In Cornelius, developers put 2 housing projects on back burner

By: Tony Brown, Staff Writer//January 16, 2013//

In Cornelius, developers put 2 housing projects on back burner

By: Tony Brown, Staff Writer//January 16, 2013//

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An elevation for a home in the proposed Bailey Forest project.

CORNELIUS — Developers and the town of Cornelius have put on hold two planned housing-developments — Bailey Forest, a multifamily project, and the single-family Courtyards at Jetton — to see if compromises can be reached to allow them to move forward in altered forms, according to the town’s planning department website.

At least six other development and construction projects over the past three months have been rejected by the town or withdrawn by developers in the face of opposition to increases in land-use density or in response to ordinances that developers view as difficult or expensive to comply with.

Developer Jake Palillo of Bluestream Partners, the group behind the Bailey Forest project, said he figured it was inevitable that the town’s Board of Commissioners would reject the project, because it’s already been given the thumbs-down by the town’s planning staff and — in a highly contentious meeting — the town’s planning board, which voted unanimously against it after residents pummeled it with protests at a meeting.

Instead, the Board of Commissioners last week agreed to table the proposal, rather than vote on it, with Commissioner John Bradford taking the lead in saying the board and Palillo should sit down and figure out how his 62 vacant acres on Bailey Road near Barnhardt Road can be used in a way that the town and the developer agree on.

After trying, unsuccessfully, to sell the land in 5-acre chunks for large, single-family “estate homes,” Palillo late last year came up with the idea for Bailey Forest. The plan called for subdividing and developing the land into 22 relatively large 2- to 3.3-acre lots. Owners of lots could build single-family homes on them or one to four structures that together would house up to four rental units. It was a concept that local builders said would be new to the Charlotte market.

The proposal would require a rezoning from rural preservation, which allows only single-family homes on lots of 5 acres or more, to a conditional zoning.

After the staff and planning board nixed the Bailey Forest proposal, Palillo planned to move forward with a tweaked plan, which he admitted would probably fail to win commissioners’ approval. On Monday, Palillo said he was surprised that commissioners tabled their vote and agreed to negotiate with him.

Town officials declined to discuss the project pending the negotiations.

Courtyards vote canceled

Meanwhile, the Courtyards at Jetton plan — originally called Courtyards at Cornelius — which received public outcry over its unusual nature and opposition by one town commissioner, has also been put on hold by the town so it can work with the developer, Columbus, Ohio-based Epcon Communities.

The proposal calls for a relatively dense, 28-home, 8.4-acre project aimed at the growing empty-nester market. It is unusual in its design, with the houses close to the street and to the back property line — eliminating a yard to maintain. And, the houses would be close together and designed in such a way that low-maintenance patios would be formed between them.

Even before the Epcon proposal was unveiled at a community meeting Nov. 29, nearby residents had created “Stop” and “Wrong Way for Cornelius” fliers calling for the rejection of the project, for which Epcon was seeking an architectural variance.

At a Transportation Advisory Committee meeting that same night, Commissioner David Gilroy complained that the Epcon proposal “smells like another high-density development that’s way out of whack” with the town’s long-term development strategies.

The town’s planning board was scheduled to take up the proposal at a meeting this past Monday night. But the planning department’s website said “the planning board meeting scheduled for Jan. 14 has been canceled. Staff is working with the applicant and the board to reschedule the project for board review.”

7-Eleven withdraws plan

In other Cornelius planning news, Dallas-based 7-Eleven has withdrawn a request to split and conditionally rezone the 1-acre site on which a former Sam’s Mart sits at Magnolia Estates and West Catawba Avenue.

The new 7-Eleven was to be a 3,030-square-foot store. The planned called for combining the Sam’s Mart’s 1,843 square feet with the 1,187 square feet from the planned convenience store.

The conversion was to be part of 7-Eleven’s transformation of 55 Charlotte-area Sam’s Marts into 7-Elevens.

The proposal was withdrawn without comment by the town’s planning staff. 7-Eleven officials could not be reached for comment.

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