A small piece of wooded land next to Dunham Park and across from Cary High School could become housing for older adults.
Evergreen Construction Company, which has applied to rezone 1.77 acres along Ryan Road, wants to build a four-story building containing 42 apartment units to be occupied exclusively by tenants ages 55 and older.
“We’ve had so many people tell us they wish there was more affordable senior housing,” Councilwoman Lori Bush said at the Town Council’s Dec. 8 meeting. “Willow Creek (Senior Living, on Davis Drive) opened with 53 units and a three-year waiting list.”
Evergreen has offered as a condition of the rezoning to build a greenway on the north side of the property, connecting what’s often referred to as “Dad Park” to Ryan Road, and leave an easement along the property’s west side for a future greenway.
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But Jeff Alsberg, who said he represents about 20 residents who live along Ryan Road and oppose the rezoning, described a list of wide-ranging concerns about the project. The concerns include the height of the building, speeding along Ryan Road, the loss of wildlife habitat, and light and noise pollution for which the facility could be responsible. He also said the area is now the site of various illicit activities for Cary High School students and others.
Alsberg lives across the street from the property.
“This used to be a forest area, and now it’ll have a lit parking lot,” Alsberg said in the Dec. 8 public hearing on the matter. “And imagine the privacy of now having a four- or five-story building looking down into your window. We were told to expect zero change on property value, but who really believes it wouldn’t have any effect?”
In response to the concerns, council members asked the developer to provide drawings demonstrating the building’s visibility and sight lines from various nearby properties.
But council members otherwise agreed with the proposed use as well as the developer’s assertion that the site’s location near the park and the shopping centers along Cary Towne Boulevard make it attractive for senior living.
The need for more senior housing in Cary has been an ongoing issue. The town’s Aging Issues Task Force issued a report in early 2015 that said the town may lack adequate housing for adults who are 65 and older.
Councilman Don Frantz said that the property’s development would take care of whatever crime problems might exist in that patch of woods and not put older adults at risk.
“This will eliminate most of that – that place won’t be there for them to go anymore,” Frantz said. “And if some old lady sees some kids doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, the first thing she’s doing is calling the police or chasing after them with an umbrella.”
The matter was referred to the town’s planning and zoning board and is expected to return to the Town Council for a vote early next year.
The Town Council approved a rezoning to build 40 townhouses on about 8 acres just south of Green Hope High School, a matter that had been tabled twice before.
The rezoning, which had been discussed at length over the past two months, passed by a 4-3 margin, with Mayor Harold Weinbrecht casting the deciding vote.
“I’ve been sitting on the fence for a while,” Weinbrecht said. “But it hurts sitting on the fence, and I’m ready to get off it.”
Council members Lori Bush, Jennifer Robinson and Ed Yerha cast dissenting votes.
Those opposed to the rezoning have said the development’s single access point along Carpenter Upchurch Road would make school-related congestion worse. They have also taken issue with the proposal’s density and lack of connectivity to other properties.
Weinbrecht said while he understands the seriousness of existing traffic problems along Carpenter Upchurch Road, nothing convinced him the development would make that problem substantially worse than it already is nor evidence that denying it would improve the situation.
Instead, he said, the town should redouble its efforts to work with the state to improve traffic conditions in the area.
Since the proposal first came before the council, prospective developer CalAtlantic Homes has agreed to add a pedestrian pathway connecting the property to Green Hope and abide by certain architectural and landscaping conditions designed to mitigate the density of the proposed homes and make the space more liveable.
“This is a better project than it was,” Frantz said. “And I hope that those who vote against this realize that they made it a better project.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan