By Richard Sullins |

A divided Sanford City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to assign a Conditional Zoning District for the proposed Brookshire development.

Members Rebecca Salmon, Jimmy Haire, J.D. Williams, and Charles Taylor voted to approve Pinnacle Partners LLC’s request for the 168-acre tract of land bordered by Valley and Forestwood Park Road, U.S. 421, and the Wildwood subdivision. The property was previously zoned as Residential Restricted.

Members Sam Gaskins, Byron Buckels, and Chas Post voted against the classification.

A map of the proposed Brookshire subdivision

Pinnacle is proposing to develop the area, to be known as Brookshire, as a residential subdivision with areas for multi-family housing and a commercial area. 273 of the proposed 404 residential lots would be a minimum 6,000 square feet in size and classified as R-6 single-family. Another 54 lots of a minimum 10,000 square feet would be classified as R-10 single-family, and a final grouping of 77 lots with a minimum 12,000 square foot size would receive an R-12 classification.

Pinnacle proposes to use a fourth tract of 22.79 acres for multi-family housing with a maximum density of 12 living units per acre. The remaining 5.51-acre section would be designated as Neighborhood Commercial space.

Conditional zoning districts are permitted under the Plan SanLee land use plan that was adopted by Sanford, Broadway, and Lee County in 2018. Such districts are stand-alone divisions that have their own unique requirements and conditions.

The council voted to annex the property into the city in October. But a group of adjoining property owners appeared at the meeting to voice their grievances over what they considered the developer’s lack of specifics on how the development would be constructed and perceptions that Pinnacle’s plan violated provisions of Plan SanLee.

Scott Osborne and his wife, Kim, were the only speakers during the council’s public comments period Tuesday. Scott Osborne told members that he felt they had not listened to the merits of his points made at the previous meeting and felt particularly powerless in being excluded from the processes of annexation and zoning.

“Decisions are made by you council members without us having any representation,” he said. “This includes not only about how your decisions impact our way of life and visions for land use, but also at the ballot box, where we are not afforded participation in your election process.”

Osborne’s property, as well as that of the other adjoining landowners, is located just outside the city limits.

Kim Osborne said that she was not against the construction of new housing behind their home “but I am against putting a lot of places and a lot of residential areas that [aren’t] compatible with even the community it’s surrounded by. We’ve already lost all the wildlife in our backyard. The community has changed as a result of all the area that has been evacuated from there. I know none of you live where we live, so you don’t know what we are going through.”

The first vote regarding the project was that the zoning map amendment proposed by the developer was consistent with the county’s long-range plan because it included residential single-family dwellings as the largest overall land use designation. That vote passed by a 5-2 margin with members Post and Buckels voting against the amendment.

A second issue over assigning a zoning designation to the development as the Brookshire Conditional Zoning District sparked an extended debate over how similar questions about large-scale housing developments have been resolved in the past. Developer Terry Slate agreed to the additional conditions requested by the city’s Planning Board that he abide by the land uses and housing unit densities specified, and that subdivision design and housing styles can be approved by the council as potential amendments in the future.

Gaskins proposed defeating the request for a Conditional Zoning District and assigning an R-14 designation for the property, subject to further negotiation, suggesting that it would be large enough to entice the developer to come back with changes to the overall design that would provide the kind of specifics that members felt were lacking.

But Mayor Pro Tempore Byron Buckels expressed opposition to Gaskins’ motion, stating his belief that Council members should put forth a greater effort when citizens present views that are contrary to plans prepared and submitted by developers.

“When you get into a habit of proposing to listen to people when you know they are opposed because you don’t feel they have a strong enough case, you know, council should be more open to that,” he said.

Councilman Charles Taylor sought to summarize the discussion as “a matter of landowner rights, but there is also a need to be a good neighbor.”

But Taylor went further and said that he doesn’t think it’s fair to annex a property and then place an arbitrary designation on it.

Second development also approved

Approval of a second housing development went much smoother later in the meeting. The council voted unanimously to approve a request from MAD M&R LLC to rezone three adjoining tracts of land and three portions of other adjoining tracts of land totaling 98.4 acres. The property has frontage on both Broadway Road and Kelly Drive, and the developer requested that the tracts be joined and designated as the Marelli Conditional Zoning District to allow the development of a residential subdivision with a commercial area.

Although a Conditional Zoning District similar to the Brookshire development was requested, the council had a much easier time in assigning a zoning designation to this property because it was already situated within the city limits and its frontage along county roadways resulted in few impacts to surrounding landowners.

The Marelli Conditional Zoning District

The site is located off Broadway Road and has a main entrance proposed at the Broadway and Rosser roads intersection. MAD M&R is based in Whitsett and filed Articles of Organization in February of this year. The firm is in discussions with NCDOT, Central Carolina Community College, and local governmental representatives regarding the roadway connection to, and redesign of, Kelly Drive for access. The site plan calls for the construction of up to 320 single-family homes and 230 townhomes.

In addition to the Brookshire and Marelli projects, another 4,500 new housing units are either under review or already approved in Sanford, along with another 1,250 apartments that will change the character and size of the city as it prepares for a period of explosive growth over the next five years.