Tuesday, October 4, 2022

After initial planning retail and offices, Wilmington developer requesting rezoning for new car wash

WILMINGTON — Eastwood Road could soon be getting a new car wash instead of what was originally planned as a two-story office and retail unit next to the grocery store Lidl. A new rezoning request has been submitted for nearly 4 acres of land adjacent to the grocery store and is heading to the Planning Commission on May 6.

The property is owned by Arendelle Holdings, LLC, a company managed by Jason Swain, of Wilmington’s Swain family of developers (Swain’s father, David, is developing the neighboring CenterPoint project, which also recently saw a change in plans). The company is being represented by Amy Shaefer, former assistant city attorney for the City of Wilmington.

In 2015 the City of Wilmington approved a rezoning request changing the land from residential to a community business district. Plans called for the construction of Lidl as well as a 20,400-square-foot office/retail building.

Conditional zonings are generally thought of as a more deliberate rezoning that offers residents and elected officials a chance to see what exactly will be going in certain locations around the city.

Read more about the different types of zonings here

“In a conditional zoning district, the development and use of the property are subject to the rules, regulations, and conditions of a predetermined ordinance. Particular uses are established only in accordance with specific standards and conditions of each individual development project. Some land uses have significant impacts on the immediate surrounding area as well as the entire community which cannot be predetermined and controlled by general district standards,” according to the City of Wilmington.

Conditional zonings are legislative matters which means a public hearing must be held before they can be approved, and anyone is able to voice their opinion on the request. This is in contrast to quasijudicial items like special use permits which severely limit who can speak in favor, or against a request.

According to the developer, the reason for the proposed change is the fact that, in 2015, they were mostly focused on the development of Lidl, not the rest of the property. The city had asked the applicants to include plans for the entire property in order to consider the request — so, according to the applicant — they guessed at what might go there.

“At the time of the initial rezoning in 2015, the rezoning proposal was focused on the development of the grocery store. During the concept phase discussions with city staff, it was requested that the project also provide a development plan for the remaining portion of the property. At the time of the 2015 rezoning request, there were not immediate plans for that area of the development and the team used an educated guess as to what might eventually develop on the property,” the new request reads.

This means that even though a conditional rezoning is supposed to outline detailed development plans, the development simply guessed at what could fit on the property.

When it comes to traffic on Eastwood, it’s no secret that the road is one of the more congested in Wilmington and the North Carolina Department of Transportation ranks its level of service as an E.

So what would approving the rezoning request do for traffic? Well, when compared to what is already approved, that is retail and office space, it would actually reduce it.

According to the traffic impact analysis, existing conditions, when built out, would create 4,607 trips on an average workday.

City staff is recommending the conditional approval of the request.

“The proposed car wash use provides a service to citizens within an interconnected commercial development and is located within a high-density transition area of opportunity. The use is compatible with Mayfaire to the north and west and grocery retailer to the east. The single-family homes in the area are located across Eastwood Road, a four-lane major corridor. Staff believes the proposed zoning amendment is consistent with the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan and the city’s Adopted Focus Areas and; staff believes the request is reasonable or in the public interest and recommends conditional approval with the following
conditions:” according to the staff report.

  • The use and development of the subject property shall comply with all regulations and requirements imposed by the Land Development Code, the City of Wilmington Technical Standards and Specifications Manual and any other applicable federal, state or local law, ordinance or regulation, as well as any condition stated below. In the event of a conflict, the more stringent requirement or higher standard shall apply.
  • Approval of this conditional district rezoning does not constitute technical approval of the site plan. Final approval by the Technical Review Committee and the issuance of all required permits must occur prior to release of the project for construction.
  • If, for any reason, any condition for approval is found to be illegal or invalid or if the applicant should fail to accept any condition following approval, the approval of the site plan for the district shall be null and void and of no effect and proceedings shall be instituted to rezone the property to its previous zoning classification.
  • The use and development of the subject property shall be in accordance with the site plan as submitted and approved by City Council.
  • The proposed uses shall be limited to a car wash with associated parking and landscaping.
  • Two vehicular connections shall be provided to the adjacent commercial property to the east as detailed on the site plan.
  • Pedestrian network shall connect from the proposed sidewalk along Eastwood Road to the adjoining shopping center to the east.
  • Strict adherence to the design standards will be confirmed as part of the technical review.
  • Exterior lighting shall be installed so as not to shine directly onto adjacent residential parcels.
  • Any freestanding sign(s) on the site shall be a maximum of 6 feet in height, monument style with landscaping around the base of the sign; no pole signs shall be permitted.
  • The creative standard shall not be used to satisfy the street yard landscaping requirements.
  • No tree removal outside of essential site improvements, only clearing of underbrush.
  • All City, State and Federal regulations shall be met.

The Planning Commission is meeting at 6 p.m. on May 6, however, due to Covid-19 concerns, how the public will participate is still up in the air.

“The City of Wilmington Planning Commission will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at the Wilmington Convention Center, 10 Convention Center Drive, Wilmington, N.C.  All agenda items are available for public inspection and review at the City of Wilmington Planning Office, located on the 3rd floor, 305 Chestnut Street … Due to public health and safety concerns with COVID-19, public participation may be limited. The meeting will be streaming live on GTV8,” according to an email from the city.

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