BY DEBBIE PAGE
Sanders Ridge residents showed up in force on Monday night, despite short hearing notice, to oppose two rezoning requests by Nest Communities during a lengthy Troutman Planning and Zoning Board meeting.
About 15 residents were present to rally against Westmoreland Village, a 112-acre, 232-home development near Sanders Ridge. The group cited traffic concerns, a dangerous one-lane bridge, and concerns about the developer meeting its obligations to the new development.
Nest Homes’ David Hughes said the conditional rezoning request for the property would commit Nest Homes to architectural standards that go beyond zoning ordinances and sets controls that govern the community.
Hughes said the developers agreed to two pages of conditions, including no vinyl siding, a variety of upgraded exterior materials, grid windows, extended driveways, underground utilities, and 1,500-square-foot minimum homes to “ensure quality homes are built.”
He also committed to building the development’s amenity center when 100 certificates of occupancy were issued for the development.
The proposed density is 2.3 homes per acre, much less than the allowed 12 units per acre allowed in the requested conditional mixed residential zoning. Much of the property is on a flood plain around Weathers Creek, so the natural environment will be preserved.
The input from both town staff and the community with conditional zoning results in a better plan, according to Hughes. Nest committed to 64 acres of open space, 3 acres of active open space (pocket park, greenway, and picnic area), and adding buffers around the development.
The area will have town water and sewer, with gravity sewer lines servicing the community.
A traffic study, though not required for a rezoning request, is already in process. All accesses to the community would be off Westmoreland Road.
Nest’s Eric Wood committed to helping solve neighbors’ bridge concerns as the NCDOT allows, noting that Nest recently rebuilt the bridge over the lake on Cornelius Road near its Sisters Cove and Atwater Landing communities to alleviate residents’ concerns.
Neighbors from Nest’s Sanders Ridge then took the floor, complaining of already existing traffic problems in the area that would be exacerbated by this new development.
They also expressed concerns about Sanders Ridge drainage issues, construction debris, an unusable pocket park, some yards being unkempt, warranty issues being unaddressed, emails and phone calls about problems being ignored, and the sale of the majority of lots to Adams Homes instead of Nest building the homes as homeowners were led to believe.
Darryl Polzot asked how Nest could keep these promises about Westmoreland Village when they “are not capable of keeping promises to our community.” He felt the developers were “very disappointing” because they “don’t return phone calls in a timely fashion.”
Homeowners also complained that they only learned of the two Nest rezoning requests that day and quickly organized to come to the meeting. They felt that Nest should have communicated these changes, which greatly affect their neighborhood.
After gaining promises about the timing of the construction of the Westmoreland amenity center and a commitment to help solve the bridge issue, the board unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request for Westmoreland Village, which will now go to Town Council in June for final approval.
SANDERS RIDGE PHASE 3
The next Nest rezoning request was for a change from town residential to conditional mixed residential in phase 3 of Sanders Ridge, which would increase the number of allowed homes from 41 to 63 but still retain 28 acres of open space in this section.
Hughes said the same architectural conditions would apply, with homes planned in the 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot range. Lots would average 52 by 130 feet.
The town staff and Iredell-Statesville Schools reps approached Nest about the change to a higher density, walkable neighborhood because of this phase’s proximity to the adjoining new high school site, which the system hopes will be complete by 2024, according to Hughes.
He noted that Nest paid for ample water and sewer services down Houston Road to Sanders Ridge that will now also serve the new high school and Westmoreland Village.
Homeowners again spoke out against the changes, citing earlier complaints as well as “a lack of professionalism and transparency.” They also cited failure to replace damaged signage, lighting issues, poor grading, and other problems that impacted their property values.
Homeowners also were shocked to learn a high school was being built next to the subdivision, which will further increase traffic, When asked who would have not bought if they had been told about the school’s proximity, all raised their hands.
Board member Karen Van Vliet made a motion to deny the rezoning request, believing the developer should be held to the originally approved neighborhood that they committed to with these homeowners. The board voted unanimously to deny the request, but the final decision on the rezoning lies with the Town Council’s decision in June.
♦ The board unanimously passed the goat grazing and livestock UDO text amendment under discussion for months after clarifying the grandfathering clause. The amendment, along with an accompanying change to the Code of Ordinance, goes to Town Council for consideration in June.
♦ The board approved Dakota Lineberger’s request to rezone a piece of property on South Eastway Drive and Winecoff Street from heavy industrial to highway business for an auto repair business. The board approved the request unanimously, which will go on to Town Council for final approval.
♦ In June, town planner Jonathan Wells told the board it will consider a rezoning request for the Douglas property, currently in the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction and currently in Iredell County’s medium-density residential zoning.
The developer is asking for a change to heavy industrial zoning for the large parcel, located between Perry Road west to Trackside Road and from Levo Drive to the north to Beatrice Court to the south.
The board will also consider the Winecoff Village development delayed from May and a text amendment to allow electronic billboards near the Exit 42 interchange with Interstate 77.