Approximately 75 residents of several North Chatham County subdivisions attended the Chatham County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, June 19, to voice their opposition to rezoning 27.5 acres of wooded property along the southbound lane of Highway 15-501. The site begins at Polks Landing Road in North Chatham County and continues south beyond the intersection with Lystra Road. The land is currently zoned as a residential area (R1), but Morgan Property Group of Charlotte, NC, has requested rezoning the property as a community business district (CD-CB). The change would permit developing the site as a commercial shopping center, with an anchor tenant and two smaller businesses.
Ninety-seven percent of residents living in subdivisions that adjoin the proposed site oppose rezoning it. The neighborhoods of Polks Landing, Polks Trail, Hidden Valley, and Scarlet Oaks were developed 40 years ago, when Highway 15-501 was a two-lane highway and many of the buffers common in newer subdivisions were not required. Residents believe that rezoning the property will increase traffic dramatically during the day, with light and noise from delivery trucks disturbing residents at night. Traffic congestion, especially at the intersection of Highway 15-501 and Lystra Road, also presents a safety risk. Parents of children attending Rainbow Day Care Center oppose rezoning the site because the center’s playground on Polks Landing Road would see increased traffic and greater noise and air pollution. Because there are no sidewalks in the subdivision, residents walk their dogs, jog, ride bikes, and push strollers in the streets; a commercial development along Polks Landing Road presents a significant safety risk to pedestrians.
Neighbors also questioned how storm water would be managed. Emily Sutton, Haw River Watch Coordinator, presented evidence that the proposed development would imperil Pokeberry Creek and its wetlands and contribute to pollution of the Haw River and Lake Jordan. Many old, large oaks would be cut down to make room for the shopping center. The most common theme residents expressed was the need to maintain the natural beauty and peace and quiet of the neighborhood; the development, they said, should be relocated to a site along Hwy 15-501 already zoned for commercial use.
The developer has attempted to address residents’ concerns by adding an eight-foot retaining wall around the site and increasing the buffer from 20 to 30 feet. While the rezoning application does not mention a specific tenant for the anchor store, the developer said that a general grocery store is planned. Neighbors are not convinced that another grocery store is needed, since the proposed development is two miles from Walmart, less than a mile from Lowes Foods, and across the highway from Harris Teeter.
The Commissioners have forwarded Morgan Property Group’s rezoning request to the Chatham County Planning Board for its review and recommendation. The request will then come back to the Board of Commissioners for its approval.
The rezoning application and supporting materials are available at http://www.chathamnc.org/government/departments-programs/planning/rezonings-subdivision-cases/2017-items/chatham-county-retail-rezoning.