~ Seabreeze Community ~ New Hanover County a historic community of colorFor over 150 years. . .Working Waterfront (started in 1855 by the Alexander & Charity Freeman)Freeman Park (Freeman family Heirs contribution to the community)1920s coastal recreation communityPast 4 decades Zoned Commercial(B2) waterfront Changes - Good or Bad
Stop Loss of Working Waterfront Zoning decision to eliminate Commercial / Public access Zoning decision to eliminate Commercial / Public accessHelpZoning decision to eliminate- Commercial / Public access the Commissioner with this critical decision balance the historical interest with thepressures of development? Zoning decision to eliminate Commercial / Public accessA significant waterfront parcel of the commercial district (zoned B2) is under petition by the owner to reverseover 4 decades of commercial/public access. Requesting a change to R15 zoning and blockingcommercial/public access.This 2.5 acre tract has over 200 ft of waterfront, a rarest of assets for the community & all citizens of NewHanover County & North Carolina, both for it historical and future commercial use.Only two sites in New Hanover County allow a driver on a public highway to view the Intracoastal waterfront.Seabreeze Road offers all our community a vantage point, it is the southern bookend for the stretch of NewHanover county along Masonboro Island and Freeman park. How do we price the value this offers?How casually would our county leadership accept a request to permanently block over 200 ft of the scenicoverview of Airlie Road?The Star-News had it right in its last article on Seabreeze, a change is underway, but they were dead wrongto think that converting 2.5 acres of commercial waterfront to residential / private homesites is animprovement. This is a shortsighted view of progress, reversing over 4 decades of history & permanentlyeliminating the potential for long term jobs and commercial growth in our community.Lets rethink our options here and get our community leadership to focus on the longer view. One day it maybe enough to inspire found memories driving through this coastal overlooks and pondering about the big onethat did not getaway.
Loss of 200 Ft of Commercial Waterfront• Re-zone 2.5 acres & over 200 feet of waterfront• 50% loss Working Waterfront asset to the community• From Commercial/Public Access to R-15 Private Residential• The planning board approved with a 5 to 1 vote. The Planning staff supported & encourage the reduction in Working Waterfront & access.• The Commissioners will move forward to approval at the next meeting (Aug-6)• Abandoning over four(4) decades of commercial zoning and 150 years of the community services, historical values & Christian fellowship.
Our Coastal community impacts The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway(AICW) • A primary feature of our community • Protected waters / access point - Masonboro Island & Freeman Park Scenic Overlooks that bookends our County • Airlie Road - North • Seabreeze Road - South
Commercial(B2) / Public Accessor Privacy Fences and Homes R-15
Commercial or Residential . . .Can we afford to loose our most valuable job creation Zone ?Does this support our community’s long term interest . . .Small Business development with waterfront accessCommunity based neighborhood services W A T E R W A Y
Commercial waterfront impactsSustainable Jobs & Small business development• Fresh catch Seafood - local• Ecotourism & Education Tours• Boating & Fishing services• Masonboro Island & Freeman park access• Private Yachting & Coastal Cruising Gateway• Emergency services - waterfront access
The AreaCommercial zoned working Waterfront for over 4 decades . . .preserve the opportunity for this significant, limited, and irreplaceable natural resource to remain in use by the publicat large and retain an opportunity for renewal of productive waterfront activities.Preservation of scenic values . . .A notable land use feature is the ability for the public & especially elderly citizens to enjoy a scenic overlook - andobserve the waterfront activity . . . and access to prime fishing grounds
The Beginning / Not the EndIn 1855, Alexander and Charity Freeman, who were freed slaves, bought 99 acres of land near Myrtle Grove Sound. They were of mixedAfrican and American Indian heritage. In an 1860 census, of 72 households, the Freemans were one of only 8 “colored” or “mulatto”households on the Federal Point peninsula. By the time of Alexander Freeman’s death, the couple had acquired 180 acres at the head ofMyrtle Grove Sound.Following Alexander Freeman’s death, his son, Robert Bruce Freeman (b. 1830) inherited the land, and parlayed the investment to becomeone of the largest landowners in the county. In 1876, Robert Bruce Freeman and his wife Catherine used cash to purchase 2500 acres ofland from the Cape Fear River to the Atlantic Ocean, which included Gander Hall Plantation and Satgeley Abbey Plantation, which wererenamed the Old Homestead. The purchase stretched along 3,450 feet of coastal waterway. Freeman had strong ties to the community, andso two major donations of land were made from the newly acquired tracts; 10 acres were given to St. Stephens AME church in Wilmington asa campground near the Cape Fear River, and the other major donation was land for a public school for colored children at Federal Point. Itopened in 1877, and had 34 students led by teacher Charles M. Epps. In 1886, Freeman sold 24 acres of land, which became the northernend of Carolina Beach, to William L. Smith, which would be used to build a railroad. Freeman approved this construction in exchange for freepasses for colored people on Mondays. Eventually, these passes would be revoked altogether, and black individuals would not be allowed tovisit Carolina Beach except as workers for the white patrons.Robert B. Freeman had learned the logging business, a trade he passed on to his children. He had six children with his first wife, Catherine,and 5 children with his second wife. Robert B. Freeman died in 1901, and was buried in the family cemetery which had been created onFreeman property. After his death, his youngest son by his first marriage, Ellis G. Freeman, took over the management of the familys land.Ellis Freeman obtained a $50,000 government permit to sell yellow granite, and created a profitable business carrying people out on theocean to fish.In the 1920s, they began to develop a recreational community known as Seabreeze. During the Jim Crow years, Seabreeze was the onlybeach community in the state that black families could visit. When black people were forbidden from even travelling through Carolina Beachto get to Seabreeze, the family bought a boat to ferry people back and forth to the resort.Today many members of the Freeman Family still live in the Wilmington area, and some still own the small community stores that have beenin the family for generations.References:Henson, Elaine Blackmon. Carolina Beach. Charleston, SC. Arcadia Pub, 2007.Reaves, Bill. “Strength through struggle”: the chronological and historical record of the African-American community in Wilmington, NorthCarolina 1865-1950. Wilmington, NC. New Hanover County Public Library, 1998.Slate, Hartman. Family Album; A Series on the Cultures that Make Up the Cape Fear Region; Freeman Family Has Rich History in Region.Star-News, December 25, 1994.
Linkshttp://www.savefreemanbeach.com/index.htmlhttp://www.gullahgeecheecorridor.orgSaveFreemanBeach.com is a project of theSouthern Coalition for Social Justice.http://southerncoalition.org/preservingheirsproperty/freemanbeach
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