Albemarle council approves major subdivision along South Bell Avenue

Published 2:49 pm Thursday, January 6, 2022

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The Albemarle City Council on Monday night approved a subdivision that would be part of a multi-phase townhome development located off South Bell Avenue and Amhurst Street.

The subdivision presented before council was for the first phase, which consists of a 5.25-acre tract with 18 proposed lots (16 on South Bell and two on Amhurst) ranging from 2,016 square feet to 4,132 square feet. The second phase is set to be submitted this year with a potential street connection to Eastover Avenue and roughly 16 additional lots.

Individual townhome units for both phases would be 22 feet wide and 55 feet deep and would include a 100-square-foot rear patio. Sidewalks have also been proposed along South Bell and Amhurst. An HOA will also be created to maintain the space.

The council first heard about the subdivision during its Dec. 20 meeting. When concerned about the lack of available parking, it tabled a decision until early January, to give developer South Oak Partners more time to come up with other areas of parking.

Under the current plan, each lot would have enough space for two cars — one in the garage and one in the driveway.

During the December meeting, council was concerned about the safety of increased traffic along South Bell, an older road with an estimated width between 18 and 20 feet, much less than the required 26 feet of width for newer roads.

After working with Planning Director Kevin Robinson and his team, the developer proposed to council six new on-street parallel parking spaces inside of the newly proposed right of way that will serve the first 18 lots of this development. Additional parking is available at adjacent streets in the neighborhood.

When additional townhomes are built, Robinson said, more parking would likely also be provided.

Mayor Pro Tem Martha Sue Hall said she was still concerned that a subdivision would create more traffic for a narrow road that is already a major thoroughfare in the city.

“I still feel just as strongly today as I did two weeks ago about the issue of parking,” she said, noting the narrowness of the street would complicate things if emergency vehicles needed to get in and out.

Other council members who were initially skeptical about the development due to the parking issue said they were satisfied with the proposal from the developer.

“From where we were a few weeks ago to where we are today, you’ve taken the lead to provide us with the information that we were actually asking you to take a look at,” said Councilman Benton Dry, who then made the motion that council approve the subdivision.

Council approved the subdivision with only Hall and Councilman Bill Aldridge opposing it.

Council also approved staff to come up with an ordinance eliminating parking on the west side of South Bell and allow parking on the east side only on Sunday mornings.

In other news, the council:

• Set a Feb. 7 public hearing to annex about 136 acres off U.S. Highway 52 South and N.C. Highway 138.

• Approved a timeline for the 2020 Census redistricting plan. Council will select a redistricting plan on Feb. 7 and a public hearing will be Feb. 21 to adopt the final plan.

Each of the city’s four districts’ populations should be within five percent of the ideal district population, determined by the 2020 Census, and one needs to be at least 50 percent African-American. Since the city’s population increased by a modest 3.3 percent over the past 10 years to 16,432 residents, each district should aim for a population of 4,108.

The next regular council meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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