A proposed large-lot housing development would fill in 25 acres near Shotwell Road in Clayton, but some of the project’s plans are at odds with town codes.
The so-called Warrick tract neighborhood plans to put 26 homes on 25 acres and connect with Old Highway 70 and the existing Fieldstone subdivision. But where developers see an area of Clayton that can’t be built out further, the town’s planners say to never say never.
Developers of the Warrick tract, including planning board member James Lipscomb, are planning a subdivision that keeps the land’s residential-estate zoning designation. As presented, the plan pushes the boundaries of homes in that designation, and the developers obtained a variance from the town’s board of adjustment for some lots to fall below the typical 30,000-square-foot requirement. The variance allows the neighborhood to squeeze in a couple of extra houses and build on 26 lots rather than 24. The homes will be on town water but use septic tanks.
“In terms of potential impact on the adjacent neighbors, it doesn’t seem like the variance is going to be too disruptive to the existing neighborhood,” town planner Jay McLeod said. “The lots are a similar size compared to the Fieldstone subdivision to the west. The average lot size is 33,000 square feet, but a couple are at 25,000.”
Lipscomb, who recused himself from voting on the subdivision, said the project was well received in neighborhood meetings, with those in attendance happy to see large lots rather than closely built homes.
“I think their fear was that someone would come in and extend sewer and pack as many homes in as possible,” Lipscomb said.
The most contentious part of proposed neighborhood deals with how the subdivision will tie into future Clayton development, or rather how it won’t tie in. The homes on the Warrick tract will be built off of a stub from Fieldstone and will line two new streets, each punctuated with cul-de-sacs. Instead of one of those cul-de-sacs, the town wants to see a stub that could tie into any future development north of the property. McLeod argued there’s no good reason not to build a stub-out.
“There is no topographical river crossing, stream crossing or other particular hardship that looks like it should require a cul-de-sac, and it seems to just be the developer’s choice,” McLeod said. “Street connectivity is about more than turning a fire truck around; it’s also about providing secondary entrances to places and building that fabric of community that is what people recognize as a place when they live somewhere.”
The project’s engineer, Donnie Adams, argued that a stub-out was impractical because of a small creek along the northern property line and unnecessary because a stub-out in the Fieldstone neighborhood would connect to the northern tract if it’s ever developed.
“Building this stub street just to go another 100 yards, we don’t believe is necessary,” Adams said.
Town planning director David DeYoung made the Warrick tract’s case that the northern neighbor is unlikely to be developed, but he maintained that the rules are the rules. That northern property’s owner is Kit Creasy, who lives there and operates the dog-rescue group Red Barn Rescue on the site.
“I think it should be stated for the record that this house that sits on this (adjacent) tract is probably an 8- to 10,000-square-foot estate, and the house itself is probably worth several million dollars and has been built in the last few years,” DeYoung said. “I understand that we as a town definitely want to continue to have cross connections and street connections to adjacent parcels, but the applicant does have some justification here for hardship. We will continue, in every subdivision you see, to ask for access, regardless of how many lots are in the subdivision, to adjacent parcels for connectivity and that neighborhood network fabric. There are always in some instances extenuating situations that may make it more complicated.”
Planning board chairman Frank Price asked DeYoung to gauge the likelihood Creasy’s land would be divided into housing lots in the near future.
“You never say never,” DeYoung said. “Everything’s available.”
The planning board ultimately sided with the town code and recommended the town council deny the developer’s request to waive a stub-out.
The board did endorse a request to forgo curb and gutter in the neighborhood, mirroring the neighboring Fieldstone subdivision. It also supported a request to build sidewalks on just one side of the streets, but the town council will determine whether the developer will have to pay a fee in lieu of sidewalks missing from one side.