We sympathize with Wynston subdivision residents, who don’t want their mostly quiet streets to become thoroughfares for a neighboring community. But the Clayton Town Council, which we suspect is equally sympathetic, had no choice but to approve Brookside, a proposed subdivision with 38 lots.
It’s natural to think of a subdivision as detached from its town or county. Most subdivisions are made up solely of single-family homes with just one or two entrances. Subdivisions, at least in appearance, are gateways to nothing but the houses they contain.
But reality is different in subdivisions that have turned their streets over to their town or county. When that happens, as it did in Wynston, a subdivision becomes much like a downtown neighborhood. And in downtown Clayton, motorists routinely use residential streets as thoroughfares to get from one home or business to another. In that respect, Front Street in downtown Clayton or Satinwood Drive in Wynston is no different from U.S. 70 Business or N.C. 42.
This is not to say Clayton can’t do a better job of making sure subdivision streets don’t become clogged traffic arteries. In trying to derail Brookside, Wynston residents noted that their streets are narrow and often lined with cars. We haven’t been in Wynston in years, so we don’t remember much about its streets. But if Wynston residents are on the mark, the Clayton Town Council might want to give some thought to the width of streets it’s willing to accept from developers.
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An aside: Under the Law of Unintended Consequences, wider streets would drive up the cost of housing, because a developer would simply pass that cost along to his buyers, and we don’t think any government should drive up the cost of housing without the very best of reasons.
And neither should any government deny a developer access to a public street, assuming his project meets town standards. That was the case with Brookside, and the council was right – and legally obligated – to approve it.
The good news for Wynston residents is that a separate construction entrance seems likely, meaning heavy equipment won’t damage their streets. And town leaders should continue to lobby the N.C. Department of Transportation for a separate, permanent entrance to Brookside.
In the meantime, the town has done right by Brookside. It really had no other choice.