Harper Acres annexed, rezoning part continued

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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Once again, it was a packed house in Clemmons Village Hall for Monday night’s council meeting in anticipation of Harper Acres, a controversial residential development, coming before the board for the continuation of public hearings on the question of annexation and a rezoning request.
And like the last time appearing before the Clemmons Village Council on May 9, Tonya Powell, an attorney with Nexsen Pruet in Raleigh and a proponent who was representing the applicant, was the first to the podium in the public hearing. She again asked for a continuance.
“It is our understanding that either the council or the Waterford Homeowners Association are going to request a continuance of the second matter, the rezoning, and so we would request that likewise the annexation be continued,” she said. “We don’t think it makes any sense to handle them in separate public hearings.”
However, unlike her request six weeks ago, this time only the rezoning request was continued.
“I feel like we’re on Business Action Item VI A. 1 (the question of voluntary annexation for ALTA), and that’s what we’re talking about,” said council member Bradley Taylor, “and we can’t determine what might happen in VI A. 2 and make that decision at this point without a presentation and hearing from both sides.”
Mayor Mike Rogers said he agreed, and council member Mike Combest added, “My instinct is to continue with the annexation hearing because they are two fundamentally totally separate items.”
And the voluntary annexation component proceeded — with Powell requesting the property be annexed.
In April, the planning board held a public hearing of a zoning map amendment and preliminary major subdivision review located on two tracts owned by Jasper L. Harper Sr. and Jasper L. Harper Jr. for a combined 26.76 acres from RS-40 (Residential, Single-Family) to RS-20-S (Residential, Single-Family – Special) that includes 58 lots east of Michelle Drive and north of Lismore Street, and recommended unanimous denial with the adoption of the inconsistency statement of Zoning Docket C-247.
Many families in the Waterford neighborhood have expressed concerns about the potential development and the impact on the existing infrastructure and environment.
After Powell’s request for both parts of the public hearing to be continued, she offered this comment about the voluntary annexation: “As you know this is for the Harper Acres property. It is part of the larger plan for the Village of Clemmons, By developing it under the Village of Clemmons ordinances, it would be more restrictive than the Forsyth County ordinances that now apply to it, so we think it both benefits the surrounding area and is consistent with the plans to be part of the village.”
Gray Wilson, representing the Waterford community as a proponent, said that the community of 430 homes supports annexation.
“We certainly want to maintain the consistency of the proposed site with the Waterford community, which is part of this village,” Wilson said in his comments during the public hearing. “We certainly want if there is to be any additional development out there for the same infrastructure to be available that is provided by the Village of Clemmons — water, sewer, fire administration, those sort of amenities. We also would like for the village to oversee roadways, maintenance, that sort of thing. For all those reasons, primarily consistency, the Waterford Homeowners Association supports annexation.”
Combest then recommended the approval of annexation, stressing “that annexation is a completely standalone decision and does not indicate any predisposition to approve or disapprove any subsequent requests for rezoning or development.”
It was unanimously approved by the council.
“Having this property in the village allows us to execute our standards rather than county standards,” said council member Mary Cameron, “which are higher than the county standards, and I think that’s what we’re all looking for.”
Rogers said “now that the property is officially in the village, the council can look at these plans in depth and ask the hard questions of the developer and of the community.”
Council member Michelle Barson added, “Engaging the community is important. This is a new plan and needs to have fresh eyes from the Planning Board and discussion with the community.”
Powell then requested if this was going back to the planning board, she wanted an extension since she won’t be available to attend the July meeting. So it was agreed upon that the rezoning would go back to the planning board on Aug. 16 and then to the village council meeting on Sept. 12.
A 60-day extension was added to the original 180 days and approved unanimously, but planner Nasser Rahimzadeh then said once a property is annexed, it must be given an initial zoning within 60 days. He said it would probably be best to go with a “default RS-40” by the Aug. 22 council meeting to stay within the required time limit.
Also in Monday night’s meeting, Barson gave an update on the Drone as First Responder Program, which was first brought up in a May council meeting after Clemmons was revealed to be the first choice of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for a high-tech pilot program.
Barson said she and Combest attended a county commissioners’ briefing a couple of weeks ago.
“They wanted to know about our support and asked a few questions of us,” she said. “The biggest question and concern was the same as ours — budget. What does this look like in the short-term budget wise and the long-term budget wise. Where does the money come from?
“We both shared interest in learning more about that in the very near future before making any concrete decisions, but it is supported by the county commissioners as part of a larger safety plan that they have already invested into and the sheriff and Basil (Yap of AeroX) made a really good case for why Clemmons makes so much sense to launch this and their ultimate goal to pilot it in Clemmons and roll it out beyond that.”
In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Called for a public hearing for the July 11 council meeting on a Zoning Map Amendment of real property owned by Gateway West Apartments LLC from RS-40 (Residential, Single-Family) to RM-8-S (Residential, Multifamily – Special) at 2070 Lewisville-Clemmons Road on 5.88 acres (Zoning Docket C-248). Rahimzadeh said that the project received approval by a 6-1 vote in the June 21 planning board meeting.
• Called for a public hearing for the July 11 council meeting on a Zoning Text Amendment to amend multiple sections in Chapter B Zoning Ordinance and Chapter C Environmental Ordinance of the Unified Development Ordinances (Zoning Docket C-UDO-87). Rahimzadeh said that the planning board voted 7-0 in favor with some modifications in the June 21 planning board meeting.
• Gave council consensus on a contracts renewal policy, directing the village manager to incorporate this procedure into the village’s normal means of business.