WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A resolution affirming city policy of anti-discrimination in the awarding of city contracts was passed by Wilmington City Council in its first reading at its meeting Tuesday evening.
The vote was 6-1 in favor of the resolution. Council member Kevin Spears cast the dissenting vote. Spears also voted against waiving a second reading of the resolution. A second reading now will take place at the council’s next meeting.
“We get up here and we claim to be representative of this community,” said Spears. “But how much are we actually talking to the community and getting their opinions and their feelings about certain things?”
The City already has a policy (Policy 213) that addresses anti-discrimination in the workplace, and also Policy 109 that supports the use of local, small, women, and minority businesses in awarding City contracts, but it did not have a specific policy covering anti-discrimination in awarding City contracts.
In order to support the City’s focus areas of creating a safe place and fostering a prosperous and thriving economy, the resolution reaffirms, “…the City does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic disorder” when entering into contracts.
The full resolution can be read below:
An ordinance prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations within the city limits was also approved 6-1 with Council Member Kevin Spears casting the dissenting vote.
Mayor Bill Saffo said the topic of anti-discrimination was not new and that it had been “in discussion since November 2020 in preparation for what was going to happen when HB2 expired.”
He added that he wants the anti-discrimination ordinance to be an ongoing discussion with the community and that it is a living document.
“We are against discrimination of any sort,” said Saffo.
Jen Johnson, secretary of New Hanover County Community Relations Advisory Committee attended the meeting to support non-discrimination protections.
“You know if you have a city that doesn’t offer non-discrimination protections, you’re not going to hear the voices of people because they are afraid to come out.”
If approved in its second reading, the ordinance will go into effect in 30 days and will be subject to civil enforcement only. Although it is not a criminal ordinance, offenses do incur escalating penalties.
New Land Development Code
The ordinance recommended to council members by Interim City Manager Anthony Caudle to replace the old code with new, modern development standards was approved unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. A motion to waive the second reading was also approved unanimously.
The introduction to the draft proposal noted the following:
The new LDC implements many policies of the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan¸ including Wilmington becoming more walkable and bikeable, delivering services in proximity to citizens, reducing impervious surfaces, preserving trees, and removing obstacles to encourage workforce and affordable housing.
The City of Wilmington’s planning, development and transportation director, Glen Harbeck, and deputy director, Ron Satterfield, presented the proposed changes to the new Land Development Code that included provisions to protect trees, provide incentives for affordable housing, improve appearance and function of major streets, promote walkability and use of public transit.
Changes included eliminating the off-street parking requirement for accessory dwelling units; allowing use of temporary storage containers for up to six months; eliminating minimum parking requirements; and improving citywide lighting standards.
“This new code was a major undertaking that was built on community input from the ground up,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “It is designed to respond to the biggest challenges we face, like protecting and restoring our tree canopy, carefully managing future growth, and making the city more convenient. This is a tremendous accomplishment that will impact our city in a positive way for generations to come.”
The existing Land Development Code being replaced is based on development patterns and building practices in common use in the 1980s.
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