The Davidson Town Board Tuesday night approved a conditional rezoning request for the Pinnacle at Davidson Gateway project near I-77 Exit 30, which includes a six-story, 78-foot residential condominium tower (illustration) and four other buildings.
The vote was 4-1, with commissioners John Woods, Cary Johnston, Evan Webster and Margo Williams in favor. Only Commissioner Bruce McMillen voted against the rezoning, arguing that “the mass and scale of the (condo) building is not appropriate for this site. This is the entryway to Davidson.”
Mr. McMillen also suggested that in approving the project, the town would be backtracking on its goal of increasing commercial development. While other commercial buildings of similar height have been approved nearby, he said, “We’ve gotten something in return – commercial tax base…”
“We don’t need more residential space in this town,” Mr. McMillen said. “I view this as giving up potential commercial property tax base in order to allow a residential building that is too large for the site.”
Chris and Ron Kennerly of Davidson Development have proposed a mixed-use project on the 4.37-acre site, which is off Peninsula Drive in the Southeast Quadrant, near Exit 30 off I-77. It includes a 60-unit, six-story residential condominium as well as two 3 1?2 story office buildings and eight affordable housing units in two buildings.
The Davidson Planning Board approved the request in a 7-4 vote on March 26.
Town board member John Woods was the most vocal proponent of the project Tuesday night. “I believe we have a unique opportunity on this site, because of the peculiarity of the site, to create a higher density, realizing that there are other places in town where we would probably choose not to create such a high density,” Mr. Woods said.
Both the condominium building and the office buildings required rezoning because they exceed the 45-foot height limit in the Lakeshore Planning Area. The condo tower would be 78 feet, not including rooftop structures that might be added, such as spires or cupolas. The two office buildings would be 52 feet, also exceeding the limit.
The board approved the Kennerlys request for seven exceptions from Davidson’s planning ordinance. Besides the two height issues, others included:
– That improvements along the shoreline of the peninsula, including a proposed boardwalk and bridge, be counted as satisfying the town’s adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO), which requires developers to provide or contribute toward community parks.
– That affordable housing units be allowed to front on a sidewalk and parking lot, instead of a public street, as required in the ordinance.
– That the development be exempted from street connectivity and maximum length of a cul-de-sac, because of its location on the peninsula.
– That the extension of Peninsula Drive be approved, even though it does not include required planting strips in some areas.
– That the western portion of Peninsula Drive be approved even though it encroaches on a 30-foot lakefront buffer.
One change in the plan Tuesday came when Commissioner Margo Williams and planning director Kris Krider suggested deleting references in the plan to the size of the affordable housing units. Ms. Williams said the units as proposed are too small for the number of occupants the developer envisions for them. The board agreed that the units’ size could be negotiated later.
The board approved the development after a lengthy explanation of the conditions and after reading a letter to town officials from Thomas Hosea, homeowners association president of the nearby Boardwalk development. Mr. Hosea wrote that residents there are concerned about flooding between their buildings and the proposed development.
Some Boardwalk residents have attended public hearings and meetings on the proposal, and also expressed concerns about traffic and about a planned footbridge from the peninsula’s east side to the opposite shoreline.
The developer has agreed to spend $150,000 for a boardwalk around the peninsula, another $40,000 for overlook areas, seeding and signage along the boardwalk and to contribute at least $60,000 so the town can construct the footbridge.
The project still needs a variety of approvals from town and county officials, and from Duke Power, which controls the lake. The developer said Tuesday night the project would probably be constructed in a single phase, though the condos, office buildings and affordable housing buildings would be separate components.
The plan, as approved, also included a set of seven requirements suggested by the town planning staff. The Kennerlys agreed, among other things:
– To try to win Duke Power’s permission to install bulkhead, instead of rock, along parts of the shoreline.
– Not to cut any trees within 30 feet of the shoreline without negotiating with the planning staff. The developer also agreed to pay for new tree planting elsewhere in town for any large trees cut down in the center of the site.
– Public art will be included as part of the $40,000 in improvements in the shoreline.
– The developer and adjacent property owners (the Boardwalk homeowners) will investigate and pay for improvements to resolve flooding problems between the two developments.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Board approved a budget amendment to continue paying legal fees related to the proposed purchase of the local cable TV system, to add money to the Griffith Street project fund and to pay $44,700 for repairs to the cafeteria building at the Ada Jenkins Center, where roof damage recently forced the relocation of the senior meal program.
The board also outlawed bow hunting in Davidson (see related story), and conducted a public hearing on proposed changes in the Village Infill Planning area rules. The rules would tighten the height and size restrictions on new homes and residential renovations in the old part of town.