Harper Acres rezoning request denied

Published 1:36 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022

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After months of changes and continuances, the Clemmons Village Council finally addressed a rezoning request for Harper Acres, a proposed residential development, by denying Zoning Docket C-247 following a public hearing — much to the delight of a full house in village hall Monday night.
The council had approved a request for voluntary annexation for the property in a June meeting, but the rezoning issue was continued a couple of times for two parcels owned by Jasper L. Harper Sr. and Jasper L. Harper Jr. from RS-40 (Residential, Single-Family) to RS-30-S (Residential, Single-Family – Special), located east of Michelle Drive and north of Lismore Street and Dunmore Court, consisting of 26.76 acres.
The Clemmons Planning Board had already unanimously rejected this development twice — first with 58 units and then a reduced 38 units in last Wednesday’s night meeting.
Residents of Waterford have been vocal in their opposition to the project, expressing concerns about the impact on the existing infrastructure, including traffic, safety and accessibility.
April Jacobs, who spoke during the public hearing as both a resident of the Waterford HOA and a representative speaking on behalf of 430 homeowners, said their request has “always been about the lack of special use overlay for this property. We have always felt as though the cluster development was incompatible with all of the surrounding neighborhoods — the fact that this piece of land is essentially an island in the middle of existing developed properties.”
Mary Cameron was the only council member to speak after the public hearing where proponents and opponents for the project made their points after planner Nasser Rahimzadeh provided an overview of the plan.
“This project has taken a long time,” Cameron said. “I do not have a problem with this kind of development at all if you would pick it up and put it somewhere else. I think it’s probably needed. It would be a good project somewhere else. I just have a problem with its location.”
Tonya Powell, an attorney with Nexsen Pruet in Raleigh and a proponent who was representing the applicant, said that changes had been made with the site plan to address concerns, including reducing the number of lots to 38, going from RS-15 to RS-20 and then RS-30 zoning, eliminating the Dunmore Court access as well as the pool and clubhouse, agreeing to reimburse the Waterford HOA for up to $2,000 for stop signs and that the lots will be fenced.
She said that the Planned Residential design was kept because of the future land use designation of Cluster Residential.
“We are back here in what has been a process,” Powell said. “From the planning board meeting that we had months ago, we started the process of talking with the attorney for the HOA and members of the HOA when possible, and from there took their comments and started our process of trying to figure out how we could address their concerns in our plan.
“This is consistent with the (Clemmons) Compass Plan and the number of goals in the Compass Plan, including that it be Cluster Residential, that it provide for an alternative type of housing, which you have housing in your community that ranges from multi-family rental through large-scale homes owned by the residents.”
Rahimzadeh discussed the changes that have been made to the site plan since it was first presented in April, saying that in addition to the decrease in the number of lots, lot width increased to 80 feet, and average lot size increased to 11,030 feet. Also, he said open space quantity increased for both passive and active types, 30-foot buffers remained, and daily traffic counts decreased to 414 trips per day.
However, Jacobs, speaking for the opponents, stated that approving the proposal, despite the concessions being made by the petitioner, would be “putting the cart before the horse” given the current infrastructure in place in Waterford.
That includes one of the big issues, Jacobs said, in play — the connector streets and how access to this development “island/peninsula through Michelle Drive through Lismore Street, and Rinehart Lane (a private road), which is slated to be upfitted as a collector street as well as Lismore. There are currently no plans, no approvals, no resources, no funding, no timeline on when any of that is going to be done.
“Lismore is grossly undersized compared to the requirements of a connector street upfit. Additionally, Lismore has 113 parcels that would be impacted through the traffic getting to this development.”
Jacobs added that while Rahimzadeh stated that Cluster Residential is a transitional neighborhood, she said: “This is not transitioning to anything. This is literally going one mile off of a major arterial street into a stopping point where there is 26 acres of land. It feels grossly incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods to make it a Planned Residential Development.”
Nathan Chrisawn, an attorney based in High Point who lives on Rinehart Lane and said he was representing the interests of his family and other property owners on his street, was the other primary speaker in opposition to the project.
Chrisawn mentioned that all the Rinehart links to the north are zoned RS-40 with lots that are at least 1.86 acres or larger.
“According to the staff report, the average size of the proposed Harper Acres lots is only 11,030 square feet or about a quarter of an acre,” he said while adding his concerns about being able to upfit Rinehart Lane. “That means that our lots are more than seven times than the average lot that will be in Harper Acres.”
“The only way to get to Harper Acres is through Waterford since Harper Acres would have no direct main road access, so any development of the Harper property would be an extension of Waterford whether it’s officially a part of Waterford or not. Just because we have an ordinance that would permit a Planned Residential Development like what is proposed here doesn’t mean that it is appropriate. We don’t have the street infrastructure in place to support such a high-density neighborhood.”
Following the closing of the public hearing and the comment by Cameron, Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Barson made the motion to adopt the inconsistency statement and deny the rezoning request for Zoning Docket C-247, and the council voted unanimously to do so.
That was followed by a second motion by Barson to adopt zoning to the Village of Clemmons for RS-30 zoning for the two parcels and adopt a consistency statement as presented in the statement of planned consistency for initial zoning, and it also passed unanimously.
Mayor Mike Rogers said that the village had to assign the zoning to this property within 60 days after annexation, or that otherwise it would revert to zero zoning.
“So anything could be built if we didn’t do anything,” Rogers added, since the property was recently approved for voluntary annexation into Clemmons from Forsyth County.
In other highlights from Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Called for a public hearing for Zoning Map Amendment for real property owned by 30S Equity LLC from GB-S (General Business – Special) to GB-S (General Business – Special) located on the eastern side of Gentry Lane and described by the Forsyth County Tax Offices as PIN Number 5893-04-0489, consisting of 1.35 acres (Zoning Docket C-249).
• Heard a presentation from Caroline Drake, planning technician regarding the Village Point Small Area Plan update – looking at where things stood in Village Point in 2003 compared to today. That led to a lengthy discussion on the validity of the original document and how to proceed 19 years later with most of that development now complete. Village Manager Mike Gunnell said he would put something together for the council to review at a future meeting.
• Approved a quote from Cooper Ford in Carthage for the purchase of a 2023 F-350 XL SRW 4X4 Extended Cab for $59,649.
• Held a special meeting — as a follow-up to the spring retreat — prior to the regular meeting.
• Approved a 5% salary increase for Gunnell — taking action at the conclusion of the Aug. 8 meeting following a closed session.