Johnston County Commissioners last week cleared the way for 180 new apartments in Summerwind Plantation, a subdivision near the Interstate 40-N.C. 42 interchange.
The 12.31-acre site is on Glenn Road off of Cleveland Road and it’s owned by M&JM LLC of Aurora, Ill.
In 2005, the county approved zoning the land for commercial development, Johnston Planning Director Berry Gray said. The developer of the property wanted to build commercial buildings, along with single family and multi-family homes.
So when driving into the subdivision, one might see a grocery store and restaurants, then apartments, then homes as they drive further into the development.
However, the project stalled when the recession hit and a new developer took over the property. The new developer will scale down the commercial development and build more multi-family housing.
The origninal developer had 500 housing units planned. Now the new apartments will increase the total number of housing units permitted in the subdivision to 626.
The plan changed because the developer thinks the 40/42 interchange already has enough commercial development. But demand for housing remains, said Frank Price of Wetherill Engineering Inc.
Jamie Guerrero of Wetherill Engineering said the apartments will be upscale and target young professionals along with people ages 50 and older. The kitchens will have granite countertops and wooden cabinetry, he said. Because its targeted demographic tends not to have children, he said, the development should have little effect on nearby schools.
Building apartments instead of commercial uses cuts the project’s traffic estimate by 3,000 cars per day, to about 5,000, planning director Gray said. The county will require the developers to complete several road improvements recommended by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
During a public hearing, neighbor Joe Bishop aired numerous grievances he has come to hold against Summerwind Plantation since moving there in the mid-2000s. The original developers promised a golf course, clubhouse, swimming pool and other amenities that have not come into fruition, he said
“We bought into a dream that this is going to be our community,” he said. “Ten years later, it’s no longer the same dream we were sold.”
In rebuttal, Price said the original developer of Summerwind Plantation abandoned the project and, in doing so, left a number of promises unfulfilled. However, he said, that has nothing to do with M&JM, which rescued the project.
A couple of neighbors joined Bishop in airing complaints about their subdivision, and they went back and forth with the new developers for half an hour. Eventually, Commissioner Jeffrey Carver told Bishop that he shared his frustration because many in the Cleveland area have similar issues.
“That’s what ticks me off about that whole area is y’all should be incorporated, and you should be the mayor,” Carver said to the disgruntled homeowner.