Seabreeze residents organize petition against rezoning

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The once flourishing shore community of Seabreeze is now practically empty and New Hanover County leaders have approved a request to rezone the area to help it grow. However, the idea is not sitting so well with Seabreeze residents. They have organized a petition in protest of the rezoning.

Courtland Simmons has lived in the Seabreeze community on and off for about thirty years.

“Change is good, but in this case we're fighting against change, Simmons says. “We would like to keep it the same. Back in the old days, you know, the '70's, the '80s even early '90s you know this was where mainly predominantly African Americans would come for entertainment.”

In its hey-day Seabreeze was a bustling community, serving as a resort for many black families coming to spend time by the shore. But over the years it has declined thanks to hurricanes, erosion and the economy.

Last month the New Hanover County Planning Board approved a request to rezone the area from commercial to residential, which spurred residents to take action in the form of a petition.

“You don't bulldoze 200 years, 300 years of history and we're trying to do our best efforts to try and avoid that,” Simmons says.

Petition organizers hope to get at least 1,000 signatures before presenting the petition to New Hanover County Commissioners.

Besides the historical value, the area serves as a working waterfront, which is something folks say needs to stay in tact

“It feels like we're taking a short term real estate investment interest over a long historical and a need in this county to have more access to the water,” says Thomas Congleton, who has helped organize the petition.

Organizers plan to present the signatures to New Hanover County commissioners during their next meeting on August 6.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

Where to we go or who do we call to sign this petition? I'll be happy to sign it!

Seabreeze is years of history, the Freeman family, the Ross family, the Wilson family, the Jones family, and any other family that represent the community. I love my roots and rezoning a historical area is not the answer. Yes, it can use some improvement maybe few buildings showing the true meaning of Seabreeze and a recreation area for the families of the community to come. Don't destroy what families have builded to be "HOME". We danced on the Boardwalk (known as Bruce's Tavern), sang the songs off the juke box, fellowship with each other, ate the best seafood (clam fritters,(only from Seabreeze),shrimp, fish,etc., and shared love that made you feel "WONDERFUL". History in itself, don't destroy it, just help build it up and give us what we once had, Seabreeze is a place for families to enjoy.

If for nothing else the area should be left as is to provide some commercial fishing use without having to pay high marina rates or launch off a trailer everyday. The whole Cape Fear peninsula is close to being ringed by overpriced McMansions as it is.

It is their community, so by all means, leave it the way it is.

It really is too bad that the area couldn't be preserved, renovated,and marketed like a southeastern NC version of Williamsburg, VA. Rebuild the cottages, the Jukejoint, and the waterfront piers and let it be a historical site for African Americans. I think all would agree that it ould be great to have a culturally significant site for African Americans. We are too quick, especially in Wilmington, to erase historically significant areas. The Battle of Wilmington grounds, the Shoo Fly Rail, the Park Avenue Trolley, the Ice House, etc,etc are examples of other areas that would have added to the historical charm of Wilmington, and would draw more visitors.

If the area is so attractive for business as Mr. Congleton has stated, why is there no business operating and creating jobs on the property that he has owned for years? The fact is that the Seabreeze plan was formulated with noble intentions in the mid 80's. It is very obvious that it has not produced the results that were intended. Sometimes the best of plans do not work and it is time to move forward. The best way to preserve the Seabreeze area is with a vibrant community. The addition of 3-4 single family homes could help jump start the revitalization of the area. Would you rather the people that come to the area see a bustling community or the current state that it's in?
It is time to look at the future of the area while not forgetting the past. If the community can revitalize, then the business community will see a customer base and locate there. Without that it will be hard to attract any business. It is time to move forward and make the Seabreeze area a place that people want to be in and come back to!