A decision on what would be the largest subdivision in Clayton won’t come for at least another month.
After tabling a scheduled May vote for two months so landowners and the developer could work through “issues,” the Clayton Town Council agreed on Monday to delay the vote again.
This time, the council agreed to give stakeholders until Aug. 17 to make a decision of whether to move forward with the project.
The town’s planning department requested the most recent postponement. Planning Director Dave DeYoung said Clayton commissioned a new traffic study, and the family needed more time to review the results.
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“They had requested some time to review that before they make a final determination of how they want to proceed with the property,” DeYoung said.
Nancy Earp and her family own the 630-acre tract on the north side of town that would become home to Steeplechase. Until this spring, Wakefield Development Co. of Raleigh had a contract to buy the land and build the 2,200 homes.
However, Wakefield Development terminated that contract. And in a letter sent to the town on May 4, 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.”
DeYoung said it’s his understanding that Wakefield Development is no longer involved in the project. Representatives from the company could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Earps could also not be reached for comment.
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 buying the land and developing the neighborhood, the developer would 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 would grow to 6,400 a day. By 2025, with the completion of phase two, total daily trips would top 21,500, according to DOT 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.
DeYoung said the town commissioned the latest traffic study to analyze three separate reports that were already complete. The goal was to compile all of the existing information and make the best recommendations, he said.
“We knew that if the current developer did not proceed, eventually another developer will want to develop this piece of property,” DeYoung said. “We wanted to be confident to see what improvements need to be made for the development of that piece of property.”
After Wakefield first unveiled its plans last fall, neighbors in two adjacent subdivisions lobbied hard against the development. 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 cautioned the council not to vote until all of the traffic questions are answered.