To his credit, a developer of 58.7 acres of county land along Compton Road in the city’s northeastern quadrant went out of his way to meet the density concerns of nearby neighbors. In the end, however, there wasn’t a meeting of the minds.
To no one’s surprise, the planning commissioners sided unanimously with the developer Wednesday night, and many of the residents went away unhappy.
A similar drama took place afterward on a rezoning proposal for the western part of two lots of 6.1 acres along Roxburghe Court. In both cases, the applicants were seeking annexation by the city and then the rezoning. The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of this rezoning also to two 10,000 sq. ft lots.
The development will nearly enclose a county subdivision, whose residents came before the council to object. If the council approves the rezoning request, the two lots would be at least 10,000 square feet. The land lies west of the city center.
Density was cut but not enough for the residents
The larger proposal calls for a mix of single-family homes of various lot sizes along with attached housing. The property lies just east of the General’s Run townhouse and condominium development.
The latest plan is for 35 large homes on 12,000-sq.-ft. lots, 82 single-family homes with 6,000 sq. ft. lots and 64 condominiums. The density was reduced from the original proposal after neighbors of the development expressed concern at an earlier planning commission meeting. They raised drainage issues and traffic problems hey said the original density would bring.
3.08 units per acre or about 3.77 of you exclude unbuildable land
The new density is 3.08 dwelling units per acre, down from 4.26. The number of condominiums has been cut from 101 to 64. Matthew Taylor, of SEC Engineering, said the condos brought the most opposition from the neighbors,and this is where the developers made the biggest cut.
They also added a pool, a community garden, a pocket park and some walking trails.
To the immediate west of the property is the General’s Run townhouse and condominium development, and The Reserve, which has homes on 12,000-square-foot lots or bigger. It is the people from The Reserve who were unhappy.
A landscaping berm was added along Compton, and the houses were pulled a least 80 feet back from the road. The developer also worked with city staff members to redesign Marigold Drive after some residents warned that it might become a drag strip.
Big issue is 62 hones on 6,000-sq.-ft lots
J. Phillip Umbarger, who lives in the neighboring Reserve subdivision, said he is thrilled the property is being developed because it will finish out he neighborhood. He also thanked the developers for taking the neighbors into their plans. But he said the density figure of 3,08 dwelling units per acre would be much higher if you took out land in a flood plain that isn’t buildable. He added that he would like to see more detail on the developer’s plans for parking before anything is approved. He also objected to the inclusion of 62 single family lots with a minimum of 6,000 square feet, saying neighboring homes are all on 12,000 to 15,000-square foot lots.
Beth Brown, who lives on Compon Road, put the density at 3.77 units per acre when the unbuildable land is excluded from the calculation. Although the total number of dwelling units had been cut to 181 from 250 in the earlier plan, Brown said she would like to see a maximum of 150 units. She argued that in the current plan some of the lots are squeezed together. But, like Umbrger, she conceded that the developer had been extremely cooperative.
Attached homes will have only about 1.3 people per unit
Chris O’Neal, whose company, Goodall Homes, is building the attached homes, said that part of the development will be “age targeted” with a likely density of about 1.3 people per unit, obviously lower than single-family homes would be.
Having lost the decisions several of the homeowners remained outside the chamber complaining about the vote that went against them. It is usual to have anything but a unanimous vote by the planning commission or city council on any major development issue. The planning commission vote is only a recommendation for approval, however. The final decision lies wtih the city council.
The whole debate may have been educational for Aaron Tuley, the lead man for the city’s planning consultant. Tuley was at the meeting to propose more mixed-use neighborhoods and higher density development to meet the needs of all the people who will be coming here in the next 20 years. He told the commissioners there isn’t enough buildable land to keep dividing it up into large lot single family homes. In addition, he said there is a demographic shift laying out here. Fewer people are seeking large homes on large lots. They want small places that are easier to keep up and that don’ tie them down.