Council Adopts New Land Development Code

For the first time in over 40 years, the City of Wilmington overhauled its code, which sets standards and regulations for development in the city limits.

At its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 17, Wilmington City Council unanimously voted to adopt a new Land Development Code (LDC). The new code will be effective Dec. 1, 2021.

“This new code was a major undertaking that was built on community input from the ground up,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “It is designed to respond to the biggest challenges we face, like protecting and restoring our tree canopy, carefully managing future growth, and making the city more convenient. This is a tremendous accomplishment that will impact our city in a positive way for generations to come.”

For the first time in forty-plus years, the City of Wilmington overhauled its code, which sets standards and regulations for development in the city limits. Staff completed the total re-write of the code based on feedback received during an extensive public outreach campaign for the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan, in which more than 4,000 Wilmington residents participated.

Participants in the Create Wilmington Comprehensive Plan and subsequent public engagement opportunities expressed desires to improve traffic conditions, make the city more walkable and bike friendly, protect and grow the city’s tree canopy, preserve Wilmington’s identity as a historic coastal community, while also developing and elevating our parks, public spaces, and the services and recreational offerings available to the community

Through a smarter approach to land use, the LDC does just that. For example, the code includes language that would help:

  • Reduce sprawl by encouraging the redevelopment of vacant or underutilized properties in the city. This helps to reduce long travel times on major roads and improves access and convenience for nearby neighborhoods.
  • Locate residential housing closer to retail, restaurants, other services, and offices. This lessens the need to drive major corridors, which relieves traffic congestion and makes the community more convenient, walkable and bike friendly.
  • Make tree replacement and tree preservation a priority to grow Wilmington’s urban tree canopy.
  • Encourage the on-site management of stormwater runoff and structured parking instead of expansive surface parking along major roads. This reduces the amount of runoff and flooding on surrounding roads and properties and enhances the appearance of major roads.
  • Locate buildings closer to the street to create a sense of place and make the community more walkable and connected.

Work to replace the LDC began more than eight years ago as the previous LDC was based on development patterns and practices that were common in the 1980s. A great deal has changed since then, including a significant increase in population. The revised LDC is designed to meet the new challenges of growth to preserve and enhance the city’s future quality of life. It includes four major components:

  1. Zoning (the allowable uses and structures for a lot)
  2. Subdivision of land
  3. Standards for design and building requirements
  4. Sign regulations

Over time, these work together to shape patterns of development and re-development, which allows the city to address major long-term problems and realize a vision for the future.

Read the adopted code here:

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