Thursday, April 18, 2024

Scotts Hill attracts development application on Pender County side, school capacity an issue

Tribute Companies has submitted a rezoning application to build hundreds of townhome units and a commercial center on the Pender County side of Scotts Hill. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Pender County)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Scotts Hill, the region on the borderlands of New Hanover and Pender counties, has enticed another developer. The pocket of land is known as an attractive growth node between Hampstead and Wilmington, situated along the highly traversed Highway 17.

Tribute Companies, helmed by Mark Maynard, has managed at least a dozen apartment complexes in the Wilmington area. Maynard spearheaded mixed-use developments like Arboretum West and South Front in downtown Wilmington. 

On the Pender County side of Scotts Hill, Tribute Companies now wants to create a mixed-use development on a 20-acre parcel currently owned by the Corbett family. The project previously was considered in an April planning board meeting, after which its density was whittled down slightly and additional conditions were added to the application. 

According to the application package, the project could consist of 10 single-family homes, 160 townhomes, and two commercial buildings, one of which is “intended for a restaurant or a healthcare facility.”

On the New Hanover County side of Scotts Hill, New Hanover Regional Medical Center is in the midst of an expansionary campaign. The Novant Health-owned hospital system is seeking to construct a 66-bed acute care facility in the area. 

RELATED: How one physician started a revolution in Scotts Hill, recruiting investors and NHRMC along the way

The Tribute Companies development would only consume a fraction of the Corbett family’s holdings in the area. Between the northern border of New Hanover County and the 20-acre site of the proposed development, the family owns a sprawling 2,921-acre tract that is bisected by Highway 17. 

The development’s density would be approximately 9.13 units per acre. “The property is currently vacant and is very open land,” according to the application. “Many of the trees on the property were cleared many years ago for agricultural purposes, but the land has not been farmed for the last few years.” 

Like at least one other large-scale development proposal considered this year in Pender County, the pushback centers largely around the feared impacts to the Pender County school system — specifically, Topsail High School and Topsail Elementary. 

READ MORE: 300-unit apartment complex in Hampstead faces uphill battle, planning staff recommend denial

“It is clear that these two schools can not acquire additional populations at this time,” according to a note from Pender County Schools in the development application. “During recent meetings there was unanimous agreement from the Pender Planning Department and the PCS Staff . . . that South Topsail Elementary has a very high likelihood of being over capacity in the near future.” 

For that reason, county planning staff warned in their application analysis that “Pender County Schools has indicated that insufficient capacity is available to serve the proposed development at this time.” Planning staff also hinted that the county and school system are collaborating on land acquisition efforts to build more school sites. 

Tribute Companies, however, proposed a condition to mitigate a burdensome impact on the school system: For the first 10 years of the development’s lifespan, only people ages 55-and-older will be permitted to live there.  

Tribute Companies needs a successful rezoning request to move forward on the project. The application will be considered at the June 1 meeting of the planning board, and then by the board of commissioners at a later date. 

Read the complete planning board packet: here

Send tips, comments and criticisms to

If you value Port City Daily’s reporting, please, consider a monthly subscription for access to all of PCD’s in-depth reporting, and sign up for the free morning newsletter.

Related Articles