Jennifer Rigby

This broadcast of CoastLine originally aired on January 28, 2015. 

Three Comprehensive Plans are simultaneously taking shape in the Cape Fear region.

The tri-county region, made up of Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender County, is widely expected to undergo a steep upward trend in population over the next 25 years.  Some estimates put the number at more than a quarter of a million new residents. 

Dozens of New Hanover County citizens are brainstorming ways to use local land, resources, and economic opportunities in the not-so-distant future. It’s all part of the Comprehensive Plan, a public engagement initiative to plot the development necessary to accommodate this region’s projected population swell. In November, when the planning department initially outlined this plan, they told their commissioners they would constantly be reevaluating their strategy, to ensure that all citizens had a voice. However, a significant sector of the population hasn’t been accounted for.

Some experts predict New Hanover County’s population will exceed 330,000 people by 2040—a significant hike from its current count of about two hundred thousand. And there are only about 24,000 undeveloped acres left, most of which comprise unincorporated county land. To address the development necessary to accommodate this growth,  the county planning department is launching a comprehensive plan—and seeking public input.