New zone to entice development, retain city character
June 22, 2012By J. Elias O’Neal
Wilmington’s Development Services and Planning Division is asking city residents for help in crafting a new zoning district that could promote redevelopment and new growth within the city’s core.
Called the urban mixed-use district, planning officials are hoping to attract and facilitate infill development and redevelopment within the 1945 city limits of Wilmington that is compatible with the area’s eclectic and historic nature.
Christine Hughes, Wilmington senior planner, said the new zoning district was a recommendation from the city’s SouthSide Small Area Plan – a land use plan to preserve the area’s historic charm and promote new infill and redevelopment opportunities.
Adopted in 2009,the SouthSide plan – an area bounded by Market Street, South 17th Street, Greenfield Lake and the Cape Fear River – identifies specific parcels for which the urban mixed-use zoning district is appropriate.
Now, planning officials are ready to move forward with the new district.
To help identify those best uses and practices for the zone, city planning officials are holding five focus group discussions with residents to receive input, and gauge concerns about the new zone – a process that began in April.
The five zones being targeted for the new urban mixed-use zoning district are: the Market Street corridor; South Front and Second streets; South Fifth Avenue and Greenfield Street; Dawson Street; and South 16th and 17th streets and Oleander Drive.
The residential meetings are still ongoing.
Planning officials will hold their last two focus group meetings at 6 p.m. June 26 and 28 to discuss Dawson Street; and South 16th and 17th streets and Oleander Drive, respectively, in the Lord Spencer Compton Conference Room at city hall, 102 N. Third St.
Brian Chambers, Wilmington associate planner, said planning officials would take resident comments to craft specific design requirements and boundaries for the mixed-use zone. Planning officials will then present the final version to the city council by the end of the year.
It’s anticipated that the district will rely more heavily on the design of buildings to be more compatible with the surrounding area and less on traditional zoning districts.
Hughes added the zone should also promote mixed uses, and encourage the adaptive reuse of viable historic buildings – a common theme residents discussed during a recent focus group about the Market Street corridor.
Beyond the abundant parcels available for possible infill development, residents were also asked to identify what allowable uses under the city’s central business development code they would not like to see permitted under the urban mixed-use district designation, including fast food restaurants, large car and motorcycle dealerships and most heavy industrial businesses.
Others were more interested in the zone helping to repurpose existing structures, including the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Tenth Street into a recreation center, grocery store or a mixed-use development that includes housing and retail.
Hughes reminded the audience that the new zone could allow for such redevelopment.
“The goal is to come up with good regulations and hope the interest follows,” she said. “We need to allow for creativity to add additional value to individual property … to add additional value to our community as a whole.”