Despite concerns from dozens of residents, council members unanimously approved a land swap between the town and a private land owner during their Feb. 2 meeting with little discussion.
Near the Green Pines neighorhood off Knightdale Boulevard, the town owns 18 acres of land, including the Knightdale Pool and Clubhouse.
Parkway Properties Group, LLC, owns 21 acres of land, including a seven-acre parcel of land valued at $240,000 adjacent to the Neuse River, that they were looking to swap for four of the 18 acres owned by the town, valued at $120,000.
Town Attorney Clyde Holt said other factors as well as appraisal should be taken into account when considering a swap.
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Ideally, the town would gain river access for a future greenway, while Parkway Properties would work with Symphony Properties, LLC to build two buildings as part of an eight-building development for the 302-unit Rivers Edge Apartments.
However, during the public hearing, nearby residents raised concerns.
Land Use Review Board member George Hess spoke on behalf of many residents, citing concerns about a large well adjacent to the seven-acre parcel that serves eight buildings in Green Pines being overlooked.
“I don’t want our well to go dry, to lose capacity or to become contaminated,” he said.
He also expressed concern along with another resident, that there were assurances made to the town when the pool was built and sold to the town in 1998 that the property would not be developed and that the facility would be for recreational purposes until 2023.
“This mocks the whole concept of preserving open space and rezoning becomes meaningless,” Hess said. “I think the whole thing should be scrapped.”
Mayor Russell Killen told the residents that the council heard their complaints, but that he thought it was a good deal.
“We’re doubling our open space,” he said. He added that there would be paved river access.
Chris Rader, a self-proclaimed newcomer to the Green Pines neighborhood, suggested to the council that the town’s newly obtained land is difficult to access.
“It will be a semi-private park for the (Green Pines) community,” he said. “It’s not going to be that easy for the (public) to get through there for a park. In essence you’re allowing the developer to make you take care of a park while we have to deal with the downside of this.”
Several residents also raised concerns about 300 more residents adding traffic to the area.
“The town is interested in creating an eastern greenway along the river,” said town planning director Chris Hills in an interview. He added that the town’s goal is to acquire sufficient land to create the linear parkway.
“It’s more than just a parking lot...it’s really the entire corridor,” he said.
“We’re wanting to provide as much outside activity as possible,” said town spokesman Brian Bowman. The seven acres accepted by the town along the river would remain an open space with trails.