Changes to a proposed 2,200-home subdivision in Clayton didn’t satisfy many neighbors who’ll live just north of the large neighborhood.
After residents of Ole Mill Stream and Smith Ridge Estates complained that the proposed subdivision would connect to four streets in their neighborhoods, Steeplechase developer Wakefield Development Co. worked with Town of Clayton planners to cut two of the connections and make the other two accessible only to first responders.
Clayton Planning Director Dave DeYoung said he asked the developer to include the connections, which would create additional accesses to the existing neighborhoods in the case of an emergency. But the neighbors, whose subdivisions are just outside the town limits, said they want nothing to do with Steeplechase, which will have a denser layout of homes.
During a special meeting on Thursday, neighbors liked the idea of fewer connections to their streets, but many preferred a different type of special access for first responders. Instead of a “turf paver” that looks like a grassy area only firefighters and paramedics can use, several neighbors asked that the developer install gates.
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Other neighbors didn’t want any connections at all.
“You’re talking about bringing the town into county property,” said Smith Ridge resident Thomas VonCannon. “We don’t need Clayton to tell us how to do our business and run our families.”
“We respectfully decline the offer of having your services,” VonCannon added.
Last month, the Clayton Planning Board delayed action on Steeplechase after first hearing gripes from neighbors. Wakefield Development agreed to hold the special meeting Thursday to try to ease some of their concerns and also answer questions.
Some questions don’t have answers yet. Among them: When will the developer have to make traffic improvements to mitigate more cars on the roads?
A town-required traffic study recommended more than 60 upgrades to the roads surrounding the proposed neighborhood, between Covered Bridge and City roads on the north side of town. The N.C. Department of Transportation asked for 36 additional improvements. DeYoung said the town has its own set of traffic wishes and is working with the DOT and the developer to sync when the upgrades will be needed.
Neighbors also raised concerns about the new subdivision’s compatibility with their neighborhood. Some asked for greater buffers between Steeplechase and their homes.
In Ole Mill Stream and Smith Ridge Estates, homes sit on lots that range from one acre to nearly 10 acres. Steeplechase, which will have a mix of singe-family homes, town houses and apartments, would be more dense, with a maximum of four homes per acre.
“We don’t want cookie-cutter neighborhoods around us,” said neighbor Kelli McKenna.
“That’s why we live in this type of neighborhood and this part of Clayton,” McKenna added. “If we wanted to live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood, we would go to Riverwood and LionsGate.”
In addition to the homes, Wakefield Development’s 630-acre project would include a commercial node on about 10 acres, a 26-acre school site and about 65 acres of open space for an extension of Sam’s Branch Greenway, private greenways and small parks.
The land, owned by the Earp family, used to host a hot-air balloon festival and horse racing.
The Planning Board will next discuss Steeplechase at its Feb. 23 meeting.
The Town Council will hear a presentation about Steeplechase at its work session at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, but council is not expected to vote on the neighborhood until March 2.