Three residential developments – two approved and one proposed – on High House Road between Carpenter Upchurch Road and N.C. 55 are intensifying neighbors’ worries about increased traffic in the area with as many as 109 new homes being built in the coming years.
The Cary Town Council held a public hearing Thursday, Dec. 10, for the rezoning of 4.14 acres on the north side of High House Road about a third of a mile east of N.C. 55 to allow for a maximum of 12 single-family detached dwellings. The rezoning was referred to the town’s planning and zoning board.
Some residents expressed concerns about the traffic the proposed development would generate in conjunction with the two other residential developments in the same area that were approved in the last two years. The two previously approved developments are expected to have a combined maximum of 97 dwellings.
Berkeley resident Maria Cervania, a former Cary Town Council candidate for District D, said she is most concerned with traffic on High House Road, particularly at the High House and Sir Walker Lane intersection.
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Cervania said while large traffic volumes and some speeding have been problems for awhile, the addition of a median in recent years on state-maintained High House Road in front of the entrances to the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church and the Wellsley subdivision made the roadway more hazardous.
Because of the added median, drivers can’t turn left out of the church lot or adjacent neighborhood. As a result, drivers are making more U-turns, particularly at the intersection in front of the Berkeley subdivision and another Wellsley entrance.
Berkeley resident Shannon Toney said the increased number of U-turns, in conjunction with high traffic volumes, have resulted in several car accidents.
“I don’t believe there have been any fatalities yet, but I can’t image that’s not going to happen in the future,” she said. “It’s a mess.”
Cervania said while she isn’t opposed to the proposed development, she is concerned about the effect of a combined 109 new homes on an already hazardous traffic issue.
Some Berkeley residents, including Cervania, are working with town staff to bring together residents of Berkeley and NCDOT officials to discuss concerns and find a solution. Cervania said she hopes this meeting will include representatives from the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, as well as those from other area subdivisions that could be affected, including Westpark, Wellsley, Hadley Place and Somerset.
Jerry Jensen, the town’s traffic and transportation manager, said one potential solution could be adding a traffic light.
“A lot of work will need to go in what is the appropriate solution to go out there,” he said.
At the meeting, Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson commented on how a traffic study wasn’t required for any of the three rezoning cases.
“This is one of those cases where if it had come in holistically as one parcel, it would have tripped off a traffic study by the applicant, and the applicant would be helping us solve this problem,” she said.
Changing rezoning rules
Earlier this year, the Cary Town Council considered an ordinance amendment that would require developers to complete a traffic study if:
▪ the proposed new zoning district could result in a use that can be expected to generate 10 or more peak hour trips.
▪ land proposed for a rezoning is within 400 feet of property included in an active rezoning case or is included in a rezoning case approved in the last year.
▪ the rezoning of the two properties together would have met the traffic threshold, which is 100 peak hour trips, to require a traffic study.
But during a July work session, the council unanimously moved to make no changes to the ordinance.
“We looked at that,” Councilman Don Frantz said Dec. 10. “We couldn’t find an equitable way to do that.”
But Robinson said she thinks the council should revisit an ordinance amendment.
“I know we looked at it, and we couldn’t figure anything out, but I think it’s still something that needs attention,” she said. “When you have a big problem like this and you have (109) units come in for rezoning within two years, but they don’t trip any kind of traffic study, that’s a problem.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon