Despite opposition, a divided Johnston County Board of Commissioners said yes last week to a 352-unit subdivision in a community with crowded schools.
By a 4-3 vote, commissioners OK’d the rezoning petition for Cleveland Bluffs on Cornwallis Road. The board then voted 5-2 to issue a special-use permit for the development.
The 112-acre subdivision would be next to Cleveland Elementary School, where enrollment has reached its capacity of 900 students. It would be across Cornwallis Road from Cleveland Middle School, which has 17 mobile classrooms and 275 students more than it was designed for.
Cleveland Bluffs would have 256 single-family homes and 96 townhomes for an average of roughly three units an acre Sidewalks would connect to Cleveland Elementary. The subdivision would also have curb and gutter and two lakes. Prices would start at $220,000.
Relief for Cleveland Middle will come in the form of a new middle school in the community. Johnston voters in 2013 approved bond dollars for that project.
Still, at last week’s commissioners meeting, neighbors opposed Cleveland Bluffs.
Colleen Holt, a 13-year resident of a neighboring subdivision, said she feared Cleveland Bluffs would harm surrounding property values by crowding too many homes on too few acres.
“Every one that lives out there, we have poured every dime we have into our properties,” Holt said. “Yes, on paper, it looks beautiful, but really that does not give an indication. I wish there was one that really showed all of the houses that are planned to be on there, because I can’t even imagine that someone would have room to breathe.”
Holt said the density of Cleveland Bluffs wasn’t compatible with its more-spread-out neighbors. “You’ve got folks that moved out to that area because we wanted it to be a little quieter,” she said. “If I wanted city, I’d move to Raleigh. So I’m totally against this. The traffic is already an issue, and the new school that just got approved earlier, that’s going to help with our current situation. That’s not going to be the fix for what is planned for this.”
Patty Sharp, a resident of a neighboring subdivision, said the community’s infrastructure, including its schools, could not sustain 350 new families.
“There’s just not enough room for all of this,” she said. “I have no problem with the subdivision. I just have a problem with that many (units).”
Jack Carlisle, the developer, disagreed. “The subdivision with smaller lots, higher density, open space will actually bring up the property values in the area,” he said. “Our average selling price in a comparable subdivision is about $275,000, so that value of this land will add $90 million of property value.”
Donnie Adams, the neighborhood’s engineer, echoed those sentiments. “I think it would be a great asset to the community,” he said.
Most commissioners ultimately sided with the developer. Commissioners Cookie Pope, DeVan Barbour, Tony Braswell and Chad Stewart voted for the rezoning request; Allen Mims, Jeffrey Carver and Ted Godwin voted against it. The vote for the special-use permit was much the same, with only Godwin siding with the majority.
Staff writers John Hamlin and Nash Dunn contributed to this report.