After rejection by local residents, a planned Habitat for Humanity community in Leland will return to the drawing board.
According to Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity executive director Carlo Montagano, the nonprofit has withdrawn its request to rezone six acres in the Highland Hills neighborhood from R-15 to R-6 as medium residential zoning.
The change would have allowed Habitat to add 42 homes to the Highland Hills community, rather than the maximum of 17 under its current zoning.
Residents of the Highland Hills community largely opposed the rezoning due to concerns about stormwater drainage, noise, infrastructure impacts, and how the project would affect the character of the neighborhood.
“After listening to community concerns and subsequent concerns from city officials, … our board of directors voted to withdraw our candidacy,” Montagano said in an email.
Habitat will now continue with plans to develop the four-plot site under its current zoning, which allows 2.9 units per acre. Because Sturgeon Creek runs through the rear portion of the lots, the property would only support about a dozen homes, planning officials said.
While the withdrawal of the rezoning request meets most residents’ concerns, some are completely opposed to the project. Highland Hills resident Jeff Long said while the pullback is a step in the right direction, he would not support the development of more than one house per lot.
“That’s what the whole community is, well-spaced, very orderly single-family homes,” Long said. “Now they’re going to get double or triple the houses in a block like this, overnight.”
The Highland Hills project represents a shift in Habitat’s home building strategy in the face of dwindling land supply and soaring real estate prices, forcing them to become community developers.
“Historically, we identified unique lots in the community and paid between $15,000 and $25,000 for those lots,” Montagano said. “Today, these lots cost between $20,000 and $40,000 and they are very rare to find.”
Reporter John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or [email protected]