This week’s planning board meeting on New Hanover County’s revised special use permit has been pushed back.
Planning board chairwoman Donna Girardot announced the move Tuesday.
“In consideration of a concern expressed by the N.C. Coastal Federation, that due to the holidays many people would have insufficient time to review the draft prior to the meeting, I will be asking the board to continue this item until our February meeting,” Girardot said. “I've let the NCCF, BASE and the chamber know.”
The SUP had been on the agenda for the New Hanover County Planning Board public hearings Thursday.
At issue are text amendments within the SUP ordinance and also the contents of its Table of Permitted Uses (TOPU).
The SUP requires that some industries meet requirements before being allowed to open a business in New Hanover County. Business leaders don’t want an SUP that is too restrictive and discourages industry from locating here, while others including the N.C. Coastal Federation contend that a strong SUP is needed to keep potentially polluting industries from damaging the region.
Business leaders are eager to wrap up the SUP work.
“The Coalition of business community organizations has been focused on participating in the process as requested by the commissioners: making changes to streamline the Special Use Permit process to encourage job growth in New Hanover County," said Tyler Newman, president of Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (BASE). “This process has entailed countless hours of work sessions, planning board deliberations and the analysis of numerous drafts to ensure that existing businesses and new businesses can thrive in New Hanover County while at the same time protecting our environment and quality of life.”
The N.C. Coastal Federation, however, remains concerned that the SUP is missing a key component in its text, an omission that could put the environment of New Hanover County at risk.
“We still have an issue with the deletion of the requirement for industry to describe their external impacts to the community, their external effects, whether they have air emissions, traffic, water, they need to describe what their process is and what their manufacturing would be,” said Mike Giles, coastal advocate with the federation. “That was the cornerstone of the 2001 ordinance that was passed by the county commission.”
Giles and the federation, in an email to the planning board Dec. 19, suggested additional text to better define what a potential industry would be doing, and its impacts.
The federation recommended augmenting and revising the project narrative in Section 70-2 (2) (E) to include:
“Provide a narrative to include as much information and detail as possible to fully describe the nature and scope of the proposed project’s operation, manufacturing process, products and anticipated development permits. In addition describe in detail any state of the art manufacturing systems that will be used and/or have been utilized by the applicant on similar projects to address the project’s operations and process. Provide anticipated projected economic impacts upon the community (number of jobs created, proposed tax base infrastructure improvements and County services that will be required/requested).”
Girardot said she realizes this is a delicate process and one which now requires additional time and thought.
“Although many of us are perhaps focused on Intensive Manufacturing SUP's, there have been approximately 637+ Special Use Permits applied for in NHC since 1969 when the county's first zoning ordinance was adopted. These range from cell towers to convenience stores to in-home day cares, mobile homes and churches,” Girardot said in an email. “So out of 637+ only approximately 14 fell into the category of industry or manufacturing. Therefore, we must be careful to not frighten off or discourage the future Corning or GE or unfairly impact the 637 in order to more highly regulate the 14.
“We want to encourage businesses to relocate, expand and start up in NHC. When we expand our tax base with more industry and more workers, it reduces the tax burden on the rest of our citizens,” Girardot said. “While at the same time we must protect our quality of life. That's what this ordinance attempts to do.”
With the removal of the SUP from this week’s planning board meeting, it could next appear on its Feb. 2 agenda.