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Winterville board denies rezoning for mixed-use development


The Times-Leader

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

WINTERVILLE — A rezoning request for a development containing commercial property and residential homes was rejected last week by the Winterville Planning Board.

The board voted 7-0 to deny a rezoning request from Wayne Worthington. Worthington and his family own approximately 92 acres on Worthington Road, just past Christ Covenant School.

The property now is zoned agricultural-residential. Worthington requested the property be rezoned general business and R-8 CUD (conditional use district).

He requested 14.914 acres be rezoned general business, and the remaining 77.153 acres be rezoned R-8 (high-density residential) with at least 30 percent of the homes constructed as R-10 (single-family residential).

This property neighbors the future Eli’s Ridge subdivision, which Bill Clark Homes is building.

“The property extends down Worthington Road to Laurie Ellis Road. Growth in this area is inevitable,” Worthington told the planning board.

In early 2018, Worthington hired WithersRavenel, a land planning firm. The firm designed a conceptual plan for him, suggesting a mixed-use developed with approximately 12 acres general business and a blend of R-8 and R-10 zoning.

Worthington shared the conceptual plan with Stewart, the consulting firm working with the town of Winterville to develop an updated land-use plan.

Worthington said the conceptual plan matches Stewart’s preliminary analysis for future use. In Stewart’s initial input sessions, attendees requested more housing options and more restaurants and retail shops.

“There is fluid movement … this property has been in my family for generations. We want something there that will benefit Winterville,” Worthington said.

The property is located near Greenville Montessori School. Sue Allen Biel, the headmaster of the school, voiced safety concerns due to increased traffic in the area during a public hearing last week.

Worthington said he plans to recruit businesses to town, which Winterville now does not house.

“This will benefit Winterville long term,” Worthington said.

Worthington’s conceptual design divided the R-8 and R-10 homes 50/50, however in his rezoning request he states a breakdown of 70 percent R-8 and 30 percent R-10.

This raised red flags for several planning board members.

“This board has never approved a subdivision with that high (of a percentage) of R-8 homes,” said planning board member Doug Kilian.

The last approved subdivision with a high percentage of R-8 homes was in Eli’s Ridge at 45 percent, Kilian said.

Before Eli’s Ridge, the planning board recommended the approval of four subdivisions with R-10 and R-12.5 zones, Kilian added.

“I think that is where we should stay,” he said.

Planning board member Dawn Poaletti had reservations over the 70-30 breakdown until she saw Worthington’s conceptual plan. An R-8 build could house 408 units on the property, but the conceptual plan presented is only for 177 lots, Poaletti said.

“Based on the sketch, 177 homes is not that much on that amount of acreage,” she said. “This will be a nice development to have.”

Vice chairwoman Peggy Cliborne’s calculations equate to 216 lots of R-8 homes, which does not sit well with her.

“If this was proposed at 45 percent R-8, I would have no problem with it,” Kilian said.

Poaletti asked Winterville’s planning director Bryan Jones for the town’s recommendation.

Since Winterville’s land-use plan is still in the process of being updated, and will not be ready until the summer, Jones said he could not answer the question.

“Our land-use plan is outdated. Our vision is not in place, so I can’t say this (request) meets (the town’s land-use plan),” Jones said.

Poaletti said she agrees with Kilian that the R-8 percentage should be reduced.

She made a motion to deny the rezoning request, which Kilian seconded.

The board’s recommendation will go before the Winterville Town Council next month.