A D.R. Horton home in Angier (not representative of the models being considered for the new Colon Road development).

High-density site plan calls for 254 homes, 260 apartment units

By Richard Sullins | richard@rantnc.com

In separate votes, the Sanford City Council approved the non-contiguous annexation and zoning of approximately 110 acres for another new mixed-use housing and commercial development.

This project, tentatively called the Gum Fork Development, is located east of Colon Road and south of U.S. 1 across the four-lane from Central Carolina Enterprise Park and the Galvin’s Ridge. The site was originally purchased by Criteria Development, LLC of Spanish Fort, Alabama but was recently acquired by one of the largest home construction companies in the United States, D.R. Horton Homes, headquartered in Arlington, Texas.

Although the site plan is still in the conceptual stage and subject to revision, the preliminary draft calls for 254 single-family homes and another 260 apartment units on the site. The units will be densely packed, with an average of 3.3 homes and 11.21 apartments per acre.  

The Gum Fork Development would have a commercial outparcel that is now shown on the early design at the entrance to the property off Colon Road, and amenities will include walking trails, pocket parks, and playgrounds.

There is an existing 12-inch water main along Colon Road that is proposed for providing service to the development. DR Horton petitioned for the annexation in order to be able to tap onto a city sewage line that would have to be constructed in the future to make the project viable.

The City’s Development staff took issue with the project’s design, noting: “It is staff’s opinion that the design associated with this rezoning request does not comply with the intent of Mixed-Use Activity Center designation since the majority of the site is comprised of single-family residential lots, and there is a small amount of commercial area at the front of the site.”

The staff report also said that the specific commercial uses of the 11.15 acres designated for commercial purposes are not spelled out, leaving the staff unable to speculate whether the commercial sector would be planned to serve the residents of the new development or instead be targeted more broadly to the public at large. Because the council approved a zoning designation of the Gum Fork Conditional Zoning District, detailed site plans and subdivision plats are required to be approved by the city council prior to the issuance of any permits for construction or further development, giving DR Horton an opportunity to address the issues that the staff raised during their review.

The requirement for approval of site plans means that D.R. Horton will return to the council for further authorizations as work on the project progresses.

Demand for residential projects within the city remains strong and is expected to remain that way for the immediate future. Over the past three years, the council has approved more than 30 new projects and if all of those that have been approved were to actually be built, another 6,200 homes would be available for sale. Additionally, another 3,400 apartments have been approved through 26 multi-family developments.

Tramway Sheetz site addition annexed

A key first step in the approval process for a proposed Sheetz gas station at the intersection of U.S. and Center Church Road in Tramway was approved at the meeting when the council approved the annexation of a 1.037-acre tract of property adjacent to land at the corner that presently contains a small shopping strip that includes Tramway Barber Shop.

The owners of the property, which include Bradley and Katherine McNeill, Joy and Timothy Chafin, Donald Simpson, and Mark Hale, Jr. as Trustee for the Simpson grandchildren, had petitioned the council for the annexation in order to tie into the City’s public sewer system. Water service to the property already exists.

The annexation was a contiguous one, as adjacent property that is also part of the project is already within the city limits. Eddie Winstead, a representative of Arista Development that is behind the project, said that it made sense from a business perspective to have all of the property within the city’s boundaries.

Mayor Pro Tempore Byron Buckels told Winstead, “People have been asking me about this, and I’m glad that we are able to take action tonight on it. Lots of people are excited about the future of this piece of property, having it extended into the city limits, and so am I.” 

As The Rant reported in April, the current design for the combination gas station/convenience store/fast food would contain a 6,000 square foot building, a drive through, and parking for up to 40 vehicles. A second project of just under 5,000 square feet, to be located at the intersection of South Horner Boulevard and Broadway Road (N.C. 42), was proposed in May and is expected to be recommended this summer.

City budget proposed

City Manager Hal Hegwer gave council members a first look at the proposed budget for the city for the 2022-23 fiscal year during the meeting, which recommends no change in the current property tax rate of 62 cents per $100 of valuation.

Like cities across the country, Sanford is seeing an increase in the costs for providing water and sewer services, and the budget would raise those rates by 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, meaning that the average household would see their water and sewer bill go up by $4.23 per month. Solid waste fees would increase by $10 per month.

City workers would see their paychecks increased through a 4 percent cost of living adjustment and they would be eligible for an additional merit increase of up to 2 percent. The City proposes one new position for the coming year, that of an additional building inspector needed to help with the booming construction taking place. An existing part-time Customer Service Representative position in Utilities would be converted to full-time status, and 3 other positions (another Building Inspector, Grants Analyst, and Utilities and Engineering Director) would be funded as full-time for their first full year.

The annual revenue and spending plan for the City aims to accomplish 5 strategic goals that were adopted by the Council on May 3: economic prosperity for all; preserving and creating affordable housing; vibrant downtown; planning and infrastructure for growth; and engagement. Hegwer said that these goals “anchor the City’s objectives and provide a tool to prioritize spending and resource allocations.”

The total amount of the budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022-23 is $64,202,816, which includes the City’s general revenue and its proceeds through utilities, municipal services, and Chatham Park enterprise funds.

The Council will hold a budget workshop on May 31 and is expected to conduct its public hearing and adoption of the budget on June 7.