University City

Proposed apartments would crowd schools

A report from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says a Gastonia development group's proposal for up to 240 apartments at Reames Road and Bayview Parkway would increase overcrowding at area schools or could lead to more reliance on mobile classrooms.

CMS estimates adding school capacity for the proposed Northlake Crossing Apartments would require more than $2 million in capital spending.

According to the report, a zoning change the developer wants would permit more residences than the current zoning allows.

That would add an estimated 141 students to schools in the areas, compared to about 89 students under the existing zoning.

"Adequacy of existing school capacity in this area is a significant problem," the CMS staff report to the city's Planning Department said. "We are particularly concerned about rezoning cases where school utilization exceeds 100 percent, since the proposed development will exacerbate this situation."

The Charlotte City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the rezoning request for Feb. 20.

The proposed site for Northlake Crossing is a vacant, 30-acre tract that ultimately would sit beside Fred D. Alexander Boulevard, once that proposed road is extended through the area.

Centex Homes rezoned 192 acres in the area for residences around 2001. Later, however, Centex sold the proposed Northlake Crossing site to Portrait Homes, which planned to build and sell townhomes there. Some site preparation and utility work has been done.

Most of the land now owned by the Gastonia group, NLCM LLC, is already zoned R-8, which allows up to 8 units per acre. A smaller part of it is zoned R-3, which allows up to three units per acre.

The Charlotte Department of Transportation estimates the zoning change would have a minor impact on traffic, generating 1,580 additional vehicle-trips per day.

The current zoning would generate traffic estimated at 930 vehicle-trips per day.

CMS officials said Hornets Nest Elementary, Ranson Middle and Hopewell High schools would be affected.

The school system estimates that Hornets Nest could reach 103 percent of its capacity without mobile units if Northlake Crossing site is rezoned.

The school is at 92 percent of its capacity this year.

Enrollment at Ranson could reach 135 percent of capacity, compared to 126 percent this year.

Estimates show Hopewell would increase from 91 percent to 93 percent.

CMS has invited agents for NLCM to meet with the district's staff to discuss "opportunities that the petitioner/developer may propose to improve the adequacy of school capacity in the immediate area."

A representative for the development group declined to comment, saying the project is still in the early stages.