QUESTION: What’s going on with all the clear-cutting near the Ashley Woods subdivision in Elon? Is it true the developer for Owen Park subdivision, which backs up to Ashley Woods, has been clear-cutting a forested area and illegally using a stub road to access the site? Haven’t a bunch of lawsuits been filed over this?
ANSWER: Not exactly.
“We had issued a permit for the road to be extended, with the condition that it not be used for construction purposes, and they had a deadline when they needed to stop using it, [which was] February 4,” Elon town manager Richard Roedner explained this week in an interview with The Alamance News. “They continued to use [Aspen Avenue] for several days until they said they were done.”
Most recently, Elon’s aldermen last week considered – but declined to take action on – a proposed 60-day “moratorium on road connections from adjacent communities” until the town could amend its ordinances to address concerns that Elon residents raised earlier this year, including increased traffic volume, speeding, and wear and tear on nearby Aspen Avenue and Brookview Drive.
Instead, Elon aldermen voted unanimously last Tuesday to approve a temporary road closure of Aspen Avenue, which is within the town of Elon’s jurisdiction.
The temporary road closure that Elon’s board approved last week not only prohibits the developer’s crews from using it to access the Owen Park subdivision – it will prevent anyone from using Aspen Avenue, Roedner explained in the interview. “Nobody is using that road, period,” the town manager said.
The developer, Owen Park Associates, had previously told Gibsonville’s aldermen – when he pitched his plan to the board in December 2020 – that the Owen Park subdivision would use four existing roads as access points: Ashley Woods Drive; Brookfield Drive; Driftwood Drive; and Aspen Avenue.
Three of the four existing roads are within Gibsonville’s jurisdiction, while Aspen Avenue is located entirely within the town of Elon, Roedner confirmed for the newspaper this week, adding that the far end of Aspen Avenue “might cross into Gibsonville before it joins Ashley Woods [Drive].”
Several Elon residents expressed their concerns about the developer’s use of Aspen Avenue during last week’s meeting. “All were supportive of temporary closure,” Roedner said, referring to residents, most of whom he said reside within portions of the Ashley Woods and Brookview subdivisions that are located in Elon’s jurisdiction.
“All raised concerns about the future – what happens if it’s reopened at some point?” Roedner elaborated.
Elon’s town manager said this week that the state law that authorizes North Carolina municipalities to temporarily close roads within their jurisdictions doesn’t impose a time limit. “I don’t believe there’s any restriction under state law as to how long [a temporary] road closure is permitted to remain in effect,” Roedner said Monday.
“It is the town’s right, under state law, to temporarily close any road,” Roedner explained in the interview. “That is certainly within the town’s jurisdiction and authority. That seemed to be the easiest thing to do rather than crafting ordinances” that would address concerns about the use of roads in Elon to connect to subdivisions in other, nearby municipalities, he said.
“I think from my board’s perspective, they’re done,” Elon’s town manager said Monday.
Elon’s board of aldermen hasn’t taken legal action – nor is it contemplating litigation – against the developer, Roedner confirmed for the newspaper.
“The board talked about the merits and made the motion to do a temporary closure,” Roedner said, pointing to an earlier approval of temporary closures for portions of Williamson and West College avenues in downtown Elon in order to create temporary gathering spaces at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. [Elon aldermen subsequently voted late last year to make those closures permanent.]
The other three roads the developer is using to access the site – Ashley Woods Drive, Brookfield Drive, and Driftwood Drive – are within Gibsonville’s municipal jurisdiction.
Roedner said Monday that the preliminary plan the developer for Owen Park provided to Elon town officials shows a fourth road, Spence Avenue, which could be used to access the site.
Meanwhile, the clear-cutting that has been observed in recent months is site preparation for the Owen Park subdivision.
Gibsonville’s board of aldermen voted unanimously in December 2020 to approve a preliminary site plan for Owen Park, which calls for a cluster development with 130 single-family homes, for approximately 1.7 units per acre, on 48.3 acres. A representative for the company, Matt Kirkpatrick, said during the same discussion that the homes will be built by two builders: Nova Triad Homes and Westan Homes.
Gibsonville’s board of aldermen had previously approved rezoning for the Owen Park subdivision in April 2019.
Last month, Gibsonville’s board of aldermen voted unanimously, 4-0, to approve the developer’s request to be annexed into the town’s municipal limits. Voting to approve were: Aldermen Yvonne Maizland; Clarence Owen; Mark Shepherd; and Paul Thompson. Alderman Bryant Crisp, who joined the board in December 2021, was absent from the meeting on March 7, when the board approved annexation for the 48.31-acre site.
The Alamance News was unable to locate any lawsuits filed in Alamance County civil court over the Owen Park subdivision or the developer, Owen Park Associates.
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