Two proposed developments at the intersection of Green Level Church and Carpenter Fire Station roads in west Cary have spurred resident protests and a petition.
Nearly 200 residents in the Amberly and Cary Park neighborhoods are concerned about a proposed development for offices and a day care center that could be built next to their neighborhoods at the southwest corner of the intersection.
A proposed development for a shopping center at the northwest corner of the intersection has raised similar concerns from residents who want the area to remain residential.
With the project on the southwest corner, property owners William and Billie Mills are seeking to rezone 6.35 acres at 7711 Carpenter Fire Station Road from residential to office and institutional. Five buildings would be constructed for offices and an 180-child day care center. The three one-story buildings and two two-story buildings would range in size from 7,500 to 13,500 square feet.
In response, a petition has circulated among Amberly and Cary Park residents, accumulating about 180 signatures as of Friday, Sept. 11. Residents who signed the petition at bit.ly/1JUGtWc are requesting conditions for the rezoning and development of the day care center property.
The petition requests specific mitigating conditions on the project to minimize impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, including having only one-story structures, reducing the density of the development and leaving an undisturbed 40-foot buffer from the property’s boundary.
“While we are not opposed to building offices on the property, we are asking for additional conditions for rezoning 7711 Carpenter Fire Station Road, in view of its location adjacent to two private, quiet, naturally beautiful and aesthetically designed residential communities,” the petition states.
Cary Park resident Mary McKinney Lee said some neighbors met with the project’s developer and property owners on Thursday, Sept. 10, to discuss these conditions prior to a public hearing on the proposed rezoning Thursday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Cary Town Council Chambers, 316 N. Academy St.
“We had a very productive meeting (Thursday) night and feel confident that we have come up with solutions that will work for both the developer and the homeowners,” Lee said in an email. “Our plan is to work through the details of the conditions with both the developer and the Town of Cary, and once agreed upon, present them to the Town Council at the public hearing.”
The 12 Amberly and Cary Park residents who created the petition listed concerns about traffic, noise and environmental impacts, as well as negative effects on property values. Several residents also have said that a day care is not a suitable use of the space.
“There are four day care centers within a two-mile radius,” said Cary Park resident Kamesh Munagala in an email. “There is absolutely no shortage of childcare spots. In fact, we repeatedly get calls from the recently opened brand-name centers asking if our children are available to join. This adds to the point that there is too much poorly thought-out retail development going on.”
Several of the residents who signed the petition asked the developer to be mindful of the effect the development will have on the residents living in the area.
“It appears the developer is trying to shove as many buildings into a small lot as possible,” Cary Park resident Jason Hillenbach wrote on the petition. “I realize they are out to make a profit, but they must also be cognizant of what they will be leaving behind and how it will impact the community.”
Proposed shopping center
Just across the street in the northwest corner of the intersection, another proposed development is worrying neighbors.
About 40 Amberly and Cary Park residents attended a neighborhood meeting on Sept. 9 to learn more about a shopping center proposed at 7712 Carpenter Fire Station Road.
Applicants Peggy and Grover Lewter of Cary are seeking to rezone a 22-acre parcel from residential to commercial to allow for the project’s development. The meeting at Town Hall was the first opportunity neighbors had to hear from developer, the Sembler Company of St. Petersburg, Fla.
But the developer did little to diminish residents’ anxiety, particularly in regards to traffic impacts, said Brian Dial, an Arlington Park resident. Arlington Park is a community within Amberly neighborhood.
The preliminary development map shows plans for seven buildings, ranging in size from 5,500 to 55,000 square feet, as well as a connection from the shopping center’s western driveway into Arlington Park via Northlands Drive. Town staff said the preliminary plan could change.
Several residents, including Gregory and Kateri Horvath, are especially worried about this connection because they live on Northlands Drive.
“The proposal of a secondary entrance off Carpenter Fire Station tying into Arlington Park would mean a cut-through path to the shopping center, which would increase traffic through a residential neighborhood where many of our children ride bikes and play, which we consider a major safety issue,” the couple wrote in an email to Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and Cary Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson.
The maximum 110,000-square-foot commercial development would be the third shopping center at the intersection. There is a shopping center at the southeast corner, which is anchored by Harris Teeter, and another is under development at the northeast corner.
But the northwest corner development would be the first retail one on the west side of the intersection, closest to the Amberly and Cary Park subdivisions.
“We are vehemently opposed to this rezoning,” Gregory and Kateri Horvath said in their email. “We already have commercial property on three out of the four corners ... With the current building of Parkside Town Commons (2.5 miles away), which is a mega-shopping complex, we do not see a need for another big-box retail complex nestled among a residential area.”
While some neighbors don’t want commercial development at the site at all, others would be satisfied with a different plan.
“It’s not really like a nice, walkable shopping center,” he said. “Honestly, it just looks like they put as many buildings and parking spots as possible.”
Cary Planning Manager Wayne Nicholas said town staff will now review the preliminary development plan. The next step would be a public hearing for the rezoning and comprehensive plan amendment later this year. The review and approval of the comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning by the planning board and Town Council could take seven to eight months.
Kathryn Trogdon; 919-460-2608; @KTrogdon