Town council votes unanimously to adopt Leland 2045, a guide for future development and growth

Leland 2045 steers the vision and goals on how the town will grow as its population looks to swell to 75,000 in 25 years. (Courtesy Leland 2045)

LELAND — At a town council meeting Thursday night, members adopted the Leland 2045 plan to help steer how the the fastest-growing town in Brunswick County will address its inevitable expansion over the next 25 years.

Leland has doubled in population from 13,527 in 2010 to 23,504, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. Projections have estimated the town could grow by over 70,000 residents in the next two decades.

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“The adoption of Leland 2045 is a milestone because it creates the framework for how Leland should develop and conserve land as we balance an increase in population and changing demographics,” Ben Andrea, director of planning and inspections, said in a press release.

The plan — the largest the town has ever formulated — was devised with the help of consulting firm Design Workshop. Yet, incremental to its finalization, Leland 2045 garnered community feedback through numerous surveys, workshops, focus groups and public engagement opportunities over the past year.

Survey responses put affordable housing, coastal resilience and traffic congestion as top areas of interest to current residents.

Leland 2045’s goal is to balance the needs of its populace with healthy development that preserves natural environments in the 20-mile town — along US-74 and 87, down to Town Creek, and east to Brunswick River, Cape Fear River, and Eagles Island. The document that town staff will refer to in coming years promotes “green building and development techniques as a part of Leland’s image, character, and brand,” and looks to protect and maintain “water quality in all coastal wetlands, rivers, streams, and estuaries.”

Yet, it also highlights housing and transportation necessities. Social interaction, community recreation, and physical connectivity remain points of interest, as Leland 2045 addresses open-space planning. It vows to grow with economically diverse neighborhoods, built with walkable and bikeable connections to nearby parks and commercial areas, including shopping and dining. This will help “reduce sprawl and auto-dependent development,” according to the plan, which also features improvements in traffic management and “traffic calming techniques.”

Leland 2045 strives to diversify the town’s economy, by nourishing impacts in industry, business and job development. Areas of interest include strengthening Leland Innovation Park efforts, focusing on agricultural industries boosted by local manufacturing operations, adding workforce training to education, and capitalizing on its retirement community reputation, and on the travel and tourism industry.

Public health and safety, support for the arts, expansion of transit use town-wide, and incentivizing grocery stores in underserved areas also are addressed.

“While the plan provides land use policy direction, the core is about how the built and preserved environment can benefit the people of Leland by creating places where residents’ daily needs are met, social interaction and recreation can take place, and sense of community is enhanced,” Andrea said in the release.

The town council voted unanimously on Monday to adopt Leland 2045; it can be read in full here. A press release noted town staff will provide quarterly updates on how it is being implemented with planning.


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