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Realtors Win Pivotal Group Homes Ordinance Battle in New Hanover County with Land Use Memo

WILMINGTON, N.C. (July 15, 2015) – Earlier this year, the New Hanover County Planning Board faced stern pressure from Oxford House, Inc., which operates a group home in the county, to adopt a proposed text amendment that would effectively legalized its specialized form of group homes.

While Oxford House, Inc. felt exceedingly confident in the merits of its proposition due to victories in the U.S. Supreme Court, county officials sought after the expertise of leaders and staff with the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors® (WRAR).

Donna Giradot, a former WRAR Governmental Affairs Director and current Vice-Chair of the New Hanover County Planning Board, requested that WRAR review and comment on the proposed zoning amendment.

During its review, WRAR could not argue that the existing ordinance failed to satisfy the Federal Fair Housing Act nor could it argue that legal counsel’s approach on behalf of Oxford House, LLC was without merit. However, with the valued insights of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), WRAR delivered this proposed Land Use Memo to Planning Board on May 6, 2015.
 
After presenting and discussing the memo with county staff at its next work session, WRAR was pleased to see that each amendment point was unanimously adopted in the Planning Board’s final ordinance proposal.

It is unclear if any further actions will be sought after by Oxford House, Inc., but WRAR is continuing to proactively monitor this issue as the final ordinance proposal has yet to be calendared by the County Commissioners.  Realtor leaders and staff will continue working to insure passage.