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Why has grading work taken so long on Hanford Road?

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QUESTION: What is planned for the land along Hanford Road that has been being cleared and graded for about a year near Nall Memorial Baptist Church?

ANSWER: It might seem like work crews have done little more than stir up some dust in the past year or so since they began to clear land along Hanford Road in preparation for a new townhome development near Burlington’s border with Graham.

But this picture of stasis may be somewhat misleading, given the considerable amount of activity that has apparently occurred behind the scenes to ensure that contractors can finally break ground on this 250-unit endeavor.

From the acquisition of easements to the layout of essential infrastructure, these sundry preliminaries have proven quite time consuming, according to Burlington’s planning manager Conrad Olmedo.

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“This project has a lot of moving pieces, and they’ve been at it for over three years,” he explained in an interview Wednesday. “Right now, they’re not breaking ground because they’re still trying to get their infrastructure permits from [the city’s] inspections [department].”

At this point, these preparatory efforts don’t seem to have had much of an appreciable impact on the development’s 64-acre site, which looks more or less as it did when The Alamance News took its first gander at this project in December of 2021.

The newspaper’s initial account of this project described the proposed vision that its developer – the Chapel Hill-based Henson Realty – had laid out for the now-vacant tract, whose location just down from Nall Memorial Baptist Church lies just on Burlington’s side of the municipal boundary with Graham.

According to plans that Henson filed with Burlington in October of 2020, this property is slated to be transformed into a 249-unit townhouse development dubbed Henley Ridge. In addition to the proposed dwellings, these plans also call for 571 parking spaces and a road network to serve the development – along with water and sewer lines and provisions for drainage and stormwater containment.

These plans ultimately received a nod from a staff-level technical review committee in February of 2021. In the following month, a corporate entity called Hanford Road LLC purchased the project’s 64-acre site from its previous owner for $1 million. Meanwhile, Hanford Reality invested another $2 million to acquire a pair of neighboring parcels that were previously part of a single, 104-acre tract that also included the aforementioned 64 acres.

Over the next several months, Henson obtained permits from the city of Burlington for erosion controls, runoff collection, and infrastructure improvements that allowed contractors to start clearing and grading the development’s site. Yet, this work eventually ground to a halt as the developer found itself scrambling to tie off a number of loose ends that had emerged in the course of the project.

One of these holdups appears to have been the acquisition of an easement to accommodate a new water line for the development. Henson eventually resolved this issue when it secured the necessary easement from Robert Therman and his wife Karlean Grey-Therman in August of 2022.

Another complication seems to have involved the need for secondary access to supplement the development’s main entrance off of Hanford Road. In order to address this matter, Henson sent the city a request in December to extend one of the parcels it owns near the development’s site to include a .75-acre dog leg of land owned by William B. Mills. This proposal, which received a nod from the city on January 5, appears to have given Henson an outlet onto Shamrock Drive, which makes a loop to the south of the development’s site.

In the meantime, Henson has sent the city another request for a permit to build infrastructure for the third and final phase of the three-stage development. This request, which was filed on January 25, appears to key in on the roads that will serve this 83-unit swath of Henley Ridge. The city’s inspections department has not yet taken any action on this request.


 

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