Over 40 acres approved for 154 homes in Wrightsboro

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A rendering of the proposed residential subdivision Rachel's Place.
A rendering of the proposed residential subdivision Rachel’s Place.

After a previous request was denied, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning application that would allow a performance residential development to be built on 46.56 acres off Blue Clay Road in Wrightsboro.

The request, made by Cindee Wolf of Design Solutions on behalf of the property owners, Rachel Trask Gonsalves Heirs, changes the zoning of the area from R-20, which has fewer home, to R-10 conditional, which allows for smaller lot sizes and a higher density of housing. Performance developments, like the plan presented in the application, have no minimum lot sizes but do have maximum density standards. In an R-20 zone, 1.9 units per acre are allowed under performance guidelines. That number increases to 3.3 units per acre under R-10 zoning.

“What that does is give you more flexibility because people these days don’t want big hunking lots,” Wolf told Port City Daily in October, adding that would leave more room for green spaces and common areas.

In October, county commissioners rejected a straight rezoning request (meaning no site use and plans were necessary) from the current petitioner as well as two others who own adjacent land. Since then, Wolf and her team finished the development of a site plan and asked for conditional rezoning (which requires a specific plan) for just the 46.56 acres owned by the Rachel Trask Gonsalves Heirs.

Rachel’s Place, the name of the proposed subdivision, would have 154 single-family lots (under R-20, the maximum would have been 88 single-family homes). The current address of the properties are 3013 and 3079 Blue Clay Road, located between Blue Clay Road and Holland Drive just north of the Wilmington International Airport. The county planning board unanimously approved the rezoning request at their Dec. 3 meeting, provided the developers meet three more conditions: plant trees and other vegetation along the Holland Drive frontage in lieu of fences so as to separate the homes from each other and the street in a more aesthetically pleasing way; dedicate a 20-foot easement along the Blue Clay Road for future development into a multi-use path in accordance with the 2008 Blue Clay Corridor Study; and provide more access to the recreation area (that will be privately maintained by the community’s homeowner’s association), which will be located in the middle of the development by adding a pedestrian path from the north. Developers have already updated the plans to add the third condition, so county staff removed that from the proposal that was presented and approved by commissioners.

While there were concerns brought up in previous meetings about adding more traffic in the area, which has a mix of different density residential zones, business and industrial zones as well as nearby Wrightsboro Elementary School, a traffic impact analysis has since been completed per county regulations. Existing roads and traffic patterns were found to be acceptable and approved by both the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. The development would create a connecting road between Holland Drive and Blue Clay Road, which the developers and county planners hope will ease traffic buildup in the area.

Though the conditional rezoning request was approved based on the plan brought forward by the petitioners, the county’s current planner Brad Schuler, who gave the presentation to the board, emphasized that the amendment does not give the developers permission to begin the project. Wolf and her development team will now have to adjust their plans according to the conditions set, apply for the necessary permits from the county and present before the county’s technical review board.