NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — It’s a temporary victory for neighbors, and a setback for a New Hanover County developer after he ended up withdrawing an application to rezone 75 acres of land in Monkey Junction to build townhomes due to community backlash.
The proposed area is part of the Tarin Woods subdivision off Carolina Beach Road behind Tregembo Animal Park.
Under the current R-15 zoning, the developer, James Yopp, can only build 187 units. That’s why he submitted an application to rezone part of the land to build up to 599 units.
After learning about Yopp’s application, dozens of neighbors came to a county planning board meeting Thursday night to voice their concerns.
“We’re really concerned, not just about the density and what it means for the roads,” Tarin Woods resident Joshua Phanco said, “but for the schools particularly.”
Phanco said he grew concerned when he learned how many townhomes could be coming to his neighborhood.
“The teacher to student ratio is high as it is,” he said, “much less putting more people into the area and therefore more kids in the school.”
Yopp, who also developed Tarin Woods One and Two, says he’s not responsible for schools.
“DOT will make DOT improvements, school systems will be done through the school board,” Yopp said. “So, I don’t know how we can answer that question. That’s a school board question.”
While some community members shared concerns that the rezoning was a way for Yopp to make more money, Yopp says he genuinely wants to provide the community with affordable housing.
After reviewing Yopp’s application and hearing concerns from the community, members of the planning board echoed their own concerns about the need for additional roads in and out of the subdivision.
However, Yopp says his application followed exactly what he was told to do by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“We followed suit, did what they asked, are now permitting what they asked, and bonded what they’ve asked,” Yopp said. “But obviously that does not seem to be enough to the residents or to the planning board. So, I don’t know how to solve that problem as a developer and investor in New Hanover County.”
Yopp says he will consider the planning board’s concerns before potentially submitting a new application.