Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Meridian at Nichols Plaza’s rezoning petition had received preliminary approval from the town’s planning board as of July 3. The planning board discussed the petition at its July 11 meeting.
The high-rise buildings depicted in Apex’s recently adopted logo were meant to represent the town’s aspirations.
But a proposal for a four-story, 300-unit apartment complex on 15 acres behind the town’s new Costco could make them reality sooner rather than later.
Northview Partners said it plans to build two residential buildings of four stories each and several other two-story buildings that will combine parking bays with apartments on the second floor. The Raleigh-based developer has built similar projects with similar names around the Triangle, including Meridian at Harrison Pointe, Meridian at Wakefield and Meridian at Sutton Square.
The rezoning petition, to be considered at the Town Council’s July 19 meeting, would change the land’s residential-agricultural zoning designation to allow for high-density residential development, which is consistent with the town’s long-term land-use plan for the area.
The developers also wrote in their proposal that they hope the apartments’ location, in close proximity to retail outlets and parks, will “attract young professionals (millennials) to the town of Apex, which will in turn attract businesses to the town of Apex that are seeking quality employees.”
Drew Havens, Apex’s town manager, said town staff has recommended the petition’s approval.
“The people who want to live in apartments also like to be able to walk to services if they can,” Havens said. “And it’s within easy walking distance of restaurants, grocery stores, service offices.”
But Lisa Valdmets, an Apex resident, has started a petition asking the town not to approve the development, saying Northview Partners’ proposed complex, tentatively named Meridian at Nichols Plaza, threatens nearby ecology, including Apex Lake and Apex Community Park. Valdmets said she has a background in ecology and forest biology.
“It’s directly uphill from the park,” Valdmets said. “A lot of people will stop at the lake after work and enjoy it before they head home.”
Jason Barron, a lawyer representing Northview Partners, said his client is committed to abiding by the environmental regulations that are relevant to the site’s development.
Valdments said she wishes notification signs about the possible rezoning had been placed more visibly for lake visitors.
Some of those who signed the petition, which was posted on Change.org, left comments saying they fear increased housing density and worsening traffic in the area threatens Apex’s small-town character. They said the roads around the intersection of Laura Duncan Road and U.S. 64 have been inundated with more cars since Costco’s March opening.
More than 660 people had signed the petition by Thursday, June 30, the day Valdmets said she met with representatives from Northview Partners, who asked her to take the petition down. The meeting was set at the developers’ request, Valdmets said.
Barron confirmed this in an email.
“Ms. Valdmets now appears to be placing her frustrations with Costco on our proposal,” Barron wrote. “During our conversation with her it became evident that Ms. Valdmets, who is a frequent user of Apex Community Park, would prefer that no development occur on the property.”
Mayor Lance Olive praised the proposal as “the highest and best use for this land from a development standpoint.” He said he had seen no more reason to be concerned about the project’s environmental impact than any other, especially since apartment buildings produce less runoff per resident than detached houses. He said the relative flatness of the land, in this case, would allow any runoff to flow more slowly and sink into the ground more thoroughly.
Olive also addressed more general worries about Apex’s rapid growth.
“The fact is that demand for apartments is strong, and there’s been a lot of talk recently about affordable living for public servants in particular,” he said. “I can appreciate the concerns, but it’s not dealing with the reality that the area is growing. We don’t want to slam the door and say, ‘No newcomers, please.’ ”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan