Attorneys and builders spar over ‘ghost highway’ throughout rezoning bid

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Attorneys and developers spar over ‘ghost road’ during rezoning bid

The relevant location of an application for rededication is unregistered land, which is included in the city of Wilmington, and adjoins 40 acre property behind a last minute letter to the board ahead of its Thursday meeting. (Port City Daily / Courtesy of New Hanover County staff)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY – A real estate agent who was once the Mayor of Wilmington, Hamilton Hicks Jr., has clients who inherited land northwest of the destination on Market Street. To add to their property’s value and seduce buyers, he filed a rededication application that would allow a future developer to build 62 more units than are currently allowed on the property.

The 8 acre site is under the jurisdiction of New Hanover County but is unregistered land enclosed within the boundaries of the city of Wilmington. Hicks’ customers also own neighboring parcels in Wilmington, but initially opted to seek permits for the land in New Hanover County after the city wanted him to agree to the terms of his application for rezoning and annexation according to planning documents.

Hours before Hicks was due to show up for a planning agency meeting last month, lawyers representing the owner of the neighboring parcel entered the fray. They sent a letter to the district managers claiming the planners had neglected to take into account a ten-year-old street map when preparing the Hicks application that would harm the interests of their customers.

Before: New Hanover County’s heirs hope to increase sales value through rededication

The neighboring landowner east of Hicks’ client who plans to begin construction on the 42-acre property this year is a limited liability company called 5016 Hunters Trail, LLC with ties to Jeffery Kentner, the developer behind the Galleria project and President of State Street Companies.

Read More: Wilmington Goes Red On Galleria Land Deal If Nothing Is Built

Kentner has the license to build a maximum of 742 multi-family units on his property, which is bordered to the north by Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and to the south by Target. Over the past few weeks, as Hicks worked to move his motion down the county government channels, individuals working for Kentner’s interests have been imposing multiple rounds to ensure that a street that ends on the State Street property gets through the property will be joined and extended by Hicks’ clients.

At a board of commissioners meeting Monday, lawyers representing the interests of 5016 Hunters Trail, LLC urged the commissioners to recognize the need for connectivity. Wilmington launched a street map in 2009 to improve the congested traffic conditions on Market Street, the lawyers said. This road link, which involves both the package and Hicks’ customers, is a critical part of that goal.

Hicks struggled along with a lawyer who represented the applicants.

“My clients are not developers,” said attorney Steve Culbreth. “They are the grandchildren of the original owners.”

It was not time to discuss responsibility for future road links, Hicks argued, as this would be ironed out later in the process. After all, there are currently no plans to develop the property, he said at the meeting.

The board agreed. Despite requests from Kentner’s subsidiaries, who wanted Hicks to guarantee the construction of the connecting road, the board of directors unanimously approved the rededication request.

State Street plays for the street

The wooded area in the upper left is owned by the applicant (left) and State Street (right of the wood). The extension of the Hunters Trail would pick up at the yellow above the property of the applicant and connect to the Majoran Way. (Port City Daily / New Hanover County planning staff)

“My client supports the proposed land use requested by the applicant,” wrote Attorney Jennifer Scott, who represents 5016 Hunters Trail LLC, in a letter to the district executives last week. “However, we assume that, based on the county’s own guidelines, there must be a mechanism in place to allow the Hunters Trail to be extended west through the applicant’s property so that the zoning change requested can be granted …”

On the recommendation of the NC Department of Transportation and the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, Wilmington City Council amended the Gingerwood Connector Street Plan in April 2009. He requested that the unfinished Hunters Trail be moved west and connected to Marjoram Way via the property owned by Hicks’ clients. The link could route traffic from Market Street to MLK Parkway and benefit from taxpayer investments in the now completed road widening project on Kerr Avenue.

“The problem of leading this problem into an uncertain future [Technical Review Committee] The date is my client will begin building a shared apartment on the 42 acre adjoining property in 2021, ”wrote Scott on the board.

David Novotny, a project manager for State Street, also contacted the board several times and even sent a “Memorandum of Understanding” after reviewing the agenda last week to “organize our thoughts into categories.”

He turned down the county planning staff for failing to include the Gingerwood Plan in the discussions.

“We believe that the employees inadvertently failed to investigate the case thoroughly and were unaware of the existence of the Gingerwood Collector Street Plan or the applicable plan [Traffic Impact Assessments]”Wrote Novotny.” Mistakes happen. However, when mistakes are revealed, the staff has a fiduciary duty to acknowledge and address their mistakes. “

5016 Hunters Trail LLC proposed an alternate route for the extension of the Hunters Trail, which should be along the boundaries of the applicant’s package rather than through the center as indicated on the city map. They offered to take part of the neighboring property for relief and even pay for the connection.

In a letter representing the heirs of the package subject to the rededication, Culbreth told the board that the land had been in his customers’ families since the 1930s and an earlier DOT conviction resulted in their birth home being demolished .

“The owner of the property immediately to the east and adjacent to this property has come forward and stated that there is a future ‘Ghost Road’,” wrote Culbreth. “There is no doubt that the proposed expansion of Hunter’s Trail to connect with the Majoran Way roundabout would take up an additional portion of the property in question and therefore reduce its value.”

The board members said it was not their job to impose road construction on developers. They agreed with Hicks that these details would be ironed out in future phases, not without a development plan. They all agreed that the road link would be desirable to improve traffic conditions.

Barfield read up on previous developments on State Street in Wilmington.

“I think my challenge for me is: the developer you represent, I think we have worked with you more than once,” he said at the meeting. “Whether it’s the Galleria project, if that ABC card Somehow he was in the business of selling his current location to build another because someone wanted that particular property and they figured out a way to go about that – which I didn’t particularly agree with. ”

Read more: At the developer’s request, ABC spent $ 3 million moving its Wrightsville Ave store a quarter of a mile

“The way you work with what you are portraying challenges me because I cannot forget some things that I saw from this podium,” he said.

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