By a 5-2 vote, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen rejected the Lloyd Farm development plan, citing concerns that stormwater runoff from the project could worsen flooding in nearby neighborhoods.
Argus Development Group had sought a conditional rezoning of portions of the 40-acre parcel at the corner of Old Fayetteville Road and N.C. 54 to build a 120,400 square foot mixed-use project. It would have featured a Harris Teeter grocery store along with 220 apartments and duplexes aimed at seniors.
Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Alderwoman Bethany Chaney supported the rezoning, noting the developer agreed to offer the town affordable housing, public park land and stringent stormwater controls on site.
Lavelle gave 10 reasons at Tuesday night’s meeting why she thought the project was a good fit for the property, which is one of the last large undeveloped parcels in Carrboro.
“Many in our community would like to see a more urban, dense style of development on this site,” said Lavelle. “I don’t personally disagree with that, but this is our project, and I think it’s a very good one. Many would like for nothing to happen on this site, but the fact is, something is going to happen here, and I think this plan, while not perfect, best meets the goals, objectives and values that our collective community espouses.”
But other board members argued the town can’t risk adding to the flooding problems that already plague residents living by Tom’s Creek. They said the town must first work to improve stormwater infrastructure in the Plantation Acres neighborhood.
“I’m very concerned that the community of neighbors that are surrounding and downstream of this project are already vulnerable,” Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said. “They’re already in a position that is not acceptable.”
Despite the board’s rejection of the mixed-use plan, neighbors and town officials said it’s likely some kind of development will eventually occur on the site. Two of the five parcels that make up the Lloyd Farm property are already zoned for commercial and residential uses, meaning developers could move forward with smaller-scale projects that don’t require special approval by the Board of Aldermen.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist said one factor in her vote against the rezoning was a letter signed by 80 neighbors stating they preferred to take their chances with future developments allowed under the current zoning, rather than see the Lloyd Farm project approved.
Tuesday’s no vote comes after five years of planning, including mediation sessions involving town officials, neighbors and the developers. Board members criticized that process, saying the mediation failed to establish common ground between stakeholders.
Neighbors said they were grateful to the board for rejecting the plan.
“I know how hard this was for the board; I know it was a very difficult decision,” said Lorraine Street resident Mayi Sanchez. “I believe that there will be a better solution and that this board will come to it. They have been very thoughtful and have heard us.”
While residents and elected leaders wait to see what might come next, town officials are moving forward with a plan to establish a dedicated stormwater utility fund to pay for infrastructure improvements, inspection, and maintenance to help mitigate flooding near Tom’s Creek and other areas across Carrboro.
“We’re all working as hard as we can to get our stormwater utility fee going next year,” Lavelle said. “That’s definitely going to happen.”
Town Manager David Andrews told the board last month such a program would likely cost upward of $400,000 each year. Board members will consider hiring a stormwater utility manager and levying an annual stormwater fee during budget negotiations slated to start early next year.