Citing safety concerns, Albemarle council votes down conditional use permit for subdivision

Albemarle Mayor Ronnie Michael was the deciding vote in a close 4-3 decision Monday evening to not approve a revised conditional use permit.

Carolina Land Development, which is developing lots along Morgan Road, requested a change to the preliminary plat for the subdivision to be revised so as not to show approved turning lanes at the entrance and exit from Morgan Road.

The developers requested these improvements be done once the 100th lot be built as part of a future phase, as opposed to adding the turning lanes as the lots are being built, which was in the original conditional use permit that was approved by the council during its July meeting.

The property will be developed as a single-family residential cluster subdivision and will have 43 lots. Of the 12 acres, 5.76 will be for open space.

Each lot is designed for 4,200 square feet and would be around 51 feet by 82 feet.

Concerned about safety issues, Michael voted against the revised conditional use permit.

“I think we passed a plan with safety in mind when we required the turn lanes and now if you’re taking the lanes out you’re, in my opinion, making it less safe,” Michael said.

Michael cast the tie-breaking vote after Councilwoman Shirley Lowder was recused from the vote. She said she had previously discussed the project with someone.

Councilman Chris Bramlett was one of the members who voted for the revised conditional use permit.

“I want this project,” he said. “I think we need it and I’m very concerned that it will look again like we’re not business friendly.”

Bramlett said being a businessman, he can understand why Carolina Land Development might want to wait for more houses to be built before paying to install the turning lanes.

The Morgan Hills subdivision is part of one subdivision Carolina Development Services plans to develop as part of three to four phases over five years. The annexation and zoning is part of phase 1 of a master plan to have roughly 500 lots on Morgan Road. The entire subdivision would have 168 acres, of which 90 would be open space.

In other business, the council:

–Listened to a presentation regarding the U.S. Census, which will be conducted next spring. For the first time, citizens will be able to self-respond to the Census via the internet. Jay Voyles, development coordination specialist, said he hopes the city can have an 85 percent first-time response rate.

–Approved Chris Whitley to represent the city on the SCUSA board.

–Approved the decision to close parts of Pee Dee Avenue blocks from Miller to Ridge Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 31 for safety while children trick or treat.