A proposed mixed-use development could reshape traffic patterns at a troubled intersection in Apex’s northern reaches, but stakeholders disagree whether that change would be for the better.
The project, built over a little more than 10 acres, would be bisected by a new road bypassing the intersection of Old Jenks and Holt roads. The development would contain a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums on floors above a small retail center at the corner of the two roads.
Apex’s Town Council, minus Mayor pro tem Nicole Dozier, unanimously approved the rezoning petition at its Aug. 15 meeting.
But the council’s approval, like the planning board recommendation that preceded it, came with the caveat that further consideration of the developer’s proposed traffic pattern would be needed later on in the project’s approval process. The council also succeeded in securing as a condition of the rezoning larger buffers between the site and the adjacent Charleston Village neighborhood.
That’s because the new pattern would remove the left turn onto Holt Road directly from Old Jenks Road. The intersection is about 100 yards east of Old Jenks Road’s intersection with N.C. 55, and traffic planners are concerned that cars would back up as people wait to make left turns onto Holt Road to access the new development.
“We’ve committed to significant road improvements to help solve a problem that’s already there,” said Stuart Jones, an attorney representing developer Dan Ryan Builders. “We don’t feel like we’re going to be making anything worse.”
But removing that left turn will prevent direct access to the driveway of a landscaping business a few hundred feet up Holt Road. The new layout would require Southern Garden’s owner, Connie Hoyes, to direct the 20 or so vehicles in her landscaping business’s fleet – as well as the tractor-trailers that make deliveries to her property several times a week – farther east down Old Jenks Road, where they’d turn left into the new development, drive through it, and pop out onto Holt Road.
Russell Dalton, Apex’s chief transportation engineer, assured the council and Hoyes that the proposed cut-through road would be designed to accommodate truck traffic, but Hoyes said she worries that the circuitous route, which contains a right angle turn, would both inconvenience her drivers and subject future residents to the sound of diesel engines stopping and starting on a regular basis.
“This solution alarms me,” Hoyes said. “I see this doglegged, zig-zag type of access way, and I know this is not a safe condition.”
Hoyes and her attorney, who hired their own traffic engineer to perform an analysis, are proposing instead that Holt Road itself be realigned to meet Old Jenks Road farther east.
Council appeared receptive to her concerns and approved the rezoning only after being reassured by town staff that the intersection’s traffic pattern could be revisited once the developers submit a site plan for the project.
“If I’m living in a townhouse along that road,” Councilman Wes Moyer said, “I’m not sure I want that to be the only option for trucks to come through.”
The council revisited two related items Aug. 15 that were denied when they first appeared on the Aug. 1 meeting’s agenda.
A yet-to-be-built portion of Reunion Creek Parkway was reclassified from a major collector to a minor collector under the town’s transportation map, an important distinction for the developer who wants to build homes along the road. Minor collector streets permit driveways that empty directly onto the road, while major collectors do not.
Council members unanimously approved both the amendment to the transportation map and the site plan for the subdivision, which will bring 45 houses to a 12-acre tract east of Reunion Creek Parkway’s existing terminus and south of the Miramonte neighborhood.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan