Neighbors of the proposed Osprey Landing by Bill Clark Homes project voiced their opposition to the site plan during a public hearing Thursday night at the Southport Community Building.
The development would consist of 196 single-family homes on 68 acres off Robert Ruark Drive.
Most attendees’ concerns stemmed from the proposed emergency access road into Maple Leaf Drive, and that it is inadequate to handle the proposed subdivision’s traffic.
“There are too many twists and turns in there, and you are asking for an accident,” said former planning board member and alderman Buddy Barnes.
In 2007, a preliminary plat for Osprey Landing was approved by the Southport aldermen, but it was never developed. The members were concerned about the traffic impacts back then as well.
Barnes, who was on the subcommittee for the original proposal, said the previous plan was for 125 homes and the developers were “all about” building the emergency access road along the backside and going into N.C. 211. He asked why it had changed, to which members of the crowd responded, “money.”
Bob Tolle of Maple Leaf Drive suggested the emergency access empty into the back of Walmart’s parking lot.
Bill Clark Homes’ Landon Weaver explained it is required by ordinance that the development has an emergency access road, but many attendees argued that the future residents would use it as their primary entrance and exit, especially since it would be located in the densest part of the subdivision. Weaver said they’d consider other options, such as a gate that only emergency vehicles could open.
Frank Popelars, who lives on Captain Adkins Drive, counted 12 subdivisions between East Moore Street to U.S. 17 and said he found the current number of homes off of Robert Ruark Drive is the highest of them all, excluding St. James, yet the Robert Ruark Drive intersection is the only way in and out for all the residents.
Popelars cited multiple sections of the unified development ordinance, including a line that reads planned unit developments, “will not adversely affect traffic patterns and flow in adjacent areas.”
The construction of the emergency access road could also deprive Southport Way residents of the natural buffer between the neighborhood’s backyard and Walmart.
“We don’t want to stare out of our houses and look at Walmart’s parking lot,” said Michael Turner of Maple Leaf Drive.
There were also concerns about the buffer between the proposed development and the existing homes.
The site plan has proposed 10-foot minimum front yard setbacks, five-foot side yard setbacks and 10-foot rear yard setbacks.
Weaver said they would plant trees but couldn’t specify what would be behind the cottages. They’d have to receive approval before furthering plans, he added.
“To be able to sell our product, we may not want to be looking at the back of your home either,” Weaver said.
However, the developers must ensure the backyards are somewhat open for stormwater drainage.
“We’re going to have to balance, making sure that we don’t stop anything up with any kind of planted vegetation,” said Weaver.
Reed Monday of Downing Court said his two lots are the lowest elevation on his road, and the only outlet for water on the entire street is a ditch on the rear of his property. He said it appears in the site plan the ditch would be filled.
“Robert Ruark Drive down to Smithville Woods floods. Period. And it floods bad,” said Jane McMinn of Maple Leaf Drive.
It was also of interest to speakers whether the city as a whole is prepared for 196 more families.
“I don’t think Southport is ready for this size development in this particular area,” said Richard Strong of Maple Leaf Drive.
Speakers predicted the city would face overcrowding in schools, understaffing in the police and fire departments, and deterioration of sewer infrastructure.
Throughout the meeting, Weaver reiterated Bill Clark Homes would meet state and city requirements while striving to maintain a strong reputation as a young company from North Carolina.
Prior to the hearing, the details of the project were presented by Mike Nichols of Paramounte Engineering.
He explained there would be three different types of houses.
The densest area would back up to Southport Way. It would consist of 58 “cottages,” that are 5,000-square-feet on 50-by-120-foot lots.
In front of those properties, there would be 62 mid-sized homes with walk-up front porches and back alleys to park behind the houses. These are planned to be 6,000-square-feet on 52-by-130-foot lots.
Stretching from the middle of the property to the end backing Dutchman Creek, there are 76 proposed “estates,” that would be 9,000-square-feet on 65-by-140-foot lots.
Upon entering from Robert Ruark Drive, there would be a clubhouse, a pool, parking and mailboxes.
At the end of the meeting, the planning board established a committee to review the site plan and relay their findings to the other members. The project will be revisited at the planning board meeting on February 20.