Southwest Wake News

Apex rethinks mixed-use standards

Tired of seeing subdivisions with grocery stores masquerading as mixed-use projects, the Apex Town Council is increasing development standards.

From now on if a developer wants to rezone property for mixed use, the project must be about 30 percent non-residential. Without hitting that figure, the project isn’t likely to get approval.

It’s all part of Apex’s efforts to bring in more live-work neighborhoods.

Most Apex residents have to commute outside of town for work. Bringing more commercial and industrial development would help alleviate some of the road congestion and travel times for residents, especially as the town’s population is expected to continue to grow, according to council members.

The Town Council unanimously voted to approve the new 30 percent mixed-use policy during a special meeting Feb. 26.

Westford, a 100-acre development approved last year off U.S. 64 near Jenks Road, is a prime example of a missed opportunity for more mixed use, said Councilman Bill Jensen.

“They wound up with 900 (potential) housing units with a market in the middle,” Jensen said. “It’s not really mixed use.”

Westford is expected to include up to 550,000 square feet of commercial and office space, which is about 12 percent non-residential. Under the new guidelines the project likely wouldn’t have been rezoned.

The council also considered 15 percent and acreage requirements as alternatives, but decided 15 percent was not a high enough number to bring in commercial, offices or industrial growth.

The 30 percent figure is essentially a goal or standard. The council was hesitant to make it an ordinance change.

“I look at it as an area-wide goal,” said Councilman Gene Schulze. “Let’s see if it works.”