Despite objections from neighbors, the Apex Town Council has approved plans for 193 new homes near a rural area in the western part of town.
About 20 residents of the Chapel Ridge Road neighborhood attended the council meeting on Tuesday to oppose plans for a new development known as Hempstead at Beaver Creek.
They asked the council to reject plans to connect the new neighborhood with their community, a quiet pocket of homes on multi-acre lots where horses and John Deere tractors co-exist with sports cars and luxury RVs.
Neighborhood spokesman Mike Bishop cited a 2007 letter from former Apex mayor Keith Weatherly that promised the higher-density development next door would never connect to their neighborhood.
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“I understand it’s not a legally binding commitment, but nevertheless it’s a commitment from our town,” Bishop said.
Those who live in the Chapel Ridge Road area aren’t Apex residents, because the town has not annexed the area.
“We’re asking the town of Apex to work with us, help us,” said Rita Boykin, who lives in the area.
But council members said their hands were tied because Hempstead at Beaver Creek meets all the rules for new developments – and can only meet those rules if it has a connector road.
David York, a lawyer for developer NVR Homes, said the proposal wasn’t ideal. But the town’s own rules led to the issue, he said.
“The applicant here is doing what the code requires ... and we acknowledge that the connection is not popular,” he said. “But it is required by the code.”
Apex Mayor Bill Sutton asked town attorney Hank Fordham what would happen if the council denied the application and the developer sued the town.
“You would more than likely lose a lawsuit over it,” Fordham said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the project, although some members said it violated their sense of ethics.
“I guess there’s right, there’s wrong and there’s what’s legal,” Councilman Scott Lassiter said.
Councilman Gene Schulze sought to soften the blow by adding a requirement that the developer must pay up to $30,000 for patching or other repairs on Chapel Ridge Road.
But after the vote, some residents said they were still disappointed in the decision.
“Apex has changed, especially in the last 10 years,” Boykin said. “But we in the Chapel Ridge neighborhood are still the same semi-rural neighborhood, and we would like to keep it. ... A lot of growth is occurring in Apex, and our once-rural countryside is quickly disappearing.”
Poised for more growth
The council also voted to begin steps to develop land in the White Oak Basin, which stretches west toward Jordan Lake, between U.S. 64 and Green Level West Road.
The town will spend as much as $400,000 to buy water, sewer and electrical easements to bring in the type of utilities that large neighborhoods require.
A group of four developers will reimburse the town up to $325,000.
Town staff will also look into buying additional easement rights for greenway space, at the request of Councilman Bill Jensen who said he wished someone had thought to do that back when his own neighborhood was being developed.