Albemarle City Council approves subdivision

Published 9:44 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

On Monday night, residents of the Lafayette Drive area once again spoke before Albemarle City Council to register opposition to a proposed subdivision on Mockingbird Road.

Requested by J2 Land Investments and PresPro Homes of Harrisburg, the proposal will subdivide a 4.4-acre tract at the east end of Mockingbird Road into 10 lots containing single-family homes.

Having been zoned R-10 since the 1980s, the tract adjoins five homesites along the north edge of Lafayette Drive and three along the west and south edges of Bellamy Circle.

John Lambert, CEO of PresPro Homes, spoke in regard to the structures his company builds, noting that, “PresPro builds houses ranging from 1,200 to 5,000 square feet, and ranging in price from $200,000 to $2 million plus.”

“We haven’t decided what we are going to build on this site just yet,” he said, “and we are just going through the development stage now. We are more than a year out on any vertical construction considerations on (the property).”

Braden Lambert, also representing PresPro, added that plans are to widen the right of way, extend a six-inch water line to the end of the road and install a fire hydrant at that point, in addition to addressing concerns neighboring residents had brought up regarding drainage.

“We will also have an engineered stormwater and erosion control plan which will be permitted through the state…we know that was a concern expressed at the previous meeting,” he said.

Councilman Chris Bramlett expressed concern that Mockingbird Road, in its current form (a dead-end street), is in violation of the city’s current planning ordinance, and that the proposed development would further extend the end of the street.

“Our regulations state that dead-end streets are not to exceed 400 feet,” he said. “But I rode down Mockingbird Road today, and there is a sign there that says, ‘Road Ends 500 feet ahead.’ That means we are already way over the limit there.”

“What I’m gathering is that this is grandfathered, because it has been in the city for 40 years now,” interjected Mayor Ronnie Michael.

City Attorney Britt Birch affirmed Michael’s opinion.

“Typically, if an ordinance is revised after a parcel is already present, you don’t retroactively apply it to that parcel,” she said.

Jack Penrod of Bellamy Circle and Cavin Holbrook of Lafayette Drive both advocated that a cul-de-sac be developed at the end of Mockingbird Road, referencing ordinance 91.10 as justification.

“I think you should just stick with what the ordinance says, and put in a cul-de-sac,” said Holbrook. “You could lose a couple lots, but I think you’d have a lot better development.”

Penrod suggested that the proposal be reviewed once again by the planning department.

“Maybe the best answer to this, at the very least, is to return it to the proper entity, so that it is addressed properly,” he said.

Council, after discussion, voted 4-3 to approve the request, with Councilmen Bramlett, Bill Aldridge and David Hunt in opposition.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.