In Holly Springs, multi-family project could set precedent

akenney@newsobserver.comJune 14, 2013

Density is coming to Holly Springs, and growing pains come with it.

A developer is seeking permission to build townhomes or apartments on a 17-acre lot surrounded by existing neighborhoods in central Holly Springs.

The plan is provoking protests and petitions from local neighborhoods, and the rezoning will go to a Holly Springs Town Council vote on Tuesday.

The West Holly Springs Road project would include densities up to eight units per acre – more intense than what Pam Davison had expected to see next to her Oak Hall subdivision.

Earlier this year, she and her neighbors gathered about 135 signatures opposing the project as proposed.

Currently, the land is zoned for up to 3.25 units per acre. But the land falls within one of the town’s “community growth areas,” designated over the last few years for higher densities. The town generally expects up to 15 units per acre in these areas.

“A community growth area calls for a mix of uses: commercial, retail and slightly higher-density residential,” said Town Planner Sean Ryan.

But Davison argues that this is an about-face from what she expected in 2003, when she bought into her neighborhood just northeast of the N.C. 55 Bypass and West Holly Springs Road.

“It’s not necessarily that the town is allowing denser development. The town is encouraging it,” she said. “The town is really pushing for higher densities in these core development areas, regardless of what the adjoining neighborhoods are.”

Still, the Oak Hall neighbors see room for compromise, she said. Developer Glenn Futrell had settled some complaints by agreeing to install a 30-foot buffer, compared to the required 10-foot semi-opaque divider.

The developer also had agreed with neighbors’ calls to cancel a road connection between Oak Hall and the new multi-family area, which would adjoin a new five-acre commercial area.

Some neighbors believe the new Gramer Road connection to West Holly Springs Road would invite more traffic into their subdivision. But the town may require installation of the link anyway, as called for in its “connectivity ordinances.”

At staff’s recommendation, Futrell is no longer asking for an exception to the rules requiring the road connection. However, the Town Council may decide itself on Tuesday whether to have the road built.

They may be setting precedent for a wave of new development in suburban Holly Springs.

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or

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