Equity was a key factor as the Planning Board here considered a special use permit request for another large subdivision along Old Bunn Road Monday night.
Board members unanimously recommended approval of the request by LGI Homes for Autumn Lakes, but not without applying some of the same conditions they had in recommending approval of the 800-plus unit Barrington subdivision earlier this month.
At buildout, Autumn Lakes would bring a maximum of 550 single-family homes to the northwest corner of Old Bunn Road and U.S. 64, just down the street from where Barrington is being planned.
“I feel pretty strongly about fairness and equity in treatment for the projects,” said Kenny Waldroup, the board’s vice chair. “It’s sounds like we have motions in front of us that do that.”
The two terms where crossover made the most sense to the Planning Board involved sidewalk continuity and how to deal with a greenway culvert under U.S. 64.
The board followed the condition it applied requiring Barrington’s developer, 264 Investments, to construct some sidewalks in the right of way, even though they will need to be rebuilt when future roadway improvements are made.
Though town staff had proposed Barrington pick up a roughly $1 million bill for a culvert under the highway, the Planning Board discussed a two-part recommendation. It accepted the developer’s proposal calling for some form of assessment where new subdivisions along the Beaverdam Creek sewer outfall corridor would share the cost of the culvert, and discussed the idea of encouraging commissioners to look into a policy for setting up such a cost-sharing arrangement.
While there were no mentions of the culvert in the conditions town staff proposed for Autumn Lakes, the Planning Board applied the two-part condition it previously discussed for Barrington.
“It’s a little bit tricky, because we’re applying a policy we don’t yet have in place,” town planner Julie Spriggs said in a follow-up interview. “If the condition for Barrington falls through with the commissioners, then this one will have to as well.”
The board also worked through five other conditions for Autumn Lakes, either where staff proposed new changes or where there was disagreement with the developer.
Two of them dealt with timelines for a pond trail, a community pavilion and playground within the subdivision.
“It just clarifies that an amenity will be available to the development no matter which phase comes online first,” Spriggs told the Planning Board.
The other three addressed turn lanes along Old Bunn Road.
Staff wanted turn lanes for both entrances to the development, while the developer wanted only one. The Planning Board sided with staff’s recommendation.
Town staff also proposed collecting a fee-in-lieu of constructing turn lanes at the Old Bunn Road intersections with N.C. 97 and Shepard School Road, paid at either the 330th certificate of occupancy or when the traffic impact analysis for the development requires the improvements – whichever comes first.
The developer’s proposal included a clause that, subject to N.C. Department of Transportation requirements, they would pay a fee-in-lieu proportional to the project’s share of traffic along the roadway.
“In essence, what they are proposing is a fee-in-lieu of (a proportion) of the sign and sealed engineer construction estimate, and not the full amount,” Spriggs.
The Planning Board recommended the developer’s proposal with a “friendly amendment” suggested by Waldroup, to remove the language referring to DOT requirements.
“It’s entirely possible that N.C. DOT will not require it depending on when they look at this project,” Waldroup said. “We’re thinking about projects yet to come. DOT is going to have to look at what’s on the ground and what’s been approved.”
At the hearing
The joint public hearing that preceded the Planning Board meeting was mostly a Q&A session between the town’s elected and appointed boards and representatives of Autumn Lakes.
The representatives gave a basic overview of the three parcels, owned by members of the Gay and Bunn families, that would make up Autumn Lakes. The parcels are currently in the town’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, but annexation is one of the proposed conditions for the development.
Other staff conditions, agreed to by the developer, call for the homes to have at least 1,400 square feet of heated space and at least one single-stall garage. They would on average have four bedrooms.
Planning Board Chairman Darryl Jones and Commissioner Curtis Strickland both asked if the traffic impact analysis took into account other pending subdivisions in the area. Spriggs said it did not, but that a consultant’s review of the TIA did take Barrington into account.
The traffic impact analysis estimates Autumn Lakes would add about 5,240 total trips to the surrounding network of roads during a typical, 24-hour weekday.
“If both of these developments are approved, there will be additional improvements needed,” said Will Letchworth, the consulting engineer.
No one spoke in opposition to the development. Local attorney Andy Gay, a part owner of the land, told the boards they were considering “a very clean project.”
“What this project is not, is it’s not complicated,” Gay said. “(It’s) what I consider one of the cleanest, play-by-the-rules, no-hidden-things (developments).”
The Autumn Lakes request is expected to go before the Town Board on March 6. The Barrington request is on track for the commissioners’ Feb. 6 meeting.