China Grove Town Council approves two major housing developments, townhomes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 12, 2021

CHINA GROVE — The town council on Tuesday night approved rezoning requests for two major housing developments and one smaller townhome development.

“There’s a tremendous need for housing in China Grove,” Mayor Pro-Tem Rodney Phillips said. “There’s more people wanting to move into China Grove than we’ve got houses. Any way we can satisfy that market is good.”

Liberty Grove

The largest of the three approved developments is a 76.2-acre subdivision called Liberty Grove that will be located on the east side of town between U.S. 29, Lentz Road and I-85. The proposal, which was submitted by BRD Land & Investment, calls for 148 single-family homes, 92 townhouses and 2.8 acres of commercial space.

The homes, townhouses and commercial space will be linked via sidewalks and will be one cohesive neighborhood. 

“That one is going to be interesting because it will have a lot of amenities to it,” Mayor Charles Seaford said. “It will have retail, right behind that it will have townhomes and then behind that it will have regular housing there. I think that’s going to be really great because it blends and fits that area.”

Previously, the development’s planners said the townhomes in the subdivision will likely sell in between $200,000-$250,000 and single-family homes for $350,000-$400,000. Sarah Shirley, a senior engineer for the company proposing the project, said the subdivision would add $350,000-$400,000 to China Grove’s revenue. 

To allow for the project, the subdivision’s planners were requesting a conditional rezoning from mixed residential, light industrial, suburban residential to mixed residential. The rezoning to allow for Liberty Grove received unanimous approval by the China Grove Planning Board at its meeting last month, but the board did tack on several conditions that the project’s planners agreed to meet. 

Those conditions included not using vinyl on the sides of the homes and not allowing fast food chains, gas stations or drive-thrus to inhabit the commercial space. Shirley said during Tuesday night’s meeting that the subdivision’s planners were targeting breweries, small restaurants, and services for the commercial space in the neighborhood.

The average lot size of the single-family homes in the development will be 50 feet, which is the minimum required in the town’s planning laws. Lot size has been a sticking point for council members previously, but did not prevent the council from approving the rezoning on Tuesday night. The single-family homes will be 15 feet apart.

“They offered up fire-resistant material instead of vinyl and and extra five-foot distance between the two houses and I think that’s what sold the council on allowing the 50-foot lots,” Seaford said.

During a public hearing regarding the Liberty Grove development, several China Grove residents came forward to voice concerns, ask questions or express their support for the project. Concerns included the development’s impact on local schools, increased traffic and the amount of homes in the subdivision. One resident said he was glad to see that the council was embracing an opportunity for the town to grow.

Shirley did respond to the concern about the increased traffic by saying that there would be a traffic study conducted in the near future. Seaford said there would be time to address the concerns about the impact on schools before the development is completely built in two to three years.

Kensington

The second subdivision approved during the council meeting is a 174 single-family home development called Kensington, which would also feature greenway space and walkways. The development is planned for a 64-acre plot of land on the north side of town near Red Fox Lane and North Main Street. On behalf of Dependable Development, CESO requested a rezoning of the property from suburban residential district to a mixed residential.

Of the 174 homes, 80 of them are planned to be on 60-foot wide lots and 94 of them will be on 50-foot wide lots. The average price of the homes in the subdivision will be between $300,000-$380,000.

A proposal for the same subdivision was recommended for approval by the China Grove Planning Board in 2019, but the proposal was later withdrawn by the subdivision’s developers. The Planning Board approved an updated plan for the subdivision in July.

Andrew McDonald, a representative of the company building the homes, said the houses will each be made of two different materials to avoid a “cookie cutter” look, will not use vinyl siding and that each home would include a porch or stoop on the front.

Two residents expressed minor concerns during a public hearing regarding the Kensington subdivision. One resident was worried that the 24-foot roads in the subdivision would be too narrow, eliminating the ability for street parking, and the other resident questioned why a person would want to live in the subdivision instead of Liberty Grove.

East Ketchie Street Townhomes

The China Grove Town Council unanimously approved a request from Terrell Lambert to rezone property on East Ketchie Street from highway business to mixed residential conditioning zoning, clearing the way for Lambert to construct six townhomes on the property. 

The China Grove Planning Board in June voted unanimously to recommend approval of the rezoning with two conditions: the building setback must be 42 feet and Lambert must allow for a certain percentage of open space to protect the adjoining creek. 

On Tuesday night, the council considered adding a condition that Lambert must also build a sidewalk in front of the property, but decided against it because other homes on the road were not subject to the same requirement. 

The rezoning for the Ketchie Street town homes was passed without citizen comment.

In other meeting business:

• The council approved accepting $1.2 million from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan. The town received half of the funding this fiscal year and the remaining half next fiscal year. Town Manager Ken Deal said the town hasn’t decided how to spend the funding yet and is still waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

• The council set a hearing for Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. regarding the proposed closing of an unmanned road near Lentz Road. The road was intended to be used for a development that never came to fruition.

• The council approved a change to the town’s building height requirements. The max height limits on a building may now be increased by one foot for every additional foot provided between the building footprint and minimum required setback. The Planning Board may also now increase the max building height up to 15% if the building is in the central business district or is part of a mixed-use development.