WILMINGTON — New development and conservation are typically not used in the same sentence, but amidst all of the razing of trees and packing apartments into already crowded road corridors, one development is hoping to limit its carbon footprint in Wilmington.
Plans have been submitted to the City of Wilmington’s Planning Commission for a special-use permit that will allow the development of a 75-foot tall office structure in a planned mixed-use development.
The project is being brought forward by Cape Fear Solar Systems and would be located at the currently vacant property at 901 South Front Street.
“The proposed project includes a multi-phased solar system design and installation company containing a 5-story, 75-foot office structure and a 14,994 sqft warehouse where solar system kits will be stored and placed on trailers for deliveries. Additional phases will include a net-zero exhibition home, solar-powered car charging stations, and multi-family residential buildings,” according to the application.
The area the project is located in is surrounded by commercial, residential, a recycling center, and a future mini-storage and multi-family residential development.
The project would be broken into three phases according to documents, with the first being the construction of the office and warehouse.
The solar canopy and car charging station along with the net-zero house would be phase two, and phase three would consist of a multi-family development consisting of three, two-story units.
A net-zero house is one that operates with a net energy consumption rate of zero utilizing renewable energy like solar power.
By right the developers could build up to 65 dwelling units but only plan on building 13 for the location.
Because of the potential impact on traffic in the area, a traffic impact analysis will be required but has not been completed yet. Currently, the roads in the general vicinity all operate at a level of service A (the lowest level of congestion).
Getting the grades
In order to attempt to adhere with the Creat Wilmington Comprehensive Plan, the city uses a grading system consisting of blue and red circles and half circles. A blue full circle is strong support, a blue half is modest support, a red half is modest non-support, and a red full circle is strong non-support.
In all of the different areas where a grade is given, there is only one red half circle for this project from city staff; the rest are all blue halves and wholes.
In order to approve a special-use permit, the applicant must prove four different things.
- That the use will not materially endanger the public health or safety if located where proposed and developed according to the plan as submitted and approved by the issuance of the special use permit.
- That the use meets all required conditions and specifications.
- The proposed use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining property, or the proposed use is a public necessity.
- That the location and character of the use if developed according to the plan as submitted and approved will be in harmony with the area in which it is to be located and in general conformity with the City’s comprehensive plan, the CAMA plan, and adopted special area plans (e.g. corridor plans, neighborhood plans, Wilmington Vision 2020: A
Waterfront Downtown Plan).
For the question of “will the use injure the value of the neighboring properties,” Cape Fear Solar Systems claims the project will do the opposite.
“This project will have a material and measurable increase on all adjoining and abutting property. The proposed use will facilitate the movement of pedestrians and bicyclists…” according to the request.
Cape Fear Solar Systems say that approval of the project will allow a healthy balance between economic development and natural capital while operating with a neutral carbon footprint.
Michael Praats can be reached by email at Michael.email@example.com or Twitter @Michael_Praats