The city planning commission on Tuesday approved final designs for a five-story apartment building near Cameron Village, despite objections about a planned driveway on a neighborhood street.
Real-estate broker Jim Anthony got rezoning approval last year to tear down a vacant one-story office building at 616 Oberlin Road and replace it with 215 apartments wrapped around a parking deck.
The development continues the growth of mid-rise apartments around the shopping center, but neighbors don’t want the increased traffic to spill into quieter streets. Anthony purchased a lot on Daniels Street to create a back entrance to his building.
“The traffic from this site has no business coming down Daniels Street,” said Dall Wilson, who lives a few doors down from the driveway.
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Anthony is making several efforts to limit that back-door traffic, though he’s refused to drop the entrance and have apartment residents enter and exit exclusively on Oberlin. The plans approved Tuesday call for a median on Daniels that would prevent left turns. And the back exit would only be accessible through the building’s parking deck, making shortcuts from nonresidents less likely.
“We wanted to make that an unlikely movement for those folks to keep traffic off of Daniels Street,” said Michael Birch, an attorney for Anthony.
But Michael Mettrey – who owns a house behind the apartment site that once belonged to N.C. State coach Everett Case – doesn’t want the median.
“It would not be possible to back out of that driveway with that median,” Mettrey said.
Mettrey also complained that the fencing and landscaping in the design doesn’t give his home enough of a buffer.
“They’re putting their dumpsters beside my swimming pool, and I object to that,” he said. “I think it would create severe damage to the value of my property.”
Since Anthony’s development was first proposed, city council members tweaked zoning rules to limit driveway connections into residential neighborhoods. But because Anthony filed his design proposal before the rules changed, planning commission members said their hands were tied.
“Our obligation is to follow the rules and regulations that were in effect when this project was submitted,” planning commissioner Steve Schuster said. “While we may have different opinions … he certainly has the right to do it.”
Immediate neighbors of the site have about a month to file a formal appeal before the city issues building permits for the apartments. Wilson says neighbors were given just a few days’ notice before Tuesday’s hearing, leaving little time to get the word out.