INDIAN TRAIL – Proponents and opponents alike will have to wait at least two more weeks to make their arguments about a proposed 348-unit apartment complex that could be built on Plyler Road in Indian Trail.
The developer, Plyler Road Partners, has proposed the project for 27 acres in the 100 block of Plyler Road, near the intersection of Plyler Road and Unionville-Indian Trail Road. Representatives for the developer as well as a number of area residents turned up to speak about the proposal at a public forum Tuesday, March 25, only to see the forum postponed due to the absence of Councilmen Gordon Daniels and Gary Savoie.
The apartments, which would consist of eight “six-plex” apartment units on the edge of the community and 10 “garden-style” buildings on the interior of the site, would be built at the abandoned Genwove industrial site that closed in 2008, according to town documents on the apartment rezoning. The original zoning petition called for 378 units at the site, but was cut down through the planning process. The project also would include two ponds, a central lawn area and a small pocket park, according to zoning documents.
The town’s planning board has received some questions from area residents with concerns about the project, and residents would have given their thoughts to town council at Tuesday’s public forum. Council could have voted whether to rezone the land and allow the project after the forum. The forum never happened because Daniels and Savoie didn’t attend the meeting, some say as a protest over the appointment process for the open town council seat, which was scheduled to be discussed after the forum. Daniels and Savoie both said Wednesday, March 26, that they missed the meeting for personal reasons.
The proposal comes at an interesting time for Indian Trail and western Union County leaders, as towns are being pressed to keep an eye on future development in light of overcrowding at local schools and Union County Public Schools redistricting plans. Meanwhile, Indian Trail and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are both investing in local infrastructure such as roads that have been overburdened with the area’s rapid population growth. Indian Trail, at around 35,000 residents, is now the largest town in Union County, having surpassed Monroe.
Some residents have questioned the traffic study for the site, which in October determined the project would cause 194 vehicle trips in the peak morning hours and 231 in the peak evening hours if the complex was built with 387 units. The higher number of units than what is actually proposed gives traffic engineers some leeway on the estimate. The site, currently vacant, generates no trips, and the traffic analysis available on the town’s website does not indicate how many trips would be generated if the site was built out at its current zoning.
Residents also are concerned about exactly how many students would be added at area schools, as formulas to estimate those numbers are at best a guess. The project would add students to Sardis Elementary and Porter Ridge middle and high schools, according to a document from UCPS that expressed concern about the additional students.
“… both Porter Ridge (middle and high) are close to the watch levels” for overcrowding, according to a memo, which said those levels may change depending on how many students take advantage of a clause allowing them to avoid being redistricted to new campuses. Whether the school system’s redistricting plan is successfully appealed or not also would play into those
Because the two Porter Ridge campuses are near the UCPS watch level, “a large development runs the risk of pushing them near or above the cap levels,” the memo said. “This could create over-capacity problems, such as mobile classrooms, inadequate capacity for food service and restroom facilities, rationing of access to the library, insufficient parking and queuing space for parents to safely deliver or pick up their children and inadequate planning/meeting space for additional staff.”
But with Indian Trail’s growth has come the need for housing for entry-level employees in the area, including teachers, nurses and sheriff’s deputies, town leaders said when the last apartment complex came before council. Leaders approved a 204-unit apartment complex on Old Monroe Road in September 2013. Meanwhile, the current site isn’t visibly pleasing, leaders have said, adding the town needs to do something about the space that currently is being used by trespassers as a place to live or just hang out.
“It’s an eyesore,” Councilman Chris King said. “Rezoning it… absolutely I’m for that. Rezoning it for commercial versus multi-family though, I don’t know which one would be better or worse.”
King said he’s not too concerned with too much traffic being generated by the site, thanks to the Chestnut Parkway which will soon open. Though he is concerned about overcrowding at area schools, and said he’s heard much of the same concern from his constituents.
But without a public forum yet, King said he’s waiting to make an opinion on the project.
“I’m going into it with an open mind,” he said. “We need to do something with that property.”