WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After nearly three hours of heated debate the New Hanover County Planning Board tabled a proposed amendment to their Special Use Permitting process so that the public had more time to understand the changes.
"We're very close to having a workable special-use-permit that provides that tool to the county staff and to the county commission that will ensure we make the right decisions for our community,” said Mike Giles of the NC Coastal Federation.
Environmentalist groups argue a change in the 2011 special-use-permit process makes it easier for dirty companies to set up shop, but local business leaders say the process needs an update to clear up confusing language and adhere more closely to national standards.
"There's no doubt that in 2011 there were a lot of well-intentioned people who were trying to do the right thing,” said former Chamber of Commerce Chairman Hal Kitchin. “The problem is we think there is an unintended consequence in that legislation and we do think it's preventing us from being in the game for as many industries as we are in the game for."
One of the main reasons New Hanover County Planning Board tabled the amendment to the special-use-permit was because environmental groups say they had a just a few days' notice that the planning board would consider wholesale changes to special-use-permits. Those groups say it reminded them of a 2008 meeting when Titan Cement made its initial presentation
"We had very little time,” said Giles. “It might seem simple to people who deal with this everyday but to the general public this is a complex issue."
Any changes made by the New Hanover County Planning Board at the February meeting must be approved by the Board of Commissioners before they become local legislation.