BY DEBBIE PAGE
Smith Village, a 68-acre mixed-use commercial-residential project, moved one step closer to approval after the Troutman Planning and Zoning Board’s vote to approve two rezoning requests, with a few stipulations, on two Highway 21/115 parcels across from Crosstie Lane and Iredell Charter Academy.
Prestige Corporate Development of Cornelius plans to build 175 single-family attached townhomes and 85 single-family detached homes in the development, along with up to 250,000 square feet of commercial space for supportive businesses such as medical offices, childcare, restaurants, and shops to serve the development’s residents and the larger Troutman community.
The development requires two zoning designations to comply with town UDO requirements: conditional highway business for the commercial and townhome section and conditional residential mixed use for the single-family home section.
The two- and three-bedroom townhomes will have one-car garages and driveway space for one more vehicle. Parallel parking spaces are also scattered throughout the townhouse area, with a large parking lot nearby at the clubhouse and pool to accommodate overflow traffic.
The single-family homes, with up to three per acre, will have two-car garages and driveway space for two more vehicles.
About seven acres of open space is spread through three areas in the development, with trees, creeks and natural areas, according to Prestige President Steve Bailey.
The development will also feature wide sidewalks throughout to promote walkability. The developer is also donating a .75-acre lot for a future fire station/police substation building.
Prices for the townhomes will be in the $220,000 and single-family homes in the $300,000s.
A traffic impact study is already complete, with developers agreeing to add turn lanes to both entrances and a “robust” pedestrian crossing area at the Crosstie Road light that will serve as Smith Village’s main entrance. The second non-signal entrance will be south of Crosstie Lane to access the townhome section of the development.
The design is also set up for eventual connection to Rankin Hill Road.
The developers are building a gravel emergency access road (Weatherstone Lane) for emergency vehicle use only. This small strip of land owned by the developers has sharp angles and cannot meet town street standards. If the two parcels on either side are developed, a proper street would be possible, said Bailey.
The area is not in the watershed area and has access to public water and sewer lines, but public wastewater capacity is not guaranteed until NCDEQ permits are approved.
Bailey’s company has experience with developing mixed-use developments, including The Village at Sherrill’s Ford (http://www.thevillageatsherrillsford.com). He said the three sections of Smith Village would be built by various contractors simultaneously.
Board members like the plan overall but expressed concerns about additional traffic, one-car garages for townhomes, and the possibility of five-story buildings. (Troutman currently limits buildings to four stories.) Board chair Randy Farmer disliked the deviation from the 2035 Future Land Use Plan, which cites this area for commercial development.
Bailey said the developer was commited to completing all NCDOT traffic mitigation measures in the traffic impact study. He also agreed to limit five-story buildings to hotels and to speak to builders about possibly building two-car garages for the larger townhomes.
He also pointed out this area could serve as a medium density buffer to the commercial areas, saying that it could help avoid the area becoming an intense commercial traffic headache such as Exit 36.
Bailey also noted the 80-acre site that was once a proposed Walmart Supercenter is about to come back on the market and is more appropriate for large commercial development. Additional commercial areas are also still available at the Lowe’s Home Improvement area.
Only two area residents, Mike and Cathy Halter of Flower House Loop, spoke against the development via email to Town Clerk Kim Davis. The Halters cited traffic concerns, the project’s high density, and the negative effect on the rural quality of their home, which they just purchased in April.
If the development goes through, the Halters requested a thick tree line buffer their property and that an access road not be built behind their property.
After more discussion, the board voted 5-1 (with Farmer dissenting) to recommend the rezoning request to the town council, with the following conditions: manufacturing uses be eliminated, parking access improved in the townhome area, that two-car garages be considered for the larger townhomes, and that only hotels can be five stories.
Town Planner George Berger also announced the September Planning and Zoning Board meeting was canceled because of a lack of agenda items.
Berger bade farewell to the board, saying it had been “an honor and pleasure to serve them.” Berger recently announced that he had accepted the assistant planner job with the City of Statesville.
The planning position has been posted on various professional websites as well as the town website. Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck hopes to close applications in mid-September, conduct interviews and hire by early October, and have the new planner in place by mid-October.
Jonathan Wells of N-Focus has contracted to serve as interim Town Planner until a candidate is selected and in place. Wells spent 17 years as planning manager for the City of Charlotte and also served six years as executive director of Planning Services for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Gruesbeck asked for several planning board member volunteers to help him sort through resumes and interview candidates in the next few weeks.