BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

The Troutman Planning and Zoning Board has unanimously recommended approval of a developer’s request to rezone property at the end of Winecoff Street and build 100 single-family homes.

The Town Council is scheduled to consider the request next week.

TruNorth Homes is requesting a zoning change from suburban and town residential to conditional mixed residential. The developer is also asking the town to annex the 41.5 acres.

Paul Pennell of Urban Design Partners said the development will add street connections to the 165-home Marley Jaye development, which was approved by Town Council in December of 2019.

The 7,800-square-foot minimum lots will feature homes of 1,500 or more square feet, with facades featuring a variety of materials, including masonry, brick, stone, stucco, wood siding or singles, metal, and Everlast vinyl, a new product which has a lifetime guarantee.

Each home will have a 1- or 2-car garage, and each lot has a two-tree minimum. Electric service will be underground, and water and sewer will be connected to Troutman’s system.

Preliminary results from the traffic impact study (TIA) now underway show morning rush traffic counts on Winecoff at 72 trips and evening at 102. Since TruNorth recognizes the impact on the narrow street, the company is offering $100,000, administered by the town, to contribute to traffic mitigation efforts that NCDOT, which controls the street, requires.

Developers set aside 12.6 acres of green space, over three times what is required by town ordinances. Sidewalks on each side of the street, as well as an additional 10-foot greenway section by the creek that will eventually connect into the town’s greenway system, will enhance walkability.

NEIGHBORS OPPOSE DEVELOPMENT

Several residents who live next to or  near the proposed development questioned adding more traffic on Winecoff, a road that can barely contain two passing cars and with no curb or guttering, according to Nanette Haraden.

With the already approved Marley Jaye subdivision and the 84-unit Meadows multi-family development impacting Winecoff Street, Haraden said the road must have attention to support the additional traffic.

Pennell said the completed TIA will address needed mitigations on Winecoff and other roads within 3/4 of a mile. These mitigations could include widening or curb and guttering. He also noted that Marley Jaye will also have access to Perry Road, which may reduce Winecoff impacts as well.

NCDOT will take these other developments into account in the TIA and in its recommendations to improve traffic conditions, added Pennell.

Residents also questioned whether $100,000 would cover mitigations. Pennell estimated that turn lanes cost around $30,000, with traffic lights costing roughly $75,000.

Town Planner Jonathan Wells added that obtaining right-of-ways for turn lanes can also substantially affect costs as well, but since Winecoff is a state road, NCDOT could require developers to widen it to state standards to get a highway access permit.

Hoover Road resident Amy Crowley protested the “backwards” way traffic was addressed, with traffic fixes coming long after new development impacts on already clogged roads in Troutman.

“I want to see a comprehensive view of what all these developments are doing to Troutman,” she said.

Crowley expressed “little confidence” that traffic problems would be addressed soon. “Things have changed rapidly in Troutman, but the roads have not.”

Town Manager Ron Wyatt noted that the state controls many of Troutman’s roads as well as traffic lights. “We have constant conversations with the state about these impacts,” he said.

However, the town is ultimately at the mercy of state decisions on these roadways and the development must come before NCDOT will consider traffic improvements.

“We cannot stop development without legal reasons. We have property here and are economically diverse,” Wyatt said. “The houses must come first, then the roads. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is.”

Wyatt also noted the still incomplete 2035 Horizon Plan looks at the entire county’s traffic plan, but NCDOT freezes and delays have slowed the plan’s progress.

He expects the release of the 2020 census and the expected population increases will bring changes more quickly in the next decade. NCDOT is already studying two intersections for traffic signals, Wyatt noted.

Wells noted that NCDOT has now moved the widening of Highway 21 through Troutman, once slated to begin next year, to 2029.

Board member Mark Taylor, who works for NCDOT, said that the state will consider new residential development, rerate intersections, and evolve its plans for Highway 21 in this and future TIAs with the “dynamic situation” in Troutman.

UPDATES

Wells told the planning board that the Westmoreland Village project, approved by the board in May, is moving to the Town Council next week for consideration after addressing conditions that the board asked to be added.

Town staff and developers spent a great deal of time adding in traffic mitigation measures after the project’s TIA was complete, he said.

Wells is also working on a text amendment for the board to consider in July concerning electronic billboards. An applicant has requested an amendment allowing them in the Exit 42 area.

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