Thursday, August 18, 2022

DR Horton project on the table in Brunswick County

The Brunswick County Planning Board agenda includes a DR Horton project off N.C. Highway 87. (Port City Daily/File)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — A proposed DR Horton project spanning more than 100 acres on both sides of Highway 87 has the backing of county planning staff in advance of a public hearing set for next week. 

The Brunswick County Planning Board is scheduled to hold its first meeting of the year on the evening of Jan. 10, and unlike most of last year’s meetings, the agenda for next week only contains one application for a major project with site plans at the ready. 

DR Horton, a national homebuilder with a strong presence in the Cape Fear region, owns a tract of land at around the halfway point between Leland and Bolivia, and has designs on building 264 single-family lots on 135 of those acres, according to the planning board packet. Currently, the land is zoned within the low-density, rural residential district. 

When the project was previously vetted by county officials in September, the planning department came away with significant concerns about the original site plan, like the lack of open space in certain portions and the proximity of the site to a “sizable hog farm with multiple open waste lagoons,” according to the planning board packet. 

Following that analysis, the applicant revised the site plans considerably and has since earned a recommendation of approval from planning staff, according to principal planner Marc Pagès. 

“They’ve done several revisions,” Pagès said. “There was a lot of back and forth on this one.”

In the most recent site plans, DR Horton has increased the size of the buffer between its lots and the next-door hog farm to over 100 feet, according to Pagès. 

“They’re putting in what they call a windbreak, that has specific species of trees that are supposed to help with any potential odor,” he added.

Otherwise, the single-family lots are all proposed to be at least 50 feet from the flood zone, and the project includes 67 acres of open space, far more than the required 20 acres. Sidewalks are going to be put in on one side of the proposed private road.

In December, the applicant hosted a community meeting that was scarcely attended, and the only feedback the county received from adjacent property owners — after notice was given of the impending land move — was a message of support from the lot owner to the north, Pagès said. 

“We feel satisfied that the site is at a tremendous improvement over what they previously did, and so that’s why we’re recommending the approval,” Pagès said. 

 In Brunswick County, the planning board grants final approval to land use requests like this one, which give the developers license to construct their approved site plans within a three-year window. For all projects of this scale, a series of local and state permits are required before construction can begin. 

The planning board will meet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 10, at the Brunswick County Government Center. The board will also consider a pair of smaller-scale rezoning requests. The full agenda can be read here


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