet tall, buildings along residential streets to stand at two stories or 35 feet tall and makes room for exceptions to the two previous qualifications by allowing construction of up to 75 feet with a special use permit.
Former Wilmington City Council member Ronald Sparks made an appearance during the public hearing regarding the decision, and urged council to re-examine language that restricts potential builders from using certain types of materials.
“The overall goal of the UMX is to make it so people can develop this area,” Sparks said. “You’re tying our hands.”
Council then tried to reach common ground with Sparks regarding the best way to phrase the idea that they just don’t want to see plain old, flat, grey cinderblocks.
“We’re all in the same church,” Sparks said. “We’re just not in the same pew.”
Christina Hughes, senior city planner for the project, said she believed the language used to craft the code was the best city planning staff could come up with.
“I can tell you,” Hughes said, “in my 14 years of planning, there’s no right answer. I believe what’s captured here is the heart and soul of what the community wants.”
Glenn Harbeck, director of development services, said, “This is a very significant rezoning. We’re trying to get every bug out of this now, and that’s the right thing to do, but if and when the council adopts this, there are going to be bugs because that’s just the nature of the beast.”
Harbeck added that the land use code could be amended quarterly, providing opportunities to work bugs out as they arise.
Several members of the community spoke out in favor of the new rezoning prior to council’s decision.
Council also approved the award of $1,215,370 construction contract to Barnhill Contracting Inc. of Castle Hayne for improvements to roads and stormwater systems in the College Acres Area.
This contract calls for the repaving of areas along Rose Avenue, Mallard Street, Oriole Drive, Park Avenue from 52nd Street to Hinton Avenue and parts of Clear Run Drive.