Project struggles for approval as committee questions density
by Mike Parks
Local residents trying to stop a proposed apartment complex from being built off Lancaster Road in south Charlotte got a bit of good news last week, after rezoning committee members questioned if the developer was trying to pack too much into the space.
GCI Residential wants to build a 248-unit apartment complex on the west side of Lancaster, between the Providence Pointe neighborhood and Lancaster’s intersection with Johnston Road. The land currently is zoned for a project that would have brought 58 townhomes to the 16-acre property, and would have to be rezoned for the apartment complex.
Discussing the issue at a recent rezoning committee meeting, members voted 3-3 on the plan, meaning the issue will have to come to another vote of the committee later this month before it can move on to Charlotte City Council, possibly in September if not pushed onto an earlier agenda.
The main problem for the rezoning committee, which must make a recommendation to city council, was traffic and density, according to residents fighting the proposal.
Rob Bizon and Doug Campbell, two Providence Pointe residents who live in the part of the community that would border the apartment complex, urged city council last month to vote down the proposed development because they thought it would bring too many people into an already packed area.
If the land was built out according to the current zoning, city staff says the project would generate 630 vehicle trips per day. If zoning is changed and an apartment complex built, that number would jump to 1,700 trips per day, according to estimates. Residents say that’s just too much for Lancaster to take, and a danger to kids at nearby Ballantyne Elementary, which sits just across the street.
“Anytime after 7:30 (a.m.) in the morning that entrance is very difficult to take a left-hand turn onto Lancaster just because of traffic coming both ways,” the neighborhood group told council last month. “… We’re aware that this property is eventually going to be developed. We don’t have a problem with that. However we’re going to strongly urge you to keep the zoning remaining as it is … which will limit the number of housing units that will be constructed in this area.”
The developer already has once lowered density on the project, from 252 apartment units to 248. They’ve also promised to lower the height of some buildings and take into account some other concerns of residents. But GCI may have hit its floor when it comes to lowering the density any further.
At the public hearing in June, city council members were hesitant to show their opinions for or against the project. However, a number did mention their concerns about traffic and the speed limit on Lancaster in the area. Upcoming development projects that already have been approved will add to the number of cars on Lancaster before the project would even break ground. Charlotte Department of Transportation representative Mike Davis said his group would look into concerns in the area and see if there’s anything they can do. q