Wilmington leaders approve incentive grant money, development agreement for large buildings

National Gypsum VP of Manufacturing John King talks before Wilmington City Council. (Andrew James, WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Wilmington city leaders join their counterparts of the county and will pay to see National Gypsum return to Wilmington.

City leaders unanimously approved their own incentive grant for the drywall company to return to its Sunnyvale Drive plant. It was shut down nearly a decade ago.

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The city will pay upwards of $230,000 in the first five years of National Gypsum returning if they meet some conditions.

One of them was added in their meeting, council members mirrored the county in asking the company create a new stack test for emissions within its first year.

“I think that’s what is equally important to the financial incentive is the clear message saying ‘hey we want you and we’re going to be here with you and we’re going to help you be successful’ and we’ll both benefit from that,” said Wilmington Business Development CEO Scott Satterfield.

These grants do not guarantee National Gypsum will return to Wilmington.

The company is permitted to emit more than eight tons of formaldehyde by the state if they resume operations here.

The company agreed to the city-added condition.

City council also had lengthy debate during their hearings on new development agreement outlines that will, in a way, replace the process of requesting a special use permit. The reason the city brought this to their agenda and through the planning commission was that several city council members have had issues with the SUP process. During it, council cannot talk to anyone, public or private regarding the development requesting a permit.

Council voted 6-1 on the development agreement rules you can read here. Some of these rules were changed during the meeting, but they will require a public meeting to allow for neighbors to come and see the proposed development.

However, it does not require any public hearings for comment, something councilman Kevin O’Grady was adamantly in favor of adding in, but the council could not pass his amended rules with a majority vote.

Following the council’s approval of the new development agreement, they voted 6-1 with allowing structures as high as 75 feet to be constructed in urban mixed use zones without the requirement of a special use permit, but with a developmental agreement.