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A stirring housing market apparently means the return of western Cary development debates.
The latest community to enter the fray is the Turner Creek Elementary School area, where four single-family neighborhoods are pushing back against a proposed townhouse project.
The argument is typical: A family that has lived in the area for more than 100 years says the time has come to convert old farmland into a new development, while the potential neighbors have floated a raft of concerns about a developer’s proposal.
In question is a 16-acre, two-lot property just northwest of N.C. 55 and Turner Creek Road. The land is bordered to the south by Turner Creek Elementary School, to the west by the Harmony neighborhood and to the north by Chesney Glen.
A rezoning presented to the Cary Town Council last week would allow for up to 120 townhomes to be placed on the land, among several other possible uses.
Dozens of current residents of the area made a show of force at the Thursday council meeting.
“This rezoning is incompatible with and inconvenient to current Cary residents,” said Joel Greene, president of the Harmony Homeowners Association.
The proposal’s neighbors pitched concerns from traffic to air quality, and several speakers worried that a higher-density neighborhood would bring more crime.
“My little one who is only 2 years old loves to play outside. It will not be possible anymore,” said Ritu Jain, a Harmony resident. “This will make our neighborhood unsafe and increase traffic, and I will have to confine my kids inside the house. This decision will force us to move out.”
Leon Herndon, an owner of the land, said his family sought to bring a high-quality development to land that once was home to tobacco fields and a general store.
“Now there’s little demand of the use of farmland for money crops, so in order to survive, alternatives must be found,” he said.
Brenda Carroll, a western Cary Realtor, said the townhome project could be a good fit for the area and the market.
“Land has become a real premium, and what’s that mean? It means density. It means you have to have more properties on a parcel … to make it beneficial to even build on it,” said Carroll, who was asked by developer DR Horton to offer her opinion on the project.
Carroll also contested some current residents’ opinions that neighboring subdivisions’ land values would suffer with the construction of townhomes valued at $170,000 to $240,000.
“We’re not talking about low-price townhomes here,” she said. “Statistics have proven … townhomes of this caliber up against communities like Chesney Glen and Harmony are not a negative.”
Matt Brubaker, a representative of DR Horton, argued that the project lined up with Cary’s land-use plans, which call for medium density development in the area.
Both sides have some time to work out their differences before the council makes its decision.
One key question is whether the project will include a road into the Harmony subdivision, which many residents don’t want to see. Residents of neighboring communities also worry that the new construction will clog local roads.
The project will next go to the town’s planning and zoning board at an undecided date before returning for a final council decision.