From a Tideland News report
SWANSBORO – While the May 21 special meeting was called to discuss the 2019-20 budget, Commissioner Frank Tursi used it to voice his concerns over a proposal to expand a strip mall on N.C. 24, which includes a request to fill wetlands in an area of town where runoff is a problem.
Tursi, former editor of Coastal Review Online, requested that the board address the issue because if the application currently under review by the Army Corps of Engineers is approved, more than an acre of wetlands will have been destroyed by both phases of this project, the Tideland News reported. Construction of the first phase of the 2.64-acre Bailey Center strip mall that opened earlier this year required filling 33,794 square feet of wetlands. The current application calls for filling 0.23 acres of wetlands.
Though no vote was taken during the meeting, none of the other four commissioners supported Tursi’s request for an objection to the plans or asking for an extension on the public comment period for the federal Clean Water Act permit.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers public notice, the request to expand the Bailey Center would include the construction of a multipurpose building with six units, a mini-storage facility, associated parking, roads and a reconfigured stormwater facility.
The corps is accepting until 5 p.m. Thursday comments to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. Any person may request in writing that a public hearing be held to consider the application. Comments should be submitted to Rachel Capito, Wilmington Regulatory Field Office, 69 Darlington Ave., Wilmington, NC 28403 or 910-251-4487
The strip mall currently includes a Dollar Tree at 10,000 square feet and an adjacent multi-purpose building of 3,600 square feet, according to a previous Tideland News report. The board voted to end a moratorium on new commercial construction encompassing more than 12,000 square feet in June 2016 and approved the development. The expanded plans will include an additional 16,000-square-foot indoor storage facility and a 14,000-square-foot building on the site.
If plans are cleared with the corps, the developer will likely submit his request the planning board.
The strip mall construction was approved before Swansboro put in place in January the land-use plan update based on residents’ input calling for wetlands preservation. A land-use plan serves as a guide for development and is required of local governments in the state’s 20 coastal counties.
Tursi suggested that Swansboro officials attempt to negotiate with the developer in order to lessen the impact on the upland wetlands or be prepared to object to all federal and state permits and certifications.
Commissioner Roy Herrick said an objection to this project could negatively affect the town’s financial future because of the town’s limited ability to add to its tax base because of a state law restricting annexation.
Jennifer Allen contributed to this report.
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