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Senior-housing builders set sights on Wesley Chapel

Developers of active-adult communities are preparing plans for projects in Wesley Chapel, following the village’s addition earlier this year of senior housing to its zoning ordinance as a conditional use.

The senior housing development Epcon Communities wants to build in the Village of Wesley Chapel would include duplexes. Rendering courtesy of Epcon Communities.

The senior housing development Epcon Communities wants to build in the Village of Wesley Chapel would include duplexes. Rendering courtesy of Epcon Communities.

Epcon Communities expects to submit a rezoning request by Dec. 1 for a 50-acre project featuring 140 to 145 single-family homes and duplexes on Cuthbertson Road, near Cuthbertson High School, and Liquid Management LLC, a division of The Moser Group of Indian Trail, submitted plans Nov. 9 for a 72-home subdivision.

If Epcon’s plans are approved, the company said single-family homes in Wesley Chapel would range from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet, while the duplexes would be between 1,450 and 1,700 square feet. The developer plans to build a clubhouse and a swimming pool, and may add a bocce ball court and pickleball facilities. It would be Epcon’s first project with duplexes.

The average buyer for Epcon homes are people in their mid-60s, said Epcon Carolinas Vice President of Operations Rich Heareth.

Pricing hasn’t been determined, but Heareth said it would probably resemble the $304,900 to $357,900 the company is asking at its age-restricted Courtyards of Marvin community under development on Providence Road South.

“We got a pretty good level of comfort that we will be received well,” Heareth said.

Epcon wants to start developing the Wesley Chapel site in September, a pre-construction process that will take six months to complete. Heareth estimates build out will take between three and four years.

The company proposed several amendments to the village’s senior-housing regulations this year, including reductions in front- and rear-yard setbacks and reduced buffers.

The only amendment that wasn’t approved was a request to allow density calculations to include floodplains and wetlands in computing minimum lot sizes.

“There is always going to be some give and take (on amendments),” Heareth said.

Epcon is targeting Wesley Chapel and surrounding communities because of the area’s demographics and a lack of senior housing, Heareth said, adding that seniors want to downsize while remaining in the community where they have lived for years.

Wesley Chapel property owner Carol Mullis, 68, says she is excited about Epcon’s plans and the prospects of other senior-housing developers building in the village. She owns 11 acres of property that Epcon is looking to buy.

“Personally, I don’t want a housing development where there will be more children coming,” Mullis said.

The retired Union County Public Schools employee said she fears more area children would overcrowd the nearby schools and cause redistricting.

Mullis said she and other property owners she knows are relieved they can now have their land developed.

The Village Council changed its the zoning ordinance on senior housing after Mullis and the other owners of  almost 1,000 acres, or about one-fifth of the village, sought de-annexation because the village required 40,000-square-foot lots, or a little less than an acre, for single-family development. That made property owners’ land unattractive to developers who wanted to cut property and construction costs through increased density.

State Sen. Tommy Tucker brought the de-annexation issue to the N.C. General Assembly this year but backed off after the village’s leaders agreed to allow senior housing. The village is also working on plans to allow for conservation subdivisions with smaller lot sizes.

Mullis said she still has some concerns about her land being developed because a new Village Council takes office in mid-December.

Heareth said that could affect Epcon’s proposal, but he is optimistic that the incoming council won’t derail the company’s plans.

“You never know how they are going to look at things,” he said.

Liquid Management plans to build its development 24 acres at Potter Road and N.C. Highway 84. Further details were unavailable as the developer could not be reached for comment. The property is owned by Franklin Howey Jr.

A Village Council decision on the developments will likely take months, said Bill Duston, the village planner for Wesley Chapel. He cited the need to set up public information meetings and traffic and stormwater studies that need to be done to determine road and infrastructure needs.

The new council will include Mayor-elect David Kapfhammer, who will replace Mayor Brad Horvath. The incumbent didn’t run for reelection. The new council members will be Paul Kaperonis and William Rodriguez, who will replace Becky Plyler and Elaine Rosoff. Plyler didn’t run for re-election and Rosoff was defeated in the Nov. 3 election.

Kapfhammer said he doesn’t see a need to revisit the senior housing issue, especially since the state was going to take action if the village didn’t address the issue.

“My perspective is the decision has already been made,” Kapfhammer said. “I don’t support the deannexation … I was elected into office because of that position, and frankly it would tear our village apart.”

Kaperonis said he he likes that such development won’t affect school rosters and that it could help attract commercial development to the village.

But he wants to ensure that the current Village Council keeps the community’s best interests in mind.

“I don’t know if anyone can rubberstamp what has been going on without taking a good look at it,” he said.


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