Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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Graham, NC 27253
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Planning board on rezoning proposal for townhomes: too dense, insufficient parking

Mebane planning board members threw cold water on a developer’s proposal to rezone about 25½ acres along Ben Wilson Road (at the intersection with Bowman Road) on the outskirts of Mebane in western Orange County in order to build 162, 3-bedroom townhouses.

Tim Smith with Summit Design in Hillsborough appeared before the planning board to explain the project, Meadowstone Townhomes. The intended builder, he explained, is Capital City Homes, the same builder of other houses and townhouses along nearby Bowman Road, including 55 townhouses directly across the street from the additional ones.

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The same builder, Capital City Homes, is building another townhouse subdivision (with 55 townhouses) just across Ben Wilson Road from the proposed, much larger proposed townhouse subdivision with 162 townhouses.In response to a question from the board, Smith said he felt that the price ranges for the apartments would be in the range of $225,000 to $250,000.

But various requested waivers of the city’s normal building requirements raised concerns for planning board members. “Every waiver brings a red flag for me,” said Larry Teague, a planning board member representing the extraterritorial areas of Alamance County which is near the proposed Orange County townhouse subdivision. “Traffic is terrible,” he said, adding, “I think we have a problem [with traffic].”

Lori Oakley, another planning board member, honed in on the request to waive the parking requirements for the project.

The city’s standards for parking normally require 2½ spaces per 3-bedroom apartment, but the developer was proposing just 2.

“There is not sufficient parking,” Oakley said. She said while she could understand being a few spaces short, she said the project was “deficient by 62 parking spaces.” She pressed, “Where are visitors going to park?” Where are teenagers going to put a [third] car?

Oakley also questioned the wisdom of having such a dense zoning designation in an area on Mebane’s “periphery.”

The combination of the lack of parking and the density of the zoning request prompted Oakley to recommend against the rezoning request. All members agreed with her motion, voting 5-0 to recommend against the project to the city council.

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