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Arden Drive residents voice concerns over added traffic

New development to create ‘complete traffic malfunction’

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

Residents of Arden Drive marched to the podium Monday night in Clemmons Village Hall to voice a prevailing theme — overwhelming traffic and access — with new development surrounding and going through their old neighborhood off of Hampton Road.

“I’m expressing the concerns of the 50 families that live on Arden Drive,” said longtime resident Marty Beeson, who was the first speaker. “To turn Arden Drive into a main thoroughfare for this development would destroy the character, the charm of our neighborhood as well as change the way of life for all of these families.”

Beeson was one of eight opponents speaking during a public hearing regarding a Zoning Docket Amendment for Clouds Harbor Landing petitioned by the Wayne E. Weber Revocable Trust for properties consisting of some 8.4 acres currently zoned RS-15 to RS-9 (Residential Single Family) for the boundary survey of parcels shown on a site plan (Zoning Docket C-238).

The Clemmons Village Council ultimately decided to take no action, opting to get further information on a preferred alternative of extending a road out to the new Idols Road Extension to help with traffic flow.

Planner Nasser Rahimzadeh outlined the agenda item for the rezoning and a second portion for the approval of a major subdivision of 39 acres — with the primary access off on Arden Drive.

“It will also connect through Old Mill and is also projected to terminate at the Clouds Harbor parcel,” he said. “Clouds Harbor, when fully developed, will have two access points.”

More than 30 acres have already been rezoned RS-9, and this would be asking for the remaining portion of eight-plus acres with 16 lots.

“By and large, this site is already zoned for RS-9 development,” said Rahimzadeh, who said that the staff recommendation for rezoning was for approval while adding that all the concerns before the technical review committee were addressed and that it also received approval from the Planning Board.

Ken Capron, representing petitioner Shugart Homes, said that his group has done its best to be proactive to the neighbors and attempted to cooperate and facilitate comments regarding the project, including traffic and access.

He referred to a Kimley-Horn study, which stated that Arden Drive — which dates back to 1953 — can handle 6,500 vehicles per day (which drew laughter from the opponents in attendance), but that the actual volume was expected to be between 1,100 and 1,300 vehicles per day.

Mike Brewer, another Arden Road resident who spoke, said that the road math just doesn’t compute for the Shugart and Isenhour subdivisions on land connected to Arden Drive, along with the Quinn and Haywood streets.

“Arden Drive currently has approximately 48 homes including the houses on Clouds Harbor,” Brewer said. “With the proposed Shugart subdivision, the traffic volume on Arden Drive will triple based solely on one car per household. With the addition of the Isenhour subdivision, our neighborhood is looking at an increase of 146 new home sites and the traffic that accompanies all of these households. In essence, we will now have in excess of 200 home sites exiting through four narrow 1950s vintage roadways, all of which will dump onto Hampton Road. This is at best nothing more than a complete traffic malfunction.”

Brewer echoed a consistent theme throughout the public hearing that the Idols Road Extension could make things better.

“I fail to understand why in the great state of North Carolina we spend multimillions of dollars to form the Idols Road Extension, however when we need to connect to new neighborhoods we completely overlook and disregard this option. Instead, we overrun existing older neighborhood roads never designed for this traffic volume.”

Brewer said this was just another example of expanding the tax base and builders making a lot of money without a nod to the safety or happiness of established home owners.

Larry Wood agreed, saying it was all about “profit, profit, profit” and that Arden Drive simply can’t handle all the extra traffic.

Council members talked about doing extra things to enhance the project, including pushing for a mini-roundabout for Haywood Street and mailbox kiosks. But getting more clarification for including the Idols Road Extension to help with traffic going through the neighborhood and Hampton Road continued to surface during the conversations.

Even Capone said, “What really needs to be done and that’s for Cloud Harbor going out to Idols Road Extension.”

Last summer, the Isenhour Homes development, Old Mill, gained approval. Former mayor Bill McGee owned property in old neighborhood, and there were apparently discussions at the time about using the Idols Road Extension to aid a potentially growing traffic problem.

Councilwoman Michelle Barson said she would be curious to know if there was a commitment to that connection if that would make the subdivision more palatable.

She said she would be more comfortable “to sit on this for a couple of weeks” and get more information, including talking to McGee after time has elapsed since last summer’s transaction and knowing what he said or didn’t say in the past.

Councilman Chris Wrights said that since one council member wanted to continue it, “that’s what we should do,” and that gained consensus.

“The biggest thing with our ordinance is you’re required to have two access points in and out, and they’ve met that requirement,” Wrights said. “Clouds Harbor being extended all the way out to Idols Road would be a plus absolutely. Now it sounds like there’s a possibility that Mr. McGee may be open to this road being extended out. I think it would be definitely be an added benefit for the neighborhood to have that road extended out. “

In addition, Barson requested that she and councilman Mike Rogers connect with McGee in the interim to see where things stand and add the item to the agenda for the Feb. 22 meeting.

In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:

• Approved Resolution 2021-R-03 advocating for U.S. 158 improvements to the local Transportation Advisory Committee. It requests support from NCDOT for the widening and improvements to U.S. 158 (Clemmons Road) from Lewisville-Clemmons Road to Harper Road in Clemmons in conjunction with other improvements planned for this thoroughfare in Davie County.

• Set March 30 as the date for the council’s annual retreat.

• Heard from Wes Kimbrell, stormwater engineer, regarding five projects totaling $1.2 million for review/consideration at an upcoming meeting. The five projects are 3776 N. Lakeshore Drive Culvert System, 3539 N. Lakeshore Drive Culvert System, Woodlark Court Culvert System, Innisfail Lane and Innisfail Court, and Bridle Path.

• Heard from Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough about a new outreach initiative that will include security improvements though real-time intelligence where cameras will be placed throughout the community.