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Vote expected on Lake Norman older-adult community

By Joe Marusak
jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com

Lincoln County commissioners on Monday are scheduled to vote on what would be the county’s largest subdivision – a 1,650-home project near Lake Norman geared to adults 55 and older.

Arizona-based Shea Homes plans to build Carolina Ridge on 589 primarily wooded acres on the south side of N.C. 73 west of Little Egypt Road in eastern Lincoln, near N.C. 16.

The community, several miles southwest of the lake, would be one of the largest older adult communities in the area. The largest, Sun City Carolina Lakes in Fort Mill and Indian Land, S.C., has about 2,900 homes, with plans for 3,400 eventually, a spokeswoman has said.

On Monday night, before the commissioners vote, the Lincoln County Planning Board is scheduled to make a recommendation on the project. The planning board, however, asked the developer to settle differences with a neighboring rock quarry before it would consider endorsing the project.

The quarry, which has operated off Little Egypt Road for several decades, wants Shea Homes to provide several hundred more feet of distance between its project and the quarry and to build a berm separating the properties.

“We’ve had some meetings with them, but we don’t have an agreement quite yet,” quarry lawyer Craig Justus said Friday. “It’s still in the air, and the parties are still talking.”

In 2006, PulteGroup proposed a similar development on the same acreage where Carolina Ridge is planned but the recession hit, and the project never began.

At a hearing Feb. 3, Justus told the Lincoln County Planning Board and the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners that the PulteGroup had agreed to require its homeowners not to sue “for simply existing” beside the quarry. But Justus said Shea Homes didn’t respond to the quarry’s repeated attempts to negotiate property setbacks and other measures.

Shea Homes representatives at the meeting said the company has decided not to bar Carolina Ridge residents from suing the quarry over noise and potential effects of blasting operations on their homes.

Walter Fields, a local consultant for the developer, also noted that the nearest homesite to the active part of the quarry would be about 800 feet away.

“That separation (the quarry wants) is there,” Fields told the boards.

Fields referred the Observer last week to a Shea Homes official who he said was more informed on how negotiations are going between the developer and the quarry. The official didn’t respond to a request for comment. A Shea Homes spokeswoman has said the developer won’t comment on the project because it’s still being planned.

Carolina Ridge hopes to begin construction this year and finish the community by 2021, Fields has said. All but up to 300 of the homes in Carolina Ridge will be age-restricted. Carolina Ridge plans to have a mix of single-family attached and detached homes from 1,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet, according to a report Fields submitted to the county. Streets will have sidewalks on one side. Standard single-family detached home lots will be 3,000 square feet.

Most of the property is owned by members of the Clark family and their land-development companies, according to incorporation records on file with the N.C. Secretary of State's office in Raleigh. The family has been among the largest landholders in eastern Lincoln County for many decades.

At least 30 percent of the site will be left undeveloped. Walking and/or bike trails are planned.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak
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