Subdivision residents looking for a way out
By Mark Wineka
Homeowners in the Gables at Kepley Farm say they were promised that if their subdivision grew to more than 100 homes the developer would provide a second means of getting in and out.
That was before Community Bank of Rowan had to foreclose on the developer, Burgess Construction.
Now the bank has a potential buyer who wants to build out the remaining phases of the subdivision, but only if the second entrance is not required by the city of Salisbury.
“This seems to be all about a sale,” resident Lisa Painter told the Salisbury Planning Board Tuesday.
“But it should be more about 66 families and less about a business deal.”
Some 21 residents of the Gables at Kepley Farm urged the planners not to remove a provision for the second entrance.
They cited concerns about increased traffic and the possibility that some day 260 homes could be restricted to one entrance and exit off Faith Road.
If an emergency would ever block the entrance, everyone in the whole subdivision would have no vehicular way of getting out, the residents said.
That scenario already has happened one Christmas Eve when an accident occurred on Faith Road, Jenny Mozolak said.
The homeowners in the Gables at Kepley Farm have gone through some “long, hard problems” over the past year because of the foreclosure on Burgess, she said. A full development of the remaining property to 260 homes ó while not opposed by the existing residents ó would put too great a burden on the subdivision’s one, small entrance, Mozolak added.
Other residents cited concerns about the wear and tear of future construction vehicles on their streets with only one access point.
“Please don’t close our opportunity to have a second entrance,” Frances Yates said.
According to Painter’s count, this subdivision designed for people 55 and older has 66 homes now, six unoccupied, and 36 lots still to be developed in the original phases 1 and 2.
A complete buildout of additional phases on the land remaining would bring the total development to about 260 homes.
Seamus Donaldson, representing Community Bank of Rowan, said the bank also was a victim of promises broken by the developer. After foreclosure, the bank has tried to be good stewards by funding a low-cost loan that has been able to build a clubhouse for the residents.
But Donaldson said the bank was as surprised as anyone to learn of a condition ó “Note 24” ó that was part of the city’s group development approval in 2005. Donaldson said his bank’s underwriting of Burgess’ loan was based on a plat from February 2005 which did not include Note 24.
Note 24 on the plat, which was part of a correction in September 2005, essentially says that the one entrance was valid for the first 100 lots, but any additional lots would require traffic analysis to determine if another entrance were needed.
That stipulation came from Salisbury City Council at the recommendation of staff.
While some interpreted it to mean a second entrance would be necessary, others didn’t think so.
Jay Dees, an attorney representing Community Bank of Rowan, noted a recent city traffic analysis concluding that 175 additional lots could be developed without significant traffic impact.
It showed a complete buildout of the Gables at Kepley Farm generating 1,001 daily vehicle trips, which was much lower than the 1,742 daily trips predicted by staff in 2005 when the second entrance was recommended.
Dees also argued that the city would be applying a new type of standard to the Gables at Kepley Farm that doesn’t exist for any other subdivision in the city.
In addition, Dees said the city’s new Land Development Ordinance would require four street stubouts, all of which are shown on the plan. It also meets a new connectivity index, and the Land Development Ordinance would not require a traffic analysis unless there were at least 3,000 daily trips generated per day, Dees said.
“Technically, it meets your new standards,” he told the Planning Board.
Planning Board member Bill Wagoner asked where a second entrance had ever been proposed. Dees answered that there never was one.
Providing a second entrance would be cost prohibitive to a new owner, Dees said, because it would require the purchase of large tracts of adjoining land to gain access to Faith Road or another public street.
Wagoner also asked residents how the “promise” of a second entrance had been conveyed to them over the years.
Painter said Jim Burgess told them that as phases 3,4 and 5 were developed they would have a second entrance and that it was required once 100 rooftops were in place.
How the developer obtained that second access point “was of no interest to us,” Painter said.
She said there was talk of a connection to Old Concord Road, Heilig Road or farther east on Faith Road.
“Several different things were thrown out as a possibility,” she said.
Planning Board member Richard Huffman said he didn’t see how Note 24 required a second entrance.
Fellow planner Maggie Blackwell said the issue was too complex to settle Tuesday, and she pushed for the matter to be studied in committee. Chairman Robert Cockerl agreed.
The motion to send it to a committee passed by a 5-4 vote. The committee of Wagoner, Mark Beymer and Tommy Hairston will meet at 9 a.m. Friday and report back to the full Planning Board Aug. 11.
Donaldson said a potential contract on the property has an Aug. 31 closing date.
Salisbury City Council would still have to take up the matter after the Planning Board.