Saturday, October 23, 2021

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Neighbors object to proposed industrial zoning along Maple Avenue (NC 49)

Burlington’s city council considered a request from Christopher Powell for light industrial zoning on three residential parcels along Maple Avenue during its semi-monthly meeting Monday night.  They heard the developer’s plans and neighborhood opposition; the council did not make a final decision, but scheduled to vote on the rezoning at its May 4 meeting.

This 6.5-acre swath, which is situated a short distance south of the interstate, is located alongside existing industrial property that Powell’s family owns. The request consequently received an endorsement from city staff members. The proposal didn’t fare nearly as well with Burlington’s planning and zoning commission, which voted 4-to-3 to recommend its denial after a hearing in March that drew multiple objections from residents of a nearby subdivision.

Lawson Brown, an attorney with Burlington’s Vernon Law Firm, presented the request on Powell’s behalf during the hearing on Tuesday. He informed the council that his client’s family already manages the three homes that now stand on the land slated for rezoning. He added that the proposed change to industrial use is consistent with much of the property along this same stretch of Maple Avenue. Brown said that his client has also reached out to the residents of the nearby Mapleview Condos in an attempt to allay their concerns about his intentions.

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Brown conceded that some nearby residents have voiced concerns about the traffic that the change to industrial zoning may generate. The attorney nevertheless added that the potential vehicle volume would be much greater should his client opt for a residential designation rather than the proposed industrial zoning.

“It is worth noting that the use which is contemplated in the zoning plan would have much lower traffic counts than would be possible under median density residential,” he said.

“From my observations of the Powell family, this is something they will develop and keep,” the attorney added, reminding the council that Christopher Powell is the son of former county commissioner and Burlington city council member Sam Powell.

Powell’s family credentials nevertheless held less sway with the several residents of the Mapleview Condos who called in to Tuesday’s digital meeting to share their thoughts on this rezoning request with the council.

Richard Tervelt and his wife Bonnie noted that their neighborhood’s homeowners association had submitted a letter that summed up their objections to the rezoning request. “We wanted to go on record to say that we want it to remain residential,” Richard Tervelt went on to inform the council.

Carl Thompson echoed the Tervelt’s preference for residential development before he revealed the proposed use that Powell has privately shared with neighboring residents.

“We think it will negatively affect our property values when you look across the street and see a large storage facility.”

Gloria Campbell likewise said the property should remain residential in character. Campbell said that she and her neighbors have stuck to this position despite Powell’s outreach to the residents of Mapleview Condos.

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