INDIAN TRAIL – Brandon Oaks residents living on Spanish Moss Road left the Dec. 18 town council meeting less than excited about the approval of a family fun center across from their homes.
The center, which will include bowling lanes, laser tag, bumper cars and arcade games, will be built across the St. from Sun Valley Commons by The Moser Group. The conditional zoning was approved 4-1 by the council, with Mike Head voting in opposition.
The property, originally zoned for single-family residential homes, is being sold by the owner, requiring the council to rezone it for a general business district. Planning Director Brandi Deese said the rezoning complies with the town’s comprehensive plan, contributing to quality of life, land use, housing and economic development goals.
Residents said comparisons between the movie theaters and the proposed family fun center were not valid, as the center will be located closer to their homes and backyards.
Residents were concerned about safety and noise in the area, with many citing bowling alleys as places with high crime rates. They were also concerned about alcohol being served at the establishment. Though a six-foot wall will be constructed as a barrier, residents felt it was not enough to keep crime and theft away from the area.
During her presentation, Deese said security concerns would be addressed by the private security at Sun Valley Commons, which would be extended to the family fun center.
Residents were also discouraged by the potential of decreasing property value on their homes.
“Imagine what a 40-foot building would do to my property value and my privacy,” Sandy Toth said. “We bought the whole place. It’s going to substantially change our way of life… The UDO and comprehensive plan do not call for sacrifice of our quality of life and financial investment in the name of progress, which is exactly what this project will do.”
Toth brought photos of the view of her backyard from her house, showing a canopy of trees that she would not be able to see anymore with the approval of the rezoning. She said she made an investment in her home and the rezoning would be “unconstitutional.”
Other residents brought up areas like Waxhaw and Weddington, citing the small-town charm and wishing Indian Trail could imitate those towns, rather than grow very quickly. They also said their friends in those towns can enjoy amenities that are not located so close to their homes.
Dan Wooten disagreed. He said his parents are selling the property and he believes it will be a great project for the town.
“I think a lot of their fears will come to be erroneous,” Wooten said. “There’s certain aspects – I don’t want to see my home torn down, but that’s just the process of progression. It’s a good plan and would be good for the town and I hope the council votes for it.”
Wooten’s mother, Judy Wooten, who owns the property, echoed her son’s enthusiasm about the project. She said the developer has done the best he can to accommodate the residents on Spanish Moss Road.
Judy Wooten said she has lived on the property since the 1970s and has seen it go through changes. She said it is all part of progress.
Town manager Patrick Sadek said though there will be noise, he and town staff support the project to add more sports to Indian Trail, along with economic development.
“Our town, we survive off our ad valorem tax and our sales tax,” Sadek said. “We outsource a lot of services to Union County…so that is our income. We would like to see another sport coming into Indian Trail … For staff, we do support businesses like that, regardless of the buildings and the noise, et cetera.”
The council spoke with representatives from The Moser Group to outline conditions for the development so they could best address residents’ concerns.
They eventually agreed on a six-foot solid wall similar to the one at Sun Valley Commons, followed by a tree save and a berm with evergreen plants, followed by a pad, which could be the parking lot.
Deese said the Unified Development Ordinance has measures to ensure the maintenance, tree protection and planting standards, which the developer would adhere to.
Council members wanted Spanish Moss Road residents to know their concerns were taken seriously.
Councilman Jerry Morse said he understood the concerns and was sensitive to them, as he lives near Kate’s Skating Rink, where he hears noise on the weekends. He would take that into consideration.
Councilman Todd Barber said he felt the project was a good fit for the area. Barber campaigned for the project and said he felt many residents would benefit from having the family fun center.
Though the family fun center was approved, Mayor Pro Tem Marcus McIntyre did not want residents to feel discouraged.
“All of your emails that you sent, we read them,” McIntyre said. “We take them into consideration. When we sit up here, the easiest thing for us to say is no. However, we put a lot of thought into this and a lot of deliberation. We don’t just go about saying yes and go forward. Whichever way this zoning motion comes down, I want to encourage you to keep writing, especially if something does concern you.”