Place Types

Place Types describe the desired character and function of the different types of development that collectively make up a community: neighborhoods, employment centers, and services. By focusing on development character and function, placetypes set the framework for policy making and ultimately zoning determinations.


The Future Land Use Map is not legally binding like the New Hanover County Zoning Map.  It is intended to be a general representation of the 25 year vision for New Hanover County, created by the citizens who were involved with Plan NHC, and will be used to guide future development decisions.

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The placetype area serves as employment and production hubs, predominantly composed of light and heavy industrial uses, though office and complementary commercial uses are also allowed. Densities are dependent in part on the type of industry. Commerce Zones, unlike Employment Centers, do not allow residential uses. Commerce Zones require arterial or major collector road access connecting them to areas outside their boundaries. The placetype focuses mostly on light and heavy industrial uses. Types of uses include heavy industrial, light industrial, and office.

Click here to learn more about the Commerce Zone

The placetype area serves as employment and production hubs, with office and light industrial uses predominating. Densities are dependent in part on the type of industries located here. Employment Centers can also include residential, civic, and recreational uses, but should be clearly delineated from rural and conservation areas. Commercial uses designed to serve the needs of the employment center are appropriate. Employment Centers require arterial or major collector road access connecting them to areas outside their boundaries. Types of uses include office, industrial, single-family residential, commercial/retail, and recreation.

Click here to learn more about the Employment Center

This placetype provides access to a mix of residential, office, and retail uses at higher densities. Multi-family residential uses are preferred, though higher-density single family developments will not be prohibited. Mixed uses are encouraged in the same footprint in a vertical pattern, but they can also be adjacent, or separated by lower traffic local and collector roads in a horizontal pattern. This placetype can include big box retail that has included appropriate urban design features. These areas place an emphasis on multimodalism through the requirement of sidewalks on all non-local streets, crosswalks at all intersections, dedicated bicycle lanes or wide outside lanes, and bus access. Types of uses include office, retail, mixed use, small recreation, single-family and multi-family residential.

Click here to learn more about Urban Mixed Use

This placetype focuses on small-scale, compact, mixed use development patterns that serve all modes of travel and act as an attractor for county residents and visitors. These areas share several qualities with the urban mixed use placetype, including first-floor retail with office and housing above, wider sidewalks, and an emphasis on streetscaping. However, these centers are generally small, no more than a few square blocks. Civic uses, particularly recreation and public gathering places, are particularly encouraged here. Ideally, large-scale, lower density commercial and industrial developments are prohibited. The mixed use, retail and office spaces are generally smaller while More housing options of encouraged. Types of uses include office, retail, mixed use, recreational, multi-family and single-family residential.

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The placetype focuses on lower-density housing and associated civic and commercial services. Housing for the area is typically single-family or duplexes. Commercial uses should be limited to office and retail spaces, while recreation and school facilities are encouraged throughout. Access to areas outside these residential areas is provided by arterial roadways, but still allowing for interconnection between other placetypes. However, limiting cul-de-sacs is encouraged to promote better internal circulation and minimizing high-volume traffic roads within the area. Types of use include single-family residential, low-density multi-family residential, light commercial, civic, and recreation.

Click here to learn more about General Residential

The placetype focuses on rural areas where new development occurs in a manner consistent with existing rural character while also preserving the economic viability of the land. Residential uses are the predominant, but not exclusive, use. Agricultural and rural recreational uses are intermixed with large-lot residential areas. These areas can be quite large. Clustering of homes in smaller lots can provide for conservation of other land while still providing opportunities for residential and agricultural growth. Rural areas have minimal transportation infrastructure requirements; rural collector and arterial roads are sufficient. Types of uses include single-family residential, small-scale agriculture and forestry, recreation, and open space.

Click here to learn more about Rural Residential

The placetype covers areas of natural open space and are intended to protect the natural environment, water quality, and wildlife habitats. They serve the public through environmental education, low-impact recreation, and in their natural beauty. Protection may also extend to important cultural or archaeological resources and to areas where hazards are known to exist. Conservation areas and tools may apply to land that also falls into another zoning category, such as single-family residential, though density is limited and conservation requirements generally take precedence. In such areas, increased density would be discouraged, and low impact development methods would be required. Such requirements place limits on development so as to ensure the protection of resources. Active efforts to acquire these areas should be pursued.

Click here to learn more about Conservation

Development Services Home » Plan NHC Home »
230 Government Center Drive, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403
Planning & Land Use: Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
Building Safety: Phone 910-798-7308 • Fax 910-798-7060
Engineering: Phone 910-798-7139 • Fax 910-798-7051