Increasingly busy area of NC 119 south of I-85/40, near industrial park & new high school, drew traffic concerns
Months of tedious and conciliatory work with neighbors paid off Monday night for LeoTerra developer Buddy Lyons when Mebane’s city council unanimously approved his rezoning request for a large subdivision along NC 119 next to the former Hawfields Presbyterian Home (now Compass Healthcare and Rehab).
[Story continues below graphics of the proposed site for the new Hawfields Landing subdivision between NC 119 and Farrell Road outside Mebane.]
The size of the development had been reduced from 514 units as originally proposed, down to 472 during planning board consideration last month, and, finally, to 436, as presented Monday and approved by the city council.
It will consist of 252 single-family homes and 184 townhouses on about 149 acres that stretches between NC 119 at Kimrey Road through to Farrell Road.
Some of the opponents of the project who spoke during the public hearing were almost apologetic toward Lyons, as they frequently praised him for the accommodations (wider buffers, fewer lots, more space between houses) he had made in response to concerns
[Story continues below photos of some of the opponents who spoke at city council meeting.]
Neighbors still opposed to new subdivision, but some express appreciation to developer for changes he’s made in response to their concerns.
expressed by neighbors – both at two earlier planning board meetings, as well as two neighborhood meetings Lyon had conducted in hopes of persuading the neighbors about the benefit of his subdivision project.
Lyons also committed to contribute $600,000 toward road improvements anticipated along NC 119 – at some combination of the intersection of Trollingwood-Hawfields and Old Hillsborough roads, and where Turner Road intersects with NC 119 beside the cemetery across the street from the Hawfields Presbyterian Church.
In the end, for both neighbors and council members it was almost an issue of a preference of the devil they knew (in the form of Lyon’s most recent plan) as opposed to the devil they didn’t (what he might build if the company didn’t get its rezoning request approved).
Lyons and his attorney, Tom Terrell, raised the possibility that if the rezoning request were to be defeated, Lyons would have the option to build over 200 to 220 homes on the portion of the property not already in the city of Mebane or its ETJ.
“By right,” it was explained, Lyons could construct those houses without requirements for sidewalks (which the city requires, but the county doesn’t); with smaller lot sizes than his newest proposal, less width between houses (which he had increased to the city’s required spacing of 10 feet from property lines, thus 20 feet from a next-door home; narrower buffers; on septic systems, rather than the city’s water and sewer lines; and without any (of the $600,000) contribution toward road improvements.
Plus the city would gain no property tax from a project outside its jurisdiction.
Richard White and his wife Jenna continued to oppose the plan, with Jenna White questioning how there could be a market for $375,000 houses, which is the lowest-priced option Lyons had described.
The newest council member, Katie Burkholder, who is a realtor by profession, added that there just aren’t many houses within Mebane that would be classified as “starter homes” in the $200,000 range.
Janet Ecklebarger and Tara Cole were among those praising Lyons for the accommodations he had made over the months he had discussions with neighbors, although both said their first preference would have been no development.
Councilman Jonathan White may have summarized the council’s level of enthusiasm: “I’m not excited [by the project],” White said, while conceding it was “better than the alternative” [i.e., building in the unincorporated portion of the proposed subdivision].
Councilman Tim Bradley made a similar point in outlining what Lyons could construct (outlined above) if he proceeded in the portion of his property outside the city’s municipal limits.
Another portion of the property within the city was already zoned for commercial development, which was not an attractive prospect to most neighbors.
Ultimately, council members voted 5-0 in favor of the rezoning.
Lyons explained that it would probably be six months before anything would get started at the site and possibly two years before the first homes might be available.
He had suggested that perhaps some of the desired road improvements would be undertaken and completed by DOT by that time, so that neighbors on the back side of the development, which faces Farrell Road, wouldn’t see the traffic congestion there and along Turner Road, that they feared.
As part of the council’s deliberations, they also annexed into the city that portion of the property that was previously outside their jurisdiction.
In a separate motion, they also unanimously agreed to allowing the developer to build a sewer pump station on his property, which would serve not only those in his development, to be known as “Hawfields Landing,” but also other homes (current and future) in the general area.
Read earlier coverage on the consideration of the project by the city’s planning board during April & May meetings: