Sunday, July 3, 2022

Planning staff opposes 106-unit townhome development near Bradley Creek

City planners recommended denial due to the planned development's location within a "food desert," where limited access to groceries requires greater travel to acquire healthy foods.

A proposal will be made to turn a mobile home park into a 167-unit townhome development. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A public hearing is set to vote on a rezoning request to turn a mobile home park into a 167-unit townhome development. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — City planners have recommended denial of a proposed 10-acre, 106-unit townhome development off Hooker Road, about a half-mile northwest of Wrightsville Avenue near Bradley Creek.

“The proposed zoning map amendment is inconsistent with the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan,” city planner Megan Crowe wrote in a denial recommendation to the Planning Commission. “Staff believes the request is not reasonable or in the public interest and recommends denial of this request.”

A public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, prior to a Planning Commission vote on the proposal. The city’s Technical Review Committee (TRC) reviewed the project’s concept plan on Aug. 30 and Oct. 11; it would require approval from the TRC prior to any construction.

RELATED: A look back on all of the new developments approved in 2018

The 10.7-acre property is now home to a mobile home park called Timberlynn Village, which was annexed into the city in 1999 and designated a low-density residential district. According to New Hanover County tax records, the park, previously known as Ponderosa, has existed since 1968.

A traffic comparison study showed an increase in traffic with the proposed development, but not enough to trigger a city requirement for a more detailed traffic impact analysis (TIA). Crowe wrote that the city’s planning staff believes the area is not suitable for a higher-density development due to the lack of services in the vicinity.

Located in a food desert

“There are no services that may meet the daily needs of the residents in the area,” Crowe wrote. “There are no full-service grocery stores or discount variety stores within one mile of the site.”

This map depicts all existing food store types within the city limits and existing food deserts – areas of the city that are more than one mile away from a full-service grocery store. They are placed into three categories, ranging from limited food choices with few healthy eating options to complete food choices with access to fresh foods essential for a healthy diet. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)
This map depicts all existing food store types within the city limits and existing food deserts – areas of the city that are more than one mile away from a full-service grocery store. They are placed into three categories, ranging from limited food choices with few healthy eating options to complete food choices with access to fresh foods essential for a healthy diet. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)

The city’s comprehensive plan identifies the site as within a food desert, she wrote, and its limited access to groceries “requires greater travel to acquire healthy foods.”

Because the applicant, Howard Penton of Penton Development, is proposing a higher-intensity project surrounded by an established single-family neighborhood, Crowe said the townhomes can worsen traffic congestion because of its isolated, unconnected, and vehicle-dependent nature.

“Redevelopment should be compatible with the existing residential neighborhood,” Crowe said.

According to a rezoning request received by the city on Dec. 17, the site plan would “enable the transformation of an older trailer park into a new residential community which will enhance the neighborhood.”

Timberlynn Village suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Florence, according to the proposal, and there are now 64 mobile homes, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years old, located on 69 lots.

An affiliate of Penton Development currently operates the mobile home park, leasing each lot and trailer at an average of $660 per month.

Pathways, parking lots, and stormwater requirements

The site plan would change the zoning category to a Multiple-Family Low-density Residential Conditional District (MF-LCD), which would allow for the construction of 53 townhome buildings, each containing two one-bedroom units. The buildings would be constructed in a “low-country architectural style” consistent in size and scale with other residences along Hooker Road.

The buildings would be constructed in a “low-country architectural style” consistent in size and scale with other residences along Hooker Road. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)
The proposed “low-country architectural style” of the townhomes. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)

The townhome proposal includes a pedestrian pathway to Ivy Stone Court, part of the Southern Oaks at Bradley Creek neighborhood to the south.

According to the city planners’ recommendation, there is a planned multi-use path on the south side of Hooker Road, which will need to be incorporated into the project’s streetscape and areas along the road.

Crowe said that the city’s fire marshal, after one of the TRC meetings, stated that the streets would need to be widened to 20 feet in locations where parking is on both sides, in accordance with the city’s fire code.

The plan features 167 parallel parking spaces. According to the proposal, these spaces, “when combined with plazas and sidewalks, creates a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.”

Approximately 45 percent of the site plan is covered by impervious surfaces — materials like asphalt, brick, and rooftops — and the proposal’s plans for stormwater management would be reviewed for compliance with the city’s regulations.

Because the property is within a Watershed Resource Protection area and has greater than 25 percent impervious area, it would need to comply with the city’s Exceptional Design standards. The proposal states that its site plan does, in fact, meet this criteria.

City planners have recommended a denial of a proposed 10-acre, 106-unit townhome development off Hooker Road, about a half-mile northwest of Wrightsville Avenue near Bradley Creek. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)
City planners have recommended a denial of a proposed 10-acre, 106-unit townhome development off Hooker Road, about a half-mile northwest of Wrightsville Avenue near Bradley Creek. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy City of Wilmington)

Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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