The Huntersville Town Board recently denied approval for a contentious Gilead Road development.
At its Jan. 22 meeting, the board voted 3-3 on the rezoning requested by Robert Wiggins of MI Homes. The rezoning would have allowed the 82-home Avery Park development to proceed on the nearly 42 acres at 8615 Gilead Road.
Because a valid protest petition had been filed, the request needed approval from five board members. According to Huntersville Senior Planner Whitney Hodges, the project – or something very similar with the same zoning district – cannot be brought before the board for one year.
Nearly 100 people attended the public hearing in early October. The majority of attendees expressed concerns in opposition: increased traffic and housing density; the physical impact on adjoining properties; additional students in schools already over capacity and the development’s proximity to the Historic Hugh Torrance House and Store.
The board deferred taking action until transportation and engineering staff could evaluate the possible traffic impact Avery Park would have on Gilead Road and Wynfield Creek Parkway, among others.
Collin Brown – the attorney who spoke on behalf of MI Homes and the property owners – told the board his client had made a number of significant sacrifices to address resident concerns. Brown said the number of homes was dropped from 110 to 82 and lot sizes were increased to 65 feet, with less than two units per acre. Brown said the buffer between Avery Park and Charterhouse Lane residents was increased to 150 feet. “In my career, that’s unprecedented,” Brown said, noting town staff recommended approval, and the planning board voted 7-2 to recommend approval.
Property owner Margaret Donaldson Banks Bassinger said this past year she paid nearly $53,000 in property taxes and asked the board to consider “this well-thought-out plan,” that would allow her to sell to Wiggins. She told upset residents they could count on the property being sold out of pure necessity. “I will do something with my property because I need to, I have to.”
Members Charles Guignard, Danny Phillips and Sarah McAulay voted in favor of the rezoning, while Melinda Bales, Ron Julian and Jeff Neely voted against. Bales said the decision was likely the most difficult she’s had to make since joining the board a year ago. “Every decision I make on this board, I ask myself one question: does it benefit Huntersville as a whole,” Bales said. “It killed me, sitting across from Miss Bassinger. I want her to be able to sell her property and sell her land. But at the end of the day, the whole outweighed (her needs).”
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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