WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – County Commissioners voted in 2020 to deny a special use permit for a mixed-use development off Lendire Road in Ogden. However, Tom Terrell the attorney for the developer, Tribute Companies, said county leaders did not follow the rules when they made their decision.
“These types of decisions are based upon evidence, which is heard in an evidentiary hearing,” said Terell. “The board of commissioners treated it as though it was a political decision rather than one based on evidence.”
The courts agreed and on Monday, Commissioners approved the permit.
Special use permits are known as quasi-judicial permits, meaning that in order to offer evidence either in favor of or against the request, you have to be an expert. For example, homeowners can’t simply come and voice their concerns about additional traffic or flooding concerns based on anecdotal experience; they would need to hire a traffic engineer to do that.
Stephanie Walker lives in the neighborhood next to the proposed development, she helped lead the opposition to the project. Walker said she and others were not under any illusions that the land wouldn’t be built on but said the flooding issues had them concerned.
“I think the issue we had, we had just been through two hurricanes, one after the other; we had really bad flooding out here and the developers just couldn’t prove that what they were building was going to protect the rest of us around,” she said.
The Odgen area, in general, has been a hotspot for flooding in recent years.
“We had floodwaters almost up to people’s doors in this neighborhood and this pond is huge and it was cresting so that tells you how bad our floodwater situation was,” Walker said.
Terrell said there are engineered plans in place to help mitigate flooding issues, including a stormwater basin designed to manage rainfall from a 100-year storm, instead of the required 25-year storm.
It wasn’t just flooding concerns, neighbors also spoke out about the poor state of the roads and the schools — but Terrell says those concerns are the responsibility of the state and the county.
“Schools and DOT are always playing catch up, they don’t build in anticipation of what’s to come,” Terrell said.
We don’t know an exact timeline for this project but as more residents move into the Wilmington area, there’s a definite need for more housing. Despite the pushback from residents already living here, the lack of housing is driving the current market to previously unseen values.
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