About 2,500 people have signed a petition to oppose a car dealership at the corner of U.S. 64 and Davis Drive, though developers say no specific plans for the property have been set.
Bill Daniel, the Cary-based engineer behind the development, said Friday that building a dealership is a possibility. But possible uses for the Davis Drive property won’t be known until the land is rezoned in the future.
“I imagine some of the people opposed believe it’s set,” he said. “But it is absolutely not set in stone.”
Tom Colhoun is the Apex-based Realtor for the owners of the properties that will make up the 63-acre site, worth about $5 million.
“We’ve got a very big deal coming, or possibly coming,” Colhoun told the Apex Town Council at a meeting earlier this month. “We’ve got a big fish on the line. And we’re not talking incentives packages.”
Still, residents are pre-emptively objecting to a dealership on the northwest corner of the intersection, specifically a CrossRoads Ford dealership, showroom and auto service center.
Some say if it’s built, it could be the largest Ford dealership on the East Coast. The CrossRoads Ford dealership in Cary, a few miles away, is now the biggest on the East Coast.
A CrossRoads Ford representative did not respond to multiple interview requests.
Apex resident Kymberly Daniels, who organized the petition, said concerns range from traffic to light pollution, aesthetics and the feeling that the land could be used for something more unique.
“Does (U.S.) 64 need to become the corridor to Raleigh of nothing but car dealerships?” she said.
The land across U.S. 64 from the 63-acre property recently was rezoned by the Apex Town Council to allow a car dealership, council members implied. There are four other dealerships nearby, and nearly 20 dealerships on Autopark Boulevard a mile and a half east, in Cary, near where U.S. 64 intersects with U.S. 1.
“We need to be mindful about how we grow, what we see for the future of the Town of Apex,” Daniels said.
Backers of the Davis Drive project, however, say opponents are short-sighted – and are basing their opposition on rumors.
Daniel said he will ask for a rezoning “in a matter of months, not weeks.”
He said he likely will seek a conditional, non-residential zoning. Under Apex’s development rules, that would allow for dozens of uses, including car dealerships, retail, restaurants, office buildings, gas stations, churches, day cares, parks, art galleries and more.
At a recent Town Council meeting, Colhoun defended putting a dealership there but did not mention CrossRoads Ford by name. He said if the land is annexed and developed, it would boost the tax base.
Whatever developer comes to the site also will widen Davis Drive to four lanes and extend utilities to the area, he said.
Colhoun declined to address the topic further after the meeting when reached by phone.
Emotions running high?
Daniels said Colhoun cordially reached out to her after the petition started getting more signatures, but she said they couldn’t come to an agreement.
“His concern is that people have been signing the petition based on emotions, without reading it,” Daniels said.
She said she doesn’t think that’s true.
“But even if they are, that states a lot,” she said. “It means people are emotional about not wanting this in our town.”
The town is having a neighborhood meeting at 7 p.m., Sept. 29, at the Halle Cultural Arts Center that Daniels said she hopes people attend so they’ll be informed.
Both sides say traffic is a major concern of many who signed the petition.
Colhoun, though, said a car dealership would create less traffic than other possible uses, such as a grocery store, office park or apartment complex.
“When do you get traffic from a car dealership?” he said. “When you take a look ... it’s minimal. The Bojangles’ generates more traffic than a car dealership.”
“You cannot tell me if you’re wanting to be the largest dealership on the East Coast you’re not going to have a traffic impact,” she said.
The next step
When Colhoun spoke at the council meeting, no council members responded to his comments, which is common procedure. But after he finished, one candidate for Town Council got up from the crowd to argue against the plan.
“Council, I’d ask you to consider what it looks like when you’re driving into the No. 1 town in America and see a car dealership,” said Wes Moyer, a downtown businessman.
There was no vote that night to rezone the property.
Daniel said even if a dealership is built on the property, it likely won’t be the only project, because a 63-acre dealership is unheard of. CrossRoads Ford in Cary takes up 15.3 acres.
Daniels said she would prefer the site to be limited to office and industrial use.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran