INDIAN TRAIL – Hopper Communities founder Bart Hopper said he had done everything right for his company’s proposal for a development on Oak Springs Road, but Indian Trail Town Council and residents are still skeptical.
The project, 174 single-family homes on 62.6 acres, was presented to the town council at their Oct. 22 meeting. The planning board unanimously recommended approval of the project at its Sept. 17 meeting, where residents had concerns about flooding.
More concerns about density came up when the project was presented to the council. Many also said the homes would be “on top of each other” at 2.75 units per acre.
Representing the development is Lynda Paxton, who serves on the Stallings Town Council. Mayor Michael Alvarez said he found her partnership with the property contradictory to previous comments she made publicly.
“They’re being represented by a Realtor that’s a council person in another town that has publicly stated that there’s too much residential building going on, and now wants to annex 174 homes into Indian Trail after stating we’re already overcrowding our schools,” Alvarez said.
Paxton responded, stating her comments were about townhomes and apartments, not single-family homes.
She cited a school study that said the project would generate 163 students at most over the five-year period of development.
“But more likely, it would be in the range of 144 and that’s spread all the grade levels,” Paxton said. “The greatest impact, of course, would be at the elementary school… and that would be about 114 students. Most of those would be feeding into Stallings Elementary, which is at 81% capacity.”
Residents still believed the density of the development would add too much congestion to the area. Council members would need to vote to change the residential zoning from SF-1 to SF-5, which Planning Director Brandi Deese called “a dramatic increase” but a “reasonable request.”
Councilmember Marcus McIntyre asked about widening the roads and making it safe for the number of cars that could potentially be in the area. Deese said Hopper spoke with law enforcement and added 31 additional street parking spaces to the development.
“This was a plan that Captain Coble and I looked at together and he was pleased to see the width of the streets as well as the additional parking, so that should not be an issue for this development,” Deese said.
Resident Chris Daniels, who showed a flood map at the planning board meeting, spoke to the council during the public hearing portion of the presentation.
“It’s 31 acres on 174 lots,” Daniels said. “That’s .18 house per acre. We’re building them on top of each other… And it’s all financially driven. When are we going to stop? Not against the development. Not against the sellers. What I’m against is building so many houses on such little property when we’ve got council members from other towns saying exactly what [Mayor Alvarez] brought up.”
Alvarez also pointed out that as a Realtor, he does not think this property would sell at the estimated price for a small lot.
Councilmember Mike Head said he lives in Bonterra Village, where the lots are smaller than the ones in the proposed project.
“We keep selling houses left and right and they’re much smaller than what was being proposed,” Head said. “And our prices just keep going up.”
Councilmember David Cohn asked Hopper if his company would consider lower density for the area.
Hopper said his company calculated the number of units per acre based on a number of factors.
“It’s 2.75 and the whole goal is, yeah they’re smaller lots, but you have all the amenities that everybody shares in,” Hopper said.
Hopper also said he has been working on this project for a year. He went to the developers workshop, took the feedback from the council and made changes. Hopper said though he knows the council will vote on what’s best for the town, he believes he has done everything right and has the support of the town staff and planning board.
With unanswered questions about density, safety and water pressure, Councilmember Jerry Morse said it could be beneficial to discuss the development with Union County before voting on it.
“I think there’s been some good points brought up,” Morse said. “I do appreciate the planning board and what staff has done to try to mitigate some of this. I think there’s still some unanswered questions that we might be able to have better information once we meet with Union County.”
The council deferred the vote on the development to Nov. 18, where another public hearing will take place.