Cary, NC – The latest Cary Town Council meeting saw numerous Public Hearings but little public input on them, while multiple citizens came out to speak against a proposed hotel project along Weston Parkway, all rung in by the Cary Town Crier ahead of Lazy Daze.
Note: Councilmember Jennifer Robinson was not in attendance at this meeting.
As the meeting began, Town Council tabled the two Discussion Items on the agenda, which were a vote on the N Harrison Avenue hotel project and an amendment to the Village at the Park Planned Development District to change the distribution of residential and office space.
Green Level Mixed Use Destination Center
The Public Hearing that saw the most discussion from Town Council was an amendment to part of the destination center along Green Level West Road and NC-540. The land in question is 69.96 acres; by comparison, the Fenton Development is around 90 acres.
The amendment would allow for between 300,000 to 750,000 square feet of office, medical and institutional land, a maximum of 250 residential dwellings, a maximum of 55,000 square feet of commercial space with the potential for a hospital or hotel. The land is bisected by Green Level West Road and residential space would only be allowed on the Southern portion. Other zoning conditions include reducing the streetscapes by around 50 percent to intentionally give the area an “urban” feel, allowing for angled and parallel parking, raising stormwater retention walls higher than ordinances allow. Also, the project would require relocating a historic cottage from the early 20th Century.
Among the conditions put in place lay out what the interior roads would look like and access for cyclists is not uniform throughout it, which Mayor Pro Tem Lori Bush said she had concerns about. But town staff said this is something they are working to correct. Bush and other councilmembers also asked about the size of the retention walls and wanted to make sure they would not be visible from the road, as they said this would be a problem if so, and town staff said they would be presented with some more information on that down the line.
However, the most discussion came when Bush and Councilmember At-Large Ed Yerha proposed a work session on this zoning item. Because of its size and the detailed questions brought up at the meeting, both said the project warranted it. However, Councilmembers Jack Smith and Don Frantz said the majority of the project has been analyzed and compared against the Cary Community Plan and it while it is large, it is not a particularly complicated plan. Therefore, both said a work session would not be necessary. In the end, Town Council leaned toward doing a work session though Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said it could likely be a short one if many questions are answered as Smith and Frantz said. The case then went to the Planning and Zoning Board for their analysis.
Cary Pointe Rezoning
The Public Hearing for land by NC-55 and Morrisville Parkway dealt with both an amendment to an existing rezoning and a rezoning for an adjacent property. The amendment shaved off some land from the rezoning to avoid stream buffers there. The land in question would house a maximum of 120 age-restricted apartment units with a maximum height of 55 feet.
The other rezoning was for nearby land to create a maximum of 25,000 square feet of commercial space. Streetscapes here would also be reduced from 50 feet to 30 feet. There are also conditions in place limiting the kind of commercial uses allowed here.
Town Council’s only questions were about what streetscapes are like in the vicinity to compare what the applicant is asking for with what exists in the area. The case then went to the Planning and Zoning Board for their analysis.
Camp Branch Farms
This Public Hearing was to rezone around 25 acres of a 75.5 acre parcel off of Pierce Olive Road. This land is not yet annexed, though its annexation is currently in review and has already had a Public Hearing.
The site in question is near the planned NC-540 expansion and would be rezoned to Transitional Residential Conditional Use to allow for detached dwellings, semi-detatches dwellings and townhouses as well as neighborhood recreation buildings. The whole site is limited to 71 units with single family homes allowed on one side of the property and townhouses on the other, at a density of roughly 2.7 units per acre. There are also conditions in place for aesthetics of all buildings.
The unique aspect of this area, and a potential sticking point for Town Council, is a 50,000 square foot triangular portion by the spot where transmission lines run through. This is considered open space and the rezoning calls it a “scenic overlook.” Frantz said this would possibly only give people an overlook of the highway but the applicant’s lawyer said there is a 70 foot drop in this space so it would allow for a wider view.
“Will this be a place people really want to see?” Frantz asked. He also requested a visual of what this scenic overlook would look like, including its drop off. The case then went to the Planning and Zoning Board for their analysis.
Roberts and Page Road Annexation
Normally annexations do not get public comment during a Public Hearing but one item to annex properties on the border of Apex got one resident to come out. The speaker talked more about what this land would become with a proposed rezoning rather than the annexation itself, saying it would result in much denser housing than is currently there. She also said it would exacerbate problems with water run-off.
However, as Weinbrecht said, Town Council has not been presented with this rezoning yet so they are unfamiliar with the case. The case then went to the Planning and Zoning Board for their analysis.
The final Public Hearing of the evening saw the most public comment as Town Council voted on whether to demolish and remove a detached dwelling on 130 Gold Meadow Dr. Town staff showed photographs of the property in question, which is currently vacant and falling apart, with repair costs estimated at around 130 percent of the house’s value.
One of the speakers was president of this neighborhood’s Home Owners Association and said the house has been in disrepair for nearly a decade and is a hazard to the community, going as far as to call it a “dump.” Also speaking was the house’s owner who asked for a 90-day extension to get her belongings out of the house rather than the seven days in the resolution, saying she works seven days a week and does not have time to get items out of the house in the time allotted.
Town Council did not appear to question whether or not the building should be demolished but instead tried to determine how much time the resident had to get her belongings out before the contract starts. While the councilmembers expressed sympathy for the homeowner, several also said she had years to get her belongings out of the house. As a compromise, the proposal was amended to extend the deadline from seven days to 15 days.
Town Council voted 5-1 for this plan, with Weinbrecht casting the sole no vote.
Other Public Hearings
Other Public Hearings included two annexations, one for a portion at the intersection of NW Cary Parkway and Evans Road and one for land along Old Trinity Circle and Deerwood Place. Neither saw any public input or Town Council discussion.
Another Public Hearing was for a technical amendment on the Fenton Development, allowing more flexibility in the company listed to buy the property, since Columbia Development Group, LLC will be working with other business entities.
Public Speaks Out
There were multiple residents at Public Speaks Out, six of whom were talking about the proposed hotel project along Weston Parkway in the Wessex neighborhood. Their complaints included the proposed building height, reducing the streetscape and the high volume of traffic already present on Weston Parkway.
Two speakers also came out to complain about speeds and reckless driving on Lake Pine Road and Plantation Road, while also thanking Town Council for new solar lights added to stop signs in this area.
One other speaker also talked about a coming annexation and rezoning case in the Scott Farms subdivision near the Apex border, which would bring in a gas station. The speaker said this would create more traffic as well as possible pollution.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Google Maps, the Town of Cary and Michael Papich. Community coverage sponsored in part by Waverly Place in Cary.