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MINUTES OF THE BURLINGTON PLANNING
AND ZONING COMMISSION MEETING
January 9, 2006
(continued from December 19, 2005, meeting)
Council Chamber, Burlington Municipal Building
CITY MEMBERS: EXTRATERRITORIAL MEMBERS:
George Byrd, Chairman, Present Bud Apple, Present
Paul Cobb, Secretary, Present John Enoch, Absent
John Black, Present Richard Franks, Present
Lynn Cowan, Present Jim Johnson, Present
Elder Greg Hargrave, Absent Ellis Piper, Absent
Gordon Millspaugh, Absent Bob Ware, Present
Robert R. Harkrader, Planning Director
Haywood Cloud, Zoning/Subdivision Administrator
Dianne Fogleman, Office Assistant
ITEM NO. 1: Chairman Byrd called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.
ITEM NO. 2: Minutes of the regular meeting held December 19, 2005, were unanimously approved. This was a City and extraterritorial item.
Planning Director Harkrader presented a brief summary of amendments to the North Carolina Planning Statutes that became effective January 1, 2006:
1. In reviewing rezoning requests, Commission members will be required to include in written comments on the consistency of the proposed zoning amendment with the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and any other relevant plans that have been adopted by the City of Burlington.
2. Local governments are now required to post on-site notices for all rezoning applications. Mr. Harkrader pointed out that the City is already complying with this statute.
3. Commission members are not to vote on recommendations for rezoning applications or zoning text amendments if they have a direct, substantial, readily-identified financial interest in the outcome of the decision.
4. An amended statute clarifies that specific conditions imposed in conditional zoning may be proposed by the owner or by the City; however, only those conditions mutually approved by the owner and City may be put into the regulations.
Mr. Harkrader pointed out that the above were only highlights and that members should read the entire summary and call him if they had questions.
ITEM NO. 3: Mr. Mark Reich, representing Wakefield Development Company, presented an application to rezone from R-15, Residential District, and I-1A, Planned Industrial District, to CO-I, Conditional Office-Institutional District, to allow construction of an 82,724 square foot one-story elementary school and three athletic fields. The 18.1-acre site is located on Bonnar Bridge Parkway, east of East Buckhill Drive, west of University Drive and north of the Martin Marietta Quarry and being the southwest portion of Alamance County Tax Map 3-23-16. (This item was continued from the December 19, 2005, meeting.)
This was an extraterritorial item.
Mr. Reich introduced Mr. Kem Ard and Mr. Mark Bertoncino with Wakefield Development Company and Mr. W. D. Yarbrough, Director of Maintenance, Alamance-Burlington School System.
Commission Member Cobb asked how many lanes would there be onto the school grounds. Mr. Reich answered there would be four lanes – two each for ingress and egress. When entering, school bus traffic and vehicle traffic will use separate lane with vehicular traffic having the option of making a right turn or continuing straight towards the administrative offices.
Commission Member Johnson questioned the traffic flow and asked if there would be more than one entrance onto the school grounds.
Mr. Reich stated that there would be only one entrance/exit; however, there will be an emergency road onto the property and pointed to its location on the overhead screen.
Mr. Johnson inquired about the number of buses that would be utilizing the main drive, and Mr. Yarbrough stated approximately six buses.
Commission Member Ware asked if a ladder truck would be capable of maneuvering the turns.
Mr. Reich stated that the Technical Review Committee had studied the plans and because of a recommendation by the TRC and Deputy Fire Chief Mike Willets, the road had been widened. He admitted that it was tight but accessible.
Commission Member Black hypothesized what if it were 8 o’clock in the morning with a lot of school traffic and an emergency vehicle was called on-site.
Mr. Reich stated that the emergency road onto the project will not be paved but it will allow emergency vehicles access to the property.
Planning Director Harkrader pointed out that the emergency entrance would be similar to the one at Smith School.
Commission Member Cobb pointed out that there is a difference in an 18-wheeler maneuvering the turns and a fire truck because the 18-wheeler can bend in the middle.
Commission Member Ware asked if Deputy Fire Chief Willets had reviewed the situation and was told that he had used a template to make sure that fire trucks could make the turns.
Staff recommended approval of the request for rezoning with the use and development conditions submitted by the petitioner. Planning Director Harkrader stated that the passing of a school bond referendum by voters would allow the construction of this new school.
Commission Chairman Byrd asked if this rezoning was consistent with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and was told that it was.
Commission Member Cobb made a motion to recommend approval of the request for rezoning with the use and development conditions submitted by the petitioner. Bud Apple seconded the motion. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the request for rezoning with the use and development conditions submitted by the petitioner. In addition, the Commission recommended that the Official Zoning Map and the Comprehensive Land Use be amended to reflect the zoning change. The Commission found that the rezoning change was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and Urban Area Thoroughfare Plan for this area. Use and development conditions submitted by the petitioner are as follows:
To construct at 82,724 square foot one-story elementary school for 700 students on an 18.1-acre site. The building will consist of approximately 32 kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms plus a computer lab, resource/workroom space, medical center, art/music space, student dining and multi-purpose spaces as well as administrative office. In addition, three athletic fields are proposed and 288 parking spaces.
1. Wakefield Development Company shall install a 12-inch water main from the terminus of the existing 12-inch water main installed within the right-of-way of Bonnar Bridge Parkway located approximately 1,050 linear feet west of the proposed site to Danbrook Drive. The 12-inch water main shall also be connected to the existing 30-inch water main at Danbrook Drive.
2. Wakefield Development Company shall install an eight-inch sanitary sewer outfall main from the existing 12-inch main that is located along an unnamed tributary of Back Creek to serve the proposed 18.1-acre tract.
3. The proposed public water and sewer improvements shall be installed in accordance with the City’s standard specifications and shall be dedicated to the City for maintenance upon completion of said improvements.
4. Wakefield Development Company shall construct a 41-foot wide curb and gutter public street within the 70-foot wide right-of-way for Bonnar Bridge Parkway along the frontage of the school property.
5. Wakefield Development Company shall provide a left turn lane for westbound traffic and a right turn lane for eastbound traffic to ingress the proposed site. Left and right turn lanes shall be constructed on-site to egress the proposed site.
6. The proposed public roadway improvements shall be constructed in accordance with the City’s standard specifications and North Carolina Department of Transportation requirements. The proposed improvements shall be dedicated to the City for maintenance upon completion of said improvements.
7. Wakefield Development Company proposes to have a primary entrance sign constructed on the west side of the entrance to the site. The maximum height of the sign shall be eight feet or less, and the sign shall have no more than 64 square feet of signage on either side of the sign. Plans for signage and streetscape shall be submitted to the City’s Technical Review Committee for review and approval.
8. Wakefield Development Company currently has a bond with the City and proposes to allocate an amount equal to 150 percent of estimated construction costs for the uncompleted public water, sewer and roadway improvements outlined above prior to the recording of a final plat for the proposed site. Additionally, for the purpose of issuing a building permit, this would allow construction to begin on the new school. Prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy Permit, all public water, sewer and roadway improvements shall be completed.
The Commission found that the zoning change as requested would not adversely affect the adjoining property and would be in keeping with land use planning in the area.
ITEM NO. 4: Mr. Paul Koonts, representing Horvath Associates and Mr. Robert E. Wooten, Sr., presented an application to rezone from R-15, Residential District, to MF-A, Multifamily District, the property located on the east side of Rural Retreat Road and north of Interstate 85/40 approximately 725 feet south of Williams Mill Road and being as shown on Alamance County Tax Map 3-26-8C. (This item was continued from the December 19, 2005, meeting.)
Mr. Koonts pointed out that the property backs up to Target and Interstate 85/40 and maintained that MF-A zoning would be consistent with other zoning in the area.
He stated that apartments and townhomes are listed in the Table of Permitted Uses for multifamily zoning.
Commission Chairman Byrd asked how many units were planned for the development and was told 240 apartments and 40 townhomes. Mr. Koonts pointed out that this would be lower density than is allowed in MF-A zoning.
Mr. Byrd also asked if a traffic study had been conducted in conjunction with the planned project.
Mr. Koonts answered that a study had not been conducted and explained that this rezoning was the first step undertaken by the developers. He stated that the technical requirements would be presented to the City’s Technical Review Committee as step two.
Commission Member Cowan inquired about the maximum number of units that would be allowed on the property and was told 350 to 360.
Commission Member Franks remarked that the developers plan for 280 but could build 350 to 360 if the rezoning were to be approved.
Planning Director Harkrader stated that the applicant had requested MF-A zoning and that he was confident in the developer’s intentions of what would be developed. However, he pointed out that it was okay for Commissioner members to discuss traffic issues but the number of units could change and that they should only consider the MF-A rezoning request. He explained that due to topographic conditions and other factors, the number of units could change.
Commission Chairman Byrd asked if multifamily zoning would be consistent with the Land Use Plan.
Mr. Harkrader answered that it was and that multifamily zoning would be less intrusive than commercial zoning. He pointed out that during the Technical Review Committee process, traffic signal improvements could be made and Rural Retreat Road could possibly be upgraded.
Ms. Rhonda Custer, 4314-B Williams Mill Road, stated that she was opposed to high density multifamily zoning which could generate 600 vehicles a day. She pointed out that all the traffic would be generated to one intersection and that there is only one way in and one way out for residents on Williams Mill Road. She questioned why multifamily zoning would be allowed in accordance with the Land Use Plan when none of the residents had any input in developing the plan. Ms. Custer also questioned if the developers had taken into consideration the wetlands in the area. She stated that she was against the multifamily project and would rather see the property developed commercial. She maintained that multifamily zoning would devalue property in the area.
Mr. Earl Jaggers, 4012 Williams Mill Road, stated that he had traffic concerns and was uneasy every time he had to back out onto the road. He alleged that the multifamily zoning would impact the area in a negative way and devalue property.
Staff recommended approval of the request for rezoning on the basis that MF-A zoning would be consistent with land use planning in the area. Planning Director Harkrader stated that it was staff’s opinion that multifamily zoning would not affect property values any more than commercial zoning.
Commission Member Ware stated that he had concerns with everything going on in the area and if the Land Use Plan calls for high-density development of the property, then the plan should be changed. He questioned the capability of the intersection handling 500-plus more cars a day, and once the vehicles make the turn, they would be faced with a hairpin turn, hill and a curve. Mr. Ware stated that the Technical Review Committee should take all of that into consideration when considering the multifamily development. He summarized that it didn’t seem to matter what the residents and Commission members recommended – City Council was going to approve whatever it wanted to. He commented that it was unimaginable to him to see all those apartments built around the Roberts’ home and pond. Mr. Ware also pointed out that there is an entire quadrant now zoned for commercial use that was not supposed to be zoned commercial and he wonders if his vote has any impact on what the City Council approves or denies.
Commission Member Franks stressed the need for a plan to be in place to address traffic at the intersection of Rural Retreat Road and Williams Mill Road before 280 – or up to 360 – apartments are built in the area.
Planning Director Harkrader stated that traffic at the intersection had been discussed as well as the possibility of construction of collector streets. He admitted that it was a difficult decision made by staff because part of the neighbors want to see commercial development so they can sell their land for that type of development while other neighbors strongly disagree. He pointed out that the area has changed and will continue to change in the future – and these changes will bring more traffic. He assured Commission members that City Council values their opinions, and their recommendations do matter. However, Council also has to hear what everyone wants for the area and determine what is best for the City. Some will like Council’s decisions; others will not.
Commission Chairman Byrd responded that it is a difficult decision to make; however, the City must look at the highest and best use of land. Some want commercial development – others industry -- he pointed out. City officials just have to do the best that they can, he explained, and there are no easy answers. Decisions made can affect future generations.
Commission Member Johnson pointed out that the property is currently zoned R-15, low density, a single-family neighborhood, and he was concerned about rezoning to high-density multifamily development.
Planning Director Harkrader stated that the area is changing, and the question is, what is appropriate for everyone?
Commission Member Cowan stated that in her opinion, traffic is the biggest issue. She asked if a date had been set for the construction of a collector street.
Mr. Harkrader stated that a date had not been set. He pointed out that the construction of a necessary bridge would be expensive and projects such as this take time.
Commission Member Franks pointed out that when CBL presented its proposal for a development, a table for street construction was included in the plans whereas this development application was presented with no such plans. He stated that he appreciates the neighbors’ concerns.
Planning Director Harkrader responded that if this development presents unsafe traffic conditions, it would be addressed.
Mr. Franks stated that it didn’t matter to him if this application was for multifamily or commercial development, it still presented major traffic problems for the area.
Commission Member Johnson stated that it seems the City puts the cart before the horse whereas Council rezones property and then tries to do something about infrastructure later.
Commission Member Apple commented that from what he’s heard during the meeting, the majority of residents want commercial development out there and not multifamily.
Ms. Custer stated that her biggest concern was road infrastructure. She told Commission members that once Williams Mill Road is opened up, it will get traffic from US Highway 70 and NC 62 turning it into a major road. She maintained that while the Land Use Plan recommends high density zoning for the property, it is not conducive with the current road infrastructure.
Commission Member Black asked if the new school, which the Commission had previously approved, was going to be built in anticipation of this proposed development.
Planning Director Harkrader stated that it is being built due to overcrowding at B. Everett Jordan, Elon and E. M. Holt Elementary Schools.
Mr. Black then commented that if this multifamily project were to be approved, the school system could possibly have to bring in trailers to accommodate the number of students because 280 to 380 units would definitely impact this new school.
Mr. Harkrader stated that the school system might have to do some re-districting and asked if the City should stop development because of how it could impact the schools.
Mr. Black pointed out that commercial development would not impact the school the way multifamily development would, and if the property remained zoned R-15, there would be fewer students than with multifamily zoning.
Commission Member Cobb stated that he must leave the meeting in order to attend another meeting, and since there would not be a quorum of City members to vote on the rezoning request, the Commission could continue the item until the next meeting or vote on it.
Commission Chairman Byrd called for a vote on the rezoning request.
Commission Member Cobb made a motion to recommend denial of the request for rezoning. Jim Johnson seconded the motion. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the request for rezoning.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
George A. Byrd, Jr., Chairman
Paul E. Cobb, Jr., Secretary