Asked about the legality of such a request, Bozeman said, "The governing body of municipalities may annex areas contiguous to its corporate boundaries, provided they meet the requirements in North Carolina General Statute § 160A-31. Per the statute, areas are considered contiguous if they abut the municipal boundary or are separated by state-owned lands, creeks or rivers, a road right-of-way, or a combination thereof. The property petitioned for voluntary annexation meets these requirements."
Before a potential annexation, KFJ is seeking new zoning. According to the Leland Planning Board’s Feb. 22 agenda, released Friday, Leland officials are considering that request for a Riverfront Urban Mixed-Use District “that could facilitate mixed-use development on properties between the Isabel Holmes Bridge and the Thomas Rhodes Bridge, along US Highway 421. The proposed district could be applied to properties in this area if they were to be annexed into the Town of Leland. As written, the proposed zoning district could not be applied elsewhere.”
KFJ Development Group last year sought a riverfront urban mixed-use zoning from New Hanover County officials that could apply to their project, but the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners recently tabled the request to schedule a broader discussion on what they want to see along the riverfront.
While that discussion is expected to take place at some point in the next month or two, it could be rendered moot with regards to the Battleship Point proposal if Leland annexes the property. The Battleship Point plan has met with opposition from New Hanover County environmental and historic groups, as well as the Brunswick County NAACP.
According to the proposed Leland zoning, the RUMXD “focuses on compact vertical mixed-use development patterns, emphasizing height allowances to allow for an integrated mix of uses. The proposed structure height limit is 300', and a 5-acre minimum lot size is proposed.”
Bozeman said, "When the Town is considering a voluntary annexation request, the zoning of the property is also considered. The development envisioned for the property would require changes to the Town’s zoning regulations, which are considered by Town staff, Planning Board, and Town Council through the review of a proposed ordinance amendment that would create the zoning district needed to accommodate the type of development anticipated on the property."
The town of Leland has been growing in recent years through voluntary annexations, with more up for consideration by town officials this month, according to agendas.
"As our region continues to grow, the Town of Leland is encouraged that property owners and developers see value in being part of the Town and in the many services and benefits provided to its residents. Leland is focused on both our existing communities and our future. We are making investments in both and intend to continue to do so for years to come," Bozeman said in the email. "The Town will prudently consider future investments in infrastructure and support services necessary to continue to provide a high quality of life for our existing and future residents. The continued growth of the Town reinforces our commitment to be a great destination to live, raise a family, and open or expand a business."
The Leland Planning Board's meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the town's council chambers.
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