The Planning Board split 3-2 after a contentious debate last week to recommend approval of the proposed Barrington subdivision off Old Bunn Road.
The Zebulon commissioners will now consider the project and the conditions the planning board attached to its recommendation at the commissioners’ Feb. 6 meeting.
The planning board had tabled the matter in December after a lengthy public hearing where neighbors voiced concerns the 800-plus unit subdivision would hurt their property values.
Planning board members acknowledged those concerns at their Jan. 5 meeting, but the majority said they lacked the evidence required by the quasi-judicial process to reject the project.
“I believe that it will, to some extent, injure the value of the adjoining properties,” said Kenny Waldroup, the planning board’s vice chair. “I do not believe that it rises to the level of substantially injuring, from what has been entered into the record. This is a greenfield development. There’s always going to be the argument that in greenfield development there’s harmony issues and injury issues.”
Board members Larry Ray and Gene Blount opposed the project. David Covington was absent and board Chair Darryl Jones recused himself because he lives near the proposed development.
“I agree this is all in the future, and I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do think the neighbors have a legitimate grievance,” Blount said. “We all work hard to build our homes and make a life for ourselves, look after our families – we invest a lot of time. I do feel like this property is going to be a detriment to the value of the the people who are adjoining it.”
Ray agreed, saying he was disappointed because the neighbors who spoke against the rezoning request – Kim Bunn and Tom Hendrickson – said they were willing to compromise with the developer, 264 Investments, to come up with a plan that works for all parties.
The developers’ plan calls for a maximum of 837 units in a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes on about 210 acres at Old Bunn and Parks Village roads. If just one person occupied each unit it would increase Zebulon’s population by 16 percent, based on the latest head count of 4,964. Buildout, however, is expected to take seven to 10 years.
Kim Bunn’s Parks Village Road home and two more parcels she owns would be surrounded by the development. She was a minority owner in a corporation that sold the land against her will to 264 Investments.
Hendrickson wanted to buy some of the untapped land Barrington would surround and swap it for some of the land the developers own that borders Bennett-Bunn Plantation, which he owns and is on the National Historic Register.
“Apparently the developers were not (willing to compromise),” Ray said. “It’s a shame they couldn’t have worked that out before it got here.”
If just one person occupied each unit it would increase Zebulon’s population by 16 percent, based on the latest head count of 4,964. Buildout, however, is expected to take seven to 10 years.
Board member Sam Hayes said those were legal matters outside the planning board’s jurisdiction.
“I do think that is an unfortunate situation, however the role of this board is to take that as finding of fact that it is going to devalue their property substantially,” Hayes said. “If you can show me a fact that shows that it substantially devalues the property, I will (acknowledge) that, but I can’t vote for the emotion of it will devalue from that.”
Of the 84 conditions town staff proposed for the project, the developers have agreed to all but five.
▪ The developers want to leave a gap in a sidewalk on the east side of Parks Village Road, since it will need to be reconstructed when future roadway improvements are made. Town staff wants the developers to go ahead and construct the sidewalk, with it jutting out into the right of way, and the planning board agreed.
▪ Instead of paying for a $1 million greenway culvert under U.S. 64, the developers proposed an assessment where new subdivisions along the Beaverdam Creek Sewer Outfall corridor would share the cost. The planning board made a two-part motion: to accept the developers’ response of doing some sort of assessment, and to recommend that commissioners look into a policy for setting up such a cost-sharing arrangement.
▪ The planning board was satisfied with the developers’ proposed timeline for paying its total assessment for the culvert, no later than 36 months after phase one final plat approval.
▪ While town staff proposed all streets in the development be public, the developers want streets serving single-family homes and duplexes to be public and for townhomes to be private. The planning board sided with town staff.
▪ Town staff recommended every type of housing have at least one single-car garage. The developers want 80 percent of single-family homes and duplexes and 50 percent of the townhomes to have at least one single-car garage. The planning board compromised, recommending all single-family homes and duplexes have the garages but keeping the developers’ proposal of 50 percent for townhomes.