Cary, NC — The two biggest moves from last Thursday’s Cary Town Council meeting were the approval of a 25.99-acre neighborhood and the unanimous denial of rezoning for a dentist’s office in Wellington Park.
Similar to the prior Town Council meeting in August, there was a presence of over a dozen Wellington Park neighbors wearing red and holding up signs in opposition to rezoning case 21-REZ-04, only this time it was the night of the council’s deciding vote.
Council Unanimously Denies Wellington Park Rezoning
The rezoning case of 21-REZ-04 involves a 1.08-acre portion of the Wellington Park Planned Development District at 301 Wellingborough Drive. The proposal has been in the works for months and seeks rezoning of the land’s use to allow for a dental practice to be developed.
Hundreds of neighborhood residents signed a petition against the proposal while others submitted written comments and spoke publicly at recent council meetings. For more details on resident comments, see the last council recap.
All presented a similar underlying message to the council—to deny the request and keep the land zoned as it is currently, for the use of a daycare facility. It has been zoned as such for over 30 years, but the property only recently came to be on the market for sale.
Applicant Speaks Up
During the public speaks out portion of the meeting where 6 neighbors spoke in opposition, the applicant associated with the proposal, Dr. Brandon Smith also spoke to the council. Before the meeting, Smith explained he met with investors who specialize in nursery/daycare businesses.
“The consensus is that the parcel is simply too small to develop as a daycare,” said Smith. For even a small daycare, Smith said an 8,000 square foot building and an additional 10,000 square foot area would be needed for kids’ play. Adding in parking standards, stormwater management and setback requirements for the property, Smith argued that it would not fit.
“Therefore, likely the property will remain undeveloped in perpetuity,” said Smith. Before sitting down to await the vote, Smith made a few further points about the decreased traffic benefit of a dental office and the pre-approvals of town staff and the Planning & Zoning Board.
Council Discusses, Agrees to Give Current Zoning More Time
In conversation after the presentation and before a final vote, several council members spoke to their own opinions of the case and also to the residents in the room.
“I thank you all for being a part of the process. I respect you all for fighting for your neighborhood and you community, I really do,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz.
In his remarks, Frantz saw the uses as being similar and was prepared to vote yes on the rezoning. But, with the residents’ comments in mind, he encouraged them to find someone to build or develop the daycare on the site.
“I’m willing to give it a little time, not willing to give it a lot of time,” said Frantz.
Councilwoman Ya Liu found the two conflicting zoning uses to be quite comparable and both to be a benefit to the neighborhood. That said, she said she had sympathy for the neighbors and can relate as a mother of three young children.
“Having a daycare really close by, that really is life-saving for young families,” Liu said before saying she would be voting to oppose the dentist’s office proposal.
Similar comments came from the remaining councilmembers, all of whom when it came to voting time, decided to deny the request and give the neighborhood a chance to bring in their desired development—a daycare. At this point, only time will tell what’s next for this property as the dental practice or other businesses may come forward with further requests in the future.
Tower View Court Approved for 560 Units
Another rezoning case brought the council voted on was a proposal to redevelop approximately 26 acres of land at 330 Towerview Court as a residential neighborhood. For reference, this is located within a one-mile radius of Preston, Park West, and Maynard Crossing.
This land is currently occupied by five radio towers and the developer has committed to removing these towers before applying for their first building permit on the project. Currently, the zoning usage under the Town’s growth framework map is designated as a business/industrial park.
As for the details of the project, the developer has proposed:
- 560 dwelling units
- 130 townhouses
- 430 multi-family
- 10,000 square feet of commercial space
- Limited to retail, convenience store, restaurant, assembly, financial institution & personal service uses
- 4 acres of open space
- Community gathering space of 10,000 square feet with amenities
- 6 electrical vehicle charging stations
Cary’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously found favor with the proposal, recommending approval of the rezoning and an amendment to Cary’s Act 19 Community Plan.
When it came to the discussion, Mayor Weinbrecht was happy with the mix of housing types.
“The fact that there’s opportunity for ownership here is very encouraging to me, so I’m very excited to see that,” said Weinbrecht, who voiced his intent to support the proposal.
Councilmember Lori Bush mentioned concerns of height, density, the unknowns that come with a courtyard-style format and wished that structured parking would have been part of the proposal.
“I wish it were better, so I’m leaning toward not approving,” said Bush.
At this point, Assistant Planning Director for Cary, Debra Grannan showed the above renderings to show the anticipated street views and look of the housing units.
“They are tall, but in terms of the scale, I think the size of the site seems to help mitigate with that,” said Grannan.
Councilmembers continued with their comments, most agreeing with the usage and the addition this would provide to the predominantly industrial area.
Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz made the motion to approve the proposal, which resulted in a passing vote of 6-1, with councilmember Bush opposed.
Cary’s Pandemic Update
Town Manager Sean Stegall’s last update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Cary was in June 2021, and he hoped it would be the final occasion. Nevertheless, to his disappointment, he said there was more to share.
Stegall reported the number of Town employees who have tested positive for COVID has climbed to 147 — a 43% increase since his June update. The vaccination rate of Cary was previously reported at 80%, but new data suggests it is closer to 68%.
This mix-up in data, he explained, stems from the NC Department of Health and Human Services removing duplicate records from their census track reporting.
Since the most recent emergency order requiring masks in all indoor locations in Cary, Stegall says the Cary Police have had to respond to 6 requests for help in regards to people not wearing masks inside businesses.
“So far, all that have been spoken to have willingly complied,” said Stegall.
9/11 Remembrance & Prayer
At the start of the meeting, a nod of reflection and remembrance of the 9/11 attacks was made by Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz. For those unable to be at the meeting in person or virtually, here is the prayer he shared.
“Dear God, as the anniversary of September 11th approaches, we call on your spirit to empower us to shape a world marked by ways of life that lead to justice and peace. We are still aware of the fear and the violence that permeated our world on September 11th, 2001 and as we pray in remembrance of that tragic day, help us to be people of non-violence and hope. Form us into a people determined to heal wounds rather than inflict them. We ask this in your name. Amen.”
The next meeting of the Cary Town Council will be held in the Town Hall chambers on September 23, 2021 at 6:30 PM.
For the full video playback of the meeting, see the Town of Cary YouTube Channel.
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