Barclay Downs fights apartments

Neighborhood brings protest to city council meeting

by Mike Parks

Residents of the Barclay Downs neighborhood near SouthPark packed the auditorium Monday night, July 16, to show Charlotte City Council their displeasure in a potential development overlooking their recreation club.

Woodfield Acquisitions wants to build a residential building at 4131 Barclay Downs Drive that would in spots reach eight stories, though the portion closest to the Barclay Downs Swim & Racquet Club would be around 69 feet tall. Area residents and members of the club have argued that the project, at 280 units, is just too tall and dense for the area and will have a negative impact on traffic and on the amount of noise members of the club have to endure.

And though they say they aren’t against development in the area, they can’t get behind this project.

“I think (the amount of residents at the meeting) gives you some idea how strongly we feel this project has crossed that line of what’s reasonable and fair,” said Barclay Downs homeowners association president Hilary Larsen, speaking with a crowd of supporters behind her. Larsen and others say the project should be no taller than 40 feet in height and have at least a 100-foot set-back from the club’s property instead of the current 48 feet.

The developer has made concessions, though not enough to please all the neighbors. The developer rearranged the layout of the buildings to move some away from the club’s tennis courts, and lowered the height of the building closest to the courts so it won’t tower as much over the club and block sunlight – though club members argue the building will still block sunlight in winter months and cause freeze problems on part of the court.

They’ve also dropped the amount of units, from 300 to 280, and pledged to make $100,000 in traffic and pedestrian improvements in the area, including improving at least four standard crosswalks to high-visibility crosswalks and reconstructing some speed humps in the area.

But the main concern lingers over the density of the project, and that may continue to be a sticking point leading up to the city council’s vote in September. When asked by Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon if there’s more that could be done for the two sides to come together, the developer’s representative didn’t sound hopeful.

Speaking on behalf of the petitioner, Jeff Brown said the problem with moving further back from the tennis courts is there’s only so much room between there and Morrison Boulevard, and they can’t move much closer to Morrison.

“(We’re) open to continued dialogue, but it’s tough to see us making a substantial change” other than what’s already been done, he said.

The zoning staff recommends approving the project. City council likely will vote on the issue in September, giving both sides more time to come closer together.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting…

• An apartment complex planned for Lancaster Highway near the Providence Pointe neighborhood did not come up for a vote at the rezoning meeting after the zoning committee could not break a tie on whether to recommend approval or denial of the petition. The developer, GCI Acquisitions, wants to build a 248-unit apartment complex off Lancaster at Landing Place Lane that will in parts approach homes in Providence Pointe.

Neighbors have argued the complex will add too much traffic to busy Lancaster and hurt overcrowded schools like Ballantyne Elementary. The developer argues that city estimates on how many kids would be added to local schools is an over estimate, while adding that GCI already has agreed to fund some pedestrian safety measures in the area.

The city’s zoning committee should discuss the project again soon in hopes of putting a recommendation forward to city council. Council likely won’t vote on the issue at the earliest until mid-September.

• No one signed up to speak against the planned redevelopment of the Quail Valley Apartments. The development company Faison Hollow wants to demolish the current 232-unit apartment complex to build up to 390 high-end apartments in the location off Carmel Road between Quail Hollow Road and Bridgewood Lane.

Area residents were up in arms over the project at meetings earlier in the year, saying the density of the project was too high and already-strained roads in the area wouldn’t support the increase in units on the site. Developers have backed off their original goal of more than 400 units on the site, and rearranged where some buildings would go to appease residents.

Speaking on Tuesday, July 17, Montibello Homeowners Association president Virginia Thompson said the developer made great strides toward getting closer to the needs of area residents on this project. That includes increasing the distance between the apartments and area roads and homes, improving landscaping around the complex and improving the quality of the buildings on the site. But to get those concessions, area homeowners had to give up on getting the density of the property down much more.

The zoning committee has recommended approving the development, and city council likely will vote on it in September.

• No discussion was held over a planned rezoning at the corner of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Rea Road. The 1.72 acres of land across the street from the StoneCrest at Piper Glen shopping center would be used for around 8,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The zoning committee has recommended approving the development. No one signed up to speak against it at Monday’s meeting, and council could vote on the matter in September.

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