Council overrides negative recommendation from planning board against project
Burlington’s city council voted 5 to 0 Thursday morning (March 18) on a rezoning request which sought an increased housing allowance for a residential subdivision that the council originally approved in 2018 on the grounds of the former Shamrock Golf Course.
The council’s decision gives the project’s developer Paul Milam permission to build 241 homes on the 100-acre site rather than the previously-approved maximum of 219.
Burlington’s city clerk Beverly Smith told the council Thursday morning that she had received one email about this request during the extended comment period. The electronic missive came from Dana Stewart, who had also shared oral remarks during the public hearing on Tuesday (see below).
Tuesday public hearing on Shamrock proposal
Ryan Moffitt, an attorney for this subdivision’s would-be developer, told the council during its public hearing on the matter Tuesday night that there are several factors which have compelled his client to seek this increase in the previously-approved housing allowance.
Moffitt pointed out that Milam had originally sought the city’s permission to build 241 homes on the now vacant golf course but agreed to scale back this figure in response to numerous objections from the residents of Shamrock Estates – a decades-old neighborhood that was laid out at the same time as the former recreation facility.
Moffitt added that demand for residential construction has skyrocketed since the council originally signed off on his client’s proposed subdivision.
In the meantime, he noted that the city’s own development rules have become more conducive to the sort of “cluster” development that Milam envisions on the former site of the golf course. In fact, Moffitt contended that, under Burlington’s new unified development ordinance, Milam could build some 350 townhomes on the 100-acre property if not for the zoning that he previously obtained from the council.
“So, we’re two and a half years later,” the developer’s attorney added. “We have market forces that are calling for additional residential development…and based on today’s conditions, [a plan for 219 homes] is not fully utilizing the property.”
In contrast to the veritable deluge of public comments that this project originally drew in 2018, the council heard a mere sprinkle of feedback during the public hearing on Tuesday.
Dana Stewart of Monroe-Holt Road objected to the proximity of the additional dwellings to her own home as well as the developer’s plan to take a fence out of his plans to separate the proposed subdivision from her own property. Meanwhile, a second resident inquired about the extension of water and sewer lines to residents who live near Milam’s proposed subdivision.
The council also heard from Bryan Brice, a Raleigh attorney who represents a couple of neighbors who took Milam to court after the council signed off on his original plans in 2018. Brice noted that he is in the process of refiling this lawsuit, which a judge recently tossed out over a technical oversight.
In response to the rival attorney, Moffitt conceded that the legal challenge that Brice’s clients have lodged has indeed derailed Milam’s original plans for the golf course’s redevelopment.
“His client has rung the bell on this property,” he added. “Until a judge decides those issues on its merits, it’s going to be hard to do anything.”
While the planning board had voted 4-2 against recommending the rezoning for additional homes, the city council, however, unanimously gave its approval to the expanded number of homes during a special-called meeting Thursday morning (March 18, 2021).
See earlier planning board consideration of the expanded Shamrock subdivision: https://alamancenews.com/developer-wants-city-to-endorse-more-homes-at-shamrock/