The Town Council primarily focused on lingering concerns about future density in southwestern Cary at one of its last meetings before the adoption process begins later this year for the new Cary Community Plan, which will guide growth through 2040.
The Sept. 22 discussion centered around the Green Level Special Planning Area, which mostly includes southwestern Cary between Chatham County and Interstate 540. This is part of the town’s 25-year vision plan that Cary leaders, board members, consultants and residents have spent more than three years crafting.
Council members emphasized their desire for low density and open space in southwestern Cary, but there were differing opinions on how to achieve this goal.
The council previously discussed requiring no more than three units per acre closer to I-540 and no more than two-and-a-half units per acre closer to Chatham County.
But last week, town staff recommended removing this requirement from the plan and instead designating housing in this area as “contemporary neighborhoods,” which would be “overwhelmingly single-family, detached” homes with lot sizes of a quarter acre or larger.
Under this proposal, Scott Ramage, a town principal planner, said the density of the area would come out to be about the same as the council’s vision. As lot sizes exceed a quarter-acre, there usually isn’t more than two-and-a-half units per acre.
These options include potentially allowing a majority single-family home development with a pocket of townhomes to be built. This would not be allowed under the town’s current plan.
“I kind of see it as what we are going for,” councilman Don Frantz said. “Giving them flexibility but still getting what we want.”
Other council members preferred having a maximum density requirement rather than a minimum lot size requirement.
Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said she was worried that not limiting density could lead to higher populations than originally anticipated and a greater impact on area infrastructure.
“My fear is that if we relax this too much and we don’t put our expectations around it carefully, we’re going to end up having the same densities that we have up on the northern part (of Cary) come down into the southern part ... and we are going to far exceed that population that we expected,” she said.
Councilman Ed Yerha agreed, saying that area was intended to have “more of a rural nature.”
Staff will return to council with examples of how the recommendation would play out in a real-life scenario.
Area residents can comment on the entire plan at a public hearing scheduled for a Nov. 10 council meeting. The town’s planning and zoning board will consider the community plan on Dec. 19, and the council likely will take a vote on it in January.
The Eastern Cary Gateway Special Planning Area, which is a part of the future Cary Community Plan, already is working its way through the adoption process. The council decided to expedite this piece earlier this year because of developer interest in the area.
On Thursday, the council also requested clarification from staff on recommended changes to the town’s transportation plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2008. One of these changes include changing the plan for Holly Springs Road from four lanes to six lanes from Tryon Road to the southwest boundary of Cary.
“This is primarily a lot of clean-up things,” said Lori Cove, the town’s director of transportation and facilities.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon