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Developers of a proposed neighborhood on Lamm Road yielded to nearby residents Thursday as they agreed to build fewer homes per acre in a rezoning request the Wilson City Council ultimately approved.
“In GR6 or SR6 — which is six houses per acre — this whole subdivision will suffer unless they are only allowed to put three or four houses per acre,” said Kathy Bass, who lives in the adjacent neighborhood.
Bass and other neighbors of Planters Trail spoke during a March 5 planning board meeting about issues with persistent flooding under their homes and in their yards. During that meeting, engineer Ron Sutton with Herring Sutton & Associates asked to change the rezoning request from GR6 to a more stringent SR6 to address neighbors’ concerns, and the planning board approved the rezoning.
During Thursday’s meeting, another neighbor suggested the SR4 zone of four houses per acre more closely resembles the development of Planters Trail, which is in unincorporated Wilson County. Prior to discussing the rezoning Thursday, the council approved an annexation request for the proposed 7.7-acre development to allow for city services in the new neighborhood.
“On behalf of the developer, Ray Turnage and Turnage Development, we would like to further amend our request from SR6 to SR4, which is what we’ve heard some people express,” said Sutton. “We’re willing to do that.”
Councilman James Johnson noted that the rezoning is a preliminary stage of development with city staff and committees reviewing the plans as additional studies and engineering is completed.
“The SR4 is the most restrictive zone,” said City Manager Grant Goings. “That is the largest lot size and the fewest houses per acre. What the developer has agreed to is the most you can do unless you are just not going to zone it at all.”
The council unanimously approved the rezoning before debating another proposed housing development near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Raleigh Road Parkway.
A neighbor who lives near Gloucester Drive — a neighborhood south of Heritage Crossing — expressed concerns about how the addition of 250 houses and townhomes would add to traffic in the area.
Public Works Director Bill Bass said there have been three traffic studies done around Gloucester — one in 2015, a second in 2017 and a third six months later — and while there has been an increase in traffic, the numbers don’t meet the city’s guidelines for traffic calming measures like the installation of speed bumps.
No other residents spoke up in favor or against the proposed development, but during the agenda session before the 7 p.m. meeting, Councilman Tom Fyle raised concerns about traffic flow through the proposed development. Wilson Chief Planning and Development Officer Rodger Lentz said there will be additional streets built to help with safety and flow.
“What is getting built between Raleigh Road and Airport is a collector street. It will be like when you go down Forest Hills with access from the neighborhoods to a main road,” Lentz said. “And there is a stub street to the north expecting future development, and there will be a way to connect to the commercial development, so there will eventually be four significant ways in and out of the development.”
A traffic impact analysis also is being done, with Bass noting a new traffic signal is likely to be required on Airport Boulevard for the development to be built.
Other actions taken at the meeting included the approval of annexation for Sam’s Xpress Car Wash on Raleigh Road Parkway near the car dealerships and the sale of 908 Viola St. and 505 Carroll St. to Seeds of Hope for the development of gardens adjacent to its Viola Street facility.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Carolina Cheese Co. co-owner Richard Millinder requested the council consider an ordinance that would allow businesses to sell alcohol at 10 a.m., rather than noon, on Sundays as allowed under North Carolina’s “brunch bill,” which the General Assembly approved in 2017.
Johnson made a motion that the issue would be voted on at a later meeting.