Cary News

Proposed projects could bring 270 more homes to west Cary

Town leaders will soon consider requests for two more residential developments in west Cary, an area where schools and roads already are crowded.

Several property owners on Wackena Road hope to rezone 58 acres of their land so that developers can build up to 130 homes, according to the most recent staff report.

Separately, a family with 46 acres on Indian Wells Road hopes to rezone its land so that developers can build up to 140 homes, according to town staff.

The Cary Town Council was scheduled to consider the requests at its meeting Oct. 16, but postponed action after developers asked for more time to tweak their proposals. It’s unclear when the requests will go before the Town Council again.

The land for both projects is between N.C. 55 and N.C. 540, with Carpenter Fire Station Road to the north and Green Hope School Road to the south.

The properties are within the Wake County school system’s student assignment area for Alston Ridge Elementary and Mills Park Middle – two of three west Cary schools that have enrollment caps. The school system is not expected to build another middle school in the area until 2019.

Roads are also clogged during rush hour because there are no major east-to-west routes in the area that connect N.C. 54, N.C. 55 and N.C. 540. The council recently reached an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to finish Morrisville Parkway and connect it to 540, but the project isn’t expected to be finished until at least 2018.

Though Cary council members often express concerns about rapid growth in the area, the council has not rejected a rezoning request this year because of crowding at local schools.

Council members frequently ask developers to reduce the density of their projects, and developers typically do so, albeit minimally, at times. Some council members have said they want to see three homes per acre at most.

Less than a month ago, the council approved a rezoning request allowing national builder Pulte Homes to build up to 140 homes on 47 acres on Green Hope School Road. Pulte agreed to reduce the density of the project from 3.6 homes per acre to 2.99 homes per acre.

The existing zoning for Wackena Road and Indian Wells Road allows for up to 1.08 homes per acre.

Unnamed developers have asked for up to 3.1 homes per acre on Wackena Road. Developers of the land on Indian Wells Road, known as the Phillips property, recently reduced the density of their proposal from 4.5 homes per acre to three homes per acre.

The continuous growth poses a question for Cary council members: Should they halt development in west Cary at some point, thereby preventing some of the town’s longest-residing taxpayers from selling their land?

At least one council member, Jennifer Robinson, is ready to pause development now. Robinson voted against Pulte’s plan. She says she’s not ready to approve any more developments in the area until Cary has the infrastructure to handle them.

Others council members, such as Don Frantz, have said they want to review each rezoning request and development proposal on their merits.

“What could be developed (in the future) versus what’s being proposed?” he said.

While at least one Wake County school board member has called on the Cary council to block new developments to reduce crowding at area schools, Frantz and others have said school crowding should be addressed by the county and school board.

The Republican-controlled Wake County Board of Commissioners provides funding to the Democrat-controlled Wake County school board to build schools.

Frantz, a Republican, said commissioners haven’t provided adequate funding for new facilities, and the school board hasn’t used the money to build schools where they’re needed most.

“Do they want us to stop becoming a desirable place to live?” Frantz said of the idea that Cary should halt growth.

“Every home is generating how much property tax revenue for the county? A lot.” he said. “Why aren’t those dollars coming back to Cary in the form of new schools?”

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