By Richard Sullins |

The Sanford City Council on Oct. 19 annexed a 169-plus acre tract of land near the end of Valley Road on which a multi-use subdivision has been proposed.

With new industries coming to Lee County and existing ones preparing to ramp up their hiring over the next few months, Sanford is poised for an unprecedented period of growth. Already, 4,500 new housing units are either under review or already approved, along with another 1,250 apartments that will change the character and size of the city.

Before its 6-0 vote (Councilman Chas Post was absent) to annex the land, the council heard concerns raised by neighboring landowners about the new housing development, which if approved would feature up to 404 single family homes, 272 apartments, and some limited commercial usage. The proposed development, which is bordered by Boone Trail Road, Valley Road and Forestwood Park Road, would be called Brookshire. Pinnacle Partners LLC, a Raleigh-based real estate firm, asked the city for the annexation and to assign the property a zoning status which would allow the high density construction (click here to see a map of the proposal).

Scott Osborne of Valley Road represented many of the adjoining homeowners in his remarks during the public hearing. Osborne said the Brookshire plan was developed without regard for the SanLee land use plan and zoning ordinances, and without respect for the land and its natural resources that have been cared for and preserved by adjacent landowners.

“With all of the high salaries associated with new industries in Lee and surrounding counties being touted by local governments, SAGA, and public officials, I just cannot believe that there is no market for developments offering home buyers an option to buy a house with more acreage than what is proposed here,” he said.

Osborne said the development plan proposed by Pinnacle was long on promises but short on specifics. He pointed out that the plan contained no information on the exterior appearance of the housing to be constructed, no details on how stream and wildlife mitigation would be accomplished, and lacked information on how noise and light pollution would be contained within the boundaries of the development.

April Stone of Forestwood Park Road told the council that the roads surrounding the proposed development are already in poor condition and the increased traffic of a predicted 7,000 more vehicles per day would forever alter the character of the community.

“We live in the country. We like to shoot our guns. We like to have our freedom. If you annex this, what are we going to do?” she asked.

Another member of the community, Mary Griffin, believes the Sanford Police and Fire Departments are already stretched to their limits and adding another development into their service areas might be too much for them to handle.

After an hour of comments during the annexation public hearing, the council voted unanimously to annex the property into the city limits. A second public hearing on the question of how the development should be zoned went on for another hour and 15 minutes, with the adjoining property owners advocating for a classification that would reduce the density of housing that would be permitted.

Osborne argued that apartments and commercial development should not be permitted within the tract, that there should be requirements in place to offset damages to streams and wildlife habitat, that details of potential shrub or tree plantings or fencing should be included, and that measures to alleviate potential flooding resulting from increased stormwater should be required.

“As I routinely read of where, what kind, and how dense some of the recent developments are that have been approved in our county,” Osborne said, “it troubles me that too many are leaning to become clones of developments to our north in Chatham, Wake, Harnett, and Johnston counties.”

As the second hearing began to wind down, Osborne told the council this group of property owners had not attended the meeting to hold a ‘Not in My Back Yard’ protest, but instead to highlight the problems that can be created when the pace of development begins to outrun the means by which it can be monitored.

“Some may say, ‘what does it matter if we lose 100 plus acres in an area to development?’” he said. “I contend that every parcel that is incompatible with existing and planned use should be carefully examined before we lose natural landscapes that are irreplaceable as a result of high-density development.”

The city’s Planning Board will present its recommendations on the matter to the council at its next meeting on November 2, when a final vote will be taken on how the development will be zoned for usage.