Albemarle delays decision on 10-home subdivision

Published 1:27 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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Albemarle City Council has delayed a decision on approving development of a 10-home, 4.4-acre traditional subdivision on Mockingbird Road in Albemarle.

The proposed development is in an area annexed into the city limits in the 1970s, and is zoned as R-10 residential. As such, a public hearing on the matter is not required. However, a number of area residents in opposition to the development were in attendance Monday night, three of whom relayed their concerns to the council during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I need you to understand something about the subdivision,” said Mayor Ronnie Michael before opening the floor for comment. “This was annexed and rezoned over 40 years ago, and what comes before council tonight is merely an administrative approval, so if there’s something wrong with the planning and zoning ordinances please point that out. Otherwise, Council has no reason to turn this down unless it violates our ordinances.”

Roger Martin asked if development of the subdivision could lead to extension of Mockingbird Road (currently a dead-end street) to connect to Lafayette Drive or Bellamy Circle.

“If somebody comes along in the future and wants to put a road back there, and can acquire the property, then they can,” replied Development Services Director Kevin Robinson, “but, I believe it’s going to be pretty difficult to do that with the sewer and the creek back there. Plus, it would require (council) approval since new street would have to be put in.”

Robert Johnson, who often hikes and walks his dogs along sewer easements in the area, asked if the development would hinder his access to the easement, to which Robinson replied that those owning property through which an easement passes would have final say.

Johnson also asked why greenway trails have not been developed on such easements.

“What they’ve done in cities like Raleigh, Cary and Winston-Salem is that down the sewer easements, they put greenways,” he said.

Michael explained that while other cities have negotiated with property owners to secure trail easements along such corridors, Albemarle has yet to do so.

“Our easements now are restricted to nothing but the sewer,” he replied. “It’s in our long range plans, but we would have to go to the property owners and get an agreement to put another easement on there.”

Jack Penrod of Bellamy Circle expressed concerns with increased traffic volume should the development be built.

“The intersection of Lafayette and Ridge is already pretty hazardous,” he said.

When the board moved into discussion of the proposal, Councilman Bill Aldridge moved that approval be denied, but was reminded by Michael that denial of the proposal can only be done if some part of it is in violation of city ordinances. This led Aldridge to withdraw the motion.

“I’d like to put this on the agenda for our next meeting so I’ve got time to review it,” Aldridge continued, and offered such in the form of a substitute motion. Bramlett seconded, and council members voted 4-3, with Councilmen Dexter Townsend and Chris Whitley and Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall in opposition. (Editor’s Note: A previous post stated Benton Dry was against it. Dry voted in favor.)

In other matters, the council:

● Unanimously approved annexation and rezoning of a 2.29-acre tract on Anderson Grove Church Road. The property, rezoned to R-15, will be the site of four new homes by developer Antwan Lilly.

● Unanimously approved a number of revisions and amendments to the city’s historic preservation ordinance.

● Approved a budget amendment for HVAC unit replacements at Albemarle City Hall.

● Conducted a closed session to consult with the city attorney, to discuss economic development, and to discuss personnel matters.

Albemarle City Council will next meet on Jan. 22.