Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Brunswick planning board agenda shows robust development interest

A number of rezoning requests and planned developments are on the agenda for the Brunswick County Planning Board, showing a continued interest in single-family subdivisions and a hankering for land near the S.C. border. (Port City Daily/File)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — The four planned developments on the agenda for the Aug. 9 meeting of the Brunswick County Planning Board include three single-family locales, each with over 100 proposed homes, and one update to a pre-Great Recession development that intends to build 2,400 residential units on about 1,300 acres. 

Two of the developments on the radar this month are within the study area of a joint project from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and its South Carolina counterpart: Carolina Bays Parkway Extension. This road extension would push S.C. Highway 31 northeast into a connection with U.S. Highway 17 in Brunswick County.

“The extension would provide a more direct and efficient movement of traffic seeking to bypass congestion within the areas of Calabash in North Carolina, as well as Little River and the Grand Strand areas in South Carolina,” according to NCDOT. 

The specifics of North Carolina’s end of the project are still undecided. It’s known that road networks in Brunswick County near the S.C. border will be affected, but it’s unclear which roadways specifically will be called up to play a role in the interstate project. The total budget for the Carolina Bays Parkway extension between the two states is $552 million. Right-of-way acquisition in S.C. is scheduled for 2023, but there’s no timeline for right-of-way acquisitions in N.C. 

“We can’t restrict development yet in those areas until maybe they pick a corridor, exactly where it’s going to go, and then we can try to guide development around that,” Brunswick County’s senior planner, Marc Pagès, said. “But, until they do that, we have to proceed like there isn’t going to be a road right where that development is.” 

Brunswick County Planning director Kirstie Dixon said NCDOT is still studying multiple potential corridors for which S.C. 31 could be extended. 

“It’s a project that’s been in the making for decades,” Dixon said. “South Carolina is a little bit ahead of North Carolina on this project, because they already have South Carolina 31 in, so they want to make that connection.”

The Carolina Bays Parkway Extension is a joint venture between the N.C. and S.C. departments of transportation. (Port City Daily/Courtesy NCDOT)

More information on NCDOT’s corridor selection is expected this fall. 

Another development on this week’s agenda is located north of Holden Beach, south of the Shallotte River. The other project, the one involving more than 1,000 acres, sits east of Highway 17, south of Leland and north of Boiling Springs Lake. 

The planning board is an initial forum for members of the public and town leaders to become acquainted with major projects, or those that require tweaks to the zoning code. There’s still a long path ahead for the tracts that secure approvals from the planning board and board of commissioners, with a number of permits required by state and local agencies. The construction process often takes years, if not decades. 

Rice Creek Planned Development 

Rice Creek Planned Development. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County)

This development first earned county approvals in 2006. Back then the layout indicated plans for 1,654 single-family lots, 1,082 multi-family units and 66 acres of commercial space. 

The largest of the three parcels included in the Rice Creek tract, at 1,134 acres, was moved between limited liability corporations in 2014 and 2015, both of which are affiliated with Raleigh attorney Michael Sandman. The two additional parcels included in this development are also held by LLCs affiliated with Sandman. 

The modification sought by the developers now would add 664 residential units to the site plan — bringing the specs to 1,999 single-family lots, 60 duplexes, 641 townhomes and 700 multi-family units — a total of 3,400 residential units. 

The tract is 1,296 acres, creating an overall density of 2.62 units per acre. The agenda packet indicates the developer plans to make 501 acres open space, far more than the requirement of 259 open-space acres. It’s estimated the project would generate 28,083 vehicle trips on a weekday.

The site is around 2 miles southwest of Leland, and 7 miles west of the coastline. It’s adjacent to Highway 17. 

Supsura Tract

Supsura Tract Planned Development. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County)

This site is the westernmost project on this month’s planning board agenda, west of Ash-Little River Road, 2 miles from the S.C. border. It’s one of the two developments on the agenda this month within the study area of the Carolina Bays Parkway. 

Developers of this project are requesting authorization to build 118 single-family homes on the 42 acre site. According to property records, it last changed hands in 1996. 

James Hewett Tract 

James Hewett Tract. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County)

The proposal for this planned development consists of 250 single-family homes on a 67-acre site. It’s on acreage north of Holden Beach and south of the Shallotte River, half a mile north of the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Pagès and Dixon, the county planning officials, said they’ve heard that Horry County — the bordering S.C. territory that includes Myrtle Beach — is lacking in land availability. Brunswick County and its vast quantities of still-vacant land are drawing in retirees and other settlers in search of coastal proximity. 

“Myrtle Beach and Horry County are running out of room,” Pagès said. “So, naturally, people would like to be closer to the beach than necessarily go inland. I think in some of these coastal areas. it’s just that natural migration.”

Estimates for the project indicate it would generate 2,392 vehicle trips per weekday. 

Glendale Arbor 

Glendale Arbor. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County)

On 138 acres, this tract is located on a single parcel south of Highway 17, approximately 7 miles from the S.C. border. Like the Supsura tract, it’s located within the study area of the Carolina Bays Parkway Extension, giving it valuable appeal as a location of potential future high-volume traffic. 

The applicant for the Glendale Arbor development is an LLC affiliated with Logan Homes. The plans call for 173 single-family homes. 

There’s also 1.3 acres of commercial space included in the application. The estimates of traffic generation are 1,655 vehicle trips per 24 hour weekday. 

The application says 87.6 acres of open space will be included; the required open space is 27 acres. 

Pagès and Dixon said the land-use trends in Brunswick County — shrinking lot sizes and the rise in multi-family development — have been a gradual change throughout the past ten years and beyond. 

Immediately before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was not such popularity for development applications in Brunswick County as there is now; in 2021 it’s typical to see four-to-six large development requests move through the planning board per month. Back in 2005 and 2006, Dixon said, there was a large volume of requests similar to today’s agendas. 

“This has happened before, as far as this amount of growth and projects,” Dixon said. “The areas where it’s trending obviously are different.”

Pagès added: “The hottest area today is between Shallotte and the South Carolina line. Certainly the Leland area is not too far behind.”

The planning board meeting will take place 6 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Brunswick County Government Center. View the full agenda at this link

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