The Clayton Planning Board has given the green light to The Pines, a 240-unit apartment complex on N.C. 42 East at Glen Laurel Road.
Former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt and his brother own the land, where the developer also plans a self-storage units and commercial center. At its meeting last week, the planning board tabled plans for the self-storage units until its Jan. 25 meeting. The developer has not yet submitted plans for the commercial center.
Developer Brantley Tillman of Commercial Properties said a national grocer would anchor the commercial center, though no deal has been done. Tillman asked the planning board to table action on the storage units, explaining that cost negotiations were ongoing and could alter the design of the units.
The 49-acre Hunt property fronts two-lane N.C. 42, but the developer plans to build the project to accommodate a wider highway. That project is on the N.C. Department of Transportation’s do-to list.
Planning board members scrutinized the apartments’ impact on an already well-traveled N.C. 42, questioning whether proposed traffic improvements were enough to keep motorists safe. The development will have one traffic signal, eventually, about a third of a mile east of Glen Laurel Road and two “right-in, right-outs” – one into the commercial center and another into The Pines.
It was the “eventually” of the traffic signal that troubled planning board members.
“It seems really dangerous to have someone turning back towards Clayton without a stoplight,” planning board member George Coates said.
Garry Walston, an engineer with Bass, Nixon and Kennedy, said the N.C. Department of Transportation makes traffic-light decisions.
“The light goes in when NCDOT says there’s enough traffic to warrant it,” Walston said. “It could be the commercial portion, it could be the apartments. ... We’d like to put it in, but it’s up to NCDOT.”
Walston said the DOT hasn’t finished its plans for the section of N.C. 42 along the development, making it hard to answer traffic questions.
“We’re going to have to build the road to function,” he said.
The mixed-use complex will be essentially divided in half between the commercial space and the apartments. A street will run from N.C. 42 through the middle of the property, extending toward East Clayton Community Park. Plans call for a stub-out between the Hunt property and the park land, but planning board member Jim Lee wanted to make sure the street would actually lead somewhere.
“I don’t to want to plan for the stub just for fun, but build it if it’s needed,” he said.
The town has made no commitment to building an entrance to the park through the development, but planning director David DeYoung said the town would revisit the stub as the commercial side of the project comes up.
As for The Pines itself, the complex will have 10 apartment buildings, plus a 5,300-square-foot clubhouse, a quarter-acre playground, a small dog park, a pool and a mile of sidewalks with a half-mile of walking trails.
“It’s very walkable,” Walston said.
The main entrance will have a cascading waterfall. Jim Dempster of the adjacent Fox Ridge neighborhood fears he’ll see a waterfall of another sort. The runoff from the east end of the Hunt property will collect and travel along Dempster’s land, and he wants assurances his property won’t suffer.
“I’m willing to work with them, I just need to know what they’re going to do,” Dempster said. “My biggest concern is an embankment of large pines could saturate after heavy rains and those pines could come down”
DeYoung said the town’s planning department would ensure all parties stay at the table as the developer and Dempster negotiate runoff solutions.
The Clayton Town Council won’t review plans for The Pines. It signed off on the mixed-use master plan last month.
What was originally planned to be a restaurant will now be a medical office building. The third stage of the Amelia Station planned development will be a multi-tenant medical office building, completing the project that also brought Sheetz and the Amelia Station apartments to south Clayton.
Planning director David DeYoung said plans for a store or 3,000-square-foot restaurant on the 1.4-acre parcel had morphed into a 10,000 square foot office building.
“The square footage differs, but the overall traffic and use are similar,” DeYoung said of the change. “It will actually be a less intensive use than a restaurant.”
The one-story office building will have an entrance on the front and back sides. It will stand at the corner of NC 42 East and Short Johnson Road.
The planning board had no questions for the developer in unanimously approving the office building.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson