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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County is not a prime target for big manufacturing companies hoping to move businesses or start new business projects, according to the Coalition for Economic Advancement.

Coalition for Economic Advancement President Scott Sullivan points the finger at Special Use Permit (SUP) wording and the Industrial Ordinance.

“It really is sort of an anti-business ordinance at this point,” Sullivan said. “We don’t feel that people looking to move businesses or create businesses in Wilmington will come here because of the negative nature of the ordinance.”

Economic Development Consultant Robin Spinks agreed.

“For manufacturers, this is all about risk and uncertainty, and right now the SUP the way it’s written has no time certainty; has no fact certainty,” Spinks said. “So it’s a process they just will not have nor take the time to go through.”

New Hanover County Planning & Inspections Department Planning Manager Shawn Ralston addressed the issues of companies requesting SUPs.

“The planning board would have to review the plans and then the board of commissioners would ultimately have to vote as to whether or not they agree with the use that’s being proposed,” Ralston said.

During a packed community planning work session, Ralston outlined proposed changes. Attendees had the opportunity to see changes marked in red. There are many changes, but a common element up for change is making a more definitive timetable.

For example, companies wishing to get SUPs would have two weeks to provide requested information, rather than the current language that leaves a timetable open-ended. But Spinks said more changes are needed.

“It says we’re gonna ask you questions until we’re satisfied,” she said. “It doesn’t say what kind of industry they do and don’t want, and so that creates a very big question mark.”

Friday’s planning meeting was not a public hearing, so attendees did not stand up and voice their opinions. There were no votes on changes. It was just an informational session.

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