Bermuda Run approves lowering building heights: Council approves annexation request that will provide ‘important traffic-reducing project’

Published 12:07 am Thursday, January 18, 2024

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By Jim Buice

For the Clemmons Courier

BERMUDA RUN — With business action items on the Bermuda Run Town Council agenda, including a text amendment on multifamily residential and maximum building heights along with annexation requests referenced as the “Potts Property” and the “Hall Walker and Wake Forest Baptist Medical” properties, town hall didn’t have enough seats to accommodate the overflow crowd.

Following the first of three public hearings in last Tuesday night’s meeting, the text amendment to amend allowable building heights from 60 feet to 45 feet (and three stories), remove multifamily as permitted use within the General Business Zoning District, require townhomes to be permitted with conditions, and amend Residential Multifamily maximum number of residential units table by deleting Open Space and General Business districts was approved by a council vote of 2-1.

It was Mike Brannon’s first official meeting as mayor, and there were only three seated council members (incumbents Mike Ernst and Melinda Szeliga and newcomer Rae Nelson) present, but that met the requirements of having a quorum.

The other newcomer, Jeff Tedder, was missing, and the vacated council spot created when Brannon was being elected mayor wasn’t filled until later in the meeting when Christy Schafer was appointed to fill out the five-member board.

Regarding the text amendment, Town Manager Andrew Meadwell said that soon after the adoption of the Bermuda Run Comprehensive Plan in 2023, the staff started working with Benchmark Planning to study the state of current land uses and future land uses to better align with the sentiment of the Comp Plan and public input.

First was a public hearing, which led off with several speakers in the real estate/building/investment area who were opposed to the proposal.
Sally McGuire of the Hillsdale Group spoke against the height restrictions, stating it would hinder the potential for full build-out and make a difference in the final numbers for tax revenue.

Carl Carney, president of Davie Construction, spoke of the need for another hotel and considering retaining the 60-foot height limit.

“We’ve got one hotel, but there’s a need for more,” he said. “I never considered the fact that you could go back on the zoning rule and what could be done in the town. I feel like I’ve had something taken away.”

On the other side, six residents marched up to the podium, saying they were in favor of the text amendment with comments including “45 feet being high enough” for building, not wanting to lose the “small-town feel” and already seeing “the pendulum swinging from residential to big business development.”

Szeliga made the motion in favor of the text amendment, and it was seconded by Nelson. Ernst was opposed, creating the final 2-1 vote of approval.

Next on the agenda was the three Davie County properties referred to as the “Potts Property,” which also included a public hearing.

Three residents spoke, with all seeking more clarity on the development and one asking, “Why would we annex something before it’s built?”

The items for consideration are tracts between U.S. 158 and N.C. 801, with the proposed development calling for a 213-lot residential townhouse project in a Village Mixed Zoning District with a current tax value of $933,160.

Meadwell said that the proposal would provide a connector boulevard between the two highways that intersect in the town and is “probably the most important traffic-reducing project that we could ever have.”

Ernst made the motion for approval, which passed 3-0.

“This gives us an opportunity to reduce the traffic and improve the flow greatly,” he said. “Plus, there’s revenue on top of it. To me, it’s almost a no-brainer.”

The other item called for a resolution for the town clerk to investigate a petition for contiguous and non-contiguous annexation of Davie County tax parcels referenced as the “Hall Walker and Wake Forest Baptist Medical” properties, which was approved unanimously.

Originally, a public hearing for annexation consideration was scheduled for the Feb. 13 meeting, but Meadwell asked in last Tuesday night’s meeting that the item be removed from the agenda, so it was postponed after a council vote.

The council finished out the business portion by appointing Schafer, who previously led the Planning Board, to fill the final spot on the board. Ernst made the motion to appoint her, saying, “Christy Schafer has been extremely active in this community for a long period of time. She knows the town and has very strong qualifications.”

Brannon closed out the meeting by noting there has been confusion across the community about an upcoming event regarding the proposed Hall Walker development by the council “to vote on a 500-unit apartment complex.” Brandon said he wanted to set the record straight that the land is already zoned to allow approximately 520 housing units.