Another large subdivision has the green light to go up along Old Bunn Road. But town leaders won’t hold it to a key condition applied to another big subdivision just down the road.
When the Town Board issued a special-use permit for Barrington subdivision in February, it required builders there to pay a $225 assessment for each building permit, with the money going to future greenway projects.
Barrington’s developer, 264 Investments, said it would pay the total assessment of about $188,000 no later than three years after final plat approval for the first phase of the subdivision. The subdivision will have more than 800 housing units.
The assessment came as an alternative to town staff’s initial plan for Barrington to bear the $1 million greenway culvert under U.S. 64. And as the Planning Board subsequently considered a request from LGI Homes for the 550-home Autumn Lakes subdivision, its members said it would only be fair to apply the same assessment.
On Monday, however, town attorney Eric Vernon strongly advised against applying the assessment to Autumn Lakes.
“Barrington subdivision was a unique situation,” Vernon said. “The assessment was crafted as a compromise, if you’ll remember, for a connectivity obligation that would have been difficult and possibly impossible to create – that would be a crossing by culvert or some other means of (U.S.) 64 Highway.”
The problem with a similar assessment for Autumn Lakes, Vernon said, is that no current policy allows the town to impose such a fee.
Barrington differed, he said, because the culvert there would connect two parcels separated by the highway within that development – making it subject to connectivity guidelines in Zebulon’s greenway master plan.
“All conditions with regard to a special-use permit must be based on existing policies, ordinances or other articulated goals of the town,” Vernon told the board. “So in my opinion, this proposed condition, although understandable and well meaning, is not appropriate for Autumn Lakes even though it was for Barrington. In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be illegal to impose this on Autumn Lakes.”
The town can adopt a policy to assess such fees for future developments. It simply didn’t have one in place before Autumn Lake’s request.
Commissioners sided with the Planning Board and town staff on other conditions for Autumn Lakes. Among other things, the town is requiring turn lanes for both entrances to the development, while the developer wanted only one.
“You’ve got two rather large projects on the same road that are coming in, and they’re planning essentially in isolation, and your staff correctly recommended some joint planning and conditions thereof,” said Kenny Waldroup, the Planning Board vice chairman.