Mebane’s city council approved the annexation and rezoning for a 46-acre tract of land on the outskirts of the city, taking the final votes on the issues during a Zoom teleconferencing meeting on Wednesday night (Feb. 3).
The acreage at 6016 West Ten Road, near the corner of West Road and Buckhorn Road in western Orange County, is being proposed for an industrial park consisting of two large warehouse buildings with a total of 675,000 square feet. It is across the street from, and near, the huge Medline distribution center, consisting of almost twice as much space, 1.2 million square feet, that is now under construction.
The largely rural area has been just outside Mebane’s city limits and extraterritorial planning jurisdiction, but is in a corridor that Orange County has designated for future industrial growth. The county paid for utility lines to be run through that area; those have now been turned over to Mebane
The vote was 3-2 for the annexation after a motion to deny the motion failed 2-3. Voting for annexation (and against the denial motion) were council members Tim Bradley, Everette Greene, and Patty Philipps; voting against annexation (and for the motion to deny the annexation) were Jill Auditori, who made the motion to deny the rezoning, and Sean Ewing.
An earlier vote for annexation passed 4-1, with Auditori opposed.
The council vote on annexation was the second 3-2 vote of the council this week. The council also split on whether to spend $535,000 for land beside the city’s community park. See https://alamancenews.com/mebane-council-splits-3-2-on-half-million-dollar-land-purchase-beside-citys-park/
Background on the project
The developer for the proposed industrial park along West Ten Road asked for the property to be rezoned for light manufacturing, conditional zoning to allow for the construction of warehouse space and parking, as well as annexation into Mebane’s city limits. The land is currently located within Orange County’s jurisdiction and zoned for rural residential uses.
Currently named “West Ten Industrial,” the developer for the industrial park is Al Neyer, a real estate development company that is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and has an office in Raleigh.
Preliminary plans that have been developed for the project show that West Ten Industrial would have two buildings. One building would be built on a 24.77-acre portion of the property and would have a maximum of 425,000 square feet. The second building would be built on 21.56 acres and would have a maximum of 225,000 square feet, based on preliminary plans the developer submitted to the city.
Pressed about potential tenants for the industrial park that is proposed outside Mebane, Justin Parker, vice president of development for Al Neyer, demurred in a December interview with the newspaper, “We’re not going to comment at this point.” That position, he explained, “is not specific” to the proposal for Mebane. Rather, he indicated that most developers tend to be tight-lipped until negotiations and approvals are final, but anticipates construction to begin in Mebane this spring.
The 46-acre site proposed for West Ten Industrial is currently valued at $35,036 and is owned by Margaret Mann and Joanne Beikert of Mebane, according to Orange County’s register of deeds. Al Neyer has the property under contract to purchase, pending approval of the rezoning request, Parker confirmed for the newspaper.
Neighboring and nearby homeowners generally voiced opposition to the project – during the planning board’s consideration in December, Monday night during the city council’s first public hearing on the issue, and again Wednesday night during the continuation of that hearing.
Neighbors have generally focused on the issue based on their belief that their residential properties could soon be surrounded by industrial projects if Mebane continues to approve industrial projects in this area; that such a transition will cause their homes to lose value; the surge in traffic, particularly with heavy trucks, including 18-wheelers, that will be in and out of the distribution center and warehouses; and the lack of adequate screens or buffers along the property lines.
Al Neyer had agreed to double the width of the buffer from the city’s requirement for 50 feet to a width of 100 feet. But some neighbors pressed Monday night for 150 feet.
And during Wednesday night’s final consideration, the company’s representative agreed to make a $200,000 contribution to traffic improvements in the area.
Aimee Tattersall of 1133 Squires Road had continued to oppose the proposal. Tattersall said the noise from the diesel trucks would disrupt the quaint rural community, and her nearby home in particular. She thanked the developer for changes to make the project somewhat better, but she still lamented the changes that she said the warehouses and traffic would generate, making this a “less attractive place to live.”
Tattersall also underscored that this second warehouse project, in addition to Medline, was likely to cause an even greater proliferation of even more future warehouses. “We don’t want West Ten to be known for warehouses,” she said.
Patty O’Connor, another Squires Road opponent of the project, also continued to express her opposition on Wednesday just before the vote, summarizing her opposition, “I don’t want to live next to a warehouse,” challenging council members to consider what they would want in similar circumstances if their own homes were involved. She said it doesn’t look, feel, or smell good to live next to a warehouse.
After the public hearing was closed Wednesday night, Auditori made the motion to deny the rezoning, saying that while she appreciated the efforts of the development to make the project “more palatable,” she still considered it to lack harmony with the surrounding area. Her motion was defeated 2-3.
A subsequent motion by Everette Green to approve the rezoning then passed 3-2.
Councilmen subsequently had to vote again, by the same 3-2 margin, later in the meeting to specify that the project was compatible with the city’s long-range plan, a state requirement that such assurances must be contained in a rezoning approval.
OTHER MEBANE AREA NEWS:
When will NC 119 construction be complete? https://alamancenews.com/when-will-all-that-road-construction-for-nc-119-bypass-be-completed/
Council praises retiring city manager, sets salary for new one: https://alamancenews.com/david-cheek-retires-as-mebane-city-manager-mayors-councilmen-commend-his-tenure/