Clayton News-Star

Clayton tables decision on Steeplechase

Wakefield Development Co. wants to build up to 2,200 homes on the 630-acre Earp property on the north side of Clayton.
Wakefield Development Co. wants to build up to 2,200 homes on the 630-acre Earp property on the north side of Clayton. ndunn@newsobserver.com

Still waiting on a revised traffic study, Clayton leaders didn’t vote Monday on a proposed neighborhood that would give another boost to the town’s growing population.

Wakefield Development Co. wants to build a 2,200-home subdivision, Steeplechase, on about 630 acres on the north side of town.

The town’s Planning Board has recommended approval of the development. However, the Clayton Town Council on Monday agreed to table a decision until it has a better grasp on what road improvements will be needed to accommodate increased traffic.

Wakefield Development’s traffic consultant first proposed about 60 road improvements over two phases. The town has asked the consultant to submit a revised study with additional upgrades that are more accurately tied to the development’s planned 36 phases.

Clayton Planning Director Dave DeYoung expected the revised study to come in this past week. The Town Council will next discuss Steeplechase at its work session on March 16.

When the Town Council does vote on the subdivision, a super-majority, or four of five councilmen, will have to OK the plan for it to win approval. The town has received a valid petition against Steeplechase, which is requiring the super-majority vote.

The more than two dozen people who signed the petition all live in one of two subdivisions that would adjoin Steeplechase, Smith Ridge Estates and Ole Mill Stream.

The Ole Mill Stream Homeowners Association sent its own list of petitioners, who are concerned about the future increase in traffic, among other things.

Ole Mill Stream resident Mark Altman, who has repeatedly asked Clayton leaders to take their time in considering Steeplechase, said he’s not against growth, but it has to be smart growth.

“I’ve seen Wake Forest explode and northern Durham explode,” Altman said.

“I would implore you to have a little wake-up call with Steeplechase,” he added. “Those types of developments will keep on coming.”

In recent weeks, neighbors like Altman have packed town meetings to oppose aspects of the subdivision. Wakefield Development has worked with the town to alter parts of its proposal to try to ease neighbors’ fears.

For instance, after neighbors complained that Steeplechase, with an average of four houses per acre, was too dense, Wakefield Development moved one of its densest phases – a section of town homes – further away from the neighboring subdivisions.

Wakefield Development also cut two of four proposed connections to streets in Smith Ridge Estates and Ole Mill Stream. Neighbors were worried that Steeplechase residents would use their streets as a cut-through.

The two remaining street connections are now likely to be access points for first responders only. However, Smith Ridge Estate residents have remained adamant that they don’t want any connections, even if the access is available only to first responders.

Town of Clayton staffers want the connections from Steeplechase to Smith Ridge Estates and Ole Mill Stream, which currently have just one way in and out. Wakefield Development’s land specialist, Clayton resident Kem Ard, has said the company is willing to cut the emergency connections. But the Town Council will decide whether to require them.

Altman, the Ole Mill Stream resident, has also asked that Wakefield Development widen a proposed buffer between Steeplechase and his subdivision. Ard said the company will consider his request.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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