Council votes to move forward with zoning map amendments

Published 12:11 am Thursday, October 11, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

The Clemmons Village Council voted to move forward with zoning map amendments for an upscale senior living complex at Peace Haven and Harper roads and a residential project across from West Forsyth High School with 25 twin homes and a single-family house in Monday night’s meeting.

Before approving Zoning Docket C-227 for Tharrington — Mission Development LLC for a change from RS-40 and RM 8-S to RM-18-S restricted to elderly housing for 21 acres at the northeast corner of Peace Haven and Harper roads, the council first had to give the OK on a request for voluntary annexation to extend the corporate limits of the Village.

The eventual vote to approve the zoning map amendment was 4-1 in favor with councilman Chris Wrights opposed because of the size of the buildings and the location in a Neighborhood Residential District and the Blanket Bottom Area.

“It’s a very nice development and will be very well received,” Wrights said, “but those two buildings are larger than a football field and four stories tall for most of them. If approved, they will be the two largest residential buildings ever built in Clemmons. From a height perspective, the only building in Clemmons that is taller is the hospital. These buildings are huge.”

The plan, with 8.45 units per acre, calls for 13 lots (11 cottages and two duplexes) to be built in the front portion of the community with three-story buildings (165 total units) in the back section, including underground parking.

Doug Stimmel of Stimmel Associates, who was representing Dennis Tharrington, president and developer of the project, said that the facility is three stories and was zoned RM-18 because the grade falls off about 30 feet and that designation addresses the height while providing underground parking — giving the look of four stories. The parking is one of the many amenities offered.

Stimmel said that the gated community will have full dining and food services within, including restaurants and a bistro, and a theater. Also, a shuttle service will be provided to the vibrant Village Point area across the street, including the YMCA, restaurants and retail, and medical services.

“This is a first-rate retirement community,” Stimmel said. “Seniors like to be next to active areas and services close to the site. This makes for a premium location for this type of project. This is a resort-style independent senior living project. It’s something that there’s not a lot of, but there is a lot of demand here.”

Planner Megan Ledbetter said that one of the main reasons that the staff and Planning Board approved the project was that it completed “a node for senior living” (Carillon Assisted Living is right next door) and fits with the land-use plan.

Councilman Mike Combest that the development is well thought out, well planned and much needed. He said it also should enhance property values in the area while generating more tax revenue with a lower demand on services per unit and marginal impact on a taxed local traffic system.

“I understand the visual concerns, and they are not insignificant and not invalid,” Combest said, “but it’s far overweighed by the powerful benefits that this thing is going to bring us.”

Wrights said he would be OK with lowering it one story to make it more of a fit in the area, but Stimmel said that it wouldn’t be economically feasible to lose that many units and make the project work.

“If we went three stories for the whole building, the reality is we would end up adding a 10-foot retaining wall all the way around the building, which is essentially the fourth floor, but it’s a wall,” said Stimmel, who noted there had been no opposition to the project in several neighborhood meetings. “It’s not gaining anything to do that. The roof line will remain the same. It’s not a better solution.”

The Tharrington project was followed on the agenda by the unanimous approval of Zoning Docket C-228 for a change from RS-30 to RM-5-S for the mixed-use residential project by Arden Group for Magnolia Park, but not before another lengthy discussion that also included a public hearing where both proponents and opponents spoke.

Family members of the 5.5 acre-tract at the intersection of Millbridge and Lewisville-Clemmons roads said that they considered the twin homes project to be “the very best plan for my parents’ land,” according to Jamie Boyles.

Dale Boyles Darnell said that the property at 1730 Lewisville-Clemmons Road has been for sale on and off for 10 years and that the project “supports responsible growth and beneficial use of the property in this community and that we like what Arden Group offers. They’re a local company with a good history.”

Darnell added that other offers had included the possibility of a strip mall, convenience stores and gas stations, and low-income housing and apartments.

Six neighbors signed up to speak as opponents to the project and four actually spoke with concerns expressed including the change to the area, more density, taking out the trees and safety concerns with the high school across the street and increased traffic.

“We’ve had fatalities on that corner of Millbridge Road and Lewisville-Clemmons,” said Nora Sherman.

“My concern is the density — how many units are going to be there,” said Horace Cox. “I was taking my granddaughter to school. You can’t get out in the mornings. You can’t get out in the evenings. So, what do you do?”

However, Cox added it’s “probably the best use of this property.”

Milt Rhodes, who works with the Arden Group as the principal planner, said that his team had a couple of community meetings at the YMCA and, as a result, went through a revision from an initial 27 units to 25 units, increased the buffer yard and offered the consideration of a fence and/or more trees or vegetation.

“We are ready to go and get on with this project and make this investment in the town,” Rhodes said. “We think we’ve provided a plan that helps to support the notion of an active senior and older adult housing type that the Village has identified a need for. The twin-home product has been well received in some of our other work, and we’d like to bring it to this location.”

Rhodes addressed some other questions, including that there would be no pool, that there was no requirement that residents be 55 or older, that there would be a bio-retention cell instead of a wet pond, and that they hoped to use an existing driveway along Lewisville-Clemmons Road for construction traffic.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a preliminary major subdivision for the Tudor Oaks residential subdivision – C-18-001. It is located off Middlebrook Drive and has 22 lots on 11.25 acres.

• Received an update from planner Megan Ledbetter regarding her work with the county with Tanglewood Business Park zoning classifications and that they had come up a couple of scenarios, including a new zoning district that limits uses with traffic patterns and other details.

• Approved Resolution 2018-R-14 assuming street responsibility and dedication of the James Street Extension.

• Received an update from Scott Buffkin in the manager’s report regarding the Market Center Drive project. Buffkin said he had not heard anything from the Kmart owners but that Clemmons had shifted its efforts to Phase II of the project south of Stadium Drive and the three property owners in that area.

• Also heard from Buffkin that Jessie Lester had tendered his resignation from the Stormwater Advisory Board and Tan Ersoy had resigned from the Ad-Hoc Transportation Committee, and that the Village will start the process to seek replacements.

• Heard from Shannon Ford in the marketing/communications report that the annual Monster Dash and Goblin Hop will be Sunday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m. at Village Point Greenway. She said that about 2,000 kids attended the event last year.