The Huntersville Planning Board will consider a proposal at its Jan. 29 meeting that could allow plans for a private K-8 elementary school in the Vermillion neighborhood to move forward.
The Planning Board will hear a request to approve a text amendment to a Huntersville zoning policy that would allow on-street parking spaces to be used as “stacking lanes” at the proposed neighborhood school, located in east Huntersville.
Huntersville Senior Planner Whitney Hodges said zoning law doesn’t allow drop-off and pick-up zones on town streets in that neighborhood , but the town’s planning staff is not opposed to the change.
Hodges described stacking lanes as the areas around schools, typically supervised by teachers, where vehicles pull over to let students in and out.
At a Jan. 7 public hearing, mayor pro-tem and town board member Sarah McAuley asked that the language be made more specific to apply only to Vermillion and not a handful of other sites with the same zoning classification.
Vermillion resident Greg Dawson spoke during the hearing and said while he’s in favor of a school that students can walk to, he has concerns about the neighborhood’s narrow roads, possible traffic congestion and emergency vehicle access in the drop-off, pick-up zones. “A (stacking lane) would almost make firetruck access impossible,” Dawson said.
Hodges said the goal is to keep two-way movement on all the neighborhood streets and there are enough entrances and exits into the community that it would be possible for residents to avoid school traffic.
“Vermillion is so well-connected,” Hodges said. “It does have a Myers Park quality, so if you turn off the (main) street, you’re not too much off the beaten path.”
Bowman Development Group requested the text amendment and, if the school moves forward, applicant Nate Bowman noted during the hearing that student enrollment would be capped at 360 students.
No votes were taken during the public hearing and Hodges said it’s likely the planning board will have a recommendation for the town board by its Feb. 4 meeting. Though the public hearing is over, Hodges said anyone with questions or concerns can contact planning staff at 704-875-7000.
Villages of Mecklenburg
The Huntersville Town Board also is expected to vote on a revision to the subdivision sketch plan for Villages of Mecklenburg at its Feb. 4 meeting. The skilled nursing facility for senior adults is ready to develop the second portion of its Hunton Lane property, located along the west side of Ranson Road, south of Stumptown Road.
The plan revision would include subdividing 12.92 acres into two parcels, extending an existing street and creating a new street to facilitate a 100-unit assisted living facility, a 60-unit independent living facility and 12 additional units to the existing facility.
The board voted 6-0 at its Jan. 7 meeting to defer action so the applicant – Villages of Mecklenburg Assisted Living, LLC – and neighboring property owners from Timberview Lane could resolve differences, after neighbors expressed concern about noise and light pollution, stormwater run-off and the color and material of the proposed fence barrier.
Board members Ron Julian and Charles Guignard also expressed concerns about traffic on Ranson Road during staff shift changes, as the facility is near Torrence Creek Elementary and St. Mark Catholic Church.
Principal planner David Peete said Huntersville needs this type of facility, which includes all three levels of senior care. “We’re going to have a very large aging population that will need this level of care,” he said.
“It’s something unique for us to have all those levels at one place. Everybody is always a bit resistant to change. If you can go through sensitive transitions in life while essentially being able to keep your address the same, there’s something nice about that.”
The applicant has offered to lower the height of parking lot lights, create a buffer of Leyland Cypress and include the fence – which goes beyond the buffer requirement – to block noise from neighboring residents, said Peete.
“(The residents) are bringing in some personal preferences that are making it difficult for the applicant to make everybody happy,” he said, noting residents had no consensus on the material or color they’d like the fence to be. “The board won’t customize each segment (of the fence) for each neighbor. It would be great if the applicant can do that work, get an agreement and report back. That would be the win,” said Peete. “That remains to be seen.”