The New Hanover County planning department has a month to revise the most recent draft of the special use permit--or SUP--which is what new industrial companies need to operate. Last week’s presentation of the SUP to the planning board sparked controversy among local environmental advocates, pro-business groups and members of the public--many of whom claimed they didn’t have adequate time to consider the new draft.
Last week the county asked for public comments on the SUP. And Hal Kitchin, immediate past chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, says he’s optimistic that this will encourage more citizens to fully read the draft.
"Right now we’re primarily hoping that the 30-day continuance will give the folks who said they were opposed to it because they didn’t yet know what was in it, a chance to actually find out what is in it. We think if they do that they’ll see that these really are just clarifying changes; they’re not substantive changes that go to the heart of the substance of the process itself."
But Mike Giles, of the North Carolina Coastal Federation, says the complicated nature of the SUP calls for active public interaction. Before the SUP goes back before the board, Giles plans to collect written input from environmental groups and sit down with the county planning department to make sure everyone fully understands all concerns.
"You know, people that are involved in this, day to day, and have researched and studied and are following it, like the Chamber, it might be simple. But to a normal, everyday citizen who is not involved in the process, it’s a complicated and overwhelming challenge to understand all the implications--all the suggested changes—what they mean."
The county planning department is accepting public comments until Friday. For more information about submitting a public comment, visit the county planning and inspections department website.