Town Council: Wellington Park Rezoning Sparks Public Opposition

Cary, NC — Last Thursday’s meeting of the Cary Town Council saw continued public opposition on a rezoning case in the Wellington Park neighborhood.

Council Pushes Wellington Park Decision to Later Meeting

At the start of the meeting, before speakers came forward, the council voted unanimously to remove Wellington Park PDD Amendment from the consent agenda at the applicant’s request. This moves any official vote on the rezoning to the next meeting on September 9, 2021.

A total of 7 speakers spoke against the request which, if approved, would change the zoning of a 1-acre lot from daycare usage to about 10,000 square feet of office space for an intended dental practice.

For full details on the case, see 21-REZ-04 Wellington Park PDD Amendment Parcel C-2 and the initial presentation recap from the June 11, 2021 council meeting.

Content P&Z Board, Upset Neighbors

Some folks not stepping up to the microphone chose to show their opposition through red clothing and signage with “21-REZ-04 Wellington Park” crossed out in red.

The case, in summary, refers to about an acre of land that is currently a wooded lot at 301 Wellingborough Drive, behind the Wellington Park Shopping Center at the corner of SE Cary Parkway and Tryon Road.

The owner has expressed an intention to develop the land and is asking the Town to permit a building with up to two stories with 10,000 square feet of office space, namely a Dental practice.

This rezoning request has been in front of the council, the Town’s Planning and Zoning Board and on the desks of several town planners. From these encounters and meetings, staff recommends approval of the request and the P&Z Board voted unanimously that the request was found to be consistent with the Imagine Cary Community Plan.

The only problem? Residents feel it represents a promise made 30 years ago not coming to fruition.

A 30+ Year Rezoning Shift

A heavy presence of neighbors that live in the Wellington Park community put together a petition against this change, reaching 375 signatures.

One speaker said, “This represents 98% of the single-family homes in our community and 83% of the total population.”

One point made was that the group of citizens against the rezoning shift to office space do not oppose development altogether. Instead, they want a daycare there, which was negotiated decades ago.

Several mothers came forward to speak, one with young kids of her own who pointed to the present need for daycare services nearby. Another who lives within 800 feet of the property, whose kids are grown up now, said the zoning usage for a daycare was in place since she moved into her home 32 years ago.

At that time, she remembers driving her own kids to daycare in Apex and Holly Springs, taking about 80 minutes per day.

“Thirty years later, we are hearing from our neighbors that this is still what they’re going through,” she said.

Citizens Say: “Give Us A Chance”

According to these neighbors and the HOA President who also spoke at the meeting, the land was owned for this long span of about 30 years before being put on the market during the pandemic and this office space rezoning came up.

“This parcel was specifically zoned for childcare usage 35 years ago because the residents of wellington park determined that would best serve the neighborhood needs and be an asset to the community,” said the HOA President.

As the speakers wrapped up their comments, urging the council to keep the zoning intact as is, a particular phrase kept repeating—”give us a chance.”

“Let us see if we can get it developed as a daycare before we just completely turn it over into something we can’t change after we’ve done it,” said one of the final speakers.

Council members kept their opinions to themselves following these comments and will likely save their input for the next meeting when the zoning will be up for decision.

Cary’s Education History & A Visit from the Town Crier

John Webster, Cary’s Town Crier from Marham, Canada.

On a lighter note, at the start of the meeting, Councilmember and lover of Cary history tidbits, Ed Yerha presented another monthly installment of his Cary 150 History Moments. This time around, the subject was Cary’s Education over the past 150 years. See his full presentation on YouTube.

Another presentation was from a special guest, Cary’s Town Crier who traveled down from a sister city of Cary in Canada called Markham.

He was there to announce in his loud, celebratory, “all-yay” fashion the start to Cary’s Lazy Daze Festival as well as Cary’s Sesquicentennial Year. Following a proclamation reading, the Crier handed over several gifts for the Mayor from the local government in Markham.

3 Public Hearings & 1 Approved Annexation

The quickest topic of the night also got the night’s only vote outside of the consent agenda— a unanimous approval of the annexation of two unaddressed properties off Green Level Church Road. See more on this annexation case.

Taking up the rest of the meeting were presentations, discussion and public hearings for 3 rezoning cases:

All three cases relate to adding more residential space to Cary. All three separate cases combined would bring 226 apartment units and 220 townhomes and detached dwelling units. To see the full council and public discussion on these, which will return for decision at a later meeting, see the full meeting on YouTube.

Story and photos by Ashley Kairis. Project renderings and maps by the Town of Cary.

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2 replies
  1. Gabe Talton
    Gabe Talton says:

    I’m impressed with the sophistication of the opposition to the Wellington rezoning. The daycare line of attack is rooted in the specifics while still allowing for a narrative casual observers readily understand. Specifics and narrative don’t often fit together in land use disputes.

    Can a 1.08 acre parcel site a single story daycare meeting setbacks, parking and storm water requirements while constructing enough square feet to be profitable? I’m skeptical. Is a dental practice a higher intensity use than daycare? Hard to imagine that a day care with heavy drop-of and pick-up traffic plus a playground strewn with debris is a lower intensity use. It feels like the daycare issue is a ruse to keep the parcel undeveloped.

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