Traffic still main concern over apartment project

Area residents are still concerned about how a proposed apartment complex at the corner of Johnston and Marvin roads will hurt their daily commute, while the developer says the project could actually improve driver safety in the busy corridor.

Childress Klein Properties wants to build a 281-unit apartment complex on the roughly 19 acres of land that’s currently vacant except for a few single-family homes. Charlotte Department of Transportation officials say the project will add 1,830 cars a day to area roads, a number some neighbors dispute as too low an estimate – though any more cars on the road will just make a bad situation worse, they say.

Speaking at the city’s rezoning meeting Monday, Oct. 15, a representative for the developer tried to ease any concern Charlotte City Council members may have over traffic, as it’s the council that ultimately will decide whether to approve the project.

“Ninety percent of the feedback we’re hearing (from area residents) deals with traffic,” said Colin Brown, an official with K&L Gates, which is representing Childress Klein Properties on this project. “This is one of those rare occasions that I’ve been involved with that I can actually say development is going to improve traffic conditions. This doesn’t mean we’re not adding trips, because we are, but there are significant traffic improvements as a part of this petition.”

As part of the project, a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Johnston and Marvin, and the existing southbound left-turn lane on Johnston will be extended. Also, a turn lane into the complex will be added on Johnston. The developer hopes these additions will help move cars along more smoothly and keep drivers turning against traffic safer. Requests for a full stop light at the intersection, which a number of residents have asked for, was denied by North Carolina Department of Transportation, which manages that stretch of road. A full stop light in all directions could back traffic up more and add to delays at the intersection, though it would provide safe times for drivers to turn from Johnston and Marvin.

But some residents say the project will just add too many cars into what they see as a traffic nightmare in the mornings and afternoons – no matter what improvements are made at the intersection.

“I am here for the rest of Marvin Road,” said one resident who spoke against the project Monday night. “A neighbor of ours has sat there and said you can not tell a man what to do with his land. And he is correct. But when it affects our lifestyles on Marvin Road on how we get in and out of our driveway and which direction we can go all the way around … that’s where I have a problem.”

Some neighbors have said they would rather see office buildings or a medical facility on the land, which would add less traffic than an apartment complex. Many also are worried that the project is just the first of more possible apartment complexes for the area, and the roads just can’t take it.

“Everybody knows that the traffic is horrendous down there and a stoplight isn’t going to fix it,” the resident said at Monday’s meeting.

Brown, speaking for the developer, said there’s only so much they can do for the roads. The state transportation department is responsible for any wholesale changes to traffic in the area. For their part, Childress Klein Properties has “more than mitigated the impact of this site,” Brown said, adding some people would “rather see it be a pony farm forever, but if development is going to occur, at least there are some positives” with the Marvin Road Apartments.

Charlotte City Council could vote on the project at next month’s zoning meeting.

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