Against the recommendation of the city planning board and in spite of widespread protests from West Sanford residents, the city council approved plans for a large housing development off Cool Springs Road on Tuesday.
The Glen at Cool Springs will consist of 131 new houses west of Cool Springs Road between Southern Road and Wellington Drive, according to plans. Developer Daniel Koeller’s request to rezone the land for construction was approved by the city council 5-2, with councilmen Byron Buckels and Chas Post voting against.
Plans for the development have drawn harsh criticism from residents who live in the Westlake Downs and Brownstone Village neighborhoods near the planned site. Koeller’s offer to eliminate an entrance to the neighborhood on Cambridge Drive and install a buffer around the area assuaged the worries of some council members, but did not satisfy residents, who left Tuesday’s meeting disheartened.
“We were very disappointed,” said Tom Wilder, a Westlake Downs resident who led a petition against the development signed by 175 people. “We weren’t happy. We don’t feel like the compromises were that big of a deal.”
Conditions attached to the rezoning include provisions that houses built on the site will be no less than 2,200-square-feet and include two-car garages, cement driveways, asphalt shingle roofs, and brick or stone on the front facades. But the nature of the houses was never the residents’ main concern, Wilder said.
He and others object to the large number of houses that are planned for the site’s 53.5 acres. Wilder worries about the effect the neighborhood will have on parking in the area and that tree-cutting will increase flooding, he said.
“A lot of this is new to Sanford, what we call tract developments, where they clear-cut a bunch of land and put houses in there. It’s not going to look like anything around it, for sure, because all the trees that are left are going to be landscape trees that are put next to the sidewalk,” Wilder said.
“A lot of my friends in Wake County, they say, ‘Oh yeah, you live in Sanford, Lee County, that’s where houses are affordable and you have land. Well, that’s not gonna be the case now. It’s kind of sad.”
Council members who voted in favor of the development argued that even though the Glen at Cool Springs has more houses on smaller lots, it is not incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“One concern that we heard with the plan was that it was inconsistent with the surrounding area,” said councilman Sam Gaskins. “Well, R-10, R-12 and R-14 (zoning areas) are about as close to one another as you can possible get as far as the character (of the neighborhood). Those are the zoning options that we have.”
Gaskins argued that the city council can’t limit itself to simply approving zoning that is identical to the zoning in neighboring areas.
Debate over new development in the city is unlikely to die down. As the city council pushes to attract new construction, residents are pushing back.
“I continue to feel that there needs to be a balance of residential development here in Sanford and Lee County. There’s been a great deal of R-10 zoning approved,” said Martha Oldham, an opponent of the Glen at Cool Springs.
“It would be nice to see something other than R-10. There are plenty of people coming into Sanford and Lee County, and to offer them a choice of residential lot sizes, I think would be an asset for Sanford. This vote last night did not provide that choice.”