For the second time in two months, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen delayed a vote on rezoning two parcels of land at the Lloyd Farm site on the corner of N.C. 54 and Old Fayetteville Road.
Board members on Tuesday said they needed more time to review a recent traffic study and consider if the developer’s proposed stormwater-mitigation standards will be enough to reduce flooding in nearby neighborhoods.
Argus Development Group, LLC plans to build a Harris Teeter grocery store, along with duplexes, 220 units of senior housing, and retail and office space on the 40-acre site, one of the largest undeveloped parcels in town.
Several board members said there’s a lot to like about the proposal, including a stipulation that the developer offer $743,000 as a payment in lieu of providing affordable units on site. The applicant would also have the choice to either pay an additional $250,000 in the future, or designate some of the rental properties as affordable housing.
“There’s some features of it that could be really beneficial to the town,” said Alderwoman Bethany Chaney. “It is a very unique opportunity for us to make some progress on our affordability goals, and we have a number of different tools now that are on the table to do that. That's one thing that is really attractive to me about what's being offered.”
Still, board members want project planners to do more to show residents and town officials the development will not worsen the flooding that has plagued Plantation Acres and nearby neighborhoods for years.
Residents told the board a hard rain is all that’s needed to overflow culverts and send Tom’s Creek, which runs through the western edge of Carrboro, flooding into backyards. They worry a new strip mall and parking lot will drive more water their way, overwhelming stormwater infrastructure they say is already insufficient to handle major storms.
It is a very unique opportunity for us to make some progress on our affordability goals.
Bethany Chaney, Board of Aldermen member
Aldermen and members of the public urged the developer to commit to designing stormwater retention devices that can handle a 100-year flood, and to do so before the town signs off on a conditional use permit.
“Instead of getting a conditional use permit and say, ‘We’re going to tell you what the plan is afterwards,’ given the lack of trust and all the problems, how about we see the plan ahead of time so we’re convinced this is actually going to work out?” asked Plantation Acres resident Aja Keheller.
Ted Barnes, a partner with Argus Development Group, responded that stormwater engineering plans can cost upward of $50,000, a lot to spend before a project is approved.
“That set of plans takes time and is a $50,000 to $70,000 operation,” said Barnes. “The concern simply is, that we draw those, then there in the CUP phase, if we get that far, something changes.”
He said the best way to build trust with neighbors would be to agree to regular inspection and maintenance of stormwater management facilities, either by town officials or an independent third party.
The board will vote on the rezoning request Dec. 6. In the meantime, town staffers will spend the next month nailing down details of the stormwater plan, and negotiating with the state Department of Transportation to see if adjustments can be made to N.C. 54 to allow greater access to the proposed shopping center.