Mooresville sign

The Mooresville Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a conditional rezoning request by property owners to build a subdivision with 178 single-family detached homes near the intersection of Shinnville Road and U.S. 21.

The action comes after the board has twice denied a similar request by the same property owners, Shepherds Landing, LLC and 694 Parkway Plaza, LLC to rezone the property for a proposed housing development. These two companies filed a lawsuit against the town in August 2018 as a result of the board’s initial denial, stating the board’s decision was capricious, arbitrary and unsupported by competent substantial evidence.

The board of commissioner’s decision Monday allows the 64 acres of land to be rezoned from R-2, or single-family residential, to R3-C, or single family residential with conditions.

Donald Munday, of Piedmont Design Associates, has represented the property owners at the Board of Commissioners meeting. After the board’s decision, Munday had no other comment except to say “finally.”

On two previous occasions, Shepherds Landing and 694 Parkway Plaza came before the Board of Commissioners asking to rezone the same nine adjacent tracts of land from R-2 to R5-CU, or single-family residential with a conditional use. The property owners had originally sought to build 32 twin-townhomes in addition to the project’s original 148 single-family homes.

The project’s original density level, at 2.8 units per acre, is the same as the density level proposed Monday. But, the proposed new plan removed two controversial items board members took issue with two months ago: the twin-townhome component and a neighborhood RV or boat storage center off the Shinnville Road entrance. The new proposed project also added a greenway easement to connect future regional systems, said Craig Culberson, town interim planning and community development director.

The developers also agreed to several traffic mitigations including aligning a subdivision site entrance at U.S. 21/N.C. 115 with Belk Road to create a four-leg intersection with the access driveway having two lanes in and one lane out, Culberson said. Additionally, at the same location, the developers will create a left turn lane with 100 feet of storage southbound on U.S. 21 turning into the subdivision, he said. Northbound on U.S. 21, the developers will create a right turn lane turning into the subdivision with 100 feet of storage, he said.

The developers have also agreed to extend the left turn lane with 225 feet of storage and taper coming southbound off U.S. 21 onto Shinnville Road and northbound on U.S. 21 to create a right turn lane with 200 feet of taper and storage, Culberson said.

The developers will also create a left turn lane on eastbound Shinnville Road, pending North Carolina Department of Transportation approval, with 50 feet of storage and tapers.

During a public hearing on the matter Monday, various neighborhood residents cited concerns about traffic, coal ash fill potentially being used in the development’s construction and the board allowing too many housing developments to be built before the town has infrastructure in place.

Attorney Kevin Donaldson, representing Shepherds Landing and 694 Parkway Plaza, said coal ash would not be used at all in the development. Donaldson also said the developers addressed the concerns the board members raised during the last meeting in August.

Several commissioners agreed the developers had done their part.

“We tried to get as much as we could to make this project a better project,” said Commissioner Thurman Houston, admitting he still had some “heartburn” about the proposed development.

“For the third time now, they’ve come back to us with these concerns addressed,” said Commissioner Bobby Compton. “Not every developer does that.”

Compton also said they were hamstrung by the state, which has its own schedule on improving state-run roads, including the proposed widening of U.S. 21, which forces town growth to come before infrastructure improvements.

Commissioner Lisa Qualls said the public’s concerns over the development are not a dead issue and that the board would continue to work on it. “It’s a double-edged sword,” Qualls said. “Prosperity equals traffic.”

This rezoning request is two years in the making. Beginning in the summer of 2018, the Board of Commissioners twice denied previous rezoning requests from Shepherds Landing and 694 Parkway Plaza saying the requests were inconsistent with the town’s comprehensive land use plan and that it was not reasonable or in the best interest of the public.

This first conditional rezoning request by the corporations had already been approved by the town planning board in May 2018.

Following this denial, representatives from the property owners returned July 2, 2018 to request a waiver on the one-year time limit the town requires for reapplication but the Board of Commissioners offered no motion and the motion died without any action taken.

Shepherds Landing and 694 Parkway Plaza then sued the Town of Mooresville in August 2018 with their attorney stating the decision to deny the conditional rezoning request was capricious, arbitrary and unsupported by competent substantial evidence.

A judge agreed and ordered the Board of Commissioners to re-consider the request.

But two months ago, the Board of Commissioners again denied the conditional rezoning request since nothing in the plan had been changed from the first presentation. Although representatives said the plan could be changed, commissioners did not feel comfortable approving the request without the alterations already in place.

Those changes were brought before the board Monday where the rezoning request was finally approved.

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