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Brunswick Planning Board To Consider Approving Thousands Of Units

By Johanna F. Still, posted Sep 12, 2022
Plans for East Lake, a planned development outside of Leland town limits, call for a total of 4,918 residential units. (Rendering courtesy of Brunswick County)
Update: The Brunswick County Planning Board denied plans for East Lake in Leland and approved the rezoning and three other planned development proposals at its Monday evening meeting.

Monday evening’s Brunswick County Planning Board docket includes one rezoning and four planned developments, totaling 5,810 combined possible residential units. 

Board members will consider the proposals, including one massive project off Interstate 140 near Leland town limits that is planning 4,918 combined units. 

The basic proposals are below: 
  • East Lake: Criteria Development is planning 3,925 single-family lots, 693 townhomes and 300 multi-family units with 23 acres of commercial space on a total of 2,114 acres in the Leland area. 
  • Ocean Isle Mixed Use: Paramounte Engineering is planning 84 townhomes, 36 duplexes and 304 multi-family units on about 73.5 acres outside of Ocean Isle Beach. 
  • Southport Meadows: Timmons Group is planning 128 single-family lots and 120 townhomes on 160 acres outside of Southport. 
  • Holden Oaks: Lennar Carolinas LLC is planning 220 single-family lots on 70 acres outside of Shallotte. 

Amid talks and signs of the market cooling off, in Brunswick County, major projects continue to roll through, according to planning director Kirstie Dixon.

“I think regionally, there might have been some slowdown, but the Brunswick County Planning Department has not experienced any slowdown,” Dixon said. “But I have heard from other jurisdictions that they have experienced it.” 

The number of new units proposed before the county planning department has soared as of late. The latest fiscal year, which ended June 30, added 12,701 approved units to the county’s rolls, according to data shared by Dixon. That was a nearly 46% jump from fiscal year 2021, when the county approved 8,715 new residential units, and a 919% increase from fiscal year 2020, with 1,246 units. 

The planning board approved no new units and reviewed two rezonings in July, and in August,  it approved 521 units. “July was our smaller month,” Dixon said. 

Dixon said the busy department no longer needs the assistance of an outside firm, which it enlisted last year, to assist with managing the stacked dockets. The planning department is now two positions short – one vacancy and one new role created by the latest budget. “We’ll see,” she said when asked if she’d need to rely on the firm. 

Proposed developments continue to include a mix of housing products, she said. 

Projects are tending to pop up on the western end of the county near the state line and in the northern area, like the large East Lake proposal up for review Monday. Dixon cited the subdivision’s proximity to the International Logistics Park of North Carolina and Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park as potential drivers of that development. 

“The industrial parks are really getting going now too. So you know from a job perspective, [the development] would make sense," Dixon said.

Planned just outside Leland, East Lake would generate 32,718 vehicle trips per 24-hour weekday volume, according to an analysis the Criteria Development submitted, which would necessitate major traffic improvements. Developers plan to dedicate 27 acres to the county for public use; Brunswick County Schools requested a minimum of 25 acres for a “viable school site,” per agenda item notes. 

A flood study will be required and significant sewer work is necessary, as there is no county wastewater availability in the area, according to the county notes. Developers are proposing to dedicate 849 acres of open space when 317 acres are required; this and other features, including sidewalks and a walking trail system, are among “exceptional design” elements included in the project. 

Brunswick County planning staff recommends approval, with certain conditions, of all four proposed subdivisions. The planning board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday. 
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