Sunday, December 3, 2023

Proposed 1,800-home subdivision takes another step in Leland

Board members voted to recommend the 686-acre parcel off Andrew Jackson Highway west of Leland be zoned as a planned unit development under the town’s land use code. (Town of Leland).

LELAND — Despite being governmentally chided for its ambitious number of annexations, it seems like the town of Leland is not slowing down as a hundred-acre development sets itself up to become one of the largest annexations the town has accomplished yet.

The Malmo Tract development acquired zoning approval in connection with its annexation petition from the Leland planning board on Tuesday. 

READ MORE: Leland annexation bill passes, most leaders tight-lipped on its reasoning

Board members voted to recommend the 686-acre parcel off Andrew Jackson Highway west of Leland be zoned as a planned unit development under the town’s land use code. Leland Town Council requested the planning board explore a zoning recommendation ahead of its future vote on annexing the property into corporate limits. 

Developer Logan Homes, under the LLC Malmo Ventures, is proposing 513 single-family homes, 420 build-for-rent houses, 110 duplex units, 196 townhouse units and 618 multi-family units. It will be located north of Malmo Loop Road across from Compass Pointe and Windsor Park communities.

The developer is seeking incorporation into Leland but if denied could still build out the homes in Brunswick County. The county planning board approved the development in May. 

The town’s ambitious expansion — multiple annexation petitions are reviewed per council meeting — has been targeted in recent months by the state government. Spearheaded by Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, S.B. 911 passed in June and restricts Leland from annexing land over 10% of the town’s acreage or 1.5 miles outside of town limits.

“This is going to happen whether it’s in the town or county,” planning board member Debbie Willis said during the Tuesday meeting. 

However, Leland officials echoed county concerns over flooding and traffic.

A strip of the southwestern portion of the property is a studied 100-year flood zone, overlapping with 277 acres of wetlands. In its approval, the county stipulated the stormwater infrastructures should be built to accommodate a 25-year storm flood event — 11 acres have been reserved for retention ponds.

The property’s open space allocation accounts for almost half of the property at 315 acres. Along with the wetlands and stormwater ponds, 26 acres is reserved for recreation. That amount satisfies both the county and Leland requirements by a large margin — 171 acres are required by the county, 35 by the town. 

“There was a lot of concern when it was being considered by the county planning board with flooding,” Willis said in discussion. “So I just hope as we progress through this, that we keep our eyes on that through the TRC [technical review committee] process.”

Willis also brought up the status of traffic surveys that will reveal how increased congestion will affect the area. The development is anticipated to add more than 15,000 vehicle trips daily to the roadways, Monday through Friday.

Town staff explained a traffic impact analysis is underway but has yet to be completed. The developer will have to implement any suggestions required from the study as part of its project plans.

Also brought up during discussion was the status of a tree ordinance put in place by the county, which requires a heritage tree study to be conducted. That requirement would remain even if the land was annexed into Leland due to a vested rights agreement. 

If annexed and approved by the town council, Malmo Ventures would not have to change very much of its plan approved by the county. The subdivision is zoned SBR-6000 — high density site built residential — under the county’s land code.

Developers would need to decrease its density from 7.1 units per acre to no more than 6, unless it obtained a special use permit, to incorporate into the town. 

Instead of a 30-inch perimeter buffer, a 50-inch buffer would be required where residential and commercial sectors abut. Parking would stay on par with the current plan; two spaces would be required for single-family dwellings and one per bedroom in multi-family.

The planning board approved a planned unit development recommendation in line with the Leland 2045 plan, guidance designed for sustainable expansion and progress. In a presentation during the meeting, town staff described the Malmo development as in line with the plan due to its growth around existing infrastructure — utilities already serve nearby neighborhoods — and incremental expansion of the town’s boundaries. 

Its mix of commercial and residential components reduces the need for car travel, supporting the 2045 plan’s goal of creating community “nodes.” 

Per the meeting agenda, PUDs should meet the following criteria: 

“PUD district is established for the purpose of permitting greater flexibility than would normally be allowed in other residential districts and to promote more creative and imaginative site planning and design than would be possible otherwise. Additionally, this zoning district aims to promote more economical and efficient use of land while providing a variety of housing choices, and high level of amenities, and preservation of natural open space.”

Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at 

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