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Ballantyne apartment plan causes concerns

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/08/11/09/lWCvg.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    The Charlotte City Council will discuss whether to allow an apartment complex on land currently zoned for retail in Ballantyne.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/08/11/09/VGIJk.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    The Charlotte City Council will discuss whether to allow an apartment complex on land currently zoned for retail in Ballantyne.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/08/11/09/rpOp1.Em.138.jpeg|237
    ELISABETH ARRIERO - earriero@charlotteobserver.com
    A developer wants to rezone 7.91 acres at the corner of North Community House Road and Bryant Farms Road to allow for multifamily apartments.

A proposed apartment complex on a property zoned for retail space has some Ballantyne residents concerned about how it will affect traffic and schools.

Terwilliger Pappas Multifamily Partners wants 7.91 acres at the intersection of North Community House and Bryant Farms roads rezoned to allow up to 240 apartment units.

The property, in addition to roughly 2 acres bordering it, was zoned in 1991 to allow 70,000 square feet of retail space, said Charlotte City Councilman Ed Driggs, who represents the district that includes the land.

The land is owned by Harris Teeter LLC.

Peter Pappas, CEO of Terwilliger Pappas, said there is more demand for multifamily units.

“The expanding employment base and the desire of so many people to live in south Charlotte is generating strong demand for very upscale housing, and we focused on this site because of its access and proximity to Ballantyne Corporate Park,” he said.

Plus, residents living in the apartments would be within walking distance of the Morrison Family YMCA, he said.

Thomas Barker, division executive for Terwilliger Pappas, said developers want to build mostly one- and two-bedroom units across two four-story buildings. Ultimately, there may also be a few three-bedroom floor plans.

Units would range from 900 to 1,100 square feet. The projected rents would be between $1,100 and $1,900 a month.

But some residents say the project is inappropriate for the area and would put unnecessary strain on local infrastructure.

Bob Payet, who has lived in the neighboring Bexley community for nine years, said trees currently are the tallest point in the immediate area. He’s concerned the natural views will be overpowered by tall buildings.

“It’s an intrusion to a residential low-rise neighborhood,” Payet said. “It frankly boggles my mind that anybody would even propose that.”

Pappas said the company plans to hold several informal neighborhood meetings with residents before having a formal community meeting that’s required for zoning petitions.

Pappas said the property would have a 50-foot buffer around the perimeter.

“We have always tried to blend our communities in as much as possible with the existing neighborhoods,” he said. “We take the extra steps to make sure our attention to design helps incorporate what we’re doing into the existing fabric of those communities.”

Jim Anderson, who has lived in Bexley for 13 years, said neighbors also are concerned about the impact the apartment complex would have on local traffic.

Pappas said the company’s traffic analysis suggests apartments would generate fewer trips than retail. He declined to provide specific counts pending discussions with the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Residents, including Anderson, say the majority of the traffic would occur during peak times, exacerbating already unpleasant traffic issues in south Charlotte.

Anderson said neighbors also are concerned about the effect on local schools, noting current retail zoning wouldn’t have an effect.

“Our schools are over capacity,” he said. “Our communities will need to talk about building additional schools or we’ll end up in a redistricting conversation where there are no winners.”

Ray Eschert, founder of the Ballantyne Breakfast Club, said he plans to dedicate some time during the next Breakfast Club meeting Aug. 16 to discuss the zoning petition. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison is scheduled to be the main speaker for that meeting, which will begin at 9 a.m. in the Carolina Room at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.

Driggs said he plans to host a public meeting in late September to discuss with residents and staff whether growth is well-managed in the area.

“We’re trying to address growth issues and traffic issues,” he said. “Some of the issues that residents are raising about this Bryant Farms property are more general in nature. I wonder if we’re developing faster than our roads can accommodate.”

Arriero: 704-804-2637; Twitter: @earriero
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