City moves forward on stadium
At its Sept. 19 meeting, Wilmington City Council voted 6-1 in favor of ordinances allowing for the annexation and rezoning of 9.99 acres of land along Gordon Road. This changes the affected properties’ zoning from Single Family Residential to Multi-Family Low-Density, and allows for the construction of Ellington Farms, a proposed 84-unit townhome community.
This decision came to the dismay of more than 20 nearby homeowners who attended the meeting wearing red in opposition to the ordinances. The primary complaint voiced by homeowners was an increase in traffic along the already-over-capacity two-lane stretch of Gordon Road.
“The situation is atrocious,” said Kim Turner, a nearby homeowner. “You take your life in your hands every time you pull out onto Gordon Road.”
In response, plans for Ellington Farms include the proposed construction of a left-hand turning lane that extends 150 feet past the project to allow for safe left-hand turning into the community and easier traffic flow. The developer has agreed to take on the full fiduciary responsibility of the improvements to Gordon Road.
These ordinances passed under the conditions that the originally proposed 94-unit townhome plan be scaled down to 84 townhomes, raised crosswalks be constructed for safer foot traffic across roadways, a pull-out/decel lane be built for Wave Transit, and an emergency access gate, which remains locked with a code installed.
Council members also voted 6-1 in favor of a resolution authorizing Mayor Bill Saffo to enter into a memorandum of understanding on behalf of the city with Atlanta National League Baseball Club and Mandalay Baseball Properties, LLC.
The $37 million project is still contingent upon finding a site and a contractor for the project, the purchase of a minor league team from Lynchburg, Va., and voter approval in November.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity,” said councilman Kevin O’Grady. “It’s not without risk, but it has lots of rewards.”
The city has negotiated a 20-year contract with the Atlanta Braves to the tune of $500,000 per year in management fees and rent payments. Although this is not enough to cover the cost of the stadium, councilmen hope the boost to the economy will make it all worthwhile.
Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan pointed to the quality-of-life benefits that could come with the stadium, even for those who don’t like baseball.
“Even if you don’t like baseball, you may like a restaurant that opens up nearby,” Sheridan said. “That quality of life may draw young entrepreneurs here.”
Mayor Bill Saffo urged citizens to get out and vote on the referendum in November.
“There’s a lot of decisions made in the county that you don’t get to vote on,” Saffo said. “This is a decision you get the chance to vote on.”