Town of Leland investigating annexation request for land near Battleship

Councilmembers in the Town of Leland addressed a controversial topic at their meeting on Thursday night.

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Councilmembers in the Town of Leland addressed a controversial topic at their meeting on Thursday night.

Several people in Leland spoke out against the potential annexation of a piece of land on the western bank of the Cape Fear River.

Point Peter, the more than eight-acre piece of land, currently sits in New Hanover County. In January, developers went to the New Hanover County Commissioners with a rezoing request to build a 300-foot tall hotel, restaurants, and apartments on the land. Commissioners tabled the discussion and developers turned to the Town of Leland, asking to annex and rezone under its jurisdiction.

“I feel like that’s wrong. To shop jurisdictions just to circumvent these comprehensive plans, it seems disrespectful to the procedures our elected officials have put in place,” Sandy Fisher said during public comment at Thursday’s meeting. “I really find it offensive and I dare say that it offends you too.”

Leland Town Council approved a resolution allowing their clerk to look into the annexation request. A vote the council seemed to begrudgingly make after it was explained it was required by law the town to look into the application.

“I think the audience understands that this is not something we’re necessarily thrilled about, it’s something we’re required to do,” Councilmember Veronica Carter said. “I do think they need to understand that we’re taking this very seriously. We hear you.”

The area under discussion is known for severe flooding during high tides and storms. As sea-level is projected to rise in the coming decades, Geologist Roger Shew says the development could be catastrophic.

“What we’re seeing is accelerating sea-level rise and we’re having an increased number of high-tide flooding days. NOAA in fact projects that we’ll have over 150 high tide flooding days by 2050,” Shew said. “Ecosystems, hazards of stormwater management, primary nursery grounds, having increasing numbers of flood events that lead to damages. All those are issues that we should be considering.”

When thinking of how to develop the land in the future, Shew suggests building something that would be widely beneficial rather than harmful.

“Build something that would be beneficial culturally, historically, socially, and environmentally that everyone could enjoy,” Shew said. “We can have a low impact area for development that would be a real draw for people. You don’t have to put structures everywhere. The whole Cape Fear River is a maritime historical place. We’ve got naval stores, we’ve got Gulla Geechee heritage. All of those things are really important. We don’t want to forget our history, we don’t want to forget the importance of our natural areas, which is why people came here to start with.”

Dan George with the Brunswick Environmental Action Team says his organization isn’t against development, they are just against irresponsible development.

“It’s not a matter of if it’s going to flood, it’s a matter of when,” George said.

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