Much of the vegetation in the wetlands surrounding the airport was cleared in 2006 “to provide clearance for the runway to comply with FAA safety criteria according to the airport,” said Philip Prete, senior environmental planner for the city of Wilmington.
“The clearing project involved removing many mature long leaf pines and majestic cedars. While the reader may appreciate the view of the airport, many other citizens were not as happy with the removal of trees from that portion of the Smith Creek watershed,” Prete said.
Keeping vegetation down would keep the view open. In terms of development growth, city planners said properties addressed by the city’s Future Land Use Plan are primarily on the south side of MLK.
“Those properties on the north side have not been cleared so there isn’t a view as far as I can remember, except along the Smith Creek,” said Ron Satterfield, city planning manager.
Planners said lower density development, which can translate into lower height, is required in the area of the airport by FAA regulations to protect flight paths. “The presence of wetlands in the area is another potential factor that would limit development,” they said.
The city’s Future Land Use Plan calls for a maximum of three-story development of office and research and development uses in the area. The area is currently zoned Airport-Industrial and would need to be rezoned if office use were to occur, planners said.
Date posted: May 31, 2011
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