After a year of steady subdivision approvals, it was a quiet summer for development in Clayton. But now a developer proposes a 154-lot subdivision that could offer an important puzzle piece in securing the much-talked-about but still stagnant Southern Connector.
The proposed Village at Little Creek would really be built for the Clayton of the future. Situated on 44 acres, the subdivision would be divided essentially in two, with space left in the middle for the eventual Southern Connector, a planned roadway aimed at making land south of U.S. 70 Business more accessible.
Developer Bill Zahn of Triangle Realty and engineer Michael Crowley of CAA Engineers plan to build 154 homes directly to the west of Cobblestone Place, another large southern development built with the connector in mind. The lots would be about a quarter-acre in size, with the homes ranging from 1,450 to 3,000 square feet.
The development would be in two phases, north and south, and based on zoning requirements, 12.5 percent of the land would be left as open space. Zahn and Crowley are planning a dog park, walking trails, two playgrounds and storm-water ponds for birdwatching and fishing. Homes bordering walking trails would have limits on the height of privacy fences, which town planner Jay McLeod said would ensure a safer environment.
“You can maintain that visual openness that creates a sense of safety in those areas,” McLeod said. “There’s nothing worse than having an open space area where everyone walls off 6-foot privacy fences and it feels like a weird canyon.”
Dividing the two sections of homes will be a 110-foot easement for the Southern Connector, which McLeod noted was a significant portion of land to set aside. The developer seemed happy to do it though, believing that when the route is built, it will make the neighborhoods more desirable.
Planning board chairman Frank Price expressed some skepticism that the Southern Connector will ever move beyond the conceptual phase. But he said that if it’s ever going to happen, new developments offering up significant right-of-way could get it done.
“I’m not sure it’ll happen in my lifetime, maybe in others’,” Price said. “Cobblestone, of course, is a neighbor with right-of-way. It being available could hasten the project.”
Zahn hopes Clayton will continue to pursue the route. “That road would be a positive for Clayton,” he said. “If you look at Cary and Apex, the Cary Parkway really helps with traffic.”
This area of Clayton, off of Barber Mill and Dairy roads, represents kind of a transitional district for the town. The area has some rural estates and several larger-lot developments, but Cobblestone and Creekside Commons are two high-density neighborhoods looking to satisfy the projected housing demand coming to Clayton in the years ahead. The Village at Little Creek is more in that camp, and at a neighborhood meeting held last month, Crowley said, not all neighbors welcomed a high-density subdivision.
“I came back with some bruises, but not particularly bloody,” Crowley said. “There were some concerns; nobody wants this in their backyard, we all get that. Everybody in the meeting realized they don’t own this property, so something is going to happen. They also realize there is a big, giant road being planned right through the middle of it, and this is a residential solution for what could be in the future a commercial area. I think everyone at the neighborhood meeting understood those basic things.”
The neighborhood meeting attracted 24 people, 19 of whom are nearby residents. Minutes from the meeting show residents were concerned about traffic and utility connectivity, as the proposed development will be on town water and sewer and the surrounding homes are on septic and well systems. Zahn echoed Crowley’s assessment of the meeting, feeling like many of the concerns were acknowledged and addressed.
“Most of the neighbors seemed to accept it at the end of the meeting; that while they’d still like to see the horses and cows out there, change is coming,” Zahn said.
McLeod noted that the development proposes greater than required buffers between its neighbors. Crowley said on the northern side of the property, bordering Brittany Woods, he plans landscaping between the developments. Along Horseman’s Ridge Drive to the south, he will build a Class C buffer, which means a fence.
The planning board backed the proposal, which now goes to the town council.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson