MONROE – Union County has rezoned 291 acres off Potter Road to allow Kolter Homes to develop a gated, age-restricted community with up to 615 houses.
The project overcame several political hurdles, including an online petition to reject the rezoning signed by over 1,200 people and a 4-3 recommendation by the planning board to deny the project.
Planning board members said the project was too dense and would add too much traffic to overburdened roads, according to Lee Jensen, senior planner with Union County.
Residents speaking during an Oct. 7 public hearing also expressed concerns over traffic, safety, stormwater and density.
County commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the rezoning during their Nov. 4 meeting.
Richard Helms was the only commissioner to vote against the rezoning.
Helms said he was impressed with a similar project by Kolter Homes, Cresswinds Charlotte off Albemarle Road, but he noted it was on a four-lane road with stoplights. He gave several reasons why he couldn’t support one on Potter Road.
He described Potter Road as a low-grade, two-lane road already with very heavy traffic. He mentioned a blind curve and hill about 250 feet from one of the entrances that concern him since a lot of large trucks use that stretch.
He disagrees with the notion that people 55 and older are going to be sitting in lawn chairs drinking mint juleps. He sees them being more active and driving.
Helms also worries about the homes being too close together. Lots would be at least 4,000 square feet with setbacks of 20 feet from the street, 25 feet from the rear and five feet on the sides.
Commissioner Stony Rushing reasoned that one potential alternative to this project would be a subdivision of single-family homes, each with four or five bedrooms, three or four vehicles and an average of 1.5 children.
Like Rushing, Commissioner Jerry Simpson said projects could be developed without board approval with a greater impact on schools. Simpson said he struggled with the decision, but he thought this was the best alternative to enhance the tax base.
“To say I don’t want another house in Union County would be foolish, selfish and unrealistic,” Simpson said. “Sure, I’d prefer Union County remain a farming community untouched by development just like it was 50 years ago, but that’s my personal interest, which I have to set aside.”