Residents, developer bicker over proposed townhomes

Residents near a planned townhome project in the SouthPark area say they’re worried the project will lower their property values and increase storm runoff flooding in their yards. The developer says the project will not only improve flooding in the area, but increase local property values.

The difference in opinion was presented to Charlotte City Council members on Monday, Feb. 18, with an audience full of local residents applauding any negative comment about the proposed project. The group Park South of Union wants to build a 44-unit, three-story-tall townhome community at 6500 Park South Drive, near the Teversham community. The land is mostly cleared due to a failed project that would have gone there. The parcel went into foreclosure, leading to this new proposal.

“The quality architecture and design and construction will be of the highest standards … and fitting of SouthPark,” said Babak Emadi with Urbana Urban Design and Architecture, which is working on the project.

Emadi said his group has taken part in an extensive study of water runoff in the area, which shows the project will actually improve runoff in the area as opposed to what’s there now. And, since the townhomes will be priced higher than the homes around it, the developer said the project should increase property values.

But area neighbors aren’t on board with that line of thought. They argue home values will go down if people have to look out their back windows at a three-and-a-half story townhome towering above them. Also, as the land in question is at a higher elevation than the nearby neighborhood, residents say the townhomes will appear even taller.

“If this development goes in, every house on our street is going to lose significant value,” one resident said. “There’s just no way people are going to want to come there when there are these huge townhomes instead of it being a residential neighborhood.”

Another neighbor argued the project would add to the traffic problem on Park South Drive, which some drivers use as a cut-through to avoid congestion on Park Road. If the land is rezoned and townhomes built, Charlotte Department of

Transportation officials say the project would generate 327 vehicle trips per day in the area. If the land was built out according to the current zoning, it would generate 182 trips per day. As the land is vacant, it currently generates no trips.

“The potential for greater accidents and the overall safety of our community is in jeopardy from that because it is a very childhood oriented (neighborhood) where children play outside often,” the resident said.

A proposed hotel project just down the road recently was rejected by city council because, in part, the project didn’t fit into the local community, city leaders said at the time. This project already is running into the same problem with council.

“They’re behemoths,” said council member Claire Green Fallon, speaking to the size of the project. “These things are awfully large and way out of character for the neighborhoods.”

Added council member John Autry, “It looks really out of character for this neighborhood.”

Mayor Anthony Foxx also used the opportunity to remind residents of the city’s ongoing capital investment plan argument. Foxx said residents in places like SouthPark may have to get used to seeing proposed developments of this type near their neighborhoods as more people strive to live in such areas. Foxx says the capital investment plan would improve other parts of the city and hopefully make them more desirable for builders looking to grow in Charlotte, with both council members Michael Barnes, of the University City area, and David Howard, speaking on the Central Avenue area of Charlotte, jokingly saying the developer should look at their neighborhoods for the project.
Unless the proposal is delayed during the next few weeks for changes to be made, city council likely will vote on the project next month.

Also Monday night, council members decided to delay voting on a proposed project that would build 27 single-family homes to the 9000 block of Wade Ardrey Road, in the Ballantyne area. The city’s zoning staff will discuss the proposal at a meeting later this month, and it could come back before city council for a vote in mid-March.

Council members voted to approve a rezoning of the vacant Chesterbrook Academy on Ballantyne Commons Parkway near Rea Road and Williams Pond Lane. The school will be turned into a day care to accommodate around 220 children each day.

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