CORNELIUS – A proposed age-restricted neighborhood off Nantz Road and Catawba Avenue may have received a favorable recommendation from the planning board, but it’s up to town commissioners to decide if it will happen. Already, residents have complained.
EPCON Communities, developers for Courtyards at Nantz, returned to the planning board on May 21 with a revised rezoning application and plan, having previously been told it wouldn’t pass as originally presented. Concerns at the time included traffic and the need for improvements on Catawba Avenue to make the intersection safer.
The plan now includes a realignment of Nantz Road and Catawba Avenue and right-of-way provided for the future West Catawba Avenue road widening, plus a street and sidewalk connection with the Lake Norman at Jetton Cove neighborhood to offer a second entrance. The proposal has been approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
With the design alterations, Courtyards at Nantz is now slated to have 67 lots, up four from before, that will be for adults ages 55 and up. It also has a clubhouse, pool and a mixed-use component, offering office space. Estimates have the neighborhood being completed and filled by 2017.
Developers need town board approval to rezone the property from general residential to conditional neighborhood mixed-use. They received a favorable planning board recommendation with a vote of 4-2. Keith Pickett and Scott Reynolds dissented. The vote is nonbinding and commissioners will make their own decision following a public hearing at their June 2 meeting.
“I think it’s a good project that adds value to this community. Worse things could be going in next door,” said board chair Brian Simmons just before the vote, “The project presented is age-restricted homes, but these are not cheap homes people are buying. The reason the developers are looking to build and the reason people are looking to move there are the reason we all came here.”
A crowd from Lake Norman at Jetton Cove disagree, saying the fact their neighborhood is private is why they moved there. They allege the proposed connector would ruin that and is against their property deeds. All of the neighborhood streets are privately owned and maintained by the Homeowners Association, not the town.
“We have no objection that EPCON is building on property that abuts to Lake Norman at Jetton Cove,” said Audrey McLaughlin. “Our objection is the connectivity. Safety and quality of life is an issue. Our roads are narrow and we want them to remain privately maintained by owners. Residents residing here are aware of the narrow passage and proceed with caution. But with the road open, our safety is in jeopardy. There is a liability as homeowners, not to mention the additional burden to maintain the road with more traffic usage.”
Others said it wouldn’t simply be Courtyard residents using the cut-through, but anyone going to the nearby boating companies, Ramsey Creek or parks.
Barbara Scannel, who berated the board for allegedly not giving notice of the meeting, attempted to give a stack of petitions to the board against connecting the two neighborhoods.
“You can’t just wave a magic wand and say oh it’s public,” she said. “The roads are not designed for public requirements. The traffic analysis doesn’t consider the impact on our neighborhood. … We are not objecting the development, we are objecting to trying to take a private road and what we paid for and turning it into public.”
Attorney Bill Brown clarified many of her statements, saying they weren’t holding a public hearing, as that is the town board’s job. They allowed residents to speak out of courtesy. He recommended giving the petitions to commissioners.
He also said it was within the town’s right to connect to the road while still keeping it privately owned. The one road would have split ownership, but be open for everyone’s use. Even now, he said, there is nothing that prohibits people from driving in the neighborhood.
More importantly, he said the original plan had Lake Norman at Jetton Cove with that connector.
“The fact of the matter is connection was in the requirements of the approved plan,” Brown said. “The laws as we know them is that connection is required. It’s already there waiting on the other side to catch up. What the town board will want to do with that, I have no idea. Private HOA ownership is fine, but it will be publicly dedicated on this side.”
Traffic was also brought up again as a traffic signal is still not deemed warranted, though the impact study was completed in December. Several board members said the traffic concerns aren’t because of the new neighborhood but the problems that already exist.