Town Council OKs townhome projects in western Cary

aspecht@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2013 

— Western Cary will soon be home to two more townhome developments.

One project calls for 144 townhomes on 26 acres on Cary Glen Boulevard between Green Level Church Road and Carpenter Fire Station Road. No one spoke in opposition to the project at Thursday’s Town Council meeting, and the council voted unanimously to approve it.

Plans for the other project – known as Green Hope Crossing – include 169 townhomes and eight detached homes on 59 acres on Green Hope School Road east of N.C. 540.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the project. Councilman Jack Smith cast the only dissenting vote after neighbors said they worried the project would hurt property values in the Highcroft subdivision and snarl traffic.

The developer, Meritage Homes, plans to extend Boscawen Lane and Piermont Drive westward through Green Hope Crossing from Highcroft subdivision in the east.

Opponents of the plan said townhome residents would use those “narrow” roads to cut through the Highcroft subdivision to Highcroft Drive Elementary School.

Some said they worried about Green Level Church Road, too.

“Traffic there is always an issue,” said Jean-Paul Haub. “Until Green Hope School Road is bigger … heck, you can’t put 50 more units on that road.”

Smith said the issue brought the town’s policies for quasi-judicial hearings into question.

When examining whether a development proposal would affect things like traffic or property values, town rules instruct the council to consider testimony of certified experts only.

“We get into debates over what’s considered expert testimony. There’s gotta be a way we can get a handle on that definition,” Smith said. “Citizens come in and have expert testimony equal to that of those with credentials, and they’re dismissed.”

Experts testifying on behalf of the developer said the townhomes would not affect property values or make traffic unsafe.

Nearby property owners disagreed, and said they would have hired their own experts if they had known about the proposal before late November.

“We weren’t given enough time to prove our cases,” said Bin Wang, who lives nearby.

Rules require that the town notify adjacent property owners of such a proposal 10 to 25 days before it is considered.

Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson agreed that the notification time “isn’t really sufficient.”

Councilwoman Lori Bush pointed out that more expert opinion may not have changed the council members’ minds.

“If we gave them more time, would my answer be any different?” Bush asked. “Council always leans toward citizen input. I’m not sure that extra time would give me any more valuable information.”

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

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