Indian Trail hears debate on Old Monroe apartments

INDIAN TRAIL – Proponents of a planned apartment complex in Indian Trail say the project will benefit one of the town’s commercial districts while being better than the alternative that could go on the 17 acres. But some neighbors argue the project will cause overcrowding at area schools and could become a problem in the future.

Mayor Michael Alvarez had to break a tie Tuesday, Sept. 10, in approving a 204-unit apartment complex off Old Monroe Road near the intersection of Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road. While the project was approved, it must come before another vote, likely at the town’s next council meeting, before moving forward. Councilwoman Darlene Luther was not in attendance Tuesday night.

The vote will rezone the land from commercial to accommodate multi-family homes, with the property owner saying he has to develop the land in order to afford the property taxes on it due to commercial growth in the area.

The project would be constructed across Old Monroe from the center with Food Lion and the Heritage Funeral Home – a stretch of road burdened with heavy traffic and a widening project that no one really knows when will happen. The argument came down Tuesday night to what town leaders and area residents would rather see at the spot – an apartment complex, single family homes with a cut-through road to the Deerstyne neighborhood or commercial property like medical offices or an auto shop.

“We all want what’s in the best interest of Indian Trail,” said Cameron Helms, who is looking to develop the land. Helms said if an apartment complex isn’t approved, the land will be developed in some way – one that will likely cause more traffic than the apartment complex and will connect a cut-through road many in Deerstyne wory will endanger neighborhood children.

“We’re not leaving it as it is,” Helms said of the land when asked what he will do if the rezoning is eventually turned down.

The developer will pay for $350,000 in road improvements that will include two turn lanes. The project could eventually require some pedestrian safety improvements such as a crosswalk to reach businesses on the other side of Old Monroe.

But some area residents say the road improvements won’t do anything to improve the project’s impact on an already-burdened Old Monroe. It also could add more students to Indian Trail Elementary, Sun Valley Middle and Sun Valley High schools, something some parents point to as a reason the property should instead be developed commercially or as single-family homes, which could produce fewer students.

“My kid started in a trailer and will graduate in a trailer,” one parent said Tuesday night, pointing to capacity at local schools.

The developer and residents are split on how many students the complex would produce, but officials with Union County Public Schools have said the project causes them some concern in terms of school capacity. The developer will limit the amount of three-bedroom units at the complex, if approved, to limit the amount of families with children.

The complex instead would be targeted at young, single professionals, the developer said – something a few town leaders pointed to as a big benefit for Indian Trail.

“We have nothing for our young people to transition to and keep them in the community,” Councilman Robert Allen said of giving people a cheaper place to live in town rather than buying a home.

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