Changes made to proposed subdivision

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 16, 2020

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Council unanimously approves project

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

After getting mixed reviews from the Clemmons Planning Board, Isenhour Homes made the necessary changes to the Old Mill subdivision off Hampton Road to gain unanimous approval before the Clemmons Village Council for Zoning Docket C-235 in Monday night’s meeting.

The site plan calls for 69 single-family residential lots on 31.25 acres for Tract 1 and 42 twin homes on 10.44 acres for Tract 2 on property that is currently undeveloped as a pasture with one single-family dwelling that borders an older neighborhood composing of Arden Street, Haywood Street and Quinn Street.

During the planning board meeting in May, the petitioner requested amending the zoning map from RS-15 (Residential Single Family) to RS-9 (Residential Single Family) for Tract 1; and from RS-9 (Residential Single Family and RS-15 (Residential Single Family) to RM-5-S (Residential Multifamily-Special Use) for Tract 2.

The planning board voted to deny the rezoning request and approved the preliminary site plan as presented to include additional conditions, setting the stage for the petitioner to make specified changes before bringing the item before the village council.

Steve Causey of Allied Design, who was representing the petitioner, said “we’ve made some pretty substantial revisions that dramatically improved” the project, and the council obviously agreed, voting 5-0 for approval.

Councilman Mike Rogers made the motion, saying it met the consistency statement as presented by staff along with the conditions of adding the voluntary berms and complying with NCDOT’s recommendation for a left-turn lane on Hampton Road.

Councilwoman Mary Cameron said this project is needed with a mixture of homes for those who are just starting out or downsizing.

“It’s a quality product, and I’m impressed with the changes that have been made since the planning board meeting,” she said. “I listened and heard all the concerns, and I see all the changes that have been made since then. The buffer zone and streets speak to that they overwhelmingly met those concerns to my satisfaction.”

Megan Ledbetter, the longtime Clemmons planner who returned to village hall in a different capacity representing the petitioner for Meridian Realty, said that the property owners had reached out to her company looking for a quality home builder that could develop the land in a way that would be “attractive to the neighborhood as well as allow them to continue to age in place on land they they’ve held in their family.”

William McGee, who has lived on this piece of property for the last 58 years, helped with the incorporation of Clemmons and served on the village’s first planning board before four years on the council, seven years as mayor and 10 years as the 75th District House Representative.

“While serving Clemmons, I advocated for the type of community development which would appeal to those who reach a point in their life where a change in home ownership to one which demands less time and effort and upkeep and in which a smaller home is wanted,” McGee said. “I am included in those who are of my age and of those who approach my age who want a home like this. We are in the midst of a growing demand for this kind of home ownership.”

Opponents who spoke against the project included Mike Brewer of Arden Drive, who said he thought it was a blessing to have a fine neighbor like McGee and the opportunity for such a fine subdivision, but his complaint was merely with the horrific traffic situation on Hampton Road, particularly early in the morning.

Michael Tingle, who lives on Arden Street, said he was opposed, stating three primary reasons — the complete lack of community support, the negative impact on the existing neighborhood and the traffic issues that will be created.

Tingle added that the changes from “what was shot down by the planning board have changed arguably for the worse. In the meeting we had with the developer, we said there were too many homes and please reduce, and they said no. How does the existing neighborhood benefit from this? There’s no community center, no swimming pool, no benefit.”

During the council discussion, councilwoman Michelle Barson spoke of the quality of the project and the builder along with it being a product that the people desire but wanted to address Tingle’s concerns about lack of community support and hearing from other neighbors — saying she wanted to have another two weeks “to go through that a little more.”

However, the point was raised that the petitioner was facing a contractual agreement to have the rezoning period over by Thursday (today) to move forward with the project.

A long-standing tradition of the council has been to continue an item that is appearing for the first time on the agenda, so a recess was called before the discussion continued.

Mayor John Wait said he talked to staff and council about pushing an item to the next meeting and said it was more of a “gentleman’s agreement” but not a formal policy.

“What do we hope to gain by putting this off?” Cameron asked.

“My concern was to make sure everyone was heard,” Barson said.

Rogers said that the village had done a thorough job with the process from every angle, including maintaining consistency with the Clemmons Community Compass.

“I don’t see any reason for us to delay,” he said. “I think we need to move forward.”

And they did, with Barson also voting in favor to make it unanimous.

In the public comments portion to open the meeting, the council again heard from Brenda Smith, 259 Harper Road, who spoke on consistency in zoning decisions made by the council, including in the last meeting that the council approved Zoning Docket C-302 for a self-storage facility on Lewisville-Clemmons Road “even though the use was not consistent with the Clemmons Community Compass.”

Then she brought up the recent case, Zoning Docket C-234 for the Kinnamon Village multi-family apartment complex that was denied “because it was inconsistent with the Clemmons Community Compass.”

Smith, who submitted a letter detailing four factors from each case, said that based on this comparison that the council reconsider the original case that was denied. Agape Faith Church also submitted a letter of support for C-234 that was read into the record.

In addition, developer Ron Davis of Allegro Investment Properties sent an email with an attached document stating he “would like to make a final formal request for a revote on Zoning Docket C-234, The Village at Kinnamon. Council has the ability to do so.”

In response, Wait said he and the council received the letter and wanted to make sure that it was clear that it was entered into the record and based on that request, there was no motion to add the item to the agenda.

After the other public hearing Monday night, the council approved Zoning Docket C-236, for property owned by HRP Clemmons LLC from HB-S to HB-S (Highway Business — Special) at 2468 Market Center Drive.

The property was recently subdivided from the old Kmart property, and the petitioner is proposing to build a Bojangles restaurant with drive-through service.