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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.

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