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City OKs apartments after developer adds fence

SALISBURY — A developer competing for tax credits to finance low-to-moderate income apartments off South Main Street won approval for the project Tuesday from Salisbury City Council after she agreed to several compromises, including a fence.
If developer Karen Perry of Clemmons wins the tax credits, which will be announced in August, she plans to buy about 5 acres of land from Salisbury developer John Leatherman and build Abbington Court, an 80-unit complex for people with incomes between $13,234 and $32,160.
Perry agreed to a number of conditions, including improvements to Dodd Street, a 22-foot private driveway that would serve as the entrance and exit and connects to South Main. The driveway would become a 40-foot wide road with a sidewalk and planting strip, said Preston Mitchell, the city’s Planning and Development Services manager.
Perry also agreed to build a six-foot high fence along the entire west property line, including landscaping, and to remove pedestrian and driveway connections to nearby neighborhoods. Residents from the Rosemont area, located behind the proposed complex, complained to City Council last month about possible increases in crime and foot traffic with Abbington Court.
While many neighbors opposing the complex attended Tuesday’s meeting, they could not speak because the city failed to properly notice a public hearing. City Councilman Brian Miller, who served on a committee to study the issue with Councilwoman Karen Alexander, said he had intended to hold a second public hearing and apologize for the glitch.
Miller said instead, he had encouraged people to submit their comments in writing.
In lieu of public comment, Mayor Paul Woodson asked several questions on behalf of concerned residents.
Woodson asked if the proposed 6 foot fence was tall enough, and several people in the audience responded “no.” Woodson then proposed an 8 foot fence but found no support on the council.
“We’re not fencing in a prison,” Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell said. “It’s housing for regular people and I don’t see a need to have an extremely high fence that’s onerous on the developer.”
Every extra foot of fencing is added cost for the developer, Blackwell said, and she did not want to appear to be “anti-business.”
Perry has agreed to install a nonscalable, non-chain link fence that is more attractive and more expensive than other options, Blackwell said.
“With all due respect, you can have a 10 foot fence and if someone wants to try hard enough, they can get over it,” Millers said.
The 6 foot fence will block traffic and with landscaping, will provide a sufficient barrier, he said.
Councilman Pete Kennedy, who asked for the fence last month, said he was satisfied with the 6 foot fence.
Blackwell thanked neighbors for coming to City Council “organized and effective and polite” and said it was a pleasure to work with them to come up with compromises.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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