Residents at the Adair at Ballantyne townhome community may soon see a long-forgotten project come to fruition next door, and that has some in the area up in arms with little recourse for their concerns.
Mecklenburg County rezoned land at the corner of Lancaster Highway and Ballantyne Commons Parkway in 1998 for a business. The lot included two parcels – one that is now the 52-home Adair property opened in 2002, and the other allowing for 22,500 square feet of general retail space that Woodie’s Auto Service and Repair now intends to use for an 18-bay shop. That plan, which is in the permitting phase with the city planning department, has neighbors at the bordering townhome community worried about traffic and noise that will be generated by the shop.
“We as a community… it’s a big concern,” said Jon Speckman, president of the Adair at Ballantyne owners association. Speckman said he and other area owners have spoken with Brad Woodie, the developer, about their concerns, though Woodie is allowed to build the shop there once a few ordinance issues are cleared up. No public hearings or votes have to take place before Woodie can build.
The shop would be situated on 1.79 acres of land, part of which is setback space. It would be built at 11,500 square feet instead of the allowed 22,500, Woodie said. Speckman argues the project will just be too close – at 20 feet in spots – to townhomes, and though it’s been known since 1998 that something would go on the land, residents wish it would be something other than an auto shop.
“We know he has a right to build there,” Speckman said. “It’s just the fact that what he’s building is so far beyond what was planned for the space. Eighteen bays with people running air equipment and doing auto repair within 20 feet of people’s homes? It’s about as crazy as I can imagine it to be.”
Woodie’s has a number of locations in the Charlotte area, including at 6500 South Blvd. and 6625 Carmel Road in south Charlotte. This would be the company’s first Ballantyne project, and Woodie said it will not resemble anything his group has done in the past.
“It won’t compare to any of” the other shops, Woodie said. “This will be heads and shoulders aesthetically above anything we’ve built so far. It will resemble more of a lodge, really … with heavy timber” and a drop-off area that will resemble a ski lodge.
With the rezoning approved some 16 years ago by Mecklenburg County officials, there’s not much Charlotte planners can do today about neighbor concerns, planner Solomon Fortune said. While they can control some of the ordinance regulations of the project – such as where dumpsters would be located, a concern of some at Adair – planners cannot change the approved use for the land. That battle was fought and settled in 1998, and any business that falls under the 1998 zoning can build on the lot.
Fortune said there may be some concerns about the allowed uses at the site if the 1998 rezoning was in front of the planning department in 2014. But changes to local ordinances and district plans can’t retroactively affect the zoned property’s uses.
Woodie hopes to break ground on the project on May 1 and have the project completed by Nov. 1.