Carolina Beach Road apartment complex opposed by neighbors
If Mark Calnon had known about plans to build a four-story apartment complex near the village of Motts Landing in southern New Hanover County, he and his wife would not have bought much in the development.
Or at least they would have chosen another place to build their house.
The couple are a month away from moving into the house, which borders the nearly 22-acre site where developers are looking to build a new apartment complex.
Calnon, along with dozens of other residents of the village of Motts Landing, the nearby neighborhood of Sycamore Grove and other adjacent landowners, came on Thursday for a meeting with the developer.
For some, however, the meeting raised more questions than it answered. Because the project is still in its early stages, details of the development’s impact on things like traffic and stormwater are still unknown, representatives told participants.
Unknowns regarding the project were brought to light as residents wondered how an apartment building would impact traffic congestion, water runoff, privacy, property values and even crime rates. .
“The general header for everything is just fear of the unknown,” Calnon said.
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The initial plans for the site of the apartment complex include 13 individual buildings. There are eight 4-story buildings with 32 units and three 3-story buildings with 24 units each. The plans also include a 4 story building with 16 units and a 3 story building with 12 units.
The development, which is called Banks Pointe, also includes space for a dog park, clubhouse, swimming pool and stormwater pond.
The project developer, LDI Commercial, LLC, is seeking a conditional zoning application to allow construction of the 356-unit apartment complex. The application would change the zoning of the land from an R-15 residential neighborhood to a high medium density multi-family residential designation.
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When he bought his house in the village of Motts Landing, Richard Dewaele learned that part of the site currently being considered for development was a mixture of wetlands and protected land. He expected commercial development along Carolina Beach Road, but didn’t think there would be housing offered so close to his home.
Dewaele is concerned that the complex could result in increased traffic on the community‘s roads, which could change his sense of place, he said. Residents exercise regularly and walk their dogs on the sidewalks and streets of the community. The village of Motts Landing is billed as a retirement community, Dewaele said, and many of its residents are seniors.
Dewaele is a member of the Motts Landing Village Homeowners Action Committee, a volunteer group responsible for the new development.
Mike Zell chairs the committee and lives about a block from the development site. Like many meeting participants, Zell is concerned about the street connectors that development will bring and the increased traffic on community roads.
A traffic impact assessment has not yet been completed but will be required before the project is submitted to the New Hanover County Planning Council. The project was not scheduled for a board meeting, and it may not reach the board until the end of this year, representatives told the crowd on Thursday.
Zell said he wanted the study to consider the traffic impact of all new developments proposed and under construction in the area.
“There is a lot to come for Carolina Beach Road and it will be a dead end unless the infrastructure is changed,” he said.
“Something will go there”
In the neighboring community of Sycamore Grove, Louis Chena is the president of the homeowners association.
Like the village of Motts Landing, many residents of Sycamore Grove are already concerned about increasing traffic congestion, flooding from stormwater runoff and environmental conservation as the area develops. Many fear that the proposed apartment complex will exacerbate these existing problems.
Zell believes careful planning will be needed to address any issues that may arise from the development.
“They are at the start of the process, but I see no way (…) that this will only exacerbate the problems that are already starting to develop,” he said.
Chena, who has owned land in Sycamore Grove since 2008, recalls an idea several years ago to build over 200 townhouses on the site. Chena said he favors townhouses because they fit better with single-family homes already located in the area. But this plan never came to fruition.
Now residents of both communities are expressing concerns about the current project and asking developers to heed their comments, Dewaele said.
“There is going to be an uprising going on,” he said.
In addition to forming the committee, the homeowners association sent out a list of talking points and at least one resident wrote a research brief highlighting the potential crime that a new apartment building could lead to in the area, to which he spoke at Thursday’s meeting.
Zell recognizes that the region will see more development, but he wants to make sure it fits with neighboring communities.
“Realistically, something is going to happen there, whether it be townhouses, apartments or whatever,” he said. “But it must be good for the region. It must be good for the community.”
Journalist Emma Dill can be reached at 910-343-2096 or [email protected]