Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Brunswick development nixed due to flood concerns is reapplying

Middle Creek Village, a proposed development denied last month in Brunswick County, is reapplying with a more sturdy stormwater system. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brunswick County)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Developers who proposed a new subdivision last month — filled with dwellings of many types west of Bolivia in an area prone to flooding — had their proposal shot down by the Brunswick County Planning Board. It will be considered again next week with revised plans.

The board voted 6-1 to deny Middle Creek Village, a residential project that would lead to the development of 260 acres between Highway 17 and Old Ocean Highway by way of 470 single-family lots, 120 duplexes and 153 townhomes. 

The planning board gives the final word on approval or denial for significant projects that require property owners to conform to government regulations. Applicants whose proposals are denied can either submit revised site plans or appeal the ruling to the board of commissioners. 

Matt Haley, a Cape Fear Engineering representative speaking on behalf of the project at the Sept. 13 meeting, told the planning board there are wetlands and flood zones on the site, according to meeting minuted. There would be minimal impacts, he said, except for the building the roadway connections, which has to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

In the original proposal, Middle Creek Village was designed to accommodate a 25-year storm event. Many large development proposals commit to building the infrastructure to handle a 100-year storm event. The county’s senior planner wrote to the developer, after the denial, that resubmitted site plans should make clear how the project would address flooding. This included an ask to consider making the system sturdy enough for the 100-year storm event, “as the project is in a flood-prone area.” 

At least two nearby citizens spoke at the public hearing last month to say the area floods, according to the minutes. One speaker said the nearby swamp is in need of cleaning; beavers and debris are complicating the water flow. 

There were also pleas from local residents who asked the board to take into account how this project would affect the low-income Piney Grove community. Aside from the main entrance off Old Ocean Highway, there would be another access to this development off N. Piney Grove Road. If the project moved forward, speakers said, the tax value would spike for existing residents. 

Melissa Jackson, a Piney Grove resident, “was concerned with current residents being pushed out of the community,” according to the minutes, and she also warned about the deteriorating N. Piney Grove Road. 

The revised site plans — submitted by the applicant after the denial last month so the proposal could be heard again Oct. 11 — have identical unit counts to the original proposal. 

The new application says: “The stormwater system shall be designed to attenuate the 100-year storm event.” 

The limited liability company that purchased the land this year, Sawyer Rivers Farms LLC, was formed in 2010 by Harold and Julia Tripp of Ash, N.C. 

Planning staff is recommending that the planning board approve the new application.

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