Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Planning board recommends OK for 1,056 new apartments; traffic, water & sewer concerns passed on to city council


Graham could potentially get another large apartment complex, this one at the Jimmie Kerr Road exit on the current outskirts of the city.

The planning board heard a presentation Tuesday night from two developers who are eyeing the 52 acres off Truby Drive, behind the Flying J/Pilot truck stop and Days Inn, for a potential apartment complex with 1,056 apartments.

The 52 acres is tucked in behind the Flying J/Pilot truck stop and Days Inn off Jimmie Kerr Road (Exit 150). Part of the property would front I-85/40 while the side is bounded by the Haw River.

Based on a drawing submitted to the planning board, the acreage could have 22 separate three-story buildings with 24 apartments in each building. George T. Webb, IV told the planning board that the configuration would allow 50 percent of the apartments to be two-bedroom, with one-quarter each for one- and three-bedroom.

This is the layout of 22 buildings, with 24 apartments in each, that was shown to the planning board this week.

Webb, who is involved in commercial construction and development in the Asheville area, is a Graham native and the son of G. Travers Webb, III, who had a separate item on Tuesday night’s agenda. [See separate story in this week’s edition.] Webb III was also listed as the requester for this rezoning, but he did not speak on it, leaving it to his son and others.

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George Webb and John Burton, a local developer, were requesting that the acreage be rezoned from its current industrial designation for multifamily housing to accommodate the apartment complex.

Some discussion focused on the traffic congestion at the exit which now supports two truck stops as well as the Days Inn at the corner of Jimmie Kerr Road and Truby Drive, which would serve as the entrance into the apartment complex. The complex itself would run behind the truck stop on the western side of the road, historically known as the Flying J, but now operating under the dual name of Flying J and Pilot, and facing I-85/40.

Concerns with traffic along Jimmie Kerr Road, which is already home to two truck stops, were one area of concern for planning board members this week about 1,056 proposed apartments being built in the same area.

City planner Nathan Page had recommended against the rezoning “at this point” while awaiting both a traffic study on the project’s potential impact on the busy Jimmie Kerr Road corridor and an assessment of the degree to which the city’s water and sewer capacity would need to be expanded to accommodate the apartments.

But Webb and Burton, as well as their engineer, Chad Huffine, pressed that it would be useful to find out information about how much it might cost for traffic upgrades and potentially for water and sewer upgrades, as well.

Planning board members generally agreed, also arguing that the city council will ultimately be responsible to decide if either the traffic or water and sewer issues are sufficient to slow or reject the project altogether.

Page, for instance, said that particularly vulnerable would be the city’s water and sewer capacity to serve an additional 1,056 apartments. The current zoning, for industrial use, could likely be supported by the existing utility infrastructure, but not that much additional residential, Page added.

Discussion focused on the fact that the city’s pump station located along the Haw River just off NC 54 would need additional capacity to serve the potential apartment complex.
At one point, Page used a figure of $10 million for the additional costs that might be needed, but Webb said he thought it would be far less.

Graham’s Haw River pump station, off NC 54, would likely need to have its capacity expanded in order to accommodate the new apartments, according to city planner Nathan Page.

Burton, in particular, wanted to know who would bear the expense for the additional utility capacity; Page said the developer would traditionally pay for some portion of any expanded capacity that the city undertook.

Huffine stressed that it “was critical for us to know the current capacity” of the water and sewer for the area.

Board members ultimately agreed with the developers that there would be little to no incentive for the city to work on any of the analysis of water and sewer capacity, or for the developer to undertake a traffic study, unless there were indications that the city was willing to see the project move ahead.

Vice chairman Justin Moody ultimately motioned to approve the rezoning, which passed unanimously. Joining him were members Tony Bailey, Michael Benesch, Eric Crissman, Bobby Chen, Nate Perry, and board chairman Dean Ward.

The rezoning request will be on the city council’s agenda for its February 9 meeting.

See other Graham news from this week’s edition:

City council approves two subdivisions – one for 200 single-family homes, another for 105 townhouses (Jan. 21, 2021 edition)

Planning board recommends commercial rezoning near interstate (Jan. 21, 2021 edition):

Graham’s city manager leaving for Montgomery County (Jan. 21, 2021):

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