Apex OKs residential development

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 2, 2014 

— A new residential development will bring up to 368 townhomes, single-family detached homes and custom-built homes off of Wimberly and Jenks roads.

The Apex Town Council voted unanimously last month to approve rezoning The Preserve at White Oak from rural residential to a planned development with residences.

With about 122 acres, The Preserve is a large development, but not the biggest.

The Beckwith project, which includes 318 units on 198 acres, is the town’s largest project approved in the past year, said Town Manager Bruce Radford.

In the last five years, the Town Council has also approved Salem Village with 399 dwellings on 194 acres and Parkside at Bella Casa with 373 units on 151 acres, Radford said.

The large-scale Preserve at White Oak project worried some nearby residents.

Some homeowners said the development might strain the White Oak basin which feeds into Jordan Lake. They also said increased traffic might create a safety hazard.

Phil Brown, a chemistry professor at N.C. State University, told the council during a public hearing in December that other faculty members bring students to his home to study and observe the White Oak basin.

“I stress that an environmental study be done before proceeding,” Brown said. “It’s an awful lot of homes on a very delicate area. ... I know development needs to progress. It’s important to our commerce, important to our town. I urge you to be more cautious.”

Town staff cited benefits of the project. Developers Raleigh Land Trust I and LStar Management have vowed to use the best stormwater-management practices, help build a regional wastewater pump station and donate land for a regional park.

The White Oak Regional Pump Station, which is in the process of being designed, is estimated to cost about $4 million, according to preliminary figures, said Apex Public Works Director Tim Donnelly.

“We don’t have a construction start date yet, but (it) would take a year to complete once construction starts,” Donnelly said.

The Town Council will consider offering acreage fee credits to all developments that help pay for the pump station.

“The regional pumping station will allow the town to serve the basin in the most cost-effective way,” Donnelly said. “Without the regional pumping station, a large number of smaller pumping stations would be constructed to serve the area. A large number of smaller pumping stations is collectively much more expensive for the town to operate as compared to the regional approach.”

Town plans regional park

Apex’s recent Parks Master Plan targets the southwest part of town for a regional park.

The town has been working with the developers around the White Oak basin to put together about 20 to 30 acres, said John Brown, parks and recreation director.

“The ideal situation would be something that’s located to reasonably serve all their projects and in an ideal world might give us access to the American Tobacco Trail and the future White Oak Creek Greenway,” Brown said. “Also, it would be preferable to find something the town could add on to later either with other development participation or by outright purchase.”

Brown said no site has been selected yet.

There are four developers in the White Oak basin area that are required to set aside three to nine acres apiece for parks, Brown said.

Instead of a patch of parks spread throughout the area, the town is working with developers to put together one big park.

“Obviously, the more developers we can bring to the table the better as far as getting as large a tract as possible,” Brown said.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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