Stakeholders reached a compromise to improve the New Hanover County Special Use Permit process for industry

On Feb. 2, the New Hanover County Planning Board voted 6-1 to adopt the New Hanover County Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommendations to the industrial use sections of the New Hanover County Special Use Permit zoning ordinance text in Article II, Article V, Article VII and Article XI, as well as changes to the Table of Permitted Uses (TOPU). The planning board’s recommendation now sends the proposed text amendments and TOPU forward for a public hearing and decision by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners at the March 6 meeting. Click here to read the proposed text amendments to the Industrial SUP, beginning on page 3-18. Note: It may take a few moments to load.

Prior to the Feb. 2 planning board meeting, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association, Business Alliance for a Sound Economy, Wilmington Business Development and Coalition for Economic Advancement provided letters of support for the staff recommended text amendments. Following more than two years of extensive meetings and consideration by the planning staff, county elected leaders and engaged stakeholders from the community, the letters of support represent a compromise position between the various organizations engaged in the issue. Click here to read the letter of support from the business community. Click here to read the letter of support from the federation.

While voicing support for the current text amendments to the Planning Department during the Feb. 2 public hearing, staff from the North Carolina Coastal Federation urged New Hanover County staff and elected leadership to use the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) revision process to continue discussions over the remaining areas of concern, including the inclusion of certain heavy industries within the Table of Permitted Uses.

The following is a list of improvements to the existing Industrial Use Special Use Permit requirements for proposed new industrial businesses:

  • Increased timeline for review of Intensive Industries from 20 business days to 35 business days prior to the planning board meeting. This additional review affects 16 of the most intensive industrial uses, which now require an SUP within the I-2 intensive industrial zone, and are prohibited in the I-1 zone.
  • For intensive manufacturing applicants, a Community Information Meeting (CIM) will held by the applicant for information sharing and review of the applicant’s proposal prior to an application being deemed complete by planning staff. The requirement for a public information meeting allows earlier notification and engagement between the applicant and the public.
  • Any additional materials submitted by the applicant must be submitted no later than 10 days prior to the planning board meeting and will be posted on the county website and notification made through the county’s “Sunshine List.” (To sign up for the “Sunshine List” for notifications, go here. Please note that the subscribers will be asked to choose from a menu of different notification topics. For the planning notices, you will need to check “Planning Public Notices.”)
  • New language that further requires more information and detail about the project required in Section 70-2(2)(E) (Application requirements) which will require the applicant to provide a written description of the proposal depicting the natural and scope of the proposed development, as well as information that provides support for each of the required findings of facts for approvals under Subsection 70-7.
  • In Subsection 70-2(2) (9): Applications requirements: The applicant will be required to provide maps depicting the location of federal and state wetlands that could be affected by the proposed project. This better informs the public, staff and decision makers.
  • In Subsection 70-2(2)(J): For proposed uses in the Intensive Manufacturing category the applicant shall identify all local, state or federal permits the applicant believes will be required for the project. This includes but is not limited to; air quality, water quality, wetlands, endangered species and groundwater and aquifer withdrawals. This requirement informs planning staff, planning board members and county commissioners of potential external effects upon these critical shared resources. The county staff, planning board members and/or board of commissioners may also request additional information and/or clarification in order to make an informed decision on the suitability of the proposed use.


Monday, March 6, 4 p.m. — Board of Commissioners SUP Public Hearing. Click here.

Table of Permitted Uses (TOPU) – Proposed Changes

The planning board’s recommendation allows some intensive manufacturing uses that are currently in the I-2 heavy industry zones to move to a less intensive category (categorized as “general” or “limited”) zones, now closer to residential neighborhoods and retail establishments.

  • These are the proposed current heavy industries being reclassified: basic chemical manufacturing/resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing paint/coating, and adhesive manufacturing/soap, cleaning compound, and toilet preparation manufacturing/plastics product manufacturing/rubber product manufacturing/clay product and refractory manufacturing/glass and glass product manufacturing/cement and concrete product manufacturing.

These industries will not have a community information meeting (CIM) and will have a 20-day review period (unlike the 35-day review period for those industries classified as Intensive Industries).

On the March 6 board of commissioners meeting, the federation will recommend the county to address the planning board recommended changes in the Table of Permitted Uses with the county’s consultant, LSL Planning, and planning staff during the upcoming Unified Development update process.

To learn more about the planning board’s recommendation to amend Zoning Ordinance Article II, Article V, Article VII and Article XI, go to the proposed amendment, beginning on page 3-18. Note: It may take a few moments to load.

If you have questions or comments concerning the planning board’s recommendation, contact the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and attend the March 6 public hearing.

Stay Informed
Sign up to the county’s “Sunshine List” for updates on all of New Hanover County’s planning and zoning proposalsPlease note that the subscribers will be asked to choose from a menu of different notification topics. For the planning notices, you will need to check “Planning Public Notices.”