courthouse-clocktowerHere in New Hanover County, the community, elected officials and county staff cooperate to balance a high quality of life with a progressive business and economic climate.

At less than 200 square miles, New Hanover County is the second smallest – geographically – of the 100 North Carolina counties; however, it is home to more than 232,000 people.

New Hanover County is not just a great place in which to live or visit. New Hanover County is also a great place to do business. Tourism, film production, the service and retail sectors are the engines that power our economy.

Our Mission: New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow.

The government of New Hanover County is committed to ensuring that you are safe, healthy and secure; that is our promise to you.

New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet serves as chief administrator of county government and maintains responsibility for administering all departments under the general control of the five-member Board of Commissioners.

The county manager’s work includes the development of the county’s annual budget. The budget is the policy document, financial plan, and operations guide and communications device of county government. It reflects the county’s response to the needs of the community and residents’ requests for services. New Hanover County’s government operates on a $392 million multi-fund budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2018 and ends June 30, 2019, serving more than 227,000 residents.

In addition, the manager and his executive leadership team are responsible for aligning the operations of the county to the adopted strategic plan and advancing the county’s mission and vision through five key focus areas: superior education and workforce, superior public health and safety, intelligent growth and economic development, strong financial performance, and effective county management.

Mr. Coudriet has served as the county manager since July 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as assistant county manager for New Hanover County for four years and as county manager in Franklin and Washington counties, N.C.

Mr. Coudriet has nearly twenty-five years of public administration experience, with more than a decade as a county manager in North Carolina. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from East Carolina University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

He is a native of eastern North Carolina. Chris and his wife, Leigh, and two children Montgomery and Silas, reside in Wilmington.

New Hanover County has received the final economic development target analysis report from Jay Garner titled Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment and it’s critical companion piece, the Competitive Realties Report.

Manager's Message

County Zoning Gets Full Revamp After 50 Years

Posted July 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

By County Manager Chris Coudriet

Fifty years is a long time, especially when it comes to development. The way we think about development, its connectivity, density, affordability, and so much more has changed over time to meet the needs of the community. And it’s important that the county’s zoning rules change with it and look to the future.

So, at its July 1 meeting, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved the most substantial change to the county’s zoning ordinance since it was originally adopted 50 years ago in 1969.

This amendment provides the tools that were missing from the county’s zoning ordinance and adds the full spectrum of zoning options needed to support the development strategy outlined in New Hanover County’s Comprehensive Plan.

The eight new zoning options, the same number of districts added to our code over the past 40 years, are a big step forward and will help us plan for the future. They’re adapted from districts used in the City of Wilmington, so we already have examples of how they’ll work. And they are a direct result of the discussions we’ve been having as a community in recent years, informed by public meetings and community conversations, Planning Board input, and extensive staff time.

The Cape Fear region is growing. New Hanover County is anticipated to have 315,475 people by 2038 (according to the State Demographer’s Office), which is about a 36 percent increase from where we are today. The way we’ve developed land for that past 50 years will not accommodate this growth, and it’s important that we plan differently for the future.

Areas outside city limits used to be rural and were expected to stay that way. But those areas are changing and our community needs different housing choices for people at different stages of life and different price points.

We need the optionality for different types of homes, development that minimizes travel, and the ability for residents to easily access the basic goods and services they need on a daily basis. These new zoning districts provide the tools to help make this happen.

They allow the county’s development regulations to be more tailored to the needs of particular types of property, increase the diversity of development options available within the county’s jurisdiction, and reduce the uncertainty for residents about the potential impacts from general district rezonings.

You can view a list of the new zoning districts in more depth on our website, but – in a snapshot – the amendment includes five new residential districts that provide more opportunities for different types of housing to fit the different needs of our residents.

It also includes two new commercial districts: one provides an alternative to allow for smaller commercial uses with less impact that are suitable next to residential areas, and the other provides a clear place for uses that don’t always need to be on highly traveled corridors or around the corner from residential neighborhoods.

In addition, the amendment incorporates a new mixed use district and a revision to our current Planned Development district to provide more options for property owners seeking to mix homes and destinations as part of one project.

These new zoning districts are the first phase of the county’s development code update. Later this year, the county will complete a reorganization of our existing codes into one easy-to-use document – the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). Then we’ll begin working to strategically update targeted sections of the code.

This phased approach will allow the county to make improvements right away while providing for more in-depth conversations on topics like subdivision street standards that are more complex.

The recently-approved amendment will not change the zoning of any property. Rather, it outlines alternatives and potential tools that property owners can request through the rezoning process. In order to change the zoning of any property, public hearings at the Planning Board and in front of the Board of Commissioners would continue to be required to make sure they were applied appropriately.

The approval of these new zoning districts is a significant policy action by our board, and I applaud the work of our Planning & Land Use staff. These new districts will make development in the unincorporated areas of the county more accessible, advance the county’s comprehensive land use plan, and benefit our community as we plan for the future.

I encourage you to learn more about these zoning updates and the county’s work on the UDO at Planning.NHCgov.com/UDO. You can also see a visual example of the new residential districts below.


Your tax dollars are being spent wisely

Posted June 18, 2019 at 10:52 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet New Hanover County’s $399 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 has been adopted by the Board of Commissioners. It focuses on investments in education, … Read More »


Thank you, New Hanover County employees

Posted May 14, 2019 at 10:01 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet Recently, we held our fifth-annual “Reach for the Stars” Banquet, where the county recognized 232 people who received a Stellar Award over the past year … Read More »


County construction projects stay on budget & on schedule

Posted April 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm

By County Manager Chris Coudriet In any construction project, whether it’s building a new home or renovating your kitchen, it’s important to know how much things will cost. And it’s … Read More »


Hurricane Florence: Six Months Later

Posted March 21, 2019 at 10:44 am

By County Manager Chris Coudriet It has been six months already, since Hurricane Florence made landfall in New Hanover County. This storm was unlike any other we have seen in … Read More »