The homeowners in the Crooked Creek golf neighborhood suffered a setback in July when a judge denied a last-minute attempt to force the golf course to remain open, thus allowing developers to move forward with building homes on the course.
But they’re not taking that defeat sitting down.
A future court battle between the neighbors and the developers could still occur. In the meantime, residents have launched a preemptive strike against the potential development.
A few dozen people showed up at last week’s Fuquay-Varina Town Commissioners meeting, with 15 of them making public speeches against the development plans. It was a standing room-only crowd.
It is far too early for the town’s elected officials to formally act on anything, but Mayor John Byrne thanked them nonetheless for participating in the process.
“We’re still waiting on a response” from the developers, Byrne told the crowd. “We don’t know a time when this will come before our planning board, or our town board.”
The preliminary plans submitted to the town for the Trails at Crooked Creek project feature 136 homes on 101.7 acres, with much of the land set aside as open space. The new homes could be on lots as small as a quarter of an acre, while some existing homes are on lots as large as 1 acre.
Mike Sorenson, the director of Fuquay-Varina’s planning department, said potential designs for the neighborhood are still in the early stages.
“The plans we have are not the final plans,” Sorenson wrote in an email. “There are comments that the engineer of record has to address and then resubmit the plans.”
Nancy Unwin said she and her husband bought their home, currently on the ninth hole tee, “solely because of the golf course.” They’re now set to have views of five other homes’ backyards, instead of the fairway, if the plans go through.
She said that alone will reduce the value of their property. Unwin also said the developers have proposed building a new road through the community.
She said she thinks the road would be used by motorists trying to move along Lake Wheeler Road without getting stuck at the intersection with Hilltop-Needmore Road, which is the main road through Crooked Creek.
“This, on top of the already approved development on Lake Wheeler Road, will be a traffic nightmare,” she told the commissioners.
Dozens of homes just north of Crooked Creek on Lake Wheeler Road, in two neighborhoods called Brighton Ridge and Brighton Forest, are under construction, according to town records. Dozens more still await approval.
Monica Nowajczyk, a Crooked Creek homeowner, told town officials to be wary of approving the new Crooked Creek development if it comes before them.
“In the end, besides overcrowded schools and streets, you will lose the faith of the people in this area,” she said.
In the end, besides overcrowded schools and streets, you will lose the faith of the people in this area.
Crooked Creek resident Monica Nowajczyk
Some neighbors also offered constructive criticisms, especially regarding issues with open space and stormwater runoff. Most of the existing homes are not in town limits, so they said town officials might not be familiar with the layout of the area.
Karen Bachman said if any additional roads are built, they should have gutters, drains or other features to help get rid of standing water.
“When it rains, let me tell ya,” Bachman said. “The road floods completely in front of my house. ... It’s a dangerous situation. I did have one neighbor hydroplane and take out my mailbox. We’re just glad it wasn’t a child or a dog.”
Opposition to the new homes has also taken place outside the public realm.
One or more people recently sent anonymous letters to the residents who supported the developers during the legal proceedings. The letters contained bullying words and veiled threats of property damage.
Russell Killen, a lawyer for the developers, said he believes a Crooked Creek homeowner is responsible for the letters.
But the Friends of Crooked Creek, the main advocacy group in the neighborhood, has denied any involvement with the letters and said some of their members also have received nasty, anonymous notes themselves.
Because a lawsuit is still pending and the targets of the letters have signed affidavits for that case, Killen said, whoever wrote the letters could potentially face criminal charges of witness intimidation.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran