Brittany Woods subdivision is what one might call “farmland adjacent.” Homes line streets and cars park in driveways, but many back windows and decks look out onto pastureland – country living a mile and a half from downtown Clayton.
A proposed subdivision would alter that view for Brittany Woods, but it would also play a significant role in a road project that town leaders have championed for years.
Ahead of a public hearing on the development in February, neighbors opposing the high-density Village at Little Creek brought their concerns to the town council earlier this month, but were told, barring extraordinary evidence, they would likely be disappointed.
“We don’t get to decide to rezone or not rezone based on what the development proposal is,” Mayor Jody McLeod said. “We can only decide rezoning based on if they meet the requirements of rezoning.”
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The Village at Little Creek proposes to put 154 homes on 44 acres off of Dairy Road on the south side of Clayton. Cary’s Triangle Real Estate is developing the land and plans to split the subdivision into two 22-acre pieces. It also plans to dedicate land for the South Connector to run through the middle of the property.
Village at Little Creek would be an open-space subdivision, meaning instead of paying fees to the town for recreation, the neighborhood would have park space on site, to the tune of almost five acres. On those acres, the developer plans two playgrounds, a dog park and a walking trail. The town council will consider a rezoning request for half of the land and the subdivision plan for the 154 lots.
Town planner Jay McLeod described the subdivision as “residential medium,” meaning it would have between three and five lots per acre. For reference, residential low is one to three lots per acre, and residential high is 12 to 14 lots. The Village at Little Creek would have a density of 3.48 lots per acre. The mayor asked if 154 was the maximum the development could squeeze onto the land. The answer: pretty much.
“It would be tough (to fit any more),” Jay McLeod said.
A major selling point for the town council is the 100-foot swath of right-of-way the developer is offering for Clayton’s future South Connector, a road that exists nearly entirely on paper but is seen by some town leaders as vital to future connectivity in town.
As it stands now, the South Connector represents a costly and difficult right-of-way hurdle and has not yet made it on a short-term Department of Transportation plan. Significant land donations like what the developers are offering here might give Clayton its best shot ever at getting the road finished. If the subdivision wins council approval, the donated land would connect to the South Connector in the Cobblestone neighborhood to the east and hook up with Dairy Road to the west.
Sylvie Connors’ property backs up to the farmland that might become the Village at Little Creek. She showed the town council photos from hikes around the property, scenes of rolling hills and tranquil ponds, turtles and mushrooms. Connors said she moved to Clayton to escape the bustle of Cary, and while she didn’t think her country dream would last forever, she had hoped it wouldn’t be blown up completely.
“I hate to see anything built there,” Connors said. “We’re not oblivious to the fact that Clayton does have to grow, that it does have to expand. A lot of us were well aware of the 40-, 50-year plan. But we were hoping it would be an extension of estate (zoning) or a neighborhood that has characteristics of our own. We’re not country club, pool-house people. We moved out there because we like country living and night skies, and that’s the type of community we want.”
The Village at Little Creek is actually seeking the same R-8 zoning Brittany Woods has but at a higher density. Comparing property lines on the Little Creek site plan shows that some lots line up with those in Brittany woods, while others are three to one between the two neighborhoods.
“We want the town of Clayton, not the big city of Clayton,” Connors said.
The mayor cautioned those opposing the subdivision that emotional appeals to the heart wouldn’t help their case. He said that as a person, he wanted to hear what they had to say, but in the council chambers, he’d only allow evidence or expert testimony that the subdivision would tank their property values or that the developers hadn’t met the town’s requirements.
“What you love is not a hill of beans to me,” Mayor McLeod said.