In the effort to improve the Industrial SUP, the NHC Planning Board held several work sessions and invited stakeholders for ongoing input to improve the Industrial Special Use Permit process. The stakeholders represented included: Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association, Business Alliance for a Sound Economy, Wilmington Business Development, Coalition for Economic Advancement and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
There were five work sessions over the span of several months. All were open to the public but only two out of the five sessions had public comment opportunities.
The Coastal Federation was represented by the Forrest Firm, P.C., Matthew Davis, Attorney at Law to provide legal advice and strategy on the Planning Board’s recommendations. It was recommended that the federation approach negotiations with the other key stakeholders in order to achieve the best possible outcome to preserve the integrity of the Industrial Special Use Permit process moving forward. While the federation did not get everything we wanted, we believe the proposal by the Planning Board will result in a stronger process to provide the necessary detail for New Hanover County elected officials to make a more informed decision on what industry is right for our community.
There are two components to the proposed SUP amendment. These included changes to the Zoning Ordinance text and changes to the Table of Permitted Uses (TOPU). While the federation still has concerns with the proposed text and changes to the TOPU, the federation agreed to support the recommended changes, with the agreed upon additional requirements, to achieve the best possible outcome to preserve the integrity of the Industrial Special Use Permit process moving forward.
The following is a listing of improvements to the existing Industrial Use Special Use Permit requirements for proposed new industrial businesses:
• Increased timeline for review of Intensive Industries from 20 business days to 35 business days prior to the Planning Board meeting. This additional review affects 16 of the most intensive industrial uses, which now require an SUP within the I-2 intensive industrial zone, and are prohibited in any other area of the County.
• For intensive manufacturing applicants, a Community Information Meeting (CIM) will required to be held by the applicant for information sharing and review of the applicant’s proposal prior to an application being deemed complete by planning staff. The requirement for a public information meeting allows earlier notification and engagement between the applicant and the public.
• Any additional materials submitted by the applicant must be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the planning board meeting and will be posted on the County website and notification made through the County’s Sunshine list. (To sign up for the Sunshine list for notifications, go here. Please note that the subscribers will be asked to choose from a menu of different notification topics. For the planning notices, you will need to check “Planning Public Notices.”)
• New language that further requires more information and detail about the project required in Section 70-2(2)(E) (Application requirements) which will require the applicant to: “Provide a written description of the proposal depicting the natural and scope of the proposed development, as well as information which provides support for each of the required findings of facts for approvals under Subsection 70-7.”
• In Subsection 70-2(2) (9): Applications requirements: The applicant will be required to provide maps depicting the location of federal and state wetlands that could be affected by the proposed project. This better informs the public, staff and decision makers.
• In Subsection 70-2(2)(J): For proposed uses in the Intensive Manufacturing category the applicant shall identify all local, state or federal permits the applicant believes will be required for the project. This includes but is not limited to; air quality, water quality, wetlands, endangered species and groundwater and aquifer withdrawals. This requirement informs planning staff, Planning Board and County Commissioners of potential external effects upon these critical shared resources. The County staff, Planning Board members and/or Board of Commissioners may also request additional information and/or clarification in order to make an informed decision on the suitability of the proposed use.
The Table of Permitted Uses was modified to allow some intensive manufacturing uses that are currently classified as intensive only allowed in the I-2 zone to move to a less intensive category (categorized as “general” or “limited”) , which could possibly allow these intensive industries closer to residential neighborhoods and retail establishments. These are the proposed current heavy industries proposed to be reclassified: Basic Chemical Manufacturing/Resin, Synthetic Rubber, and Artificial Synthetic Fibers and Filaments Manufacturing/ Paint/Coating, and Adhesive Manufacturing/Soap, Cleaning Compound, and Toilet Preparation Manufacturing/Plastics Product Manufacturing/Rubber Product Manufacturing/Clay Product and Refractory Manufacturing/Glass and Glass Product Manufacturing/Cement and Concrete Product Manufacturing.
If these changes are approved by the County Commission, these industries will not have a community information meeting (CIM) and will have a 20 day review period (unlike the 35 day review period for those industries classified as Intensive Industries) and they will not be required to list the environmental permits they will need to operate.
As with all local government proposals on policy, it is important that the community stay educated, informed and involved. The community’s voice is important and independent of the federation’s consensus of support to the current Planning Board’s recommendation.
• Educate and inform yourself on the details of the Planning Board’s proposed amendment here. Note: this document takes a few moments to load; refer to pages 3-18.
Attend the Board of Commissioners Public Hearing on Monday, March 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm and provide public comment. The Board of Commissioners can approve, or make changes to the Planning Board’s proposal SUP recommendations.
Contact your local Commissioners
Sign up to the county’s “Sunshine List” for updates on New Hanover County’s planning and zoning. Please note that the subscribers will be asked to choose from a menu of different notification topics. For the planning notices, you will need to check “Planning Public Notices.” Subscribing to this list is your opportunity to stay informed on County business and community development.