The Town Council approved Lake Crabtree Apartments Tuesday, a four-story apartment building of 250 units at the corner of Evans Road and Aviation Parkway.
That’s just part of a mini housing boom that’s coming Morrisville, prompting concerns about the complex’s effects on traffic and the town’s already congested roads.
Park West Village, for example, is in the midst of building more apartments, and the Everett Crossing project, which will bring 200 townhomes north of town, is under construction. The Birkshires neighborhood is still under construction, and Kitts Creek recently received approval to expand.
All of the projects are either on N.C. 54 – already the busiest road in town – or down a side road that’s a short drive away from the highway. Elsewhere, the town also recently approved 250 to 275 new apartments at Perimeter Park.
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There are several other residential projects still awaiting approval in Morrisville, and Cary has also given the OK to hundreds of new apartments along N.C. 54, just south of the Morrisville border.
On Tuesday the Lake Crabtree Apartments project, proposed by Maryland-based Bainbridge Companies, was approved in a 6-1 vote. Council member Michael Schlink, who opposed it, said Morrisville already has too many apartments.
“We are going for a small-town feel here,” he said in an interview later. “And just by definition, people in apartments are a little more transient.”
Plus, the complex means an estimated 1,336 vehicles coming and going each day, according to town estimates.
At the town’s Aug. 11 meeting, Schlink also was the only one to oppose rezoning land near Perimeter Park from medium density residential, which could be used for a typical neighborhood, to office space.
“We need more home ownership in Morrisville,” he said at the time. “And the latest census figures, going back the past few decades, indicate Morrisville is one of the few towns in Wake County that has more people renting than (owning a home).”
Before the council voted to approve the new apartments Tuesday, officials engaged in a lengthy battle over Bainbridge Companies’ request to build a less expensive road project that would lead into the Lake Crabtree Apartments.
Town rules require the developer to pay for Evans Road – which ends at Aviation Parkway – to be extended about a fifth of a mile into what’s now woods.
Morrisville originally wanted it to be six lanes. The developer requested permission to make the road four lanes, and town staff said they also thought four lanes would be enough, until at least 2040.
After more than an hour of discussion, the town council voted 4-3 to allow the request for four lanes. Mayor Mark Stohlman and council members Vicki Scroggins-Johnson, Liz Johnson and Kris Gardner voted yes.
Schlink, Steve Rao and TJ Cawley voted no.
The work is valued at about $200,000. Eventually it will be the endpoint of a $25 million project the town and the state are partnering on – an extension of McCrimmon Parkway that will loop east and then south from N.C. 54 and connect with Evans Road. The full project is scheduled to be complete in 2020 or 2021.
Cawley said he wants six lanes so turning traffic could move more freely. He said there are too many roads in Morrisville that wouldn’t have been as congested if someone had considered putting in turn lanes when the road was built.
“I don’t want people 20 years from now saying, ‘Oh it would’ve been nice to have a turn lane here,’ ” Cawley said.
Richard Adams, an engineer representing the Maryland-based developers, said the traffic analysis shows that very few of the 1,336 car trips from the new apartment will be during rush hour.
“It’s a very tiny benefit,” he said of adding turn lanes.
The traffic analysis showed an estimated 102 trips in the morning rush hour and 128 trips in the evening rush hour.
Schlink said he also is weary of not asking for a six-lane road, but his objection is in anticipation of other developers asking for similar exceptions in the future.
“I just think the next development’s going to come in and say, ‘Well you did it there, why aren’t you doing it for us?’ ” Schlink said.
He later said he feared such a scenario could lead to either lower-quality roads or a lawsuit.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran