The tract of land located on the corner of Benton Road and Gilbert Road in Brunswick County has a pending purchase with a listed price of $1.4 million.
The Dominion Land Corporation has proposed a planned development that will add 207 single-family lots in an area that neighbors say is prone to dangerous flooding.
The geographic information system (GIS) for Brunswick County indicates that the designated area is 53.7 acres.
The proposal to build 207 single-family lots on the land is generating personal and environmental concerns among residents in the area due to the dangerous floods that have damaged homes in the area in recent years.
The proposed development is also causing locals to think about a time when they nearly lost everything.
When Hurricane Florence hit the Cape Fear area in 2018, residents that lived along the two roads were forced to use jon boats to commute through the six feet of water that covered their community.
“I had six or seven families living with me,” Benton Road resident Terry Boldt said. “It was heartbreaking to see so many families impacted by the flooding. Many neighbors lost everything.”
Josh Crook and his wife Lisa Crook purchased their home on Green Ridge Trail, just off Benton Road, in 2014. However, the couple had to relocate to Oak Island shortly after the flooding from Hurricane Florence wiped away their home.
“We lost everything,” Josh Crook said. “Baby pictures, baby shoes — everything that we owned was lost. We have a new home and there’s not a piece of furniture in that house that we had when we got married… We don’t wish that on anybody.”
Luckily, the flood insurance that the Crook’s purchased after a 2015 storm has helped them recover from the damages caused by Hurricane Florence. Yet, the memory of losing their home, and everything inside of it, still brings tears to their eyes.
The couple mentioned that the realtors did not tell them about flood damage that their home on Green Ridge Trail sustained during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The two fear that similar miscommunication could potentially leave new families living in the new development in the same position.
“At what point does that information get passed along and will it get passed along?” Lisa Crook said. “That’s our concern, that people will be buying houses not knowing that where their house sits may have been completely under water in 2018.”
Josh Crook, who works as a general contractor and owns Newcastle Professional Services with his wife, said that he understands the importance of researching an area before constructing new buildings that will impact the land and everyone who lives nearby.
“If the water can’t go where it naturally goes now, where’s it going to go?... It has to go somewhere,” Josh Crook said. “It’s not going to affect me; I don’t live here anymore but I do own the land… But it is going to affect that first-time homebuyer.”
Boldt mentioned that his family farm and the property that surrounds it are prone to flooding during a normal rainstorm. This, along with many other concerns, is a big reason why he and other neighbors are opposed to building 207 single-family lots on the corner of Benton Road and Gilbert Road.
“With this new building proposal, I’m kind of worried about the runoff,” Green Ridge Trail resident Mark Hewett said. “Although they’ve got a plan, four ponds on the property they said that would capture it… But if you have torrential rains, and the ponds are full, and the hurricane hits, it’s not going to do any good.”
Hewett has lived in Brunswick County for 58 years. During that time, he has witnessed a 100-year flood and a 500-year flood. Experiencing these floods has sparked growing concerns that the next flood is liable to impact the new families just like it did himself and others.
“You’ve got  proposed houses, that’s a lot of runoff. That’s a lot of impervious surfaces… You’ve cut all of the trees, all the bushes, all the shrubbery that’s absorbing this [runoff],” Hewett said. “If something happens and they don’t have flood insurance, they’re left holding the bag. They’ll be devastated.”
Community members are also concerned that the proposed 207 new homes would increase traffic and overflow around nearby schools such as Supply Elementary School, which is located just two miles from Boldt’s home.
However, the biggest concern that residents have is the impact that the planned development would have on the community’s ecosystem.
“We’re trying to preserve this for our children and our grandchildren,” Boldt said. “I think our concern is that the Dominion group that is the investor in this property, they’re just doing the planning and permitting and then they are going to sell it to a developer. They have no vested interest in Brunswick County.”
Boldt clearly stated that he and others who live in the community are not against planned development in Brunswick County. Instead, Boldt and others are trying to ensure that the homes and land in the area will be protected when the next flood occurs in the area.
“We are not against development. I am very pro-development in Brunswick County, but I’m pro appropriate development,” Boldt said. “The message to the people in the community of Brunswick County is you have to speak up.”
The Dominion Land Corporation declined the Brunswick Beacon’s request to comment on the proposed planned development. The Beacon also reached out to the county planning department concerning the development and received no immediate response.
The Brunswick County Planning Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed development during its August 8th meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the Commissioners’ Chambers in the David R. Sandifer Administration Building located at 30 Government Center Drive in Bolivia.