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The Cary Town Council on Thursday saw another example of the increasingly common clash between existing neighborhoods and denser residential infill.
As often happens, residents of an existing single-family neighborhood in western Cary protested that a proposed subdivision would add traffic to the roads and not mesh with their larger homes.
Chalk this round up for the neighbors. By unanimous vote, the council denied LStar Managements plan to build 43 homes at the entrance of an affluent low-density neighborhood on Farmpond Road.
I have two pages of concerns about this, said Councilwoman Gale Adcock. In harmony ... there would be no more than three homes on that site instead of 43. To me thats jarring and inappropriate and non-harmonious.
As the housing market reheats, and with smaller homes more popular than ever, developers are looking to squeeze projects into pockets between subdivisions built in the 1990s and 2000s.
The response from established subdivisions is predictable: They often expect that the rural lot next door will develop like their own land, and they worry that the change will de-value their property.
Four years ago, my property appraised at $3 million. Two years ago, it appraised for $2 million for listing, said resident Martin Baum.
But with the new plan on the table, he said, I had an offer for $900,000 recently.
Most of the Farmpond lots are five acres each. The LStar plan would have put up to three houses per acre, the same density as the neighborhood to the north.
Proposals for denser development often shock neighbors, who in this case had grown used to the open fields and ponds of the Howell estate, which has been in the same family for at least 50 years, according to property records.
When we bought this house, that was ponies, said Kim Smith, whose family bought on Farmpond Road in 1999, records show.
The folks that moved into and bought into the Farmpond community had an expectation, said Councilman Don Frantz.
But, like other council members, he said a compromise was possible. Things change, times change, and thats our job, he said.
Frantz said he might be more accepting of a plan that shifted the denser development toward Davis Drive, creating a gentler transition for Farmpond residents. Councilwoman Gale Adcock suggested doubling the lot size.
Obviously, well have to go back to the drawing board, said Adam Ashbaugh, a partner at LStar.
His company has proved something of a specialist in these contentious infill developments, having patiently brought the long-argued Carpenter development to fruition after years of conflict.
If so, theyll find plenty of opportunities in Cary.
Almost all the rezonings theyll all be like this, said Councilwoman Lori Bush.
Similar arguments are brewing on the Wright property and on the Herndon land, where townhome plans face stiff opposition.