Saturday, May 21, 2022

Wilmington Planning Commission rejects coffee shops in historic district despite positive staff report

Coffee shops will not be coming to Wilmington's Historic District (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)
Coffee shops will not be coming to Wilmington’s Historic District (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)

WILMINGTON — Bad news for anyone living in Wilmington’s historic district hoping to have a neighborhood coffee shop — the city’s Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny a request that would have allowed their construction.

Originally submitted in March, the request initially was to allow for fast food establishments in the historic districts because the city code did not specifically categorize coffee shops. The request would have amended city code to include coffee shops as its own entity — and then permit the operation of them within the city’s historic districts, with a special use permit.

These types of stores are already permitted within the historic “mixed-use districts,” with a special use permit; the request would have expanded the area where such shops would be allowed.

City staff actually recommended approval of the request with certain conditions:

  • Prohibit amplified sound outdoors to protect any abutting residential uses
  • Restrict delivery hours (limited to between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm) to eliminate the potential for noise beyond typical business hours
  • Limit the maximum gross floor area to 2,000-square-feet to establish and continue to emphasize neighborhood-scale services
  • Prohibit cooking of foods to clearly differentiate this use from a restaurant use
Despite city staff saying the request was consistant with the Comprehensive Plan, the Planning Commission voted against it claiming it was not consistent (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wilmington)
Despite city staff saying the request was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the Planning Commission voted against it claiming it was not consistent (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wilmington)

The request also received high marks when it came to the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.

But the Planning Commission still voted it down, even though it showed strong support for the plan — a plan they helped create.

Oddly, and in contrast to the high marks given by staff, Planning Commission Board Member Bruce Bowman made the motion to deny the request specifically because he claimed it did not fit with the comprehensive plan.

Residents spoke during the Planning Commission’s meeting in opposition to the request, citing a potential impact on property values and other business-related concerns.


Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.P@localvoicemedia.com

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