Just hours before the New Hanover County Planning Board is set to vote on a new special use permit this evening, the parties that had disagreed over several aspects of the document are now on the same page, officials said today.
In a letter from the N.C. Coastal Federation to the county planning board, Mike Giles, coastal advocate for the federation, wrote that the group supports the recommended SUP amendments.
“The North Carolina Coastal Federation has worked on the Special Use Permit amendments since 2013 and would like to thank you for your in-depth deliberations over the past several months,” Giles wrote. “While concerns remain, we are pleased to announce that the Federation joined with the business community, including representatives of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, BASE and others, in a final push towards consensus, and that those efforts have led to an agreement to include additional language that we believe strengthens the proposed amendment and lends greater clarity to the process. Based on the inclusion of that additional language, the Federation hereby notes its support for the staff’s recommended text amendment,” he added in the letter.
Just days ago, the business coalition and the Coastal Federation were still miles apart on the SUP
"I am pleased that both the business community and the NCCF have expressed their support of the Special Use Permit text amendment that will come before the Planning Board this evening," board chairwoman Donna Girardot said Thursday afternoon. "They have both worked tirelessly over the last six months in a respectful and deliberative manner to help us craft a document that I feel confident will both encourage and support future economic development and help us protect the environment and our quality of life."
Also today, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce sent out a letter announcing the agreement.
““The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce was pleased to learn today that consensus has been achieved among the stakeholder groups that have thoroughly examined and debated revisions to the New Hanover County Industrial Special Use Permit for the past four years," the chamber letter noted. "This was truly an extraordinary process, bringing together a coalition of business organizations — the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, BASE, Wilmington Business Development, Wilmington-Cape Fear Homebuilders Association, and the Coalition for Economic Advancement — to advocate for changes that would create transparency in the process for applying for a permit, set a specific timeline for issuing or denying a permit, and increase inclusiveness in permitted uses.
"This unprecedented collaboration began through the Wilmington Chamber’s efforts, most notably by 2013 Chamber Chairman Hal Kitchin, but was achieved through the work of all parties involved."
The letter also commended "the Planning Board, and in particular Planning Board Chair Donna Girardot, for dedicating substantial time and energy to this issue and for allowing all interested parties to be at the table as the permit was reviewed line by line. The transparency of the process was helpful in crafting revisions that include something for everyone. We thank the New Hanover County Commissioners for allowing the Planning Board the time to examine the permit thoroughly, the Coastal Federation for their input and insight throughout the debate, and the New Hanover County Planning Department staff that developed a new SUP draft, then sought and incorporated input from the County’s new Unified Development Ordinance consultant."
The SUP is on the agenda for tonight’s planning board meeting at 6 p.m. at the New Hanover County Courthouse downtown.