MONROE – After his proposal for a 689-lot subdivision was shot down by the Monroe City Council on Jan. 11, Ocie Vest told city leaders he heard the message loud and clear that residents don't want anyone else coming in to ruin what they have.

“I understand that but if we take that approach on every zoning case, it could be precious few projects that ever get approved,” said Vest, a partner at Stratford Land. “We have a commitment. We're a land development company. We're not a park-building company. We're not a charity. We're under the obligation to develop this property and if we can't get the city to help us with zoning that we believe makes more sense than developing it under R-20, then we don't have any other choice than to go R-20. I just want to make sure that everyone understands that.”

Vest attempted to rezone 340 acres along Marion Lee Road, U.S. 601 and White Store Road. His team had purchased the property in 2006.

“That is a pretty long investment hold for a company like ours,” Vest told the council. “But we're patient and we try to do the best we can with the land and sometimes real estate just takes time.”

The subdivision, The Greenway at Lake Lee, would have included attached and detached homes with 154 acres of open space as well as 15 acres of commercial area along U.S. 601 to be developed at a later date. Vest said his team believes the development of the commercial piece is a good five or 10 years away.

Pam Duda was among those speaking against the project during the Jan. 11 public hearing. Duda said she represented 79 people across 59 families.

“We are not opposed to a development on this property,” Pam Duda said. “We've been saying this from the beginning. We are opposing the size, the density and the layout. This greenway is not green. It focuses more on quantity rather than quality. This is not smart growth for this town.”

One of the biggest differences between a by-right development and the project Vest brought before the city is the open space. A by-right subdivision wouldn't be required to have as much, Vest said.

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