QUESTION: Why has a large tract of forested land been cleared along Hanford Road not far from the grounds of Nall Memorial Baptist Church?
ANSWER: The clear cutting operation near Nall Memorial Baptist in Graham is apparently no mystery of faith. Instead, it’s the prelude to a new residential development that promises to add some 249 townhomes to the booming housing market in the Burlington area.
The brainchild of Chapel Hill-based Henson Realty, the plans for this project have already cleared Burlington’s staff-level technical review committee, which signed off on the development’s preliminary plats in February. More recently, the property owner has filed two permit applications with the city for erosion control and infrastructure improvements that are part of the overall plan for the development.
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The site of this particular project comprises just over 65 acres of long-vacant land that lie due east of Hanford Road’s juncture with Old Coach Road. Although this property is situated within Burlington’s municipal borders, it sits along a stretch of Hanford Road where the city limits of Burlington and Graham are interwoven with remnants of unincorporated territory that neither municipality has annexed.
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Information about this particular tract is currently quite hard to obtain from the online repositories of information that Alamance County and the city of Burlington provide for the general public. In fact, there’s next nothing about this property in the county’s tax records – or at least those that can be readily accessed through the county’s geographic information systems (GIS). Nor is there much in the way of specifics in BurlingtonSmart, the city’s online archive for various planning and inspection-related records.
This unusual dearth of detail is apparently the result of a disconnect between the county’s GIS software and the tax office’s computerized records. According to the county’s tax administrator Jeremy Akins, these two systems do, on occasion, sail past each other – particularly when a relatively recent change has occurred in a property’s status.
“Sometimes they uncouple,” he said in an interview, “and I think it’s because something is happening with this parcel.”
Due to this disconnect, the county’s online tax records currently display no information about the development’s proposed site beyond the identification number used by the GIS department. Among the details that are currently inaccessible to members of the public are the property’s size, street address, sales history, and even its present owner.
Akins acknowledged that this glitch has even limited his own direct access to information about the project’s proposed site. He nevertheless managed to coax some of the basics out of the city’s GIS department, including a record of the property’s transfer, which took place on March 5 when the previous owner sold the land to a limited liability corporation based in South Bend, North Carolina for $1 million.
Akins was also able to confirm that the new owner had the original 72-acre tract subdivided in June in order to parcel out about 7 acres that aren’t included in the plans for the residential development.
Information about the proposed development itself is also contained in the preliminary plats that Henson Realty submitted to the city’s planning department for technical review.
These plats, which received a nod from the city’s technical review committee on February 11, delve into everything from the utilities to landscaping for the proposed development, which the plats christen Henley Ridge. These same documents also reveal the prospective configuration of the proposed townhomes – or rather the “single-family attached” dwellings as they’re dubbed in the plats. They, moreover, depict the layout of the development’s street plan and the prospective locations of 571 parking spaces – which average out to just over two and a quarter for each of the development’s dwelling units.
The approval of these plats in February effectively cleared the way for the developer to proceed with the project’s construction. Henson took its first tentative steps toward this goal earlier this month when it applied with the city’s inspections department for permits to allow the development of erosion control and infrastructure improvements. City records indicate that the inspections staff has yet to sign off on either of these two permits.
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