Four years of efforts to create an improved New Hanover County industrial special use process culminated Monday when the NHC Commissioners approved revisions recommended by the Planning Board. The revisions provide for more transparency in the application process, a more specific timeline for consideration of a permit application, and more inclusiveness in permitted uses. This extraordinary, years-long effort unified several area economic development groups, including the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, the NC Business Alliance for a Sound Economy, Wilmington Business Development, the Wilmington-Cape Fear Homebuilders Association and the Coalition for Economic Advancement, and, ultimately, the proposed revisions received support from other stakeholders, including the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
The approval of these revisions helps address the ambiguity created by changes to the process enacted in 2011, which site selectors have told us has a detrimental effect on attracting new business investment. This has been a defining issue for the Chamber over the course of the last few years. Bringing a diverse set of organizations together to rally for these improvements is a great example of what can be achieved through open, honest dialogue among all interested parties.
2013 Chamber Chairman Hal Kitchin has been the frontline advocate for the Chamber on this issue. The Chamber would like to personally thank Hal for all of the work he has put forth. Thanks also to Tyler Newman at BASE and our other partners for remaining committed to achieving a positive outcome, and to Planning Board Chair Donna Girardot for all of her work to allow the process of reviewing the permit to continue. We would especially like to thank Commission Chairman Woody White, Vice-Chairman Skip Watkins, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, Jr., Commissioner Patricia Kusek and Commissioner Rob Zapple for voting unanimously to approve the revisions.
The improved special use permit process will encourage job creation and a diverse economy, while including safeguards to protect our quality of life. The revised process will also complement the work both the City and County undertook last year to update their respective comprehensive plans, and the on-going work on the County’s Unified Development Ordinance.