A developer who, for six months, has been trying to get a rezoning request approved so he can build a subdivision in North Garner, will have to wait at least one more month.
The Garner Planning Commission unanimously voted to continue Hopper Communities’ request Monday night, after a neighboring community – mostly residents of Perdue Street – complained that the developer didn’t return messages or allow them to be involved in the development plans as they said they would, the community said.
David Defoor, who has spoken on behalf of the residents of Perdue Street, said he and his neighbors emailed the developer twice in the past six months, hoping for a response.
“We received no communication from Hopper Communities until this past Saturday night,” Defoor said.
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Hopper Communities, a development company, first came to the town council at a public hearing in September requesting to have the property on West Garner Road near the intersection of Vandora Springs, rezoned from R-20 to R-9. There was no site plan, but the rezoning request would have allowed Hopper Communities to build twice as many homes on the 18 acres as the existing zoning allows.
Although the developers can request to rezone without a site plan, it does not happen often in the town, and left many residents and the council wondering how many new neighbors they would have.
The developer also did not contact the neighboring residents of the land to tell them of his plan.
The council did not make any decisions before moving it on to the planning commission, except to ask the applicant to consider applying for a conditional use rezoning, which would require a site plan, and to gather a detailed traffic study from N.C. DOT.
Many of the same concerns were brought back to the table at the next planning commission meeting in October.
Residents were also concerned that the R-9 zoning the applicant is requesting, allows up to 65 homes on the site instead of 25 homes the current zoning allows.
Planning commission members at the time did not think enough information was available and declined to move the request back to council. They eventually voted to table the plan until more information about the site’s potential was brought back.
On Monday, Bill Harrell with Hopper Communities brought back a site plan and said he and his consultants attempted to address the residents’ concerns. They also limited the total number of units in the subdivision to maximum of 42 homes. He said he expects the price points of the homes to be no less than $200,000.
Linda Snow, a resident of who lives on West Garner Road, said she was in favor of the new subdivision. She said the northern part of Garner needs something fresh.
“It’s an exciting time in Garner right now,” Snow said. “There’s so much growth. It’s wonderful except it’s not in this part of Garner. It’s kind of sad to see. It’s kind of been forgotten, that side of the track where nothing has gone on at all.
“I think it’s going to be a positive thing for the area.”
Commission member Jeff Swain said he agreed it would be positive for North Garner.
While the Perdue Street residents have said they were not opposed to growth in the area, they maintained that it should be controlled growth.
Monday night, they expressed their displeasure with the developer for not including them in their planning, because they still had some concerns about how a new subdivision would affect their property.
“Their offer to meet half an hour before this meeting seems disingenuous at best,” Defoor said. “Given this track record it’s hard to have confidence they are operating in good faith.”
Harrell, the developer, said that he plans to meet with the residents but there wouldn’t be any big changes to the plan. He said they did the best they could to meet the resident’s needs based on their comments in October, and requested the commission move the plan forward.
“Another delay, we’ve been working on it for quite some time, and it’s just another 30 days for us really,” Harrell said. “We feel like we’ve addressed the the majority of concerns.”
But the commission ultimately decided to continue the meeting until after the developer met with the neighbors to hear their concerns.
“I’m concerned with what may or may not happen at this point, because it’s apparent that it is a sensitive or touchy situation,” commission member Vira Hogan said. “And you want to do what’s best for both parties. I don’t think we can make that decision with what’s on the table.”
Commission member Dean Fox said the same.
“I do feel concern that there hasn’t been that closure with the community,” he said.
The next planning commission meeting will be April 11.