In October of 2011 the New Hanover County Commissioners, backed by the support of hundreds of citizens approved the Special Use Permit (SUP) to the Zoning Ordinance for the I-1 and I-2 industrial zones. Revisions had not been made to New Hanover County’s Zoning Ordinance since 1969, before the Clean Air and Water Acts were even established. The SUP is an important tool used in careful planning and development of communities, allowing for a local review process for proposals for heavy industry and other operations that could potentially have negative impacts to the surrounding areas.

In November of 2013 the County proposed to revise the Zoning Ordinance, specifically targeting the SUP. Suggested changes in the language of the SUP could significantly weaken the strength of the permitting process and create loopholes that would alter the original intent of the SUP. In March the Planning Board voted to recommend to the Commissioners that the revisions be made.

Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment, a study prepared for the New Hanover County Commissioners and the City of Wilmington by a private consultant, Garner Economics, was released to the public April 2nd. One of the more controversial recommendations of the report was to get rid of the special use permit or at the very least, make modifications to the Table of Permitted Uses.

On Monday, June 2nd at 6:00 PM the New Hanover County Commissioners is holding a public hearing where they will consider approval of the proposed changes. County staff has released the information on the proposed amendments to the public and will be accepting comments until May 19th. We have prepared talking points on the changes that are of particular cause for concern.

What can you do to help protect the SUP?

  • Attend the public hearing on June 2, 2014 at 6:00PM in the Historic New Hanover County Courthouse Room 301, 24 N. 3rd Street, Downtown Wilmington and make your voice heard
  • Write a Letter to the Editor
  • Help phone bank to increase attendance

Still confused about what these revisions mean and want to learn more? Would you like to make a public comment at the June 2nd hearing and need some guidance preparing your statement? Join us for a Community Outreach Meeting on Tuesday, May 27th at 6:30PM at the N.C. Coastal Federation Coastal Education Center, 309 W. Salisbury Street, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480 (located in the Historic Square next to the Visitor’s Center and Wrightsville Beach Museum).

New Hanover County Commissioners to consider revisions to the Special Use permit