Wilmington City Council approves Riverlights mixed-use rezoning

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council has voted in favor of the developer of the Riverlights community, making a big change to the original plans.

The developer, Newland, submitted a request to rezone 120 acres of land from residential to mixed-use. The land was intended primarily for single family homes according to the original 2009 plans.

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The potential change would increase the total number of allowable units from 2,790 to 3,350. It was already increased back in 2013 from the original number of 2,290.

Residents say this is not what they signed up for when they purchased homes in the Riverlights community. Appearing at the city council meeting on Tuesday, they called on leaders to turn down the proposed rezoning.

“It was very disappointing,” said resident Tyra Lallo. “I was hopeful that council and mayor, that they would really listen and listen to the constituents and realize that we have valid concerns here.”

With one apartment complex already under construction, residents believe this rezoning seals the deal for more to come.

“One apartment complex, there’ll be another apartment complex,” said resident Michael Sanclimenti. “And the city council has now given Newland free reign to do whatever they want.”

Another concern is that with the potential for additional residential units, the community will lose commercial businesses it was expecting.

“We’re losing our shopping center, we’re losing our commercial development, and Riverlights is losing its character,” Sanclimenti said.

The developer, represented by attorney Michael Lee, argued that the change would be beneficial to residents and city council agreed.

“It kind of ties in with our comprehensive land use plan which basically says we want to bring services closer to where people live,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “The other part of it is that we have an overall reduction in the amount of traffic that will be generated by that reduction of almost half a million to a million square feet of retail and business development.”

Click here to watch the entire city council meeting.

Click here to view the developer’s proposal.