An argument over 100 feet of asphalt in Clayton’s latest subdivision proposal could echo for decades as the town sees open spaces turn to rooftops.
Developers plan to put 26 large-lot homes on 25 acres near Old Highway 70 and Shotwell Road just outside the town limits. The neighborhood, to be known as Warrick Park in a nod to the Warrick family landowners, is largely coasting through the town’s application process and intends to fit in with neighboring large-lot subdivisions like Fieldstone and Cassedale. But the developers, including planning board member James Lipscomb, are at odds with the town’s planning department over whether one of the subdivision’s streets will dead end with a cul-de-sac or be a stub-out to potentially developed land in the future.
The town requires two access points for new subdivisions, but when only one is possible, it requires a connection to what would logically be the next point of development. The idea is that residents have multiple routes to the town’s major roads, and conversely, emergency vehicles have as many access points as possible, so fire trucks and ambulances can shave minutes off of response times.
“What we’re talking about here, and what we’ll continue to talk about every time the planning department comes to the microphone on connectivity, is the ability to actually have a paved road up to a property line, so that when the adjacent property develops, the road is already there,” said planning director David DeYoung.
In Warrick Park, the planning department and planning board are asking for a stub-out that would connect the subdivision to 29 largely undeveloped acres to the north. On that land is a large estate and dog-rescue operation run by Kit Creasy, whose brother, Joseph Payne, owns the adjoining 29-acre tract to the north of her own. With a certain way of life so entrenched in the northern parcel, and with no plans to develop, the Warrick’s developers argue there is no reason to connect to Creasy’s land. Lipscomb told the council last week that Creasy intends to mail the town a notarized letter against the stub-out.
“As long as I live here and can maintain it, it won’t be developed,” Creasy said, adding that she plans to look into a trust or some measure of seeing to its continued preservation. As for her brother’s land next door, Creasy said she has first-refusal rights if he ever wants to sell.
The town council seemed conflicted, saying while it supported interconnected roads, in this case it believed a stub-out would be a waste of asphalt.
“In my lifetime it will never be developed,” Mayor Jody McLeod predicted of Creasy’s land.
Governments and people have different perspectives on forever, with one naturally thinking in lifetimes and the other forced to take a longer view. To answer whether a stub-out or cul-de-sac is more appropriate or necessary in Warrick is to look five or 10 years, maybe a century, into the future, calling upon motivations and inclinations landowners might not even be aware of yet. The town’s planners argue it’s a matter of when, not if, the lands surrounding downtown get built out, making this not just a matter of one cul-de-sac in one neighborhood but potentially one piece of how Clayton functions in the future.
“I love it when we talk about forever,” DeYoung said. “To think that these two vacant lots which are just outside the downtown corridor are always going to be just a 29-acre estate with a house on it? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe five years, maybe 10 years, maybe 20 years, but someday.”
Clayton is facing a small question now that could have much larger implications down the line. While it might not be the most significant example the town ever faces, Town Manager Adam Lindsay said this is how governments plan for growth.
“It’s very hard to predict the future, as we all know, but we get criticized when we don’t think about the future,” Lindsay said. “Connectivity is really to that point. We’ve all sat and talked about our road infrastructure and the traffic and the issues. Doing these things now saves us headaches later. You don’t always know when and if it’s going to happen, but if we don’t do it now, it comes back to bite us in our major corridors. In many communities, they’ve cut themselves off in lots of neighborhoods for lots of reasons, and down the road it creates significant traffic situations.”
The town council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Warrick tract on Jan. 3.