Haw River’s town council has approved rezoning for a proposed 250 to 300-unit apartment complex following a public hearing this week that saw no opposition from residents or council members.
Concerns about the impact of the upcoming, three-phase project – the apartments are considered phase one – didn’t fall on the shoulders of developers Jack and John Burton but on the state’s department of transportation, which council members said hasn’t taken steps to improve roads to accommodate heavy traffic in the area.
Situated just north of I-85/40, the roadway that the project will connect to is frequented by not only commuters using the interstate but also truck drivers and students and staff of Alamance Community College.
The traffic, which the council members agreed has been heavy for decades, led mayor Kelly Allen to suggest that the NCDOT should add a turn lane and widen the bridge crossing I-85/40. Still, both she and town manager Sean Tencer conceded, the department has marked traffic improvements to the area as a low priority – a stance that she and councilman Steve Lineberry said may change if the new development makes traffic heavier.
“I just can’t see continuing to let the DOT hold us back on being able to have developments to bring in tax dollars to this town so possibly we can look at and maybe drop back our tax rate, dependent on how long it takes for [the developers] to come in here and how long it takes for the funds to come in,” the mayor said. “If it ends up the traffic is even worse than it is now, then maybe it’ll force the DOT to move something.”
While mayor pro tem Lee Lovette, who lives on North Wilkins Road, said that he’d likely be the council member most affected by increased traffic, he concluded that congestion likely wouldn’t increase considerably to the north of the development but to its south as new residents use the interstate.
“It certainly wouldn’t be a big factor as far as I’m concerned, because traffic can’t get much worse than what it is,” Lovette said with a wry chuckle.
Even the public hearing’s lone speaker, resident Sue Tippett, didn’t direct her concerns toward the Burton brothers, but pointed instead to the need for traffic improvements on the state-maintained road.
Concerns about increased traffic also paled for the board in comparison to the hope of broadening the town’s tax base. Upon its completion, the mayor said, the development could bolster both Haw River’s property and sales tax revenues.
“My opinion is that we have got to have something to increase our tax base,” Allen said. “We have got to have some tax money and funds coming in here.”
Ultimately, Lineberry motioned to approve the rezoning, with a second from councilwoman Patty Johnson Wilson, and the developer’s request was unanimously approved.
See story on potential additional apartments on parcel next to Haw River’s (in Graham): https://alamancenews.com/graham-council-agrees-to-rezoning-along-jimmie-kerr-road-for-future-multi-family-project-when-if-infrastructure-allows/