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Economic Development
Jul 28, 2016

First Comprehensive Plan Provides Path For County’s Future

Sponsored Content provided by Chris Coudriet - County Manager, New Hanover County Government

I am pleased to share with  you that New Hanover County’s very first comprehensive plan – Plan NHC – was unanimously adopted by the board of county commissioners in July.
This is a historic achievement, and it charts the course for our next 25 years of economic development and land use. Thank you to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and Planning Board, and the countless citizens, stakeholders and staff experts who worked together to create a plan that will be successfully implemented in the years to come.
The process of developing Plan NHC began in July 2013. Three years later, after extensive research and community input – including meetings, theme committees, public discussions and planning board recommendations – the final draft of Plan NHC was approved. Now our community has a plan to guide development and protect resources for the next quarter-century.
This first comprehensive plan was a true collaboration, and it presents a clear direction for responsible development and a guide for growth and business in New Hanover County. It was created with the City of Wilmington and its comprehensive plan and ordinance process to ensure that New Hanover County and the city provide a coordinated path forward.
Plan NHC looks out to the year 2040, when our population is expected to be more than double the size it is today. It presents a series of reports, including statistical and historical information, and provides a detailed implementation plan that will help achieve the overall vision for the future of New Hanover County.
With the appropriate balance of interests and a focus on a more mixed-use style of land use, the plan provides guidance to elected officials and staff on development and redevelopment proposals, zoning regulations, policies, programs and initiatives that will sustain New Hanover County as a vibrant, prosperous and diverse coastal community.
The plan takes into account the county’s current infrastructure and the need to preserve our natural resources. It will help increase economic development and ensure that stewardship remains a top priority.
Plan NHC is divided into five comprehensive chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Public Engagement Plan reviews the mission and vision of New Hanover County, the purpose and process of Plan NHC, opportunities for citizen involvement, and outreach efforts.
  • Chapter 2: Existing Conditions summarizes the population, land development, housing, transportation, economy, infrastructure and urban services, health and natural resources that currently exist in New Hanover County.
  • Chapter 3: Framing the Policy details the goals, planning principles and theme committees that guide Plan NHC, including livable built environment, harmony with nature, interwoven equity, resilient economy, healthy community and responsible regionalist.
  • Chapter 4: Visualizing the Future focuses on how the goals and values described in Chapter 3 can be implemented into the built environment through the Future Land Use Map. Place types, or the different types of development that make up a community, and natural systems help to guide this conversation.
  • Chapter 5: Building the Future outlines the action plan, including implementation initiatives and guidelines, for New Hanover County over the next 25 years.
New Hanover County’s next steps for Plan NHC include the modernization and adoption of the new land-use ordinance, the creation of a Workforce Housing task force, a Parks and Gardens Master Plan, and an audit of groundwater studies to determine next steps for long-term water supply planning.
The plan will be updated regularly to reflect our growing community. It is not a stagnant document. Rather, it is an important guide for New Hanover County’s economic development and provides a sustainable path to direct our county’s future.
As an undergraduate student, I studied Urban and Regional Planning. Many planners go their entire careers without ever being able to work on or implement a comprehensive plan. The level of scope, foresight and detail required is unmatched. So I am pleased to see the work of so many in our county come to life in Plan NHC. Because of our dedicated staff, our leadership and our engaged community, we have long-range goals and an important guide for our county’s future. 
This is a great accomplishment for us all. It furthers New Hanover County’s commitment to be the model of good governance and to keep our citizens safe, healthy and secure.
Plan NHC can be viewed on our website at
New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow. See more at

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