By Frank Cappella
Have you had enough of the traffic yet? Had enough of your roads falling apart? Get ready, because things are about to go from bad to worse.
High-density residential and commercial development in towns like Indian Trail, Stallings and Waxhaw have reached critical mass, and all residents of Union County may soon have to help pay for the sins of these politicians and planners.
This high-density push is unconscionable, untenable and must be called out.
These town and village representatives have recently thrown all caution to the wind and have allowed some of the fastest and wildest high-density expansion of our area since the boom that started in 2004. The big difference with this case is that our road infrastructure has systemically collapsed. We’ve now got a developing flooding and water run-off issue, and our schools are reaching alarming capacity numbers once again. By the way, Union County travel commute times are now equaling big-city proportions.
Most troubling, some elected officials are making decisions on high-density building using old and outdated traffic impact studies. Talk about irresponsible.
Extremely narrow, two-lane country roads are being bombarded with high-density apartments, housing and large-scale community projects. The conundrum is that western Union County cannot handle one more additional vehicle on these tiny two-lane roads. I wonder what our state representatives think of all this. Are they not aware of this issue, as the state is responsible for most road upkeep and future road projects?
Adding insult to injury, NCDOT is broke. It is very misleading for town and county planners to continue this game of relying on NCDOT for funding or project timelines. DOT just postponed many Union County road projects, including the much needed, much delayed Rea Road extension/Weddington Road widening and the Providence Road Widening (Rea Road Extension to Waxhaw Parkway). These projects are now pushed off until at least 2024, so our traffic nightmare will continue unabated. Adding more high-density building anywhere around these areas would be completely crazy.
Further, are the Union County Board of Commissioners about to jump on the high-density bandwagon? The county commissioners are now considering an unincorporated development near Wesley Chapel, for a mammoth 615 high-density home(s) project on Potter Road South. Potter Road is an extremely narrow, dilapidated two-lane country road, with dangerous blind turns and multiple failing intersections nearby. When this vote is called, Union County residents will find out if our county commissioners will be joining this high-density push that is currently destroying our road infrastructure.
Even worse, we also might be staring soon at another school redistricting as a result of this high-density fiasco, so don’t be shocked if it happens.
The Union County Board of Education is doing all their due diligence but is powerless, since the last realignment had wisely factored zoning ordinances that were true to the nearest locality, usually lower-density R-40 status. Sadly, this new high-density push is changing all of that. Union County Public Schools is routinely sending towns, villages and the county, school impact statements.
Are these politicians and planners reading these warning statements?
According to Union County Public Schools, high-density residential building in areas where schools are nearing or over capacity will contribute to high enrollments, which in turn exacerbate problems such as: additional mobile classrooms, inadequate capacity for food service and restroom facilities, rationing of access to the media center, insufficient parking and queuing space for parents to safely deliver or pick up their children.
High-density building on a crumbling infrastructure is wrong and everybody knows it. Our state, county and local elected officials better understand that we are on borrowed time.
The bill is coming due in one form or another, whether it be higher taxes, another school redistricting or both.