Neighbors of a planned new development here aren’t outright opposed to the coming development, but they clearly have concerns about how the new neighborhood will change the nature of their own property.
Town commissioners earlier this month approved an annexation petition for the property owners of a 210-acre tract of land off Bunn Road that is expected to be home to a new subdivision.
Mayor Bob Matheny cautioned speakers before a public hearing that the only issue before the board that night was whether to annex the property into the town limits. That’s because the developer, 264 Developers, have already submitted a special use permit for the property.
Their plans call for construction of 800 homes on the property, including single-family homes, townhomes and paired single-family homes, or duplexes.
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Andy Gay, a lawyer representing property owner Kim Bunn, said his client was concerned that once the land was annexed into the town limits, new demands to provide water and sewer service to the property would force her to give up additional property.
Bunn, who was a minority owner of the 210-acre tract that was sold to 264 Developers, has already had some of her property condemned by the city of Raleigh, Gay said, to construct a pump station in the area. Gay said, as a minority owner of the larger tract, Bunn didn’t have a say in its sale. “It is a little bit unusual for someone who sold land to a developer to come to you and oppose its annexation,” Gay said.
Gay said the situation has become complex for Bunn. “I would ask that you consider what the annexation does at this point and where it places her in the future. At this point in time,, unless there is a voluntary sale of the property she owns, how is the town going to provide services to an area when the infrastructure sits on property she owns,” Gay said.
Tom Hendrickson, who owns Bennet-Bunn Plantation, just to the east of the tract, also asked commissioners to consider how potential uses of the land could affect his property.
Hendrickson, who is also a developer, said he thinks the entire area surrounding the property should be included in some long-range planning before steps are taken to begin new developments in the area. Part of the land the developers are seeking to annex is in the town’s planning jurisdiction, but some of it is not.
“That area should be properly planned and it has not been. Houses are the land’s last crop. We would ask the town to take the time to work with the community and undertake a look at this land in the comprehensive plan. I would ask that you consider that process before bringing it into the ETJ and certainly before it’s brought into the town limits,” Hendrickson said.
Perry Adams, who told commissioners she has a background in historic preservation, also encouraged town leaders to take it slow. “Growth is necessary and I totally get that. Any sort of sustained growth for a town is a really good thing. In this particular location, however, I think having a conversation is really greatly needed. The historic setting that this property is in, there is a lot of beauty in that. In this process, it’s important that you fire bullets and not cannonballs. Take little steps. If it does turn into residential, it could really negatively impact the viewshed,” Adams said.
Charles Walker, with 264 Developers, was the only person who spoke on behalf the annexation request. The land next to the Bennett-Bunn Plantation has never been a historic site,” Walker said. He also pointed out that existing utility lines in the area would be sufficient to serve the property without having to take additional land from neighbors.
Although commissioners approved the annexation request without discussion, the project is far from approved. A public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 on a special use permit the developers are seeking that would outline the plans for the project.