Monday, April 30, 2012

How Do Regulations Affect Wilmington?

A few months ago or so, the Wilmington City Council hired a consultant, yet again. This time it was to tell them how to improve the "development process", meaning they paid someone $23k to tell them just how much the planning and zoning department is a tyrannical bureaucracy.

Of course, it would have benefited members of City Council to actually look into this themselves, but instead someone looked into it for them, and now we have this report.

What does it say? 

Recommendation #1: Hire a new person. Not fire anyone. Not give deadlines where if no action is taken on something it's automatically approved. Hire a new person.

They say this is necessary to essentially "change the culture" within the department.

The department already has a head. Should this kind of responsibility not go to the department head?

Additionally, from what I've heard, the city planning and code enforcement staff are real ballbusters, especially downtown.  Of course, the people who create this kind of atmosphere are never addressed.  The "solution" is to simply add another layer of bureaucracy that could be just as hostile as what's already there.

What about how quickly the city approves projects?
"There is certainly an issue with timeliness and timeliness is a two way street," Michelle Ferguson, associate of The Novak Consulting Group, said during a presentation of the findings to council at an agenda briefing Monday. Some of the lag has to do with insufficient submittal of site plans, the study found. 
Mayor Bill Saffo said several projects are taking six to eight months to get through the review process.
Ahhh, you have to love the understatement of Bill Saffo, especially when it benefits him.  Does it really take just six to eight months?

Let's take a look at part of an article that describes how long it took for The View to get approval downtown. For those of you who don't know, The View would have been where we now have our "wall of keys", the city's most appalling eyesore.
A lot has changed since 2006 when architects started drawing plans for The View. Terry Espy, managing partner and project developer, said it took three years to get the needed permits. The land, which has all the needed permits and has been released for construction from the city, now sits vacant as the economic tornado hit that project too.
Three years, folks. That's a lot more than six months, which is still too much. With some projects, like the Gateway project, they simply stifle it for years until the developers go bankrupt.

Additionally, what Saffo is saying is that he knows about this but he's doing nothing.  He's presenting himself as if he's helpless, when in reality he could actually be the most important figure in city government (no offense, Sterling.)

Finally, at the end of the story, we get actual figures about how terrible our city is in terms of facilitating development:
In the study, which included a survey of more than 57 stakeholders, 67 percent of those in the community who responded said the process doesn't result in higher quality development, 62 percent say it doesn't compare favorably with other communities and 85 percent said the current regulations hinder development.
Upset you don't have a job? Your kid or your friend doesn't have a job? Upset you don't have a nice place to shop or relax?  Talk to the Wilmington planning and development department.

Of course, don't talk to the Wilmington City Council, because we all know it's not them who's actually in charge of the city government.


  1. Agenda21 is now officially in Wilmington.

  2. WOW! This is the most hypocritical pos article I've ever seen on this eyesore of blog.

    1. WOW! Yet you still continue to read it!

      Be real neat if you would expand on that a little....

  3. Laughable coming from a guy turning away investors and standing in opposition to one of the most significant economic development initiatives in the city's history.

    1. Didn't realize we had that kind of power. Last I checked, we were simply circulating a petition that citizens can either sign or not sign. Turns out, they are signing it in droves because there is absolutely NOTHING in it for them to support the stealing of their hard-earned money and give it to a bunch of morons to launder it through a stadium. When our petition passes, the city council will allow the issue to go to a citywide vote - at that time it will be the electors of the city that stop the taxpayer-funded stadium - not any of us.

      It's really sad that your plan has devolved into lame comments on local blogs instead of going out there and applying equal force to try and sell taxpayers on this "wonderful opportunity" for them to be in even more debt so our local politicians and some clowns from out of town can get even richer.

  4. It's clear that you don't....with the announcement of the private development team and the growing support of the business community, the the momentum has changed in dramatic fashion. People looking for an answers only get misinformation and name-calling from you rather than solutions.....people have heard what you have to offer and found it lacking in substance.

    Saying no and shunning investors is not a strategy for economic development and at the end of day, that is all you're offering. That's just not going to do it for you.....

  5. You seem to be the only one who sees all this support from these supposed taxpayers who are dying for their local government to confiscate more and more of their hard-earned money in order to fund Bobby Cox bobblehead nights for the next 20 years. We'll see how it turns out - I'm patient. However, the "shunning investors" part I don't quite get - the only viable investors being discussed here is the taxpayer. We welcome private investors, and certainly are not shunning them at all. In fact, that's all we want for this project - is private dollars instead of forcing taxpayers to pay for it. We are not opposed to the stadium - we are opposed to forcing people to pay for it that don't want to. A private investor doesn't fit that description - so why would we "shun" them? Perhaps your simply full of sh*t - as a matter of fact, I'm sure of it.

  6. The Braves/Mandalay have agreed to commit/invest millions of their own private capital to the project in a long-term commitment to the area, yet you shun them as if they were pariah. Newsflash... other investors looking to the area will undoubtedly take note and cross Wilmington off their list as business-friendly locales.....well done.

    Yesterday, the Wilmington Area Hospitality Association, revealed the results of a survey of its members Friday that showed 96 percent of members feel a minor league ballpark in downtown Wilmington would have a positive impact on their business. The other 4 percent were neutral.

    WAHA includes businesses in the lodging, restaurant and other area establishments with the goal of promoting the hospitality industry.”

    96% of participants in the area’s single most important industry segment – visitor/tourism/hospitality – say the stadium will be good for business. That = growth, growth = jobs, jobs and growth = economic prosperity for our region. That is a big deal to this area…..clearly area employers are gaining in their support for the project as the benefits become ever more apparent.

    If there is another plan to boost economic development in the region, let’s hear it, but just saying “no” is not a strategy for economic growth nor will it bring prosperity to the region.

    I understand you have a political agenda/vendetta here, but leaders need vision Ben...that requires more than just saying "no" and spewing personal insults in profanity laced're isolating yourself and the public is moving you more in the direction of the radical fringe each and every day.

  7. Saffo had a lot to say on here ,Mr Mayor if the braves want to spend their money and not tax payers money ,iam sure all of wilmington is for it. Mr mayor i am sure you are a big sustainability and smartgrowth guy, is it smartgrowth to build a stadium,that can not sustain it self through ticket sales. Is it smartgrowth to build a stadium that once it starts loosing money it becomes abandoned property. Mr mayor how much will you make off this stadium.


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