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374-home development in Wendell stalls after public hearing opposition

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WENDELL — Town Hall was filled beyond capacity Monday when the Wendell Board of Commissioners considered a controversial rezoning and annexation request that would have ushered in nearly 400 new homes on the town’s outskirts.

A developer had asked for conditional rezoning of nearly 130 acres along Rolesville Road, Davistown Road and a portion of Yancey Drive. The rezoning would allow more dense residential development on the site.

The developer plans to build a subdivision, The Overlook at Weathers Park, comprising 275 single-family homes and 99 townhomes. The plans also call for open space, a clubhouse and junior Olympic-size swimming pool.

But after more than an hour of feedback from citizens — mostly negative — the developer asked commissioners to hold off on making a decision.

Tony Tate, a landscape architect with TMTLA Associates which submitted the rezoning request, first gave a presentation to the board which included a 3D-computer generated mockup of what the proposed development would look like.

Tate noted elements of the plan the developer changed in response to concerns from the town’s planning board at its meeting in November.

“We’re requested honest feedback on this plan so if we knew what people’s concerns were, we could address those,” Tate said.

Modifications include adding at least two cul-de-sacs, eliminating vinyl siding and constructing a playground and a dog park.

When it came time for the public to speak, many citizens voiced opposition, citing the fact that the properties are currently outside the town’s annexation limits and would not benefit the established town citizens.

“I keep asking myself and try to look at the big picture,” said Brandon Strickland of Rolesville Road. “We have a developer who has located an inexpensive piece of farmland outside the town’s (jurisdiction) and really on the outskirts of the annexation limits by state law and they’re standing to make millions in profit.”

Strickland asked why the developer didn’t buy land closer to Wendell’s town core that is already zoned for this type of development.

“I think it’s because that land is more expensive, already has the proper infrastructure and utilities to support the high-density growth being proposed here,” Strickland said. “This opportunity allows them to build a city-style development, out in the county, at the expense of the surrounding homeowners and possibly the town.”

David Cozart of Weather Road called the plan convoluted and voiced concerns over the finite resources that would be doled out if the development was approved and built.

“Appropriate management and development in the town and surrounding area is a highly important issue because land and water are precious resources,” Cozart told the board.

Cozart said the project was inefficient because of a lack of commercial development and acres set aside for park space which would not be part of the town’s tax base.

“Decisions about the farmland will affect the character of the town and the lives of nearby residents and our children as well,” Cozart said.

After many other residents voiced similar concerns for the next hour, the applicant requested commissioners defer any actions for 30 days, a measure which passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the Wendell Town Commissioners is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Wendell Town Hall.