L-shaped lot with entrance on North Marshall, exit on East Elm would have 13 residential units, one or two store fronts, surrounding city parking lot
A company that is owned by four local people, including Graham mayor Jennifer Talley and her husband Chuck Talley, is proposing a unique combination of residential and commercial zoning on two lots of less than an acre in downtown Graham.
The gated project would wrap around two sides of the city’s municipal parking lot at the corner of East Elm and North Marshall streets.
Chad Huffine, a civil engineer representing the LLC that owns the land and requested a rezoning in order to complete the project, made the presentation for a zoning change to Graham’s planning board Tuesday night.
Huffine was himself the newest member of the planning board, appointed last month by the county’s commissioners to be one of two members representing the extraterritorial areas of Graham (i.e., outside the municipal limits but within the city’s zoning purview). Huffine has also been an active and vocal opponent of the large-scale warehouse projects along Cherry Lane, near where he lives.
So at his first meeting, Huffine was required to step away from the dais – to be recused from participation by the four other board members present – in order to take on the role of advocate for the project at the planning board podium.
Under the plans Huffine presented, there would be four buildings – three entirely residential, in townhouse style (with two stories each), with two, four, and five units in each, respectively (a total of 13 residential units, each with two bedrooms). There would be 24 parking spaces, some angled and others parallel to the brick wall along the permimeter behind the existing Harden Street homes.
[Story continues below layout of the development.]
A brick wall, six to eight feet tall, would surround the project, shielding existing homeowners along West Harden Street and commercial properties on East Elm Street, from the project.
A fourth building would have 2,000 feet of commercial space below, with two, 1,000-square-feet residential spaces above. This building, a so-called “live-work” space, would face East Elm Street, across from the Rich & Thompson Funeral Home, and beside the parking lot for South Court Drug and Crissman Family Practice.
Planning director Justin Snyder recommended in favor of the rezoning request: “Staff feels that this zoning request would be in character with the downtown and surrounding residential and business uses as a transitional infill use,” he summarized to planning board members.
Huffine showed three alternative exterior facades for the potential residential buildings.
Planning board member Eric Crissman said he did not like options B or C, suggesting that they be struck from the acceptable conditions of the rezoning, and he ultimately made a motion to do so. Under the conditional residential and conditional business rezoning designations that were sought, the developer must specify in detail the exact parameters of the construction he intends.
Crissman said that Option A, with a brick facade, was “more attuned to the downtown” landscape.
Huffine, for instance, showed that the plan calls for entering the residential portion of the complex through a gate off of North Marshall Street. A large elm tree is at what would be a critical entrance into the development.
City standards require a 20-foot entrance, but Huffine said he feared anything wider than 16-feet might cause the tree either to die or have to be removed. He said he had submitted, and would abide by, the 20-foot standard, but city officials needed to recognize that doing so may cost a large, mature tree.
Huffine said the 16 residential units would be for sale, not for rent.
At one point, Huffine described the organization seeking the permit, Square Miler Holdings, LLC, as being run by Chuck Talley and Chris Barrow.
However, records on file with the North Carolina Secretary of State add that Chuck Talley’s wife, Jennifer Talley, now Graham’s mayor, is one of the four “managing members” of the company. In fact, state records on file in Raleigh list Jennifer Talley as the “registered agent” of the company. Christopher Barrow and his wife April Ayers Barrow are two other managing members, along with Chuck Talley.
Crissman ultimately motioned to put conditions on the look of the townhouses, adding some requirements for signage on the city parking lot restricting residents from using the lot for overnight parking. His motion failed for lack of a second.
In response to a question from an Alamance News reporter, Crissman disavowed any potential conflict simply because his brother, retired physician Mark Crissman of Burlington, owns the business lot beside the proposed development.
The motion to recommend approval for the project was ultimately approved 3-1, with Crissman opposed. Planning board chairman Dean Ward and planning board members John Wooten and Michael Benesch voted in favor. Board members Tony Bailey and Jerome Bias were absent.
The entrance to the project would be at 105 North Marshall Street, with the exit at 206 East Elm Street.
The project is directly across Marshall Street from another new, novel downtown project for Graham, 106 North (named for its location at 106 North Marshall Street), an estimated $3.4 million project on the drawing board being developed by builder and former city councilman Lee Kimrey and businessman Jason Cox, who has renovated several historic downtown properties.
The Kimrey-Cox project envisions a three-story building of 30,000 square feet, with mixed use: There would be four business storefronts on the first floor (with between 2,200 to 2,500 square feet each) and 24 one-bedroom loft apartments on the second and third floors, each with about 650 to 800 square feet.
MEMORIAL DAY COMMEMORATIVE SPECIAL SECTION – FREE with your one- or two-year subscription to The Alamance News between now and May 31, 2022. Eighteen years ago, in 2004, we published, “A Look Back: Wartime Remembrances of Local Veterans,” with recollections of more than 40 local veterans about their World War II service – in Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. We have some copies still available.
Most of the veterans are gone now, but their stories and wartime experiences are still memorable and interesting. From two veterans who were at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked Dec. 7, 1941, to those who were POW’s, to one who was on the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945, there are plenty of historic experiences, humorous anecdotes, and scary episodes.
Most disavowed any credit for their service to the country and blushed at being called a “hero,” but they were a part of “the greatest generation” in American history.
Alamance County veterans, many in their 70’s and 80’s at the time, were interviewed in 2003 and early 2004, shortly before the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
We’re now making that special edition available FREE with a new or renewal subscription (for one or two years) WHEN YOU COME INTO THE NEWS OFFICE, 114 West Elm Street, Graham. For those who call us – at (336) 228-7851 – and want your copy mailed, please include an additional $3.00.
In Alamance County, one year in print and online = $50; two years = $79. For print-only (in Alamance County), one year = $35; two years = $53.