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Shooting range could pose problem for Huntersville subdivision

HUNTERSVILLE – Prior to Tuesday night, a Standard Pacific of the Carolinas LLC official said, the company was unaware that a shooting range sits next to the 116 acres on which it plans to develop a 160-lot subdivision, on the north side of Bud Henderson Road  just east of Beatties Ford Road.

The information was disclosed by the owner of the shooting range, Shane Quan, at Tuesday night’s Planning Board meeting, and because a town ordinance could prevent homes from being built within 900 feet of the shooting range – along with other concerns – the Planning Board deferred until Feb. 24 a decision on Standard Pacific’s sketch plan for its Barnette Tract subdivision.

“I think that since the issue’s been raised, that you would want to familiarize yourself with it,” said Planning Board Chairman Harold Bankirer. “If you’re not allowed to build a couple lots, then you change that and then present that sketch plan to us.”

The Planning Board was not aware of the shooting range ordinance prior to the meeting, and will determine if it could affect the subdivision’s sketch plan before its next meeting.

The board suggested that Fred Matrulli, Standard Pacific Homes’ vice president of land operations who attended the meeting, visit the shooting range and consider its proximity to the subdivision. Matrulli talked to Quan about visiting the range after the meeting.

Board member Franklin Freeman said the shooting range could pose problems for people looking to move into the subdivision who don’t like guns.

“If I’m not a gun-interested person, I don’t know if I’d want to live there,” he said.

Quan pointed out the range runs from east to west, so shooters would be facing away from the property when firing weapons.

The board also asked Standard Pacific to work out a potential problem in a conservation easement along a branch of McDowell Creek.

Standard Pacific wants to connect the west side of the subdivision to the east side of the subdivision, which is split by the creek that runs from north to south. But the creek is classified as a conservation easement, meaning it cannot be disturbed if the property is developed. And although Standard Pacific has permission to build bridges at a few spots along the creek, which has several branches within the site, it does not have permission to disturb the part of the creek between the subdivision’s two sides.

The planning board suggested Standard Pacific work that out as well, so that it could be reflected accurately on the sketch plan.

The homes at Barnette Tract will be between 2,400 and 3,200 square feet, and the cost range will be between the low $300,000s and the low $400,000s. Every house will have a two-car garage, and a three-car garage option will be available. Standard Pacific hopes to break ground by fall, and begin constructing the houses by fall 2016, according to Matrulli.

In addition to discerning how the shooting range may affect the development and determining whether connecting the two sides of the subdivision is possible, Standard Pacific will have to figure out how to adjust its grading height to line up with the adjacent Arbormere subdivision to the east. Arbormere’s grading height is planned at 14 feet higher than Barnette Tract’s, and planning board members said they need to know what Standard Pacific’s plan for that would be.

Matrulli said both projects’ engineers will be working together to ensure the grading heights could be aligned.

The decision to defer the sketch plan was unanimous, and Planning Board members agreed that there were too many unanswered questions to send it to the Board of Commissioners.

“I would hate to see this go in the wrong direction and then totally shut them out without giving them the opportunity to do this kind of investigation and make some decisions,” Bankirer said.

Also on Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a request by Epcon Communities for a buffer reduction on the northeastern boundary of its proposed Courtyards at Kinnamon Park age-restricted subdivision.

Epcon proposed a 50-foot buffer, but the current zoning requires an 80-foot buffer. The Planning Board approved a 60-foot buffer based on planning staff’s recommendation, but under the condition that The Park-Huntersville business park could request the buffer be increased to 70 feet if Epcon’s proposed stormwater system and required easements need to be expanded.

Epcon also provided an update on adjustments it’s making to the subdivision’s houses, which the town Board of Commissioners sent back to the Planning Board last week because the garages did not meet the town’s 10-foot recession requirement.

The Board of Commissioners approved an amendment in January to the town’s zoning ordinance that would allow “prominent” front porches, as opposed to the face of houses, to be used as the primary plane from which garage recession depth is measured. The amendment considers porches that have a depth greater than 6 feet and cover at least 55 percent of a building’s width to be prominent.

Epcon is hoping to change its plans to abide by the porch amendment and keep its garages closer than 10 feet from the front of the houses. But because Epcon’s garages take up 22 feet of each house’s 42-foot width – leaving 20 feet of space excluding the garage – the porches would only cover about 48 percent of the width of the house, as opposed to the required 55 percent.

Epcon asked that an exception be made because of this issue, but Planning Director Jack Simoneau suggested Epcon extend the porches beyond the face of the houses. Epcon said its architects were working to revise the porch structures, and that the company expects to receive updated plans next week.

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