Two proposed projects near Raleigh-Durham International Airport – an apartment complex and a hotel – are facing scrutiny from the town before they’re approved.
The owners of Perimeter Park want to build a large apartment complex of 250 to 275 units on 30 acres of land just north of the office park. It would be the second apartment complex in Perimeter Park.
A Cumberland County man wants to build a 95-room hotel at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Sorrell Grove Church Road, next to the Cracker Barrel.
With little empty land remaining in town to build on, plans to develop large tracts sometimes draw a more stringent review from Morrisville officials.
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Both projects would affect the area in terms of traffic, and if approved, the developers would have to give Morrisville a combined $15,000 toward a new traffic signal on Airport Boulevard.
The exact location of the signal on Airport Boulevard hasn’t been decided yet. The apartments would increase traffic at the Slater Road intersection, while the hotel would increase traffic at Sorrell Grove Church Road, a few thousand feet away.
The apartment complex poses additional challenges because most of the apartments would be in Wake County while some would be in Durham County, according to preliminary designs. That could cause problem for school assignment, elections and property taxes.
Morrisville officials unanimously approved annexing the apartment property at their last meeting but did not take a vote on the plan itself. The hotel plan also did not come up for a final vote.
The town council will likely vote to approve or deny the projects in late March or early April.
Perimeter Park Apartments
Duke Realty, the company that owns the property set aside for apartments along with the rest of Perimeter Park, is asking the town to approve its master plan – an option Morrisville doesn’t often see.
A master plan would let Duke Realty skip future meetings with and approvals by the town council, needing only to get approval from the town’s staff.
Logisitcal questions about the property line dominated conversation among the board.
For example, one apartment building in the complex might even straddle the county line, making issues of property taxes and school assignments difficult to iron out.
“Next-door neighbors could go to separate schools,” said Courtney Tanner, a senior planner with the town.
It could also be a headache for the Board of Elections. Everyone will vote in Morrisville municipal elections, but some residents would vote in Wake County elections and others in Durham County elections.
Council member TJ Cawley asked why Morrisville can’t initiate talks between Durham and Wake counties to shift the county line so the whole property could be in Wake County.
Frank Gray, Morrisville’s town lawyer, said it’s a complicated process that can’t be done simply through a mutual agreement of the two counties.
“It would take an act of the legislature to change a county line,” Gray said. “And I just don’t see that happening.”
Council member Michael Schlink said other local towns have recently handled multi-county neighborhoods or other developments with no massive setbacks.
“It happens elsewhere,” he said. “Cary is in Chatham County.”
Mayor Mark Stohlman told the developers to come back on March 24 prepared to answer the council’s questions.
“We’ll hear from you next meeting on how you plan to address this,” he said. “Maybe we’re all just confused.”
Uncertainty also surrounds the proposed hotel.
The owner needs the town to issue a special use permit before it can be built. Morrisville staff recommended the permit, but the planning and zoning board did not.
To receive a special use permit, an application has to pass six tests of whether it will negatively affect the area. The hotel application passed five of the six.
But neither the town nor the developer could find any information for the sixth test – whether it would lower the value of neighboring properties.
Tanner said all nearby landowners have been informed of the potential hotel, and no one raised any issues. But she said that still wasn’t enough proof for the planning board.
The owner, Kartik Patel, and local real estate broker Duke Boykin asked the Town Council for more time to come up with specific proof that the hotel wouldn’t damage property values. Most of the properties in the area are restaurants and other hotels, although there are a few homes.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran