Soon, developers in this town might have to set aside more green space.
Apex town staff is working on a plan that will eventually go before the Town Council. Councilman Bill Jensen requested the town require developers set aside more land for recreation.
He said he was inspired by a recent dispute. Neighbors on Chapel Ridge Road complained about a plan to build 193 townhomes near their neighborhood.
Several Town Council members also voiced concerns but voted to approve the new neighborhood anyway. The proposal complied with town rules, and Apex could have faced a lawsuit if the council had denied the project.
Jensen said if the town can’t stop developers from building, it could at least force them to add more amenities and devote more space for ball fields and other recreational uses.
“The subdivisions are coming at us like machine gun fire, and I’m not even sure we can control growth by limiting building permits,” Jensen said. “So if all these subdivisions come in and do what they want, we’re going to grow at a tremendous rate.”
Jensen’s proposal is short on details, and town staff plans to add the proper language.
But the general idea, which the Town Council voted unanimously to send to staff, is that every new subdivision of 50 or more units must build a recreation space equal to the number of units multiplied by .006 acres.
The 193-unit Hempstead at Beaver Creek development that spurred the proposal will have about half an acre of recreation space. If Jensen’s proposal had been in place, developers would have been required to set aside more than an acre.
There is a “significant” strain on Apex’s parks due to the the town’s housing boom, said John Brown, the town’s parks and recreation director.
“There have been more people coming into town, unprecedented growth, that sort of thing,” Brown said.
Jensen said he believes that if people stay in their neighborhoods to play, it will ease crowding at the town’s public parks and also help the environment by taking cars off the road.
Next, the proposal will go before the citizen-led parks, recreation and cultural resources advisory committee, which will make changes and additions at a meeting Wednesday.
Then the planning board will review it and possibly make changes before sending it back to the Town Council for a final vote.
“We need to develop ourselves into a live-work, live-play community,” Jensen said. “And this is just part of the pie.”