Town Council members approved a pair of proposals Thursday that will bring 186 new homes to western Cary, but some construction won’t begin until next year.
The Cary Town Council unanimously approved a rezoning request that allows up to 138 senior living spaces on 46 acres on Indian Wells Road. Separately, the council voted 4-2 to allow 48 homes on 15 acres at the intersection of Turner Creek Road and N.C. 55.
Council members previously expressed concerns that residential development in western Cary is occuring at a faster rate than the development of infrastructure.
Three local schools – Mills Park Elementary, Mills Park Middle and Alston Ridge Elementary – have enrollment caps because they’re crowded. Although the Wake County school board plans to lift the cap on Alston Ridge next year, it plans to impose a new cap on Panther Creek High School, which also is in west Cary.
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Council members approved the development on the Phillips property on Indian Wells Road because they said developers went out of their way to reduce the project’s impact on local schools. Under self-imposed conditions, developers won’t start building more than 10 houses until January 2016, and at least 80 percent of all the homes will have a resident who is 55 or older.
Councilman Ed Yerha said he only supported the project because the age restrictions benefit local schools and seniors. A recent town study showed Cary may not have enough affordable places for seniors to live in the next few years as its population ages.
“I do think we do need housing for that population,” Yerha said.
Council members said they approved the 48-home project, on what’s known as the Herndon Burt property on Turner Creek Road, because developers had dramatically changed their proposal to meet their desires since 120 townhomes were first proposed more than two years ago.
The project could add an additional 36 students to area schools, according to a staff report. Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson and Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said they voted against the project because the homes are too close together.
“I felt like we could do better than a 20-foot setback,” Robinson said after the meeting. “My concern is that it doesn’t create a great living environment.”
Some home buyers aren’t concerned with such issues, Councilwoman Lori Bush said. She noted that Cary residents have reported wanting greater housing diversity.
“I’m thrilled to have something that’s better than it was, and also something different,” Bush said. “Our citizenry wants a variety of housing stock.”
Preparing for Google
The council also unanimously approved a recommendation by town staff to budget $282,900 to prepare its transportation, public works and water resources departments for a fast pace of Google Fiber permitting and construction.
Google Fiber announced in January that Cary is one of seven municipalities in the Triangle, including Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Garner and Morrisville, where the company plans to lay its fiber-optic cable and bring high-speed Internet.
The town estimates there will be 600 miles of fiber throughout the town, starting with 63 miles this Spring, according to the report.
The town is not staffed to handle the significant workload, the staff report says, and has identified the need for consultant services to assist. All but $11,000 of the requested funds will go toward independent contractors, according to Mike Bajorek, deputy Cary town manager.
“Staff did an excellent job by going forward and trying to anticipate ... the workload,” Bush said.
Townhomes, noise talks delayed
The council delayed discussion on a rezoning case, at the developers’ request. It would allow up to 110 townhomes on 23 acres at the intersection of Piney Plains Road and Dillard Drive.
Developers want to remove the current zoning, which allows for office or commercial use, on the site known as the Dellinger property.
But some council members said in a previous meeting that they’re reluctant to sign away one of the few large parcels of land in Cary that’s zoned for commercial and office use.
The council also voted to delay discussion on the town’s rules for operating loud machinery on golf courses early in the morning. Weinbrecht said managers of local golf courses asked to speak to him about potential changes before the council votes on the rules.
Cary rules currently allow golf courses to mow putting greens as early as 6 a.m., as long as the noise from the equipment doesn’t exceed an average of 60 decibels over the duration of a minute.
Some residents who live on golf courses have said the rules are too lenient, while course managers from MacGregor Downs, Prestonwood and Lochmere country clubs say they’re strict enough but need to be re-worded for clarity.
Councilman Jack Smith said he is happy to gather more information before voting because the issue has proved to be contentious. He said he recently heard neighbors engaged in heated arguments over the noise issue.
“I thought three couples were gonna kill another three couples,” he said. “Whatever we decide, this is going to be the Hatfields and the McCoys.”