Monday, June 14, 2021

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Graham, NC 27253
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Graham planning board hears rezoning requests for more houses, townhouses, apartments

Graham’s planning board heard from three different developers Tuesday night about projects that envision bringing new residential developments to the city. Each received a favorable recommendation and will be heard by city council members at their May 12 meeting.

95 new single-family homes planned along I-85/40
Huntington Hills, a development of 95 single-family houses will be built beside I-85/40 in an area already zoned R-9, high-density residential, if the city council agrees with the planning board’s recommendation to proceed with the subdivision. The subdivision will be near a series of new apartment complexes off Woody Drive near the interstate.

Windsor Homes plans another subdivision with single-family homes and townhouses
An even larger development, with a combination of 109 single-family homes and 70 townhouses, will be built on 59.5 acres on the back side of Broad Acres, a well-established single-family home neighborhood off Rogers Road in southern Graham.

A development with 109 single-family homes and 70 townhomes is planned for the back side of Broad Acres near the intersection of Rogers Road and Wildwood Lane.

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Neighbors, many of them seniors, registered their opposition that their quiet, tranquil neighborhood will be disrupted by the influx of construction in the short term and heavier traffic in the long term.

But Windsor Homes, which has several other subdivisions in the area, provided expert witnesses who contradicted a number of fears expressed by residents.

Windsor Homes has been a major builder in Graham in recent years and is now seeking a rezoning for 109 single-family homes and 70 townhouses off Rogers Road near South Graham Park. Their Forks of Alamance subdivision (above) is being built farther south on Rogers Road, also in Graham.

Home values would not be adversely affected, appraiser Glenn Patterson told the planning board; traffic will not be of the increased magnitude described by neighbors, based on study conducted for the developer; and the new homes will be harmonious with existing ones, even if some are townhouses and even if some are not built of brick.

Several residents who live in the Broad Acres subdivision – Ann Collins, James Peck, Angela Parsons, Margaret Moody, Larry Durham, and Charles Smith – concentrated much of their opposition on the increased traffic that they said will inevitably ruin the tranquility of their neighborhood, and potentially endanger both current residents and children.

Durham took particular exception that the traffic study done for the developer was based on part of one day. “A one-day traffic study is not worth a hill of beans,” he told the planning board.

Collins lamented that residents would lose “something nice about Graham’s small town atmosphere.”

Conrad Cowan said he couldn’t “see how [the new homes] can be compatible with existing homes” when the new ones are generally vinyl exteriors compared to the brick exteriors of current homes.

Charles Smith targeted the fact that the proposed 60 acres for the new development is a “landlocked parcel of land.” He also argued that the two-story townhouses not being made of brick were not “in harmony” or “compatible” with the existing one-story brick patio homes in the area.

Amanda Hodierne, the attorney representing Windsor Homes, the developer, used her rebuttal time to stress the legal parameters within which the planning board must make its decisions.

There are six criteria, she stressed, while arguing that much of the testimony for neighbors, while “passionate” was “completely irrelevant” to whether the development met Graham’s ordinance requirements.

In terms of the focus on traffic, she noted that all three main thoroughfares that could be used to reach the new subdivision, all of which run through the existing neighborhoods, are public roads, “not private and exclusive” to the existing homeowners.

Several of the neighbors, in arguing against increased traffic, pointed to the dangers residents already face since some parts of the existing developments do not have sidewalks. Hodierne highlighted that the Windsor development would have sidewalks, adding to the “walkability” of the area.

After almost two hours of testimony from the developer’s representatives and opposing neighbors, the planning board voted 4-0 for the rezoning for the new Windsor development.

 

More apartments also
But the largest potential project of the night was a second plan for additional apartments that Travers Webb wants to build off of Jimmie Kerr Road near the interstate.

This rezoning sign along Jimmie Kerr Road is the only indication of as many as 288 to 800 new apartments that might be built. The frontage with 11 acres, is within Graham’s jurisdiction, while the back part of the development would be within Haw River’s.

In February, Webb got a planning board endorsement for his project behind the Days Inn on Truby Drive, off Jimmie Kerr Road. That original plan envisioned 1,056 apartments.
In the time since, however, Webb and his son, George Webb, IV, said that the feedback from the Department of Transportation has been fairly negative about the traffic that would be generated in an already crowded corridor.

So the newest iteration this week is a bit farther down the road, with somewhere between 288 to 500 or 800, based on George Webb’s description to the planning board.
Graham’s contribution is to consider the front 11 acres, but another 27 acres is within Haw River’s municipal jurisdiction.

The conversation alternated between whether any of the original apartments could be included in the new overall proposal or not, which appeared to turn largely on DOT’s reaction.

The planning board gave it a 4-0 recommendation; it will be considered by the city council at its May 11 meeting. Board members present, all of whom voted for each of the rezoning requests, were chairman Dean Ward, vice chairman Justin Moody, Tony Bailey, and, by Zoom, Eric Crissman. Absent were: Bobby Chin, Nate Perry, and Mike Benesch. The four-person quorum met the minimum number the board needed in order to transact business.

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