Southwest Wake News

Apex rezones land for hundreds of new homes, apartments

During the Apex Town Council’s last meeting before the majority of the board shifts from pro-growth to slow-growth, a number of development projects received approval.

At the Nov. 17, while the proposed Sweetwater development was a focal point of debate, it wasn’t the only development up for discussion. The council rezoned a half-dozen properties that, combined, can now hold up to 668 new homes, townhouses or apartments.

Several of the projects had been zoned commercially for years yet remained empty. Others had been zoned for lower-density residential growth.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the new council will be sworn in at 7 p.m. Lance Olive will take over as mayor, replacing Bill Sutton, and Wesley Moyer will replace Scott Lassiter on the council. Just before the changes are made, though, the outgoing board will vote on annexing the land for Sweetwater, a development that has generated some controversy.

The vote is expected to pass, giving Sweetwater the green light to begin construction.

The 165-acre mixed-use project was originally presented as a plan for 600 homes and some commercial development. After a series of negotiations with the council, the developers whittled the project down to 418 homes – a decrease of about a third.

The project also is expected to include office buildings, restaurants and shops, and the developers will spend about $5 million on road and utilities work for the town.

Despite the concessions and promised spending, the project has attracted concerns from some residents in town, where opinions that Apex is growing too fast dominated the recent election.

Here’s a look at some of the other projects discussed Nov. 17.

Salem Pointe

The decision: Rezoning 12.8 acres to allow for up to six lots per acre.

Details: There could be as many as 77 homes and townhomes where Salem Street and Salem Church Road come together and become Old Apex Road. The project mostly will be townhomes with the possibility for some traditional houses as well.

Vote: 4-1 with Nicole Dozier, Scott Lassiter, Gene Schulze and Denise Wilkie in favor. Bill Jensen was opposed.

Background: In August, the town nearly rejected this development, even though it met all the requirements. Local leaders said they would do so to encourage potential legal action from the developer. Then, Apex could challenge a new state law that removed local boards’ power to require certain aesthetic or design standards. In this case, the council wanted the townhomes to have porches, but the developer didn’t want to add the cost. Ultimately, the town’s plan to invite a lawsuit never materialized as the developer agreed to put porches on some units, which satisfied local leaders.

Beaver Creek Crossing apartments

The decision: Rezoning 28.6 acres to allow for a larger apartment complex.

Details: The land between N.C. 540, U.S. 64 and Green Level Church Road already was approved for 10 units per acre for a total of 286 units. The developers asked permission to increase to 12 units per acre for a total of 343 units.

Vote: 3-2 with Lassiter, Schulze and Wilkie in favor. Dozier and Jensen were opposed.

Background: The developers said they tried to recruit a non-residential partner to part of the site. Unable to do so, they asked for more apartments. Jensen said he didn’t like the 20-percent increase, saying it will bring more traffic to an already congested area. But Dianne Kihn, the town’s planning director, said the changes will help businesses in the nearby shopping centers.

McKenzie Meadows

The decision: Rezoning 61.4 acres for a new subdivision with up to three homes per acre.

Details: The land is northwest of Apex Friendship High School between between Humie Olive, Richardson and Ragan roads. The development will be able to include 184 new homes. It’s next to another new development, Stillwater, that contains 243 luxury homes.

Vote: 3-2 with Lassiter, Schulze and Wilkie in favor. Dozier and Jensen were opposed.

Background: Notes from a July neighborhood meeting show nearby residents were concerned about their rural area turning more suburban, but that they were happy there wouldn’t be any apartments or townhomes.

Kelly Road changes

The decision: Rezoning 17.3 acres of land on Kelly Road from commercial to residential.

Details: The land is directly east of the Abbington neighborhood and has sat empty for the last 20 years, as the owners have tried and failed to bring in a commercial partner. A half-dozen grocery stores passed on the land, the developer said. The developer now wants to switch strategies and build 49 homes on the land.

Vote: Unanimous.

Background: The town’s staff opposed the rezoning. But Abbington residents support the rezoning, and Apex’s planning board approved it as well.

Ten-Ten Road apartments

The decision: Rezoning for 21.2 acres on Ten-Ten Road to become an apartment complex with a small commercial area.

Details: The land had been zoned entirely for commercial development, but no retailers have shown interest in the site, which is next to the highway on-ramp from Ten-Ten Road to U.S. 1 North. The new zoning allows for as many as 273 apartments on the site, while 1.7 acres remain commercial.

Vote: Unanimous.

Background: Local broker Tommy Drake represents the Mangum family that owns the land. He brought Costco to Apex as well as Hendrick Toyota and other commercial developments. If this property could have been developed commercially, Drake said, he would have done it.

Jason Barron, a real estate lawyer, said the council shouldn’t fear having a high-density housing project at this busy intersection. “The demand for people coming to this area is here,” he said. “And the moment you start to squeeze density down, you squeeze it out.”

Colby Chase Drive

The decision: Rezoning 7.6 acres of land for 15 homes on Colby Chase Drive.

Details: The land is between the Pemberly, Miramonte and Merion neighborhoods.

Vote: Unanimous.

Background: Nearby residents and developer Michael Whitehead asked the council not to extend Colby Chase Drive from N.C. 55 to Kildaire Farm Road. The council didn’t vote on the road issue but indicated they likely would extend the road, despite worries over traffic. Police Chief John Letteney said it’s a safety issue.

West Apex subdivision approvals

Apex leaders also granted unanimous approval to plans for two new major subdivisions that already have passed through several stages of prior approvals, including rezoning. The approvals also guaranteed more than $1.1 million in revenue to help build or maintain parks.

Richardson West, on 70.6 acres south of the Sweetwater property, won approval for its 121-home subdivision plan at the corner of Olive Chapel and Richardson roads. The developers agreed to pay Apex about $360,000 in fees that will go to the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. The neighborhood will connect to the American Tobacco Trail.

Jordan Manors, on 121.1 acres in the New Hill area, won approval for its 240-home subdivision plan on New Hill Olive Chapel Road, just north of Old U.S. 1. The developers agreed to pay Apex about $770,000 in parks fees and to donate a right-of-way that will help the town build a greenway in the future to connect the neighborhood with the American Tobacco Trail.

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran