A number of neighborhoods near Lake Benson Park are banding together to ask the Town of Garner to consider conducting an in-depth study of the area where they live.
Grow Garner Responsibly, a grassroots group of concerned citizens made of up residents from The Village at Aversboro, Heather Woods, Autumn Oaks, Rosemoor, Dunhaven, Lynnshire, Summers Walk and Lakemoor, says it would like the town to create an Overlay District for Aversboro and Buffaloe Roads that will take a look at the whole corridor before approving further development piece by piece, John Pickle, a member of the group said.
Timber Drive, U.S. 70, U.S. 401 and part of I-40 in Garner are in overlay districts.
But town officials say any such study is unlikely given to resources being put into a new Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the entire town that may address some of their concerns. The land use plan will guide the way Garner grows over the next 20 years.
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“Whether or not we would be able to typically address that type of request, right now we are looking at land use for the entire community,” Assistant Town Manager John Hodges said.
Pickle and others from the group say growth is happening now though, and although the plan will likely address their issues in the future, development is likely to occur before the new comprehensive plan will be put into effect.
“We think our idea and what the town is looking at long term are in harmony with each other,” Pickle said. “When (Aversboro Road) is developed, it is going to have a significant impact on traffic and safety issues, and we think that is going to happen within the next year or two.
“What is it going to look like?”
Tim Montgomery, another member of the group, said the town has only one shot to get it right.
“We all love this corridor,” he said. “We’ve got two beautiful parks. It’s a tremendous asset to the community and to our neighborhoods. We know growth is going to happen, but since it’s such a beautiful area, neighborhoods and sidewalks and all those positive things that attracted us here, we want to preserve some of that.”
The group’s formation was in response to a pending rezoning request for 15 acres of land and a site plan for a 204-unit apartment complex off Aversboro Road. The request and site plan had not come before the council yet. It had gotten to staff level, but was sent back for the developer to make changes to its plan.
The changes to the plan had not occured by September. Residents living near the 15-acre piece of property where the apartments were to go spoke out at a council meeting and sent emails to council members urging them to not approve the rezoning request. They said the plan was not the right fit for the road.
Then two weeks ago, Seth Coker, a representative for Signature Property Group, told the Garner-Cleveland Record by email that he would pull back on the apartment plans and look for other development options under the current zoning. The current zoning, community retail, allows for townhomes or condominiums, cemeteries, lodges, daycare centers, adult daycare centers, night clubs and bars, retail businesses and emergency care facilities, among many other things.
The Town Council has approved a few projects on Aversboro Road in recent months. They include a YMCA next to White Deer Park, and an assisted living facility in front of the Village. Bulldozers have already started knocking down trees for the construction of the Y.
Grow Garner Responsibly has set up signs along Aversboro Road that read “No rezoning Aversboro/Buffaloe Corridor.” It set up a petition on change.org and has received support from 378 people.
“We just want make sure this part of town is on their radar,” Judy McCreery said.