Town leaders on Monday delayed action on a 2,200-home subdivision while the developer and landowners “work through issues” at the site.
Wakefield Development Co. has terminated its contract with Nancy Earp and her family for the nearly 630-acre tract, though it could still become home to Steeplechase.
In a letter sent to the town on Monday, the Earps said they needed more time to “work through issues that are at present making this project not feasible for the developer to move forward.”
Wakefield, which has been seeking approval of the neighborhood since last fall, confirmed on Tuesday that the company is still engaged with the family. Kem Ard, Wakefield’s land-development specialist, would say only that both parties are “working through issues.” He declined further comment.
At the request of the Earps, the Clayton Town Council agreed to delay any action on the proposed subdivision until July 20.
Town Planning Director Dave DeYoung said Wakefield has not withdrawn its application to rezone the 630-acre Earp tract, nor its master plan for the development.
The proposed neighborhood would have mostly single-family homes but also town homes and apartments. Wakefield Development’s master plan also includes commercial space and land for a school.
In addition to the cost of the land and developing the neighborhood, Wakefield will also be responsible for a long list of road improvements.
Currently, a handful of roads near the Steeplechase site support mostly commuter traffic that peaks during the morning and afternoon.
By the planned build-out of the first half of Steeplechase in 2017, the N.C. Department of Transportation projects total trips near the site will grow to 6,400 a day. By 2025, when phase two is scheduled to be complete, total daily trips are projected to top 21,500, according to the DOT’s trip-generation data.
Traffic engineers recommend more than 110 road improvements near Steeplechase, including realigning and widening roads, adding turn lanes and traffic signals, and re-striping pavement.
The DOT would work with the town to decide when the traffic improvements would be needed. However, a proposed phasing schedule included in a DOT review of Steeplechase gives some insight into when upgrades would be required.
For instance, no more than 250 lots could be built without realigning the Covered Bridge Road and O’Neil Street intersection, according to the DOT’s phasing schedule. No more than 500 lots could be built without a traffic signal at the intersection.
Traffic has been a chief concern for neighbors who’d live next to Steeplechase.
After Wakefield first unveiled its plans last fall, neighbors in two adjacent subdivisions lobbied hard against Steeplechase. They were concerned about proposed street connections into their neighborhoods. Some also questioned how compatible Steeplechase would be with their estate-style subdivisions.
Wakefield agreed to change portions of its plan, which satisfied some neighbors. However, residents have still cautioned the council not to vote until all the traffic questions are answered.
Adam Netko serves on the board of the Ole Mill Stream Homeowners Association. His subdivision would abut Steeplechase. Netko said he has heard rumors of issues between Wakefield and the Earps. He said some neighbors have said they hope the deal falls through.
“The introduction of more than 2,200 homes, apartments, condos and commercial space does not fit this side of Clayton,” Netko said.
In Ole Mill Stream and nearby Smith Ridge Estates, homes sit on lots that range from one acre to nearly 10 acres. Steeplechase would be more dense, with a maximum of four homes per acre.
“I understand that change is inevitable, and something will happen to that land,” Netko said. “If that does happen, I hope that something compatible to the two surrounding subdivisions will be done.”
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104