The idea of a CrossRoads Ford dealership coming to Apex has spurred opposition, resulting in online petitions, community meetings and even a bomb threat.
But plans are moving forward to build what could be the biggest Ford dealership on the East Coast.
Tom Colhoun, the project’s real estate agent, said plans for some commercial outparcels at the development were filed with the town earlier this month. While plans for the dealership itself haven’t been filed yet, Colhoun said they’re on the way.
He and others associated with the project previously wouldn’t confirm a CrossRoads dealership would be built at the northwest corner of U.S. 64, Salem Street and Davis Drive, despite widespread public speculation and statements by public officials.
But at an Apex planning board meeting Jan. 11, Colhoun went into greater detail on the project, confirming the land is under contract.
The planning board was considering a request from the town council to rezone the land near the intersection to nonresidential or mixed-use, including the proposed CrossRoads property and surrounding properties.
Colhoun opposed the rezoning, which he said was aimed at stopping the dealership for political reasons.
The prospect of yet another car dealership on U.S. 64 has rankled many in town, drawing residents to meetings and inspiring thousands of signatures on an anti-dealership petition online. At the height of the issue’s publicity in September, a meeting had to be postponed due to multiple bomb threats.
Colhoun said getting rid of the possibility for future housing developments in the area – which is just south of the Salem schools campus – would threaten the viability of nearby commercial projects. The potential rezoning area includes land on all four sides of the busy intersection.
He also said a car dealership will generate very little traffic, a frequent criticism of new developments. And, he said, CrossRoads hasn’t asked for any type of incentives package, such as cash or a property tax break, to make the proposed multimillion-dollar investment.
“This property was in the county,” Colhoun said in an interview. “Apex never got any taxes off it, and now Apex can get thousands of dollars by bringing it into town.”
Opponents of the project have said a dealership will be unsightly and the town should wait for a different project to come along.
Members of the town’s planning staff and planning board agreed with Colhoun’s arguments that cutting residential growth in the area would harm commercial development.
The proposed rezoning would have had to go through town staff and the planning board before making its way back to the council. Both the staff and the planning board disapproved of the proposal. The town council was scheduled to discuss next steps Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Dianne Kihn, the town’s planning director, argued that instead of making the land entirely nonresidential, it should be “vertical mixed-use.” In that zoning, buildings would have shops on the first floor and apartments above – like some projects in North Hills and downtown Raleigh.
But the planning board said that wouldn’t bring in enough homes to drive commercial development in the area. They unanimously voted to recommend that the town council deny the change.
The planning board also unanimously disapproved of a request to change land near Salem Villages to nonresidential zoning. With both proposed changes, board members said the land owners didn’t want it, the market isn’t there, and the request seemed heavy-handed.
“I have a problem with the randomness of this, and I don’t like what I see here,” planning board member Beth Godfrey said.
“I hate any situation where it appears to be dictated by people from above,” she later added.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran