Proposed western Cary mixed-use project gets mixed reviews

aspecht@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2013 

— A proposed mixed-use development in western Cary has gained some supporters, but many still say the project would compromise the community’s rural character and bring too much traffic to Morrisville Parkway.

Developers want to put up to 285 apartments and retail space on 21 acres at the corner of Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road.

After hearing concerns about the project from residents last month, the Cary Town Council extended a public hearing. Dozens of people showed up for the hearing Thursday, and most who spoke said they oppose the project.

But the proposal has newfound support among the board of directors of nearby Heritage Pines community.

The group previously worried that Green Hope High School students would cut through the neighborhood during their lunch break to get to fast-food restaurants.

But in the last month, the Heritage Pines board reached an agreement with the developer to prohibit drive-thrus as part of the project, said board member Alan Garelick.

“Since we are the closest community to this construction site, they are trying their best to help us out, and we’ve agreed to back them on this plan,” Garelick said.

Victoria Olsen Miller of Cary said she would prefer to see the land become a park, but under the area’s current zoning designation, the town could potentially approve an even bigger shopping center, she said.

A mixed-use development would be a bit smaller in scale.

Property owners Olde Carpenter LLC want the town to rezone the land to make way for the project.

“This is not about what we want to make it into,” Miller said. “This is about owners that… have the right to develop.”

Others said they held out hope that the property could be developed without bringing so much traffic.

“No one doubts that we need to develop this land,” said Margaret Struble. “This just does not feel like the best use for the property.”

Mark Wainwright, who lives in the nearby Lake Ridge neighborhood, said the proposed project would put western Cary on the brink of becoming urban.

“Getting out of... Lake Ridge has become more difficult every day,” he said. “We have only one road in and out of our development, and at times it’s a long wait until we can exit safely.”

About two dozen people in the audience stood up in support of Wainwright.

Town Council members didn’t weigh in on the proposal Thursday. The rezoning proposal likely will go before the Planning and Zoning Board for a recommendation in December or January.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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