Union County

Village, landowners working out differences

North Carolina Senate Bill 214 – commonly referred to as the Wesley Chapel de-annexation bill – has moved to and from various Senate committees in the eight months since it was introduced by Sen. Tommy Tucker.

And that’s just fine with Tucker, who introduced the bill in March to facilitate a conversation between Wesley Chapel leaders and landowners who petitioned to have their land de-annexed from the village.

He said the bill is now “just sitting in the finance committee” and will not move unless he requests it.

“And I plan not to,” he said.

“I certainly have been pleased by the efforts of the mayor and council to talk with existing landowners” and consider additional options for their land, he said.

Tucker sponsored the bill in response to a de-annexation petition by Wesley Chapel residents who own 70 parcels of land representing about 978 acres. They told Tucker they wanted less-restrictive zoning for their property than Wesley Chapel’s one-acre-lot requirements. Some own large parcels that have been in their families for generations, and said they would like to sell to developers who are interested in building subdivisions with smaller lots.

Village leaders and landowners got together for discussions in March and April. In May, the village council voted to allow senior housing communities that permit several homes per acre. Mayor Brad Horvath said the town voted to allow senior communities with three types of homes: “pinwheel” homes with four connected homes per acre; individual homes placed at three per acre; and duplex homes, placed at 3.5 per acre.

Aging baby boomers have created a big market for these communities. Developers have shown an interest in building them in Union County, where several have been built or are under construction.

Horvath said Epcon Communities, which is building The Courtyards at Marvin, has been in touch with town officials to consider ordinance amendments regarding setbacks and other issues for a possible senior community in Wesley Chapel. At its Sept. 14 meeting, the village council will discuss scheduling a public hearing on that request.

Horvath said the council also is expected to schedule a public hearing in October on whether to allow conservation subdivisions, which permit housing lots of less than an acre if portions of the subdivision’s land are used for natural areas or common space.

In addition, the town will hold public-input sessions Sept. 15 and 17 on its land-use plan. Horvath said the land-use plan is unrelated to the de-annexation issue. He said the last plan was created in 2003 and needs to be updated.

Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer: jbduckwall@gmail.com.