14 parcels on 128 acres would be developed into five warehouses with cumulative square footage of 980,200 square feet; three would front I-85/40
For decades, Alamance County and Mebane residents have become accustomed to large industrial projects recruited by and often built by the Samet Corporation for various industries that wished to have a manufacturing or distribution plant in Mebane.
But now another, competing developer is presenting Mebane with its second large project on the eastern side of the city, in western Orange County.
In February, the city council narrowly approved the first project, rezoning for light manufacturing on 46 acres at the corner of West Ten and Buckhorn roads. The company, Al Neyer, said it plans to build two warehouse-style buildings with a total of 675,000 square feet.
The vote was 3-2, over the opposition of neighbors in the quiet rural community on the outskirts of Mebane who were surprised by the sudden emergence of their area as a target for industrial development.
Orange County had long said the area was its industrial future, and the county government spent millions running water and sewer lines in anticipation of future industrial projects.
Construction on the infrastructure for that first Al Neyer project is now getting underway, across the street from an even more enormous, 1.2-million square-foot distribution center for Medline, which appears to be nearing competition.
Nearby Medline construction status as of this week:
This week, Al Neyer was before Mebane’s planning board with an even larger proposed project.
The company wants to build almost 1 million more square feet of warehouse space in five buildings on about 128 acres at the Buckhorn Road exit, just around the corner from its earlier project.
The newest project’s land – in 14 separate parcels – is bounded by I-85/40 near the Buckhorn Road exit on the southern side of the interchange, behind the Petro truck stop and stretching to West Ten Road.
Entrances into the complex would be off Buckhorn Road, on a narrow private road named Rabbit Run, that would become a full-fledged city street, and also off West Ten Road, near its intersection with Bowman Road.
Three of the five buildings would be built facing the interstate, with 100,000, 75,000, and 330,000 square feet each. Two other buildings would be in the interior of the acreage, with 210,000 and 265,200 square feet, for a total of 980,200 square feet.
The size and scope of the project may be impressive from an economic growth perspective, but nearby neighbors were decidedly unimpressed.
In written comments to the planning board, four residents near the new project worried about the change in their idyllic and peaceful rural setting.
Patty O’Connor, 1011 Squires Road: “If approved as requested, it will turn these lovely Mebane semi-rural lands into a warehouse district. It would hardly be ‘positively charming,’” quoting Mebane’s much-publicized moniker, resulting instead “more like ‘positively alarming.’”
Complaining about the current Al Neyer site, as well as the large Medline distribution center across West Ten Road from her street, O’Connor said she currently experiences “incessant beeping as trucks and construction vehicles back up and banging of equipment, often well into the evening hours.”
“Sadly,” she said, “those sounds won’t disappear after the completion of construction. They will only be amplified as the hundreds of daily truck trips begin when both facilities are up and running.”
O’Connor lamented the disruption to the “relatively quiet, rural ambiance” she and other neighbors have enjoyed.
She said the proposed buffers – of 100 feet, rather than the city’s required level of 50 feet – will do little “to buffer the continual noise and fume of diesel engines and the relentless beeping of trucks docking,” which are sounds that she said can be heard for a quarter mile away.
“’Mebane, positively charming,’” she said, returning to the city’s logo and motto, “seems to apply only to Main Street, Fifth Street, and a few other select neighborhoods. I, and others, would like it to apply to our neighborhood, too.”
Another Squires Road neighbor, Aimee Tattersall, also took aim at the noise from construction and which she, too, predicted will continue when warehouses open to truck traffic.
“Some days we hear the backup beeps and noise from trucks all day long as well as other disruptive construction noise. We do not expect that the traffic and noise will be any less when the projects [are] completed.”
Planning board members did prevail on the company’s representative, Justin Parker, Al Neyer’s vice president of real estate development, to remove two special provisions in which the company had wanted to avoid rezoning for two future parcels.
One, Parker said, was for a potential donation for a fire station, but he readily agreed to drop the special provisions in the face of what emerged as an impediment to the planning board’s endorsement.
Planning board member Lori Oakley had raised concerns about any automatic approval without having to come through the zoning process, planning board, and public hearing – all of which could have been avoided if the special conditions sought by Al Neyer had been granted.
Ultimately, the recommendation for approval of the project was unanimous, 7-0.
Mebane’s city council will take up the proposal on November 1.
See also Al Neyer VP’s teaser announcement at same planning board meeting that a Fortune 100 company is finalizing plans to come to Mebane, in another of the company’s projects just around the corner from the newest one; formal announcement expected within 30 days: https://alamancenews.com/developer-fortune-100-company-almost-lined-up-for-mebane-site-in-orange-county/
See other Mebane-area planning and zoning news from this week’s planning board meeting:
Popular meat market’s proposed new location draws concerns even from store’s shoppers and supporters: https://alamancenews.com/planning-board-splits-4-3-on-rezoning-for-new-business-zoning-for-popular-meat-market/
Developer of new, hybrid-style hotel beside Lowe’s Home Improvement wants change for more rooms: https://alamancenews.com/mebane-hotel-plan-comes-back-to-life-and-larger-than-before/