Despite the concerns of nearby residents worried about traffic, pollution and a disrupted quality of life, a 137-acre proposed residential and retail development off Bridges Farm Road is one step closer to reality after the Mooresville Planning Board approved a recent rezoning request from the developer.
Amid a chorus of catcalls and boos from an audience overwhelmingly filled with residents who live near the proposed site, the Mooresville Planning Board in a 5-1 vote on May 11 approved a request from developer Hinckley Gauvain to rezone property at N.C. 115 and Bridges Farm Road from R-3 single-family residential to CMX corridor mixed use and NMX neighborhood mixed use.
A public hearing on the proposed development is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 5 during a Mooresville Board of Commissioners meeting. The town board can approve or reject the proposal.
The project, known as Lake Davidson, could include as many 115 single-family homes, 300 residential condos, 120 townhomes, 300 apartments, 65,000 square feet of general office space and 65,000 square feet of retail space, according to development plans.
More than 20 Mooresville and Davidson residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting. Many requested planning board members reject the rezoning request altogether or table the topic to give officials more time to learn about the project.
Only board member Mitch Abraham seemed swayed enough by the concerns to ask the board about delaying the vote to gain more information on the project.
But Rawls Howard, town planning and community development director, and board member Mark Brady both stressed that since Hinckley Gauvain sought a straight rezoning request, board members should vote to approve or deny the request based only on its compliance with the Mooresville’s comprehensive land use plan and the Mount Mourne small area plan.
Craig Culberson, senior town planner, explained earlier in the meeting a straight rezoning request is simply a request by the applicant to have a different zoning designation assigned to a parcel of land than currently exists.
There is no discussion or presentation of the proposed plans for the site by town officials, said Culberson.
“The request before you tonight is looking at the big picture of land use,” said Culberson.
Culberson said the request was compliant with both the Mooresville comprehensive land use plan and the Mount Mourne small area plan and recommended the rezoning of the property to the board.
But members of the public decried this straight zoning request saying they were afraid of what the developer could build if the board approved its request.
Residents were also concerned that only a handful of residents within the nearby Estates of Lake Davidson subdivision and none of the residents in the Davidson Pointe neighborhood received written notice about the May 11 public meeting.
Mary Wallace, who lives in one of the two neighborhoods that would be affected by this proposed project, said she strongly objected to the rezoning request, adding it was “fraught with undesirable outcomes.”
The traffic impact analysis created for the proposed project estimates it currently takes about 70 seconds to exit from Bridges Farm Road to N.C. 115 and would skyrocket to taking more than five minutes to exit onto N.C. 115 from Bridges Farm Road as early as 2021, Wallace said.
“How is this really making our lives better when we’re putting a significantly dense development on top of an existing neighborhood with no plans at this point to build the infrastructure to support it?” Wallace asked.
Arielle Emmett, who lives on Bridges Farm Road, said the environmental implications of high density homes, sewage and traffic along the lake are “major and possibly disastrous.”
Emmett said she hopes to teach her grandchildren to swim in Lake Davidson without worrying about sewage spills and was upset with the developer’s attempt to rezone the property with a straight rezoning request.
“Moreover, a straight up rezoning plan will wreak havoc on this area and will make residents angry, miserable and anxious to leave,” said Emmett.
William Mills, who would also live near the proposed development if built, said he was scared about the rezoning request for several reasons including increased traffic, the pipelines running through the property and the fact that so few residents received notice of the public meeting.
“I’m scared because this will be a Birkdale 2.0 in a cow pasture,” Mills said, of the sprawling residential and shopping village in Huntersville. “I love the land, I love the neighborhood, I love Iredell County. I’ve been here 11 years but I don’t like this rezoning.”
The only speaker supporting the rezoning request was Bill Freshwater, who owns part of the property, and who said he has been trying to find the best developer for the land since 2004 when his mother and aunt, the primary landowners, decided they wanted to sell the property while they were still alive, said Freshwater.
Single-family neighborhoods, apartments, private schools, manufacturing facilities and retirement homes sought the family-owned land but Freshwater said, “This is the first developer that we’ve dealt with that’s willing to take a role to help provide a solution for the traffic.”
That solution is an east-west connector running parallel to N.C. 115 that should ease much of the traffic concerns aired at the meeting, Freshwater said.
Dan E. Brewer, professional engineer with ESP Associates in Cornelius, said during the meeting that the Lake Davidson project will not happen without the construction of this east-west connector, a four-lane boulevard from Langtree Road to N.C. 115 as well as the construction of a thoroughfare from the connector road to Beatty Road.
After nearly 90 minutes of public comment, board vice-chairman Steven McGlothlin motioned to adopt the rezoning request with Board members Rosalind Campbell, John Robertson, Danny Martin and Brady and McGlothlin voting to adopt it and Abraham voting against it.
Board members Gary West and Joan Hutton did not attend the meeting.
Kate Stevens is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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