DAVIDSON – Davidson Commons East, the undeveloped land across from Community School of Davidson, dominated much of the conversation at the Davidson Town Board meeting Tuesday.
The project returned to the board for the third time in four years because the developers want to change the function of the property. After a lot of discussion and with a long list of 17 conditions, the town board unanimously approved the developer’s request for commercial use.
Martin Kerr and Robert Tremblay, developers of Davidson Commons East, originally planned to build a housing development on the land, bordered by Davidson Gateway Drive to the east, Griffith Street to the north and The Park at Davidson to the south. But Kerr and Tremblay haven’t been able to sell potential buyers on the property, and they believe commercial property might sell.
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The change drew opposition, particularly from some residents of The Park at Davidson, who are concerned how commercial development may affect their property values, their safety and the already atrocious traffic conditions on Davidson Gateway.
Brian Griep, who lives in Cornelius, owns property on Davidson Gateway Drive closest to the Davidson Commons East property. He bought that unit in 2007, “and since then, 259 Davidson Gateway has depreciated about 42 percent compared to the sale next door to it,” he said.
Acknowledging numerous conditions have harmed his property value, Griep, nonetheless, asked the town board to require the developers to provide a buffer between any commercial center and his property. He also is concerned what more commercial development could mean for Davidson Gateway Drive.
“I’ve tried to show that property to prospective tenants at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and I know I’m never going to see them again because it (Davidson Gateway Drive) is a parking lot,” Griep said. “I really need a buffer” between the development and The Park.
But residents differed on the buffer idea.
“I’ve talked to about 17 or 18 of the 52 unit owners, and there seems to be almost a direct 50-50 split,” Louis Thames, a representative from The Park’s homeowners’ association, said. “Some people looked forward to the idea of possibly having a community space that they could enjoy. Other people are totally against it. Some of the people represented here were concerned about sightlines and the possibility of increased noise.”
Lauren Blackburn, the town’s planning manager, said that the board could choose to make the buffer a condition of the zoning, but doing so might turn away potential tenants. She also reminded board members they only had to vote on the property’s use, not on its layout, Tuesday night.
Other board news
Also Tuesday, the board:
• Approved a modification to the affordable housing ordinance. The change eliminates the category of housing that is affordable for people who make 150 percent of the average median income.
• Appointed Mayor John Woods and Assistant Town Manager Dawn Blobaum alternate members for the Lake Norman Transportation Commission.