Planning board recommends approval of apartments proposed for South Main Street

SALISBURY — If 80 new apartments for working-class families win tax credit financing, the developer promised the Salisbury Planning Board she would build a sidewalk from the complex to South Main Street.

With that assurance and after considering the opposition, planning board members on Tuesday recommended that City Council grant a conditional district rezoning to the proposed Abbington Court. Developer Karen Perry, owner of Clemmons-based KRP Investments and a 1985 graduate of South Rowan High School, will learn in August if the project wins tax credits from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

If she earns financing and a nod from City Council, Perry said she plans to build affordable campus-style apartments on 5 acres of land she will buy from Salisbury businessman John Leatherman. Tenant incomes have to be low enough to qualify.

Two neighbors had concerns about Abbington Court.

Charles Parks, a financial planner whose business is next door to the proposed complex, said Dodd Street is not wide enough to serve as a driveway. Parks said he has brought up this concern repeatedly when previous developments were proposed for the same area.

“The answer is always the same — it’s not safe,” he said. “You gotta build it right.”

Parks said he has been maintaining Dodd Street for years. City officials said Dodd Street is a dedicated right of way, not a city street. Attorney Glenn Ketner said Leatherman owns Dodd Street and will sell it to Perry if the deal goes through.

Years ago, another board approved a site plan for the same area, and it should still apply, Ketner said.

“When all the dust settles and the smoke clears, the train left the station about five years ago,” he said.

Dodd Street is too narrow to serve as an entrance from South Main, said Parks, who added he is not opposed to the development.

“How is a fire truck going to get into that entrance?” he said.

Attorney Randy Reamer, who is a planning board member but did not serve Tuesday, represented Parks and said they are concerned about opening access to Colonial Village Apartments next door, which could put more traffic on Dodd Street.

Abbington Court would stand adjacent to Colonial Village, a 98-unit complex near Rosemont Avenue. The city’s Planning and Development Services Manager Preston Mitchell said Perry has been talking to the developer of Colonial Village about connecting the two complexes.

Perry has agreed not to build a road to Abbington Court through the Rosemont neighborhood. Mary Ann Summey, who lives in the neighborhood, said she still has concerns.

Summey said she and her neighbors are not opposed to having more families nearby but are concerned about safety and theft, which has been on the rise. She said Perry should build a barrier between Abbington Court and Rosemont.

“Our neighborhood should not become just almost a mall for people to be filing through, particularly late at night,” Summey said.

The underlying zoning for Abbington Court — residential mixed use — would not change, but the development needs a conditional district rezoning to allow campus-style apartments.

Perry said she has partnered with Rea Ventures and is working with an adjacent property owner to buy a strip of land along Dodd Street to widen the road and add a sidewalk.

“Our goal is to be the best neighbor we can be and to enhance and add to what’s already here,” she said.

The city’s Technical Review Committee, which includes fire and safety officials as well as engineers, approved the site plan with some conditions. At 22 feet wide, Dodd Street meets state standards, said Trey Coogle with Rea Ventures, but developers will continue to work with the state on better access to South Main.

“We understand the issue with Dodd Street,” Coogle said. “We do intend to improve it.”

There will be a deceleration lane on Main at the entrance, he said.

Planning board members Josh Canup, Will Hasselmann, Carl Repsher and others were concerned about how children in Abbington Court would get to the school bus. Children would not be safe walking on a 22-foot-wide road in the dark to the bus stop while people drive to work, they said.

Canup asked Perry if she would agree to build a sidewalk along Dodd Street. She agreed.

Reamer said no one had approached Parks about his willingness to provide a strip of land to improve Dodd Street. After the meeting, both attorneys and all of their clients had gathered in the lobby at City Hall to talk about the possibilities.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 70797-4264.

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