Too dense for the neighborhood? That’s what neighbors say about a new townhouse development

Rendering of planned townhouses on Sharon Lane.
Rendering of planned townhouses on Sharon Lane.

After months of wrangling, residents near a proposed townhouse project on Sharon Lane are still opposed to the development, which they say is too dense and out of character with the area.

It’s a particularly contentious debate, with more than 1,200 people signing a petition against the townhouses. At a zoning hearing Monday, some neighbors held signs urging City Council to vote no, including “Keep Sharon Lane R-3” (a residential designation that allows three houses per acre).

The 6.3-acre site is located on Sharon Lane, between Providence Road and Heathmoor Lane. The plan follows a trend of developers looking to build denser projects in desirable areas, instead of single-family, detached houses.

The developers, Simonini Homes and Saratoga Asset Management, initially planned to build 38 townhouses on the site. But in the face of consistent opposition from the neighborhood, they reduced the scope of their plans. Now, they’re seeking to build 24 attached houses, six more than would be allowed under the site’s current single-family zoning.

The homes will average 3,400 square feet, and the developers have said that because of the reduced density, more than half of the site will now be kept as open space, with a new central green. Prices will be around $1 million in the development, now called Foxcroft City Homes, land use attorney Jeff Brown said.

There are five houses on the site now. Staff is recommending City Council vote to approve the developers’ request, which they’ll likely consider at their March meeting.

“We remain surprised at the intensity around what is before you tonight,” said Brown. “I think, to say the least, (this) has been an interesting rezoning...It has been a challenge.”

Neighbors say the proposed development would be much more dense than what’s allowed under the existing zoning, and that it would risk opening the entire area to similar, more dense developments. They also contend that it would violate deed covenants requiring lot widths of 100 feet. They want to see the area developed under the existing zoning of three houses per acre.

“It’s sad that much of the power and say has been shifted away from the residents, homeowners and neighbors, and towards the developers and their wallets,” said Bridget-Anne Hampden, representing Heathmoor Lane residents.

Christa Leinberger said the development risked the area’s character and would set a bad precedent.

“It will also tell the people of Charlotte that their neighborhoods are for sale and their voices do not matter,” said Leinberger.

Two long-time homeowners who are planning to sell their land as part of the new development said they’re confident the plan is the best option for the area, and will save more trees than other options.

“This land is going to be developed,” said Mike Parrot, who said he will stay on the site after selling and live in a new house in the development. “The question is how is it going to be developed.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo