Cary considers less-dense growth at High House Road and N.C. 55

snagem@newsobserver.comMay 9, 2014 

— The neighborhood around High House Road and N.C. 55 might not be as busy as it could have been once the area is fully developed.

The Cary Town Council on Thursday pushed forward a proposal that will likely result in fewer homes being built on a 44-acre site near the intersection.

Initially, the site was part of a neighborhood “activity center” slated for higher-density growth of residential units and mixed-use development. Some parts of the site could be developed with more than eight units per acre.

But the property owners asked town leaders to change the land-use designation and rezone the site to make way for less-intense growth.

The council agreed to send the proposal to the planning and zoning board, which will consider it and then send it back to the council for final approval.

“We realize it’s different, but we think it’s appropriate,” J.W. Shearin, a planning consultant who represents the eight property owners, told council members.

The land has been in the Baucom family for more than 100 years, Shearin said. The owners decided they want to preserve as much as they can with less-intense growth.

They also want to keep the historic home that is on the site.

Cary has seen a wave of townhomes in the past several months. Neighbors often complain about the plans, saying dense residential developments bring too much traffic.

Some people who live near High House Road and N.C. 55 said they were in favor of the proposed change for the property.

“I think the majority of the neighborhood is concerned about higher density, having more people in that space,” said Jodi Everhart, who lives in the nearby Summerset subdivision.

Everhart presented a list of dozens of signatures of neighbors who approve of the smaller-growth plan.

“I’ve been here six years now, and I’ve never gotten a petition in favor of something,” said Councilman Don Frantz. “We get a lot opposed.”

Councilwoman Gale Adcock said the plan to switch to lower density was “a great proposal.”

“I’m happy to see it,” she said.

Cary has designated about 30 “activity centers” around town, said Mary Beerman, a senior planner.

Sometimes the goal of the centers is to prevent blocks and blocks of shopping plazas, instead bringing denser growth to intersections, she said.

In terms of the High House area, Beerman said, the original plan was for a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood.

“That’s one of the reasons it was designated for higher intensity back when that was done,” she said.

Shearin said the site is essentially the last undeveloped tract along the High House Road corridor. He said less-dense growth will complement the surrounding subdivisions of single-family homes.

“You put in that last piece of the puzzle, and it needs to be something that fits with the existing property,” he said.

Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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