Cary News

Cary residents concerned about proposed development in Carpenter Village

A 10-acre property in northwestern Cary’s Carpenter Village may finally be built out with shops, offices, condos and townhomes after 20 years of standing partially vacant.

But some residents, including Alicia Gordon, believe that “their best hope in years” of seeing development at the site is not good enough.

Property owners Ferrell Land Company LLC and Parkway Properties Group LLC are seeking to rezone the property at the southeast corner of Gathering Park Circle and Morrisville Carpenter Road. This would allow for up to 27 townhomes and up to 48 attached residential dwelling units, as well as commercial and office space in the area’s “village core.”

The attached residential dwelling units and potentially some office space would be located on the upper levels of buildings, which would contain retail and/or office space on the lower level. The buildings could be up to four stories tall.

But about 10 Cary residents attended Thursday’s Town Council meeting in opposition of the rezoning, citing concerns such as building height, traffic and aesthetics that don’t complement the existing Carpenter Village structures.

“The requested rezoning, if passed, would allow the shops with condos above to be four stories tall, instead of two or three, as well as allow townhouses to be built with no stores at all as their first floor,” Gordon said. “Both of these ideas would ruin the feel of the village shops and entrance to our subdivision. The tone of our neighborhood would be changed for the worse.”

But Gordon said she would like to see the land developed, if it’s the right project.

“I dearly, dearly want shops to go in the core,” she said. “So for me to speak up against the rezoning, our best hope in years, please know that I must really not like it. ... (The developers) have shown that they don’t get it, and that scares me.”

Patrick O’Neal, owner of The Real Estate Company, the sales and marketing company representing the developer, said the height of the buildings is required to make the project affordable.

“The developers have wanted to make something that would really work well for Carpenter Village and complete the vacant spot that has been there for 20 years now,” he said.

There already are some nonresidential properties on the site, including a nearly 10,000-square-foot day care facility. The district’s plan currently allows for up to about 105,000 square feet of commercial and retail space; 46,000 square feet of office space; and a 65,000-square-foot retirement center.

The change would replace the 65,000 square feet planned for a retirement center with the townhomes and attached residential dwelling units. It also would prohibit certain commercial uses, including motels, car sales or rental facilities or animal hospitals.

Mike Hunter, one of the principal developers of Carpenter Village, said they had gone through a number of different companies to finish the project during the past 20 years and none of them were “able to get to the finish line.”

“We believe we finally found a company ... that could help us finish our vision in keeping with what the original concept was,” he said. “Yes, there are changes. Quite frankly, I think the changes are to the positive.”

The council referred the rezoning case to the town’s planning and zoning board for its recommendation. It likely will return to the council in a few months.

Council members said they hope to see the residents continue to work with the developer to come up with a plan that everyone could support.

“I hear the residents and their concerns, and I also heard that they would like to see something built there, and I think that is a great starting point,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said. “ ... There’s a distance between them, but I don’t think it can’t be overcome. I think there’s potential there.”

In other business

The council also:

▪ Received a report from Tyler Bray, the town’s transportation planning engineer, about the Raleigh-Cary Rail Crossing Study. It recommends two grade-separated crossings at Northeast Maynard Road and Trinity Road using bridges. There is no funding for design or construction of these recommendations.

▪ Considered several land development ordinance amendments, including one to eliminate the Sweetgum as a champion tree.

▪ Approved the fiscal year 2017 community development block grant annual action plan funding recommendations. The town expects to receive $556,679 in Community Development Block Grant Funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016. Part of this funding would go toward affordable housing, public facilities and public services, including Habitat for Humanity, Dorcas Ministries and the White Oak Foundation projects.

▪ Approved appropriating $30,000 to install safety netting at the USA Baseball National Training Facility.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon