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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Community meeting, rezoning application, roadway improvements planned for up to 575 homes on South College

A third rezoning application is in the works for the 80-acre Tarin Woods II project. (Port City Daily photo / New Hanover County)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The developer of the Tarin Woods residential project on South College Road will submit a rezoning request for nearly 80 acres; it’s the third time rezoning for the project has been submitted in four years.

The second phase of the Tarin Woods includes 71.85 acres of land zoned R-15, a low-density area that would allow less than 200 units. Developer James Yopp said he plans to ask the county to rezone the property to R-5, a higher density area that would allow a maximum of 575 housing units. Yopp hopes the zoning allows him to build a ‘transitional’ development, with denser units 478 (made up of quadruplexes, triplexes, and duplexes) abutting commercially-zoned properties as well as 97 single-family lots.

Yopp has applied twice before for similar rezonings, including a request in October 2018 to rezone the area to R-7, which allow 145 single-family homes, 143 townhomes, and 192 apartments. The proposal was ultimately withdrawn because a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) was not yet complete. A year later, in November 2019, a second application was filed, this time for the denser R-5 zoning, which would allow just shy of 600 units.

The development would extend the original Tarin Woods project, which currently includes 130 single-family homes on about 52 acres. The development has also recorded 118 home sites on just over 49 acres of Tarin Woods II (single-family homes will be allowed regardless of whether it receives a new zoning.

Concerns, improvements

Both times, residents voiced concerns about overcrowded schools and traffic congestion. Yopp has pointed out in the past that while developers frequently make roadway and utility improvements as part of conditional rezonings they aren’t responsible for building or expanding schools.

Yopp said his development has already expanded the water system in the area, building a lift station and turning it over to CFPUA, which along with other improvements have helped provide better water pressure in neighboring residential developments.

Yopp also noted that he has been working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) to address traffic impact since November 2016.

“That’s when we started working through plans for traffic, meaning TIA, scoping, all that,” Yopp said. “We spend about two years working on traffic concerns before we even started and made our first rezoning application.”

During Yopp’s second attempt, the New Hanover County Planning Board disagreed with the development’s proposed traffic improvements; Yopp said his team was frustrated, since those improvements had come verbatim from NCDOT and WMPO, and because alternative improvements suggested were also shot down.

Yopp said after withdrawing his November 2019 application he went back to the NCDOT for new ideas on how to address traffic, which he said would be incorporated into his next application. Some of those suggestions included improved interconnectivity with neighboring developments, additional entrance to the development, deceleration lanes, and double turn lanes.

Total density, ‘demand for diverse housing’

Yopp said he’s heard complaints and allegations that his previous pushes for density were strictly profit-motivated, but said he’s trying to address a demand for a diversity of products that both fit the county’s land use priorities and the type of housing for which residents are asking.

“For one, it doesn’t make sense to build single-family hopes that abuts on a zoo — on a lion’s cage — or a six-hundred unit storage facility, or a strip mall,” Yopp said. “That’s not practical. It’s not what the county’s comprehensive plan is looking for — and it’s not what all people are looking for. Not everyone is looking for a four- or five-bedroom home. You’ve got that first-time homebuyer, or someone who has retired.”

Yopp pointed to a dearth of housing products priced under $300,000 in the region, saying that condominium products could help meet that demand; he stressed that quadruplexes — the densest structure allowed under R-5 zoning — was a good compromise between the expense of single-family homes and the density of ‘multifamily’ structures (i.e. traditional apartment blocks).

If a rezoning to R-5 was approved, the end total size of the Tarin Woods development would be 173.11 acres with 823 housing units — an average of 4.75 units per acre.

Yopp also noted that the project contains 28.27 acres of open space (which is 3.5 acres more than New Hanover County land-use plans require).

Community meeting, next steps

There will be a community meeting for Tarin Woods II on at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, at the Best Western Plus located at 5600 Carolina Beach Road, 6:00 p.m.  You can find the notice for the meeting, and information about contacting a representative for the project here.

No official application has been filed yet for the rezoning. Once it is filed, the county’s Planning Board will set a date for a public hearing, allowing residents to voice support, opposition, or concerns about the project. The Planning Board will issue a recommendation, but the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will have the final vote to approve or deny a rezoning.


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001

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