Drummond Village extension could be residents’ best ‘protection,’ council member says

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 8, 2018

SALISBURY — The original site plan for Drummond Village subdivision included more than 400 units in four phases with amenities including a golf course and walking trails.

But that was in 2002.

Developers made a series of major revisions to the plan in 2006 and 2007. Now, almost a decade after at least one of those developers — CP Morgan — has gone out of business, another developer is ready to build on the land.

That developer, True Homes, was represented at Tuesday’s City Council meeting when the council, Planning and Development Manager Preston Mitchell and Drummond Village residents discussed whether the land should be rezoned to allow development.

Many of those who spoke were residents of the first phase of Drummond Village, which was constructed after 2007. All of those residents were opposed to the extension of their community.

Residents said the True Homes plan, which included 150 lots with smaller homes than those in their neighborhood, was not the one they had been sold when they decided to move there.

They said the new houses would lower their property values and raise their homeowners association fees.

True Homes’ plan requires a rezoning because the land is currently zoned for urban residential and the developers want to use more suburban design elements available only with general residential zoning.

General residential zoning allows for larger lot sizes than urban residential.

As a byproduct of that, the developer’s plan involves larger lot sizes — between 36 and 60 feet — than what would be allowed in the current zoning.

Mitchell said that meant that if the land were not rezoned, another developer could “come in tomorrow” and submit a plan that would involve even smaller houses and lots.

“It would not involve a rezoning, and it wouldn’t involve any public hearings,” Mitchell said.

Because of that, Councilwoman Karen Alexander said the True Homes plan could be the best option Drummond Village residents can hope for.

“It is the best protection for you. Actually, you’re kind of fighting something that’s really good for you. Yes, it’s different. It’s not what maybe you thought it was going to be,” Alexander said. “But if I were in your shoes, I would be wanting to have my neighborhood with the most protection — and the CD (zoning) gives you that.”

Alexander said diversity in neighboring home sizes could be a benefit to current residents.

“Because you do have a lot of people who are now baby boomers who are going to retire. They’re going to be selling their big houses to the younger folks who are going to be bringing kids in, and they’re going to be moving to 1,200-square-foot homes because they don’t need 5,000- and 6,000-square-foot houses,” Alexander said.

Mayor Al Heggins said Salisbury does need more housing.

“And we have so many people … that want to live in nice communities,” Heggins said. “Maybe they don’t want the biggest house in the community, but they do want to be in a nice community for their family.”

Alexander said she was ready to vote in favor of rezoning Tuesday night, but Heggins said she wanted to table the vote to give the developer and residents time to talk through their differences.

“We just want to make sure that we’re addressing the concerns because we do need the housing. Desperately,” Heggins said. “But we want to make sure we have community members who are still happy in their communities and feel like you’re being supported in a way to protect your interests also.”

After more discussion, the council voted unanimously to table the decision.

The subject will be brought up again at the council’s June 19 meeting.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.