Cary News

Cary’s Carpenter Village core project moves forward after changes

On Thursday, the Cary Town Council approved a rezoning request to allow for a mixed-use development off Morrisville Carpenter Road to allow up to 23 townhomes and up to 32 attached residential dwelling units, as well as commercial and office space.
On Thursday, the Cary Town Council approved a rezoning request to allow for a mixed-use development off Morrisville Carpenter Road to allow up to 23 townhomes and up to 32 attached residential dwelling units, as well as commercial and office space. Courtesy of Town of Cary

A proposed mixed-use development off Morrisville Carpenter Road that initially drew fire from some Carpenter Village residents can move forward after an approval from the Cary Town Council.

On Aug. 25, the council unanimously approved rezoning about 10 acres at the southeast corner of Gathering Park Circle and Morrisville Carpenter Road to allow for shops, offices, condos and townhomes in the Carpenter Village core. After residents complained the project wouldn’t complement their neighborhood, the developer made some changes to the plan to ease concerns.

“One thing that was important for me was, when this was originally proposed, there was a lot of angst and outcry initially,” councilman Don Frantz said. “As time went on and as the applicant made changes ... we started to hear from people that actually supported it.”

“The more people that got the confidence to come out and say they supported it, that said a lot to me,” he said.

This approval would allow up to 23 townhomes and up to 32 attached residential dwelling units, as well as commercial and office space. The attached residential dwelling or office space would be located on the upper levels of buildings, which would contain retail on the lower level.

About 10 people spoke in opposition of the proposal at a public hearing in April, but Thursday’s meeting only had one such speaker.

“Mostly I would say low interest is caused by resignation,” said Alicia Gordon, a Carpenter Village resident. “Many have simply been worn down and have given up the idea that we can do much more.”

At the meeting in April, residents cited concerns about building height, traffic and aesthetics that they didn’t believe complemented the existing Carpenter Village structures.

Since then, property owners, Ferrell Land Company LLC and Parkway Properties Group LLC, have removed their request to increase allowed building heights from three stories to four stories and reduced their request for allowed residential uses by four townhomes and 16 attached residential dwelling units.

“Almost as many people have reached out to me in support as have reached out to me in opposition,” said Debra Grannan, a senior planner with the town. “There are still concerns from several of the neighbors pertaining to architectural compatibility.”

But developer representatives said they would continue working with residents through the architectural review and site plan approval process to ensure the new buildings are architecturally consistent with existing buildings.

“Today, Carpenter Village is one of the best residential resell neighborhoods in the state, and the reason that is is because we’ve been very mindful of the neighborhood through the tenure and the years of development,” said Mike Hunter, one of the principal developers of Carpenter Village. “Architecturally, we have been successful. We have a proven track record, and we have no intention of letting that change.”

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.

Most of the council members supported the changes that were made to the plan and believed the development would be complementary to the existing neighborhood.

“I think the applicant has done a lot to try to ameliorate the concerns that the people have expressed,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said. “I have confidence that it’s going to be built in a way that is going to be sympathetic and attractive to the community.”

Councilwoman Lori Bush said her main concern when the development was originally proposed was the front-facing garages on the townhomes because it’s not like other townhomes in Carpenter Village.

“Since these townhomes are kind of surrounded by the office and you don’t really see them from the road, and someone who has a nice townhouse with no garage isn’t going to be looking at a garage, I think that gives me a little bit of pause,” she said.

In other business

The council also:

▪ Considered rezoning 7.71 acres at 2428 and 2436 Carpenter Upchurch Road to allow for up to 40 detached dwelling units or townhomes. This case was referred to the town’s planning and zoning board.

▪ Approved removing the designation of a Cary historic landmark from 0.19 acres of the rear portion of the Guess-White-Ogle House property at the request of the property owner.

▪ Approved entering into a lease with Piedmont Conservation Council for 29 acres of town-owned property known as AM Howard Farm near Morrisville Carpenter Road and Louis Stephens Drive to license plots to farmers for farming purposes. The council also approved appropriating $57,289 for this effort.

▪ Approved construction of a sidewalk on South Walker Street from East Chatham Street to Waldo Road and North Harrison Avenue from East Johnson Street to Kingswood Drive for fiscal year 2016-17.

Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon

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