Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Surf City’s Waterside development now a fraction of its original maximum density plans

The preliminary plat for the Waterside development's first two phases of construction include 170 lots and four stormwater retention ponds. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Cape Fear Engineering)
The preliminary plat for the Waterside development’s first two phases of construction include 170 lots and four stormwater retention ponds. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Cape Fear Engineering)

SURF CITY — The developer of Surf City’s newest subdivision has scaled down maximum density plans that were originally approved for 3,200 single-family and multi-family units.

Alabama-based developer Marion Uter said the new Waterside development on the mainland side of Surf City will be home to 430 single-family lots. He said his group, Surf City Properties, LLC, was also looking into an additional 200 multi-family units in a later phase of construction.

“And that would be it,” Uter said. “It’s a business reason. We’re not multi-family developers, we just do single-family [lots]. We thought it was better to maybe conserve some of that land and not develop with that much density. It’s not a market thing — the market seems great — it’s just not what we do.”

RELATED: Surf City’s Waterside development acquires $21 million loan for construction of first 415 lots

Uter said 170 lots are currently under construction with an expected delivery to national homebuilder DR Horton by the end of the year. All future lots on the property will be sold to DR Horton, according to Uter.

“The next phase is 230 lots, and I have no time frame for that yet. It depends on how well the first phase goes,” Uter said.

In 2015, Surf City Town Council approved the rezoning of the 240-acre tract from residential to a Planned Unit Development. It was pitched as a “community within itself” that would contain over 3,200 residential units and four acres of commercial property.

Matt Haley of Cape Fear Engineering, a Belville firm handling engineering components of the project, said the original developer was the Coterra Development Company in Wilmington. He said Uter’s group is currently working on roughly a third of the land, with no intention of reaching the original maximum density numbers.

“That’s not to say there may not be a decision to maybe provide more dense development — some multifamily or townhomes — in the future,” Haley said. “But that’s going to be market-driven when the time comes … There’s still raw, undeveloped, unplanned land out there that we don’t know what the yield will be, but it’s not going to be anywhere close to what that original approval was for.”

Less stormwater runoff than before construction?

Four ponds have been built to manage stormwater runoff for the first 170 lots, although two are interconnected and act as one. Blue Point Lake, a 2-acre pond on the property’s eastern side, is roughly 1,000 feet from Waters Bay, designated by the state as High Quality Waters (HQW) open to commercial shellfishing.

Uter said that with these ponds, “we’ll probably have less runoff after the development than they did before the development.” 

Haley said that although he expects the water to be released at a slower rate than before development, the volume of water runoff will surely increase.

“We are absolutely going to be generating more runoff volume than in a pre-development condition, because we’re adding hardscape,” Haley said. “To say we’re going to be releasing less water, that’s not necessarily true. But with the ponds we have in this first phase, we should release water at a lower rate than a pre-development condition.”

An aerial image taken in March 2019 shows the four future retention ponds of the Waterside development. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Earth)
An aerial image taken in March 2019 shows the four retention ponds of the Waterside development, with nearby Waters Bay to the east of the property. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Earth)

He also said current plans call for almost 5 percent more open space than required by Surf City’s subdivision ordinance, and that stormwater designs — most recently approved by the state in the summer of 2018 — go beyond usual state requirements due to the land’s proximity to shellfish waters. 

“It’s more stringent than the bulk of North Carolina and the bulk of the coastal counties,” Haley said. “It’s not a rubber-stamp-approval by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve been designed to meet those pollutant removal levels required by the state. The volumes and surface areas are being provided as such.”

Mark Darrough can be reached at or (970) 413-3815

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