Planned business park in Apex upsets neighbors

aramos@newsobserver.comApril 26, 2014 

— Some people who live in Ashley Downs are upset about a planned business park on Olive Chapel Road, saying the project doesn’t fit with their residential neighborhood.

Site plans call for a 133,000-square-foot business park. There will be space for 25 office or business units, six workshop spaces, a boat-storage facility that could house 256 boats, a wine humidor area and another storage facility.

The business park would put more cars on Olive Chapel Road, where nearby residents say there are already safety issues near Olive Chapel Elementary School.

The Apex Town Council has already given its OK for the major site plan for the 11 acres at 1604 and 1640 Olive Chapel Road.

But a group of residents is still pushing for a change, and some spoke out during a quasi-judicial hearing this month.

Along with traffic concerns, residents said they weren’t happy about the town’s system of notifying nearby property owners of proposed developments. Most of the owners of the 120 homes in the Ashley Downs neighborhood were unaware the project would be a business park, residents said.

Developers are required to notify property owners within 300 feet of the affected property. In this case, that’s about 20 homes.

JVI, the developers of the business park, met that requirement, said Dianne Khin, Apex planning director.

But residents said more should have been done to let them know.

“No one who is not directly across the street was aware of this proposed plan,” said homeowner Lauren Marsalo, adding that 35 people signed a petition opposing the project. “Ashley Downs is not compatible with a storage facility, with the traffic it will bring late at night and at all hours. We have children using Olive Chapel (Road).”

Marsalo said she worried the facility would become an eyesore.

“It affects our property value,” she said. “It will be a detriment financially, to our children to the way they use our neighborhood.”

Ginger Bennett, who also lives in Ashley Downs, said there is already a traffic issue in front of Olive Chapel Elementary.

“We are begging for crossing guards,” Bennett said. “Carpool is going until 4:20 p.m. There are over 125 cars that go through carpool.”

The town’s traffic engineers and those hired by the developer agreed there aren’t enough cars on the road to generate a traffic impact study.

The project is expected to add about 100 vehicles during peak hours.

Council members said they approved the plan partly because land owners have the right to do what they want with their property.

“The 2030 land-use plan looks at compatibility. As far as I can see, it is consistent,” said Councilman Scott Lassiter. “The council can’t force property to remain vacant forever.”

Some council members said a business park would create less traffic than a subdivision.

“If you have homes, a huge development, that is going to be more traffic – more than a place with 108 parking spaces,” said Councilwoman Nicole Dozier.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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