This is strictly Opinion as a practitioner of real estate.

A purchaser wants to purchase a piece of property – Check

A seller wants to sell the property – Check

Property is zoned appropriately – Check …. Deal moves forward.

The Save Echo Farms movement wants rezone property they are not a party to in regards to the contract between the owners of the course and the purchasers of the course.

According to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal Article their attorney has found a loophole in the typical process for rezoning. The residents around Echo Farms are requesting the city down zone a property that could imperil a contract which is a legally binding document. The problem is revealed here.

Excerpt: Henry Winters, treasurer of the Echo Farms Residents Association, said Wednesday, “We really want to work with the city and the planning department on this matter. We’re not against development per se in the city, but we certainly want to protect our golf course.”

The Bold is mine calling out the golf course portion. Well the fact is if you want to protect the golf course, perhaps you should step in to purchase and run the course? In what is becoming a national trend, most golf courses have become money pits and the third owner of the course is not even making money. (A general statement is that the original developer sells to get out, the second owner sells to get out and the third owner makes the money, due to the cheep price on purchasing the course for the third time).

Now I have no idea as to the financial state of Echo Farms but this is completely unheard of in Wilmington but it is a loop hole, and its being exploited, see excerpt.

Kitchin said state law “does not have a blanket prohibition which prevents cities or counties rezoning a property over the property owner’s objection. Whether or not it is good policy is a separate question, but state law generally leaves that decision to each local government’s own zoning rules.

“Unlike the zoning ordinances of many other local governments, which specifically limit the right to ask for a zoning map amendment (also known as a rezoning) to the planning staff or the landowner, Wilmington’s Land Development Code allows any interested party to initiate a zoning map amendment. Although ‘interested party’ doesn’t appear to be defined in the Code, I’d imagine that the neighbors take the position that they have standing to request a rezoning based on their view that they have a direct interest in how this land gets redeveloped.”

Kitchin said the issue tends to arise more frequently in rural counties where local government officials are enacting zoning rules and districts for the first time.

Many Realtors, Property Owners and Developers are taking note of this as it has the potential to become a massive issue in the sale of property in the City and County. What if a developer faces resistance and then there is a counter petition to rezone to a different zoning without the current owners consent?

This issue will effect and affect development. It affects clear title to property as it can be a cloud on title. It will affect sales prices for land if the developer needs to defend a suit or rezoning effort and hire professionals that cost a large amount of money for a uncertain result. This is truly a Pandoras Box Situation for our local real estate economy and hopefully one the city can put to rest, quickly.


For the rest of the article by CeCe Nunn at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal click here.