Middle Sound Loop Road annexation, final budget vote on council’s agenda Tuesday

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Wilmington City Council on Tuesday will consider a developer’s request to annex more than 12 acres of property for a proposed shopping center at the intersection of Market Street and Middle Sound Loop Road.

The developer, Halpern Development Co., is seeking annexation into the city for a 12.7-acre site with plans to construct a 72,000-square-foot retail shopping center an a 9,500-square-foot auto car center that would make up the future Ogden Market Place, according to Malissa Talbert, spokeswoman for the City of Wilmington.

City council approved a resolution for the annexation last month and will vote on it at Tuesday night’s meeting, Talbert said. If the annexation request is approved, the next step would be to hold a public hearing in August on the property’s zoning designation, Talbert said.

If the annexation is not approved, the property would remain under New Hanover County’s jurisdiction. If the property remains in the county’s jurisdiction, the developer would be subject to a one-year delay before being able to submit plans to the county again, “unless the proposal is substantially changed,” New Hanover County Planning Director Chris O’Keefe said.

“If the city denies the annexation request the developer could apply for a rezoning immediately as long as the proposal is substantially different from the proposal previously submitted,” O’Keefe said. “We would include the application on the next scheduled planning board agenda. Substantial changes could include differences in automobile and pedestrian traffic circulation, building location and orientation and/or the preservation of some of the site’s natural features.”

Related story: No word on grocery eyed for Ogden-area shopping center

SaveOgden.com, a community group of some Middle Sound Loop Road and other area residents, formed to address residents’ concerns about the size and scope of the project as proposed.

“We are not opposed to responsible development, and would welcome a plan that includes a smaller grocery store and saves the historic live oaks,” the grassroots group states on its website.

A representative from Halpern told Port City Daily earlier this year that a grocery store was planned for the site, but would not confirm whether it would be Florida-based Publix, which SaveOgden.com references multiple times on its website.

Final vote on budget

Council will vote to adopt the city’s proposed $144 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, at Tuesday’s meeting.

Of the $144 million proposed, $95 million is for the city’s general fund, according to Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham. The budget includes a 2.5 cent property tax increase. The increase would bring the city tax rate to 48.5 cents per $100 of assessed property. For the average homeowner in Wilmington–with a home valued at $165,000–that would mean an increase of $3.51 per month or $42.13 per year.

Council OK’d its first of two votes on the budget earlier this month.

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In other business, city council will consider:

  • A resolution with Pyro Shows, Inc. for the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration for $23,000. A related resolution would approve an agreement with Carolina Marine Terminal, for their in-kind donation of $15,000 for tugboat services and a barge, where the fireworks would be launched.
  • Renewal of existing agreements with the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) and New Hanover County Schools for the city to provide three police officers to the WHA and four to the schools. Both agencies reimburse the city for the expense.
  • An ordinance designating $330,000 to demolish buildings at 922 and 908 N. Front St., 901 N. Third St. and 900 N. Second St. “so that the city-owned land can be used for future economic development purposes,” Talbert said.
  • A resolution opposing seismic testing and off-shore drilling activities. “The federal government is asking for public input from communities who would be affected by these activities along the Atlantic coast,” Talbert said.

Click here to view the full agenda.