10-6-2022 – City council approves rezoning for subdivision

Posted on: October 6th, 2022 by admin No Comments

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October 6 2022

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By CADY DAVIS CDAVIS@NEWSTOPICNEWS.COM

Oct 5, 2022

 

LENOIR — During the Lenoir City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, a public hearing was held to consider adoption of a proposed Conditional Zoning District for property located at Lowe’s rear entrance drive off of McLean Drive to be rezoned from R-12 (medium density, single family) to CZ-9 (conditional zoning) in order to allow for a multi-phase residential development. This development will feature both attached and detached dwellings and will preserve green space and environmentally-sensitive areas.

 

The city’s planning board recommended approval of this rezoning. The proposed Conditional Zoning District was found to be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan that calls for “distinctive neighborhoods that preserve open space, enhance walkability, accommodate a wide range of housing types, use stormwater measures as community amenities, and foster a strong sense of place.”

 

The proposed development is also consistent with the Future Land Use Map, which identifies the subject parcel as “medium density residential” and “mixed use with commercial.”

 

The rezoning was found by city staff to be reasonable and in the public interest because it provides much-needed housing near the U.S. Highway 321 commercial corridor, according to the Planning Board’s Consistency Statement.

 

The proposed 157-acre residential community, Overmountain Forest, will be centered around a rich, Piedmont cove forest located on the north and south sides of McLean Drive abutting Huntington Woods, Lowe’s, and Hibriten Drive inside the city limits. Once completed, Overmountain Forest will contain between 300-350 multi-family and single-family homes. Additionally, Overmountain Forest will feature the Broyhill Branch Nature Walk, a 3-mile loop trail that follows Broyhill Branch Creek, a prominent water feature that runs through the center of the development. Between 25%-35% of the Overmountain Forest homes will have unobstructed, long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

“It’s an area we’ve always contemplated for residential [development],” said Jenny Wheelock, planning director for the city of Lenoir. “We’re basically starting to space out where different types of development can go … If you do the math, 157 acres times 3.6, that’s a lot of housing.”

 

David Waechter, a partner at Overmountain Development, LLC, was in attendance to speak on the project and answer any questions from members of the community.

 

“We’re trying to find a way that this property can be developed in the most responsible manner,” Waechter said. “We’ve had some early talks with Fire and Rescue to make sure that, as we go into our design, we’re being sensitive to getting vehicles in and out of there, so we’re trying to look at that … I think it’s a really nice fit for Lenoir. It’s a big project, it’s going to take some time, but this is the first step that we need to get this going. We’re excited to be at this point.”

 

Once the public hearing was opened, three residents on Hibriten Drive each stepped forward to address the council.

 

Ed Trivette, of Lenoir, had concerns regarding the new access roads into the development property and the stormwater flowing through that area.

 

“Nobody wants that road,” he said. “It’s going to be a mess. We’ve got all kinds of water coming all the way down the rest of the hill on Hibriten Drive … It’s like a river. When the guys put the road in, they’re going to put culverts under that road, and I’m going to be flooded. I’m not going to have it … that road is a bad idea.”

 

Trivette recommended the access road be placed behind and south of Lowe’s to avoid car crashes on Hibriten Drive.

 

Mike Secreast, of Lenoir, was concerned about the volume of traffic on his street.

“Hibriten Drive is very busy,” he said. “From 6 to 9 in the morning and 3 to 7 at night, I can’t go to the mailbox … I have people who come into my yard several times because they run off the road. They’ll hit that stretch of curve and speed up.”

 

Cliff Anderson, of Lenoir, voiced his concerns regarding where the entrance to the residential development would be located.

 

“The entrance off Hibriten Drive, it’s bad in the curve,” he said. “Many times, you have to stop there to let people by, trucks, buses, everything. Putting that entrance there is not a great idea.”

 

Anderson explained that there’s a southern entrance to the land that would be a “great place” for the required second entrance.

 

After the public hearing was closed, council discussed with Wheelock the option to add an amendment allowing for more flexibility in the ordinance.

 

“I think adding flexibility might be a good thing because you may find out that Hibriten Drive is cost prohibitive or more costly than buying another piece of property because you have to straighten the road,” said Councilman Jonathan Beal. “That would be up to the developer, and not us.”

 

Wheelock explained that, according to the Conditional Zoning Ordinance, access from the road behind Lowe’s and access from Hibriten Drive is required.

 

“You could say, ‘access from Hibriten Drive or a secondary connection south of Lowe’s is required,’ something like that,” she said. “Generally, it’s good traffic management to have as many diversified points of access as possible.”

 

Council agreed to add the amendment to the Conditional Zoning Ordinance to require access from the road behind Lowe’s and access from Hibriten or a secondary connection south of Lowe’s.

 

City council unanimously approved the amendment as presented. Then, with the new amendment approved, city council unanimously approved the Conditional Zoning District.

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