LELAND — A parcel directly adjacent to Stoney Creek, a community that experienced severe flooding during Hurricane Florence, could soon be developed into a new neighborhood in Leland.
Though development plans for Bishops Ridge appear to avoid physically building on land directly in the floodplain; proposed townhouses would sit outside the flood zone, but only by a few feet.
Development plans for Bishops Ridge show a townhouse development with 27 buildings will host 100 to 120 single-family townhomes. Located off Hazel’s Branch Road, the development could soon be annexed into Leland as part of a development agreement.
The agreement, which will be voted on next week, shows Leland will pay the developer $100,000 upon completion, in exchange for receiving an estimated yearly sales tax revenue of $80,000. The town has also agreed to provide sewer service to the new development when Leland’s HWY 17 extension project is completed.
Leland has spent at least $300,000 on the project so far, which will include three new lift stations to service the area.
Construction on the extension project could begin as early as March 2019.
In the floodplain
Portions of the proposed development include land at risk of flooding, designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
When Hurricane Florence hit last month, dozens of homes in the Leland subdivision known as Stoney Creek Plantation, flooded. Many of the homes that experienced several feet of flooding were located outside of the 100-year floodplain.
According to the developer’s plans, land currently zoned in FEMA’s high-risk flood zone will be kept designated as wetlands. However, the nearest building sites appear to abut FEMA’s floodplain designation; once houses are constructed, they will sit just a few feet outside the floodplain.
There is no mention of the area’s recent flooding, or the risk of flooding, in the proposed agreement.
Conflict on HWY 17
Flooding will not likely be Leland’s only concern to address in approving the proposed agreement with the developer.
Agreeing to provide sewer service could create a potential conflict with Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO, the utility that currently serves the area. H2GO has spent $3.2 million on its own sewer project to address issues in the area. Construction on the project is expected to complete before the end of the year.
During Hurricane Florence, H2GO’s sewage pump failure resulted in a spill of 228,000 gallons of untreated sewage.
In July, Leland sent H2GO an unsigned agreement, in an apparent attempt to take over sewer service for the area. The agreement appeared on H2GO’s agenda in August for a vote, but H2GO’s Chairman Jeff Gerken later rescinded it, citing it was a mistake.
When Belville became aware of the agreement, the town sent letters to both Leland and H2GO, stating the agreement would be a violation of a current court order. Belville technically owns H2GO’s assets, and is currently being sued over those assets by Leland.
Read the full agreement between Leland and Bishops Ridge here.
Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at firstname.lastname@example.org