Hearings set for apartment projects

By Tom Joyce

March 7, 2014

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners has approved public hearings for March 20 affecting separate apartment complexes representing more than 100 units of new housing combined — but it had no choice.

One of the projects is targeted for the South Franklin Road area, behind property on the west side of that road facing the State Employees Credit Union.

The proposed Stonebrooke Terrace development would provide 60 apartment units, spread out into 15 quadruplexes on an 11-acre tract.

And while some welcome the prospects of new housing, that’s not the case for property owners in the affected area, about 15 of whom attended a Feb. 24 meeting of the Mount Airy Planning Board to express concerns.

It, and now the commissioners, became involved because the Charlotte firm seeking to develop the apartments is asking that the zoning for the construction site be changed from R-20 (single-family residential) to a conditional-use R-6 classification.

That would permit a general residential (including multi-family) use on the property, which is not in the city limits but within an ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction) boundary where Mount Airy has zoning control.

However, the planning board voted 6-0 not to recommend the rezoning. Among its reasons for doing so was that the project would have a negative effect on surrounding properties — which are mostly single-family residences — and increase traffic in the area.

But the Charlotte firm opted to take the matter to the commissioners, who were faced Thursday night with setting a public hearing for March 20, a requirement for the rezoning.

This prompted Commissioner Shirley Brinkley to ask if her board was required to do so in light of the fact that the planning board had rejected the request.

“You do have to,” city planner Andy Goodall said of setting the public hearing. As an advisory group to the commissioners, the planning board lacks final authority in the matter with its recommendations not binding. And as explained by Goodall, the procedure now under way by the commissioners involves providing due process to the developer.

Factory Street Project

The vote by the commissioners to set a public hearing for the rezoning request involving the 60-unit complex was unanimous, as well as another vote to set a March 20 hearing for the second, 56-unit apartment project targeted for Factory Street.

Both hearings will be conducted during a meeting of the commissioners which begins at 7 p.m.

Unlike the other project, the Lovills Glen Senior Apartments proposed for property on Factory Street — geared toward persons 55 and older — drew the favor of the planning board.

Wesley Community Development Corp. in Huntersville is seeking to have a 5.8-acre site there rezoned from its present M-1 (industrial) zone to an R-6 general residential classification to permit the new housing.

That effort also has spawned concern from neighboring property owners, but the sentiment among planning board members when weighing the rezoning on Feb. 24 was that an apartment complex would be much less disruptive than the industrial uses now allowed.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.