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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Two Leland development projects put on hold amid flooding concerns

Facing pressure from residents, Leland has voted to delay two major development projects that could translate into major tax revenue for the growing town.

Leland's Town Council has delayed making a decision to move forward with development plans on two large projects after hearing flooding concerns from residents. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Leland’s Town Council has delayed making a decision to move forward with development plans on two large projects after hearing flooding concerns from residents. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

LELAND — Residents in Leland have spoken out, resulting in a vote by Leland Town Council delaying two large development projects.

Town action on both a 77-townhouse development and a 100-to-120 townhouse development have been postponed until next month.

RELATED: In proposed agreements with developers, Leland is promising utility service despite having no infrastructure

At Leland’s Town Council meeting Thursday, neighbors of a proposed townhouse development off Village Road spoke in opposition to the development of a residential area.

Settler’s Village

The development, entitled Settler’s Village, is being planned near Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO headquarters and would abut Sturgeon Creek. Settler’s Village would feature three-story townhouses with a four-foot sidewalk on Village Road.

“This is your gateway to the town,” the development’s planner, Dan Weeks, told Town Council. “This is a development that’s walkable.”

On Thursday, Council could have voted to conditionally rezone the project from commercial and residential to T4O, a mixed-use, high-density designation in the town’s General Urban Open district. Instead, Council voted to continue the public hearing on the conditional rezoning until next month after hearing concerns from the property’s neighbors.

On the outer limits of Leland’s Gateway Planning Area, Weeks said the development is in line with Leland’s vision for future development. Weeks acknowledged that adjacent property owners had voiced environmental concerns in community information meetings so far.

Susan Seltzer, a former Leland planning board member who also happens to be a neighbor to the proposed development, spoke against the project in front of Council.

“I cannot understand for the life of me why you would put that much impervious surface on the flood zone,” Seltzer said. “That’s it.”

Arthur Holden, the proposed development’s direct neighbor, brought up the potential for wildlife displacement in the area, as well as privacy concerns. “I’m not opposed to growth in the area,” Holden said. “I walk out my backyard, I don’t want to be looking at somebody looking down at my bedroom; I’m sorry that’s just me personally.”

Another neighbor of the proposed development, Damon Barr, said flooding would be inevitable if another major hurricane impacts the area. “Some of those projects, they’ll be underwater if we have another hurricane like [Florence],” Barr said. “As far as that creek came up, that’s going to happen.”

After hearing multiple neighbors’ concerns, Council voted to delay approving the conditional rezoning until Nov. 15.

Bishops Ridge

Leland’s town staff recommended Council delay any action on the Bishops Ridge development agreement and annexation before Thursday’s regular meeting. The agreement would offer Bishops Ridge a $100,000 incentive to develop 100-to-120 townhouses adjacent to Stoney Creek, a community that experienced devastating flooding during Hurricane Florence last month.

When the development agreement first appeared on Leland’s agenda the week prior, staff had recommended approval. Also included in that initial agenda was a sewer agreement with H2GO, that was since removed.

Gary Vidmar, the town’s economic and community development director explained the staff’s change of mind when the public hearing for the agreement was opened.

“Particularly in light of the occurrences of the last several weeks and the adjacency of this parcel near the Stoney Creek neighborhood and sensitivity to the concerns of the community, Council and the neighborhood, staff has asked the developer to do some more research, staff would like to do research of its own to ensure that the steps are going to be taken in this development relative to stormwater runoff and wetlands and the special hazard flood area,” Vidmar said. 

Town manager David Hollis said Leland’s staff will work on gathering any available flood data in the area before next month’s meeting.

“With that in mind, we’d like to continue this public hearing until Nov. 15,” Vidmar said.

Because Council voted to continue both hearings, the public did not have the option to speak in favor or in opposition Thursday.

Update Oct. 22: This article has been updated to add clarification on Settler’s Village as requested by the Town of Leland.


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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