Friday, April 12, 2024

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Neighbors voice opposition to new residents “cutting through” their subdivisions

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A succession of residents, mostly from two subdivisions next to a proposed infill project along Mebane Oaks Road, came to the podium Monday night to express concerns during the city council’s consideration of the rezoning request for a major project that would be built along Mebane Oaks Road but back up to and have a connection to their subdivisions.

While the dozen or so Arbor Creek and Manorfield neighbors who were uniformly opposed to the project, the council ultimately found a way to approve the project, but, hopefully, satisfy the most strenuous aspects of the neighbors’ objections: they removed the connections between the subdivisions.

Neighbors feared that even the reconfigured project – revised after the planning board gave the original version a thumbs down, 5-2 – would end up with traffic coming from the apartments and single-family homes in the new Evolve subdivision, “cutting through” their subdivisions to reach Old Hillsborough Road.

Under the developer’s plan, the main thoroughfare running beside the apartment complexes and the single family homes would have connected to Longleaf Pine Place, which runs into the Manorfield subdivision and then continues through the Arbor Creek subdivision before reaching Old Hillsborough Road. Immediately after entering Manorfield, a left turn onto Sweet Gum Way would provide another potential exit onto Old Hillsborough Road.

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Many of the neighbors had first voiced similar concerns during the planning board’s consideration of the project in July.

Brenda Buchanan said the new subdivision would “add undue traffic on Mebane Oaks Road and Old Hillsborough Road,” causing “irreparable harm to the community.”

Brenda Buchanan

In particular, she said parents taking their children to and from nearby schools would have a terrible traffic challenge getting onto Old Hillsborough Road.

“Why do you want to build so much?” Louise Bryan asked the council rhetorically. “Are you out of touch with citizens in Mebane?”

Louise Bryan

She also warned that Sweet Gum Way “is a drag strip” already, even before the additional traffic she fears would come through from the Evolve subdivision.

She questioned, “Why does [the new subdivision] have to attach to our neighborhood?” adding that doing so would be “burdensome” to existing residents.

A similar point was made by a nearby Longleaf Pine Place neighbor who suggested the Evolve road end with a cul de sac instead of connecting to the Manorfield subdivision.

Another Longleaf Pine Place resident, Jim Shaw, said the Evolve residents would inevitably decide to “scoot out to Old Hillsborough Road” through the Manorfield and Arbor Creek subdivisions.

Jim Shaw

Likewise Stan Kessler questioned why the new residents would need to be “‘funneled’ through our neighborhood.”

Stan Kessler

Dr. Arlinda Ellison worried about looking into the backyards of new residents, and them looking into hers. “I don’t want this in my backyard,” she said.

Dr. Arlinda Ellison

Barbara Morris raised the specter that Mebane’s “charm has begun to decline” as a result of too much development.

Barbara Morris

Members of the audience hooted and guffawed their disapproval of the developer’s traffic engineer when he suggested that residents of Arbor Creek and Manorfield would just as likely, if not more likely, use the Evolve road to reach Walmart or Mebane Oaks Road as Evolve residents would use their streets as a shortcut to Old Hillsborough Road.

The developer’s attorney, Amanda Hodierne, given a chance to respond to the neighbors’ onslaught of criticism, said the developer “would be amenable to a cul de sac,” as one resident had suggested, “rather than connectivity,” which the city usually requires.

At the planning board meeting, she had emphasized that the developer included the connection to Longleaf Pine Place at the insistence of city planning department officials.

Ultimately, city council members agreed to terminate the Evolve subdivision road as a “stub” rather than connect to Longleaf Pine Place. [See separate story this edition: https://alamancenews.com/revised-infill-project-gets-more-favorable-reception-from-council-than-earlier-version-got-at-planning-board/.] They also decided that would allow more future flexibility than building a cul de sac at that location.

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